On March 11 the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 to be a pandemic, a worldwide spread of the disease COVID-19 which affects the lives of many people.
Schools in the GPENreformation network are also affected. In the church office of the Protestant Church in Germany, the headquarter of the GPENreformation Secretary, all business trips have been cancelled for the time being; as well as conferences and events in various regions. Schools have been closed – first in China, including Shanghai, and now worldwide; instead, distance learning is being provided. Even in countries not affected, such as Rwanda, numerous precautionary measures are taken.
At the end of February the Willow Creek Leadership Congress took place in Karlsruhe, Germany. GPENreformation and the EKD were also represented there with the educational work of the EKD. Unfortunately the event was interrupted due to the illness of one of the speakers. For safety reasons I was not able to work for several days until the risk of infection was clarified. Many other events were also cancelled, business trips are currently suspended. We are trying to organize many planned meetings via video conferencing. Now the cabinet of the state government has decided, on the recommendation of the crisis management group for the fight against the corona epidemic, to cancel lessons at schools in Lower Saxony from 16 March 2020. In addition, daycare centres, universities, state museums and state theatres will remain closed.
Martin Janz, Germany/GPENreformation Secretary
Due to the outbreak and spread of the coronavirus the availability of travel is uncertain. Airline travel in an out of China has become very limited. There is a 14 day self-quarantine in effect for anyone who travels to affected areas or from an international location. Without going into many details, nearly every aspect of our lives have been affected by efforts to control the virus. There are daily restrictions and protocols being implemented. Concordia has been engaged in home-based learning (teachers sending lessons via Internet) since Feb. 4. No classes will be held on campus for the month of February and the local authorities haven’t given a date for when schools will be permitted to resume.
Karin Semler, China/GPENreformation Council
At home in Rwanda we have not yet experienced the coronavirus pandemic which is currently plaguing the whole world. As a preventive measure, all our schools have just prevented morning gatherings to thwart the possible spread of this scourge. In these gatherings, a few minutes were reserved for meditation. Our school known as the Groupe Scolaire Karengera-Gitwa has 40 small children at the nursery level, 537 pupils at the primary level and 899 pupils at the secondary level. It is therefore impossible for us to share the word of God together regularly and at the same time. Therefore, it is not also possible to organize general meetings of parents to decide on certain important activities at school, things could then become paralyzed.
We pray for our brothers and sisters who are members of the GPENreformation who are already facing this global calamity in order to emerge victorious.
Daniel Barekayo, Rwanda/GPENreformation Ambassador