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Flemish Brabant school forced to close after a third of its staff in forced to quarantine

A primary school in the Flemish Brabant village of Diegem, around 10 kilometres northeast of Brussels will be closed all next week after more than a third of its teachers have ended up a quarantine. Around 50 of the school’s pupils have also been sent home as a precautionary measure. 8 of the 22 teachers at the De Fonkel primary school are currently quarantining and now the municipal authorities in Machelen, of which Diegem is a part, have decided to close the school. 

The municipal authority has not only closed the school due to the shortage of staff, but also to send out a clear signal to parents. The Alderman responsible for education in Machelen Karina Rombauts (Christian democrat) told VRT News that “Many of them are not upholding the (corona) safety measures strictly enough”.

Next week is the last week of school before half term so in fact the school will remain closed for a fortnight. Distance learning will be provided as will childcare for parents that have to go out to work.

“By taking the decision to close the school in time, we have given ourselves enough time to prepare to offer distance learning. If even more teachers drop out it would be difficult to still provide lessons”, Ms Rombauts added.

There is also criticism of some parents that have children at the school as they don’t respect the measures that are in force regarding, for example, social distancing.

"A lot of people don’t uphold the measures sufficiently. They often don’t wear masks or get too close to teachers if they have something to discuss. This is of course unacceptable”, Ms Rombauts told VRT News.  

When the school reopens after half term the pupils will have much more space. “Our new building will be ready after half term. There will be more classrooms and two extra playgrounds. We will be able to provide separate entrances for nursery and primary school children. This can only be a positive thing in these current times”, the Alderman concluded.

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