Everyone knows that flight prices skyrocket around popular vacation times, making it incredibly expensive to book a family vacation. One common way to get around these price-hikes is to get ahead of the vacation crowd by booking a day or two in advance. For travelers with children, this means taking them out of school early. While it might not seem like a huge deal — everyone slacks off before vacations anyway — in Germany, it could get you reported to the local authorities and earn you a huge fine of up to 1,000 euros.
Heinz-Peter Meidinger, head of a German teachers’ association told the New York Times, “Before the start and after the end of vacation, we see a big increase in children excused as being sick — in some cases, the rate can be double or triple the normal amount.” It’s no surprise, then, that before school ended on Friday for Bavaria’s two-week vacation, airport officers caught 21 families allowing their children to skip school without teacher authorization.
Since 1919, the German government has required school-age children to be in class during regular school hours. Illnesses or special occasions need to be excused with a doctor’s note, with approval from the school. Schools are fairly lenient when it comes to these extenuating circumstances, but they draw the line at playing hooky to save money on flights and hotels.
This policy has sparked heated debate among parents and school administrators. While parents question the productivity of the last few days of school before break, administrators disagree. And then there’s the added question: should local police be getting involved, or should disciplinary measures for be left to the school?
One thing’s for sure: the strict rule isn’t doing much to help Germany’s reputation as a no-nonsense destination.