Family Minister: Paul: Daycare children receive eight corona tests a month

family minister
Paul: Day care children receive eight corona tests a month

Josefine Paul (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), family minister in North Rhine-Westphalia, smiles. Photo

© Marius Becker/dpa

When autumn comes, it is again time for runny noses in the daycare centers. Should the children stay at home for fear of corona infections? Not in principle, but the supervisory authority’s right to visitation is strengthened.

The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia provides eight rapid corona tests per child in the new kindergarten year. This was announced by the new family minister, Josefine Paul (The Greens), on Friday in Düsseldorf. Parents should initially receive two tests a week from daycare centers until the autumn holidays and use them at home if they have typical symptoms. The tests are also delivered to the municipalities for day care providers. The new daycare year starts on 1 August.

Furthermore, children with similar symptoms may be excluded from care in the future, as long as a negative self-test is not presented. Paul announced that this would make it possible to amend the Corona Protection Regulation on 8 August. “Sick children do not belong in daycare,” emphasized the minister. The same applies to all other diseases.

Above all, trusting cooperation with the parents is relied upon, whose testimony is usually sufficient. “We want to make sure through the tests that not every runny nose leads to kids having to stay at home,” Paul said. After all, many children have colds, especially in autumn and winter.

If the self-test at home is negative, the children can be taken to day care. The funding of tests is also secured after the autumn holidays. Protective masks are recommended when bringing in and picking up children, as well as in conversations with parents.

The SPD opposition warned that some daycare centers were already at risk of collapse because so many educators were absent due to illness. At least in the first two weeks after the start of day care, tests should be carried out daily, SPD’s deputy parliamentary group leader Jochen Ott demanded.

The FDP’s parliamentary group was pleased that day care centers and schools are generally kept open despite the pandemic. The parliamentary group’s parliamentary leader, Marcel Hafke, criticized the fact that guidance counselors could in future request a test at their own discretion, but worried the parents.

The minister did not say specifically when the third year of independent daycare and free meals announced in the coalition settlement will be implemented exactly. The SPD opposition criticized the announcements as “too thin”. This also applies to the new coordination center “Skilled campaigns for social and educational professions”, which is scheduled to start work in the Ministry of Family Affairs at the beginning of August. Ott complained that the minister had not shown any concrete ways to combat the lack of skilled labour.

The Teachers’ Association for Education and Training (VBE) described the specialist offensive as overdue. A higher appreciation of pre-school education must also be reflected in better working conditions, for example in smaller groups, stressed VBE country manager Stefan Behlau.

The minister spoke of a tour de force for all involved. “It must be clear to all of us that this will be a marathon. It will not be possible to do it in a sprint.” As a first step, the new black-green state government has extended the day care assistant program until the end of the year. Around 9,000 institutions have already taken advantage of the opportunity to relieve educators of non-pedagogical tasks through support staff. “We are giving more than 100 million euros to this,” Paul said.

Despite the pandemic and other challenges, such as the flood disaster, it was possible to continuously expand the care area. For the new daycare year, 10,742 offers would be financed – around 130 more than in the last daycare year. A total of 752,000 children would be cared for in daycare centers or with daycare providers. Under difficult conditions, more than 5,500 extra care spaces were created.

Around 217,000 of the 752,000 places are for children under the age of three. This puts the coverage rate in this age group at 42 percent. 70 percent of those cared for outside the family went to daycare, 30 percent are in daycare centers or with daycare providers.

Press release SPD Press release FDP Press release VBE

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