Daily Host Nation Stories September 14, 2020
School in Corona times poses many challenges
For 1.5 million students and more than 135,000 teachers, school is now starting again in Baden-Württemberg after the summer vacations. The Ministry of Education is planning “as much presence teaching as possible” and Minister President Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) has already called on students’ patience as a precaution.
The corona pandemic poses challenges for school administrations, teachers, and students, but also for parents. Significantly more communication than usual is required. Parents and students have already had to read and, at best, discuss the vast amounts of information provided by the schools during the summer break: Health declarations, hygiene protocols, maps of the school building, distance rules. Different rules for teachers, students, while in the classroom, while on school grounds, rules for elementary school students, other rules for middle school students, etc. etc.
The Ministry of Education and Cultural Affairs is relying on the fact that they have established students into groups as the best way to accurately track an infection incidence and avoid having to close down entire school sites. Distance learning can take place for those students who cannot attend class in person. However, many schools and students lack sufficiently fast Internet access and functioning laptops or tablets to make this work well. And even if the technical conditions are right, communication between teachers and students is often not uniform. Whether it’s a learning platform, e-mails or various chat programs – a high degree of flexibility is required of students if they need to keep an eye on the sometimes very different information channels.
And if all of that is not enough, to complicate matters further, of the more than 5,900 teacher positions needed at general public and vocational schools nationwide, 645 are currently empty. Nearly half of the vacancies are at elementary schools and far greater in rural areas than in urban areas. (SWR, September 14)
Worldwide sees the highest infections rate to date
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 308,000 people were newly infected with the virus within 24 hours – more than ever before in one day. According to ntv-evaluations with reference to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) there were more than 315,000 new confirmed cases on September 11. This means that more than 28.6 million infections have been reported worldwide since the pathogen Sars-CoV-2 was identified at the end of last yearThe biggest increases have been in India, the USA, and Brazil. Even as daunting as these figures are, experts estimate that the number of undetected cases is considerable. (Ntv, September 14)
Police enforce compliance with the mandatory wearing of masks
Around 60 police officers were on duty in Stuttgart on Monday morning to monitor compliance with the obligation to wear masks. “We monitor the entire city area,” said police spokesman Stephan Widmann in the morning. The officers were stationed at city train and bus stops, as well as at the main train station, and also travel on public transportation. In contrast to commuters, students are not the focus of the operation. “We don’t want to unsettle the students,” says Widmann. “We address them, but do not sanction them.”
The police also believes in communication in other respects. It is a matter of pointing out to those who put on their masks incorrectly or not at all how important it is in times of Corona to wear the correct mouth and nose protection. “Occasionally we meet people who do not do this,” said Widmann. If someone is unreasonable, a fine will be imposed. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, September 14)
China imposes import ban do to swine flu in Brandenburg
After the outbreak of swine flu in Brandenburg, the meat industry is under pressure. After South Korea, China has now also imposed an import ban on German pork. Also indirect imports as well as the import of pork products would be prohibited, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and the country’s customs authorities announced. China is the largest buyer of pork meat from Germany. According to customs information, the ban will apply as of today. All deliveries of meat and products from pigs or wild boars, which are shipped afterwards, are to be destroyed or sent back according to the instructions of the Chinese customs.
German pork exports to China and other countries outside the EU had already been stopped earlier because, according to the German Ministry of Agriculture, the necessary certificates can no longer be issued due to the swine flu cases. Before China, South Korea had already banned pork imports from Germany.
On Thursday it became known that a dead wild boar found in Brandenburg was infected with the virus. It is the first case in Germany. According to Joachim Rukwied, president of the farmers’ association, the pig farmers had already taken many measures and were now doing even more to keep the virus out of their barns. (Tagesschau, September 13)
Bundeswehr halts costly aircraft renovation project
In 2006, the Ministry of Defense purchased eight used maritime patrol aircraft from the Dutch armed forces. At the time of purchased it was known that the P-3C “Orion” aircraft needed some renovations, new wings and new electronics had to be installed.
At the time, the German Armed Forces relied on the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for the work, (although the aircraft had been manufactured by Lockheed). So Lockheed supplied the wings, which were then fitted by Airbus technicians in an Airbus factory – a complicated back-and-forth process. One reason why the work was repeatedly delayed.
In June 2020, the Ministry of Defense stopped the work because the total costs could no longer be calculated and the technical difficulties that continued to arise during the modernization process.
The amount that the Ministry of Defense has put into the project is now becoming apparent for the first time. The procurement office has invested more than 350 million euros in the replacement of the wings and electronics on the maritime patrol aircraft alone, which are now scheduled to be decommissioned in 2025.
“Not only has a lot of money been lost in the modernization of the P-3C Orion, but also a lot of time,” says Tobias Lindner, member of the Bundestag for the Greens, who sits on both the defense and the budget committees. “It is thanks to the Federal Audit Office that the Ministry of Defense woke up at some point. In all honesty, one has to say that one should have had a reliable cost forecast as early as 2015, then one would have realized five years ago that modernization was not the right way to go. (Tagesschau, September 14)