Epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme not in favour of closing schools

Speaking in an interview with VRT Radio 2 the epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme has said that law-makers should first look at further restrictions on activities for children outside school before considering closing schools in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. With the number of infections among schoolchildren rising there have been increased calls for the temporary closure of schools in recent days. 

More and more individual schools have been forced to close completely due to coronavirus infections among their pupils. Meanwhile, at other schools individual classes have been quarantined after one of more children at them tested positive for coronavirus. It has already been decided that secondary schools will switch 100% to distance teaching during the week before half term. This is the week From Monday 8 to Friday 12 February. However, the growing number of infections in schools have led to calls for all schools to close temporarily as a way of curbing the spread of COVID-19.

The Antwerp University epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme believes that other measures should be taken first before any decision is made to close schools. Professor Van Damme told VRT Radio 2 Antwerp that "We must first look at what we can do with activities outside of school. All viruses make use of them and they are networks that they really like. So maybe this is an intermediate step before we have to take the large and difficult decision to close all schools”.  

Experts are meeting today to discuss whether schools should be closed.   

Meanwhile, the Governor of Antwerp Province Cathy Berx told the VRT that it is above important that pupils fall behind as little as impossible “So pupils need to be able to attend school, although enough distance learning facilities are also important”.

Ms Berx shares Professor Van Damme views on out-of-school activities. 

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