• S. Loesser

Stadt Aachen: childcare centres gradually open again for all children

From Monday 22 February, childcare centres will once again be open to all children, including those centres run by Stadt Aachen. However, the openings follow a defined step-by-step plan, which initially still includes restrictions.

In the first stage, which for now applies until Monday 8 March, the hours spent for childcare in the centres will reduced by 10 hours per week. On top of that, the individual groups of children must be separated under strict guidelines. If the number of corona cases continues to drop, the childcare provider can decide whether the number of hours should remain reduced or not in the second phase. In the third and last phase usual routines can be resumed, i.e. with full hours and the possibility of mixing groups. However, there is no specific date yet for this phase. This depends on the introduction of certified rapid tests, the childcare staff vaccinations and stable, low numbers of infection. If the numbers rise drastically again, regional childcare centres will be closed again at short notice.

However, the requirement that children may only be supervised in fixed groups creates a very high demand for staff, since, for example, children may not be looked after in joint groups during off-peak times, and employees can neither alternate within different groups nor different childcare centres. This problem coincides with a phase in which the staffing situation in childcare centres is very unstable anyway: the childcare centre employees still have to continue reporting sick when presenting with minor cold symptoms for the purpose of infection protection, at the same time, there are frequently new infections of children and employees or quarantine-cases.

"Against this background, it will hardly be possible to avoid extended reductions in caring times or, in some cases, even complete closures of groups,"

says Heinrich Brötz, Fachbereichsleiter für Kinder, Jugend und Schule (Unit Manager for Children, Youth and School) curbing overly high expectations of childcare centres’ restricted operations.

"Stadt Aachen, as provider, will of course endeavour to compromise and consider the justified interests of parents, children and employees. However, the City also continues to ask for the parents’ understanding and assistance during these critical phases,"

states Susanne Schwier, Beigeordnete für Bildung und Kultur, Schule, Jugend und Sport (Councillor for Education and Culture, School, Youth and Sport).

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