Germany reckons with its pandemic-era school closures.

Anthony LaMesa
3 min readFeb 5

While the United States struggles to discuss its lengthy school closures, Germany confronts past errors.

About a week ago, German health minister Karl Lauterbach — a Covid-cautious Social Democrat who engages with Eric Ding on social media and called for lengthy school closures as an MP in 2020 — did something that would shock Americans used to politicians digging in their heels: he acknowledged a mistake!

Translated by Google: “The level of knowledge was not good at that time. Nevertheless, in retrospect, long school closures were not correct. Now there is a lot to do for children, this is happening in the healthcare system. Children have priority: children’s clinics, practices, medicines.”

In early November, Lauterbach admitted that closing childcare centers was unnecessary.

Despite German children losing much less formal schooling — schools reopened there in spring 2020 — than American children, it’s praiseworthy that German politicians and elites are beginning to speak openly about a social policy failure. To be clear, Lauterbach is saying that it was a “mistake” in retrospect, but his willingness to even touch the subject is remarkable.

Lauterbach’s comments have presumably created political space in Germany for a broader discussion of the school closures — again, closures that were significantly shorter than those in the United States, which resembled extended closures in Brazil and Mexico.

Yesterday, a German scientist tweeted in response to a Die Welt article about Lauterbach that “Individual scientists should…

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