Elementary schools and kindergartens in more than half of Germany's 16 states reopened Monday after two months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The move comes despite growing signs that the decline in case numbers in Germany is flattening out again and even rising in some areas.
Germany's education minister, Anja Karliczek, has defended the decision to reopen schools, saying younger children in particular benefit from learning together in groups.
Karliczek told German news agency dpa that schools should use ``all available means to prevent virus transmission'' and expressed confidence that state education officials - who are in charge of school matters in Germany - would consider infection numbers when deciding where to reopen.
Germany's disease control agency say there were 4,369 newly confirmed cases and 62 deaths in the past day, though Monday's numbers are often low due to reporting delays over the weekend.
Education unions have called for teachers and kindergarten workers to be moved into a higher priority group for vaccinations, an idea that government officials have said they will consider.