21.10.2020, Hessen, Frankfurt/Main: Mit Mundschutzmasken sitzen Schülerinnen und Schüler der fünften Klasse eines Gymnasiums in Frankfurt im Unterricht, ein Mädchen trägt eine Mütze. Neben dem obligatorischen Tragen von Masken gehört das regelmässige Lüften der Klassenräume zum Hygienekonzept an den hessischen Schulen. Foto: Boris Roessler/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Nobody knows how bad the gas shortage will be in the winter months. Which is why it is right to expect the worst. With regard to the schools, this means that the Ministers of Education must now make a commitment that they will keep the schools open, i.e. in a usable condition. Come what may.

But is that even possible given that uncertainty? The answer: it works and it has to.

The Federal Network Agency lists schools as well as private households as protected consumers who are the last to be turned off the gas. But that does not mean that the school authorities, mostly municipalities and districts, will not come under enormous cost pressure to significantly lower the heating temperatures in classrooms.

But, that’s also clear, there won’t be much. Firstly, we are talking about some very young children who cool down more quickly. Secondly, there will be a lot of ventilation again in winter because of Corona. Probably not always properly in shock form.

Last winter, this was compensated for where possible by cranking the existing thermostats to the max. But if this time the heaters are set two or three degrees colder in parallel, the limit of what is tolerable is quickly reached. With real permanent room temperatures of 15, 16 degrees, a longer stay would be unreasonable, even unhealthy. Wearing winter jackets and gloves when writing an essay, calculating fractions or doing handicrafts would also be impractical and would justifiably cause outrage.

This is precisely why state governments – also under pressure from municipalities and districts – could come up with the idea of ​​extending the Christmas holidays with a grand gesture to save energy and/or ordering weeks of distance learning instead of the permanent reduction, which can be classified as something between unrealistic and unpopular.

Which would also seem to be much more worthwhile in terms of energy technology, because then the temperatures in the schools could be reduced to single-digit values. The fact that families would have to heat all the more at home at the same time would probably not be taken into account in such an analysis.

I say consciously: The state governments, above all the prime ministers and finance ministers, could come up with such ideas. On the other hand, the Ministers of Education in particular have known since Corona about the major effects of exposed face-to-face teaching on the psyche and the learning success of many students. But if they only then go into the defensive fight, it will be too late.

The Ministers of Education know this too, and the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK) says that talks are already underway to agree on a common position. Good this way. It must be heard loudly, at the beginning of the new school year at the latest. Just like education politicians did last year because of Corona.

Even then, they had no absolute certainty that the prime ministers would follow them if the number of infections in society as a whole went through the roof. But with their decisive statement (“top priority” in society for face-to-face teaching), the ministers of education have raised the hurdle as high as possible. With success.

Now they have to do it again. And we must not allow ourselves to be divided again. At the same time, they must emphatically and with maximum publicity from the federal and state governments demand massive financial aid for the sponsors of schools and day-care centers.

The people can know that they have their backs. A representative survey by Civey on behalf of “Bildung.Table” recently showed that 63 percent of people call for priority to be given to day-care centers and schools in the event of an energy shortage. Only private households received a higher value with 74 percent.

In industry, the figure is also 63 percent, while in cultural institutions it is only four percent. However, universities only get ten percent priority, one percentage point less than businesses. Which shows that completely different arguments about renewed digital teaching are threatening academic education.