Children in kindergarten, primary school and the first two years of secondary school will be taught in school. Pupils in the four final years of secondary school will be taught in school half the time and the remainder from home. Under the arrangement only half of pupils in these four final years will be at school at one time.
A decision on a full return to in-school teaching is expected ahead of 1 December and depends on the figures, but virologist Marc Van Ranst warns that a full return is highly unlikely.
Remote learning is the lot of all students in non-university higher education until the end of the calendar year. Exceptions apply e.g. to students of nursing where practice may proceed on campus. Code red with distance learning applies to university students though there are exceptions for first years and practice.
Belgium is trying to balance the threat of a learning deficit against the near catastrophe in health care. Geert Meyfroidt of Leuven University Hospital warned: “The people who decide on the reopening of schools should be aware of what they are doing. The overburdening of hospitals is gigantic as is the impact on non-Covid care. We’re still in the thick of it.”
“It’s a gigantic risk reopening schools now. The system can’t take even a minor third wave.”
Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) is one of the people who took this decision: “We are having to make difficult choices. It’s my task to guarantee education. We are not being reckless. Stringent safety measures are in place.”
“Children are not the motor of the epidemic and closing schools will be bad for the well-being of children and will create a learning backlog.”