The government had allowed schools and universities to start under the the lowest warning code, i.e. yellow, but the universities took the initiative themselves as a precaution. Coronavirus is hitting many youngsters at present, students and pupils included. "We owe it to ourselves, to each other and to society as a whole to guarantee safety standards as much as possible", says the Ghent rector Rik Van de Walle.
Amber means that fewer students will be allowed inside the auditoriums: only one in five seats can be taken, to guarantee social distancing. Under the yellow alert, half of the seats can be used. Amber means that more courses will be staged online.
"We have 22,000 students. If we reduce the circulation, we can make a major contribution to try to get the number of new infections down", says UAntwerpen rector Herman Van Goethem. He hopes that by making this sacrifice, secondary schools in Antwerp can remain operating under code yellow. Other universities may follow this example at a later stage.
Virologist Steven Van Gucht has called on students to be cautious when they return home in the weekend and meet their parents and grandparents, among other things. "Take care during your student life outside the university grounds, when you are in digs or going out. And keep your social distancing also when you meet parents, grandparents or other family members that may be more vulnerable."
First figures for pupils from primary and secondary schools
This afternoon, the Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts published figures about pupils in primary and secondary education. Two weeks after the start of the school year, it turns out that 638 pupils and 86 staff members have tested positive for Covid-19 so far. As a precaution, over 4,200 pupils and 368 staff members have taken up self-isolation. Mr Weyts says the figures are preliminary, adding that they represent only 0.05 percent of the total numbers for both teaching staff and pupils.