All children will be able to return to school on 1 September

The Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts has announced that all pupils, young and old, will be able to return to school on 1 September and the week after. As from the second week, it is possible that local municipalities are banning pupils on certain days of the week if there would local Covid flare-ups, but this should be more of an exception (at least for the younger pupils). There was also good news for students. 

Education experts and psychologists had underlined the importance for children to return to school: after the chaos in which the previous school year ended, it is crucial that they can take a good start this time, otherwise they could become a lost generation, some argued. 

Ben Weyts took soundings from the education sector, experts and trades unions and was happy to announce that every child will be able to return to school without exception: in kindergartens, primary education and secondary education. However, as from 12 years, pupils will have to wear a face mask. Restrictions will also be imposed on visitors and activities out of school. This more or less normal situation is labelled as "code yellow".

After the first week of school, municipalities facing an acute flare-up of coronavirus, will have the possibility to reduce the number of classes in secondary education (except for the first grade, the first two years) under "code orange". Pupils can only come to school every other week. Code orange would also be imposed on higher education and adult education then; this could be the case for Antwerp and Brussels in September. 

A green code means there is no problem at all, or that there is vaccine. A red alert means that coronavirus is more widespread, but for schools there would not be a big difference with the amber code.  

This morning, universities and high schools announced that they too will start the new academic year under code yellow. "We want to have the classes take place at the campus as much as possible."  

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