Germany continues staggered return to classrooms

Berlin, Aug 10 (efe-epa).- German children on Monday continued with a staggered return to their classrooms after the summer holidays amid closures due to coronavirus infections and debate over mandatory masks.

Students in Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg and the city-state Berlin resumed classes under hygienic measures drawn up individually by each school according to its needs.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, classes are due to resume on Wednesday.

Germany began a phased reopening of schools last week in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a rural region with a low rate of infections, and in the city-state of Hamburg.

Two schools in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania were forced to close on Friday just five days after reopening because of new Covid-19 infections.

In Schleswig-Holstein, where some 365,000 pupils were due to start school on Monday, a primary school decided to keep its doors closed until next week after a teacher tested positive.

It came as the debate about the mandatory use of masks in German schools intensified, with different states taking their own approaches.

Masks are compulsory in schools in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Hamburg except inside classrooms and in primary schools.

Authorities in Schleswig-Holstein, which has seen 3,586 infections and 158 deaths, recommend face coverings are worn but have not made it mandatory.

Classes restarted in Berlin and Brandenburg, home to around 350,000 and 294,000 students respectively, on Monday.

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