Response to Covid-19 during the school year 2020-2021 (as in April 2021)
From the start of April 2021, schools in the eastern Austrian states of Vienna, Burgenland and Lower Austria switched to distance learning until April 18th, 2021. If the seven-day incidence in a municipality's district is over 400, schools should switch to distance learning, unless the cluster can be linked to a specific epidemic. Since March 15th, 2021, children at elementary and special schools are asked to test themselves three times a week, and alternate days in all other schools. If they have experienced a Covid-19 infection in the past six months or still have antibodies, children do not need a test. After Easter, the government started to provide higher sensitivity self-tests to lower level and middle school.
The Lollipop Test Project
The Lollipop Test has started on April 7th, 2021, in five kindergartens in lower Austria. The test, similar to using a toothbrush, aims to detect Covid-19 infections earlier in preschools. Based on its success, the project pilot could be enrolled across lower Austria in the next weeks.
Response to Covid-19 during the school year 2020-2021
In Austria schools opened on 7 September 2020.
The Ministry has introduced a “traffic light” phase system – green, yellow, orange and red. Depending on the traffic light colour, different measures have to be taken in educational institutions. All information and precautions for the individual traffic light phases are defined in a dedicated publication and are also explained for certain sub-areas such as music education and sport, practical lessons, afternoon care, performance assessment, school buffet and boarding schools.
The most important hygiene measures suggested are:
Wash hands regularly (after entering school, after coughing / blowing your nose, before eating, etc.)
Keep your distance where possible
Pay attention to sneezing and coughing hygiene (sneeze / cough in the crook of the elbow or handkerchief)
Regular ventilation of the classrooms, including during lessons
Stay at home if you have any symptoms of illness
When it comes to the use of face masks all students need to wear one in the schools’ common areas but not within the classroom.
Response to Covid-19 during the school year 2019-2020
Most pupils wentback to school on 18 May, with classes split in two groups that each attended lessons half the week to ensure their desks are far enough apart.
The shift of teaching from the classroom to distance learning poses new challenges for many educators. In the first weeks of remote teaching, the Ministry has advertised new offers on its homepage, e.g. the content repository Eduthek, and has drawn attention to the extensive range of digital textbooks and the existing learning platforms in order to support practice at home and to provide appropriate materials.
Collaborative education platforms, such as Microsoft365 for Education or GSuite for Education, which also allow live lessons via video, are also part of this offer. Teachers and schools that have little experience with digital communication and with preparing and designing distance learning are given quick and easy access to the newly opened „Distance Learning Service Portal“, based on Microsoft365 for Education. The platform enables them to organise their new pedagogical life themselves and deal with virtually all the communication requirements of everyday school life.
Futhermore, introductory webinars (eLectures), online seminars, online coaching units from experienced colleagues and video quick guides are available at the Distance Learning Service Portal for Microsoft365 for Education as well as for the Austrian learning management systems LMS.at and Eduvidual. In just a few minutes, teachers receive quick instructions and, based on practical examples, answers to didactic questions.