No relaxation of corona measures in schools before half term

At a meeting held on Saturday between the Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts (nationalist, photo above), virologists and the various partners involved in Flemish education it was decided that the measures currently in force in schools to curb the spread of coronavirus will not be relaxed before next month’s half-term break. In the meantime, the situation will continue to be followed closely by all parties. 

Speaking after the meeting Mr Weyts told journalists "If the situation worsens like in neighbouring countries, we know that additional measures will be required, not only in education, but in society as a whole”.

The current situation whereby all primary school children and those in the first and second years of secondary school attend classes full time will remain in force.  Those in the third year of secondary school and above will continue to be taught 50% at school and 50% by digital distance learning methods.   

More rapid coronavirus testing in schools

In order to offer a speedy response if teaching staff or pupils become infected with coronavirus the number of rapid coronavirus tests available to schools will be extended from sometime next week. This will enable those that have has high-risk contacts with infected people to be tested more quickly thus reducing the chance that they infect others if they have become infected with coronavirus themselves.

The Education Minister would have liked to have been able to relax the measures in force in Flemish schools after the Christmas holidays. However, the new reportedly more infectious strain of coronavirus that first appeared in the UK means that he has decided to edge on the side of caution. Although virologist say that schools aren’t the motor for the spread of the virus, they are victims of any increase in infection levels in society in general.

Meanwhile, experts are working on advice they intend to give the Education Minister on the possible introduction of a rule making masks covering the mouth and nose mandatory for at least some pupils in primary school. This should be ready sometime next week. No decision has yet been taken on whether, like in the autumn term, the half term holidays this term will be extended. 

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