Today, Austria’s education minister Dr Faßmann hosted a press conference to present his pandemic school plans (or perhaps I should more correctly say, the lack thereof).

He was joined by Dr Petra Apfalter, the head of the Institute for Hygeine, Microbiology and Tropical Medicine at the Elisabeth Hospital in Linz, Austria.

During the press conference this morning, Dr Apfalter said (I paraphrase as I was live blogging from German with some colorful commentary when I really couldn’t restrain myself. As a mom of three gymnasium-aged kids, it’s personal.):

And then she said this:

During the Q&A section, Dr…


Dear fellow citizens,

As of this week, we know: we are now in a very serious phase of the coronavirus pandemic. Each day, the number of new infections is increasing sharply. The pandemic is spreading quickly, faster than it has since it began more than half a year ago. The relatively relaxed summer is behind us; we now face difficult months ahead. How the winter will be, how our Christmases will be, you will determine that in the coming days and weeks. We will all determine this with our own behaviour.

I would like to tell you what that means…


Another Open Letter to Austria’s Minister of Education

Dear Dr Faßmann,

Exactly one month ago, I wrote you an open letter. I never received a reply, but you are indeed a busy man, responsible for over one million school children and over 100,000 teachers. I kept hoping, though, in your silence, that you might take some action to protect Austria’s next generation and their teachers from the spread of coronavirus. So far, unfortunately, you have done nothing.

I would like, therefore, to make an emotional and fact-based appeal.

Emotional because I am filled with dread every morning when send my…


Recently, a prominent American economist and bestselling author, Emily Oster, published a piece in The Atlantic with the headline “Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders. Fears from the summer appear to have been overblown”.

The piece was welcomed like a breath of fresh air by many American parents understandably tired of juggling working from home with online school.

The article, unfortunately, didn’t include data from Europe, where we are entering our second month of in-person schooling. …


Madrid is entering a second lockdown. For the next two weeks, residents won’t be let out of the city.

Paris is closing its bars from tomorrow as it warns of a potential second lockdown.

Moscow and other Russian regions will move schools entirely online after school holidays end mid-October. Moscow’s mayor showcased today makeshift coronavirus wards in expo centres and ice-skating rinks. The city’s hospitals are full.

Sweden has noticed a doubling of coronavirus detected in Stockholm’s water.

Italy is proposing mandatory masks in all outdoor spaces, in addition to its comprehensive indoor-mask policy which it has had for some…


Last week, I wrote an open letter to Austria’s minister of education pleading with him to reconsider the country’s insane and naive strategy of requiring children of all ages sit in full classrooms without masks while coronavirus cases continue to spike in Austria. I didn’t get any response from the government, but I did hear from a lot of teachers and some parents who share similar concerns.

This weekend, I realized that by addressing the government, I had forgotten about the third corner of the education triangle: the parents. …


Dear Dr Fassmann,

I am the mother of three children who attend gymnasium in Vienna. We survived the lockdown, distance learning, and then part-time school on A/B schedules in two different schools. I was quite concerned when you said in July that we could plan for a “normal” school start in September, but I gave you the benefit of the doubt.

Our family was on our best behaviour this summer. We cancelled a planned vacation in Montenegro due to the Level 6 Reisewarnung, and made a pricey and rainy Urlaub in Österreich instead. …

Tanja Maier

Russian-speaking Canadian-born Arizonan in Wien. Maiden name ends in ić. Translator Rus to Eng. Mom of 3. Austria COVID-19 Russia Belarus U.S. Balkans & books.

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