For now, the rule in Baden-Wurttemberg will only apply to primary and secondary education
A German state has banned the use of burqas in school, saying that the full-face Islamic covering does not belong in a free society, Deutsche Welle reports.
Baden-Wurttemberg in southwest Germany announced the ban on Tuesday. The state has already banned the use of such coverings for teachers.
State Premier Winfried Kretschmann said that it was rare for school girls to wear burqas but that a ban was required for the exceptional cases.
The new rule comes as the topic of Muslim face coverings has been hotly debated in Germany and follows a ruling by a court in Hamburg that reversed that city's own ban.
Kretschmann, a prominent Green politician, said that full-face veiling did not belong in a free society. But he added that such a ban at the university level, where students are adults, was a more complex question.
For now, the rule in Baden-Wurttemberg will only apply to primary and secondary education.
Members of Germany's ruling CDU party have long called for a ban on full-face coverings in schools.
The country's left-wing Green party has been divided on the issue, but in Baden-Wurttemberg, Green party leaders were in agreement with the CDU, with state party leaders Sandra Detzer and Oliver Hildenbrand referring to the burqa and the niqab as “symbols of oppression.”
Other party members have argued that a ban could stoke tensions and negatively impact cultural integration.
It comes after a ruling earlier this year which saw a court in Hamburg overturn its own ruling on full-face coverings.
In February, a German court overturned a school's niqab ban after a 16-year-old girl was told she had to show her face to teachers.
In 2015, Germany's Constitutional Court overturned a blanket ban on teachers wearing them, ruling that it was against religious freedom. However, eight of Germany's states maintain restrictions on wearing the hijab by female teachers.
Germany's neighbouring countries including The Netherlands, France, Austria and Denmark have introduced a so-called “burqa ban” to varying degrees.