“Too few classrooms and not enough teachers” mean that 20% of schools won’t be reopening as many classed as the maximum permitted

One in five primary school say that they will only be restarting class in just one or two year groups rather than the maximum permitted three year groups when schools reopen for teaching again this Friday or next Monday. The figures come from the Flemish Education Inspectorate that survey around 200 schools. The reason given by schools for not planning to start teaching all first, second and final year primary school pupils in school again is a lack of enough classrooms and/or staff to allow this to be done safely. 

In late April the National Security Council decided that from Friday 15 May the classes in the first, second and final years of primary school could be taught in school again from Friday 15 May. Similarly, classes for final year secondary school pupils could also start to be taught in school again from this date. The decision put schools under no obligation. It was simple a guideline. Heads are free to reopen fewer classes if they don’t have enough classrooms or staff or they feel that the safety risks are too great. Schools are also still obliged to provide child care for pupils from all year groups that can’t be looked after at home by their parent(s) or guardian.

The Education Inspectorate’s survey found that 18% of primary school don’t intend to reopen the maximum number of classes permitted. These schools plan to reopen classes in just one or two year groups rather than in three.

The reasons for this are diverse. Some schools don’t have enough classrooms to ensure that class number should not exceed 14. Lieve Boeve of the Catholic Education Board told VRT News that “A lot is dependent on the situation locally. Once classes are split schools often won’t have enough staff as well”.

On top of this schools will have to juggle teaching with their obligation to provide child care.

"They expect a lot of children in the child care provision and don’t know how they can combine his with teaching. Don’t forget that the safety measures have to be followed too: the wearing of mouth masks, repeated washing of hands, social distancing…”