Flemish Education Department issues guidelines for distance learning after the Easter holidays

The Flemish Education Department has issued guidelines for distance learning is teaching in schools remains suspended beyond the end of the Easter holidays. For the post 3 weeks no lessons have been taught in schools as part of the measure designed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Last Friday it was announced that the measures would be extended until the end of the school Easter vacation with the option of extending them until midnight on Sunday 3 May. This would mean that pupils would miss out on a further two weeks of lessons. 

In order to prevent children from falling (further) behind the Flemish Education Minister has issued a set of guidelines to be followed by schools in the five Flemish provinces and Dutch-medium schools in Brussels. The guidelines state that help by parents in teaching their children work set by schools can best be kept to a maximum of 2 hours/week.

After the Easter holidays pupils will be taught a maximum of 4 hours/day through distance learning. They will also be set work to do on their own by this means. Mr Weyts hope that the guidelines will help to keep things bearable for parents, allow teachers to do their jobs and allow children to learn. 

Although it is not impossible that schools might re-open in just over two weeks’ time, it is also a possibility that the National Security Council will decide to extend the measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

If this is the case the Flemish authorities intend to provide pupils with new subject matter through distance learning. Up until now pupils have been set homework tasks based on subject matter already covered at school. The Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts says that any further weeks spend away from school “Should not be weeks lost to teaching”.

The subject matter taught online will be so-called pre-teaching. It will be taught first through the means of distance teaching and for a second time once children return to school. The second time around the teacher will reach the heart of the subject matter more quickly.

The guidelines have come about as a result of consultative talks between the Education Minister educationalists and the various education boards.

Pupils will spend a maximum of 4 hours/dag on school work. Parents will spend no more than 2 hours/week actively coaching their children with their schoolwork. Mr Weyts says that schools are free to make their own choices, but he hopes that they will follow the guidelines”.

The Education Minister added that he hoped that schools would focus on core subjects and would provide plenty of feedback and interaction with parents (at least once a week). He also suggests that schools might like to organise and online information evening about pre-teaching.

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