Vaccination and testing, the path back to normality

On 2 September 2021, the Minister for Education, Children and Youth, Claude Meisch, and the Minister of Health, Paulette Lenert, presented the COVID-19 health scheme (Stufeplang) which will apply from the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

©SIP / Julien Warnand
Paulette Lenert, Minister of Health and Claude Meisch, Minister of Education, Children and Youth

As in the previous year, the objective of the health system remains "Maximal Chancë fir d'Bildung, minimal Chancë fir de Virus" (Maximum chances for education, minimum chances for the virus).

Vaccination as a crucial additional step for the school

"Based on the experience of the past 18 months, the analysis of the effect of the 2020-2021 anti-COVID measures and the discussions held at the end of August with the various school partners, we have drawn up the back-to-school health scheme in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health. This plan is part of the continuity of measures that have proved their worth", Minister Claude Meisch said.

Vaccination has made good progress within the school community: by 15 September, 90% of teachers and 55% of pupils aged 12-18 will be fully vaccinated. This is the key element of this new school year, which, together with testing, will enable schools and educational and care facilities to function largely normally again. At the same time, the safety of everyone is guaranteed to the greatest extent possible. It will be the subject of awareness-raising in schools.

Minister Paulette Lenert thanked the teachers who went in large numbers to be vaccinated.

A new school year without masks in the classrooms

Minister Claude Meisch listened to the requests, especially from parents, to reduce the wearing of masks as much as possible. It will no longer be compulsory when sitting in the classroom, but only when moving around the building and on transport. At the "Maisons relais", it will not be compulsory if the activity does not involve more than 10 people.

However, as soon as a case appears in the classroom, the waring of a mask will be compulsory until the students are tested six days later.

Self-testing still essential

Self-testing, which was accepted last year by more than 90% of pupils, will continue to play a key role. Indeed, although vaccination is strongly encouraged, not everyone can be vaccinated today, either because of age or vulnerability.

As last year, students will self-test twice a week. In the primary grades, the tests will be done twice a week at school, in the secondary grades once at home and once at school.

In the event of a positive case, the school will continue to operate as usual for pupils who meet the "3G" criteria (geimpft, gestest oder geheelt - vaccinated, tested or cured). If one or two positive cases are detected, rapid self-tests will be organised at school every 48 hours for unvaccinated pupils. Those who refuse to participate will be quarantined.

In the event of a cluster, mobile teams will continue to go to the school to perform PCR tests, Minister Lenert said.

"The application of the 3G principle when there is one or more positive cases provides more security and normality for everyone," Minister Meisch stressed.

A responsive and flexible system

If the evolution of the infections requires it, the "COVID-19 and Education" steering committee, which brings together experts from the Ministries of Education and Health, will propose specific reinforcement measures, such as those tested during the past school year, which can be quickly implemented.

"The reactivity and flexibility of the system and of everyone involved have greatly contributed to the fight against the virus", Minister Meisch said.

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