Flemish schools to partially reopen from 15 May

The Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts (nationalists), the education boards and the trade unions that represent teachers and other staff working in Flemish schools have agree to a partial reopening of schools from Friday 15 May. The proposal agreed to early on Wednesday afternoon means that all state-funded schools in the 5 Flemish provinces and Dutch-medium schools in Brussels will at least partially re-open for teaching in just over three weeks’ time. 

By the time they re-open they will have been closed for almost 9 weeks with the last normal school day having been on Friday 13 March.

The partial re-opening will be the first step in a gradually plan to re-open Flemish schools. The agreement reached on Wednesday will be put before the National Security Meeting on Friday.

The Flemish authorities will now hold takes with the Francophone and German-language Education Ministers. The National Security Council will meet on Friday to discuss a staged relaxation of the measures brought in to curb the spread of COVID-19. Confirmation that the agreement reached earlier on Wednesday will take effect will only come after Friday’s meeting.  

What has been agreed?

Pupils in the first and second years of primary school will be able to go to school four days a week, while those in the sixth and final year of primary school will be able to attend school for two full or four half days a week.

In secondary schools pupils in their final year of general secondary education (ASO) will be able to attend school one day a week. Those in their final of technical and arts secondary school will be able to attend school two days a week, while those in their 6th and 7th years of secondary vocational education will also be able to attend school two days a week.

Nursery schools will remain closed. An evaluation will be made a week after the schools reopen.

Friday 15 May will be a test day. The following week lessons will be taught on three day with the long Ascension weekend being used to make an assessment.

To ensure safety, classes will consist of a maximum of 10 pupils, each of whom will be given a fixed seat in the classroom. It has yet to be decided whether mouth masks will be mandatory.