Teachers at Jewish school take strike action after some pupils refuse to take second coronavirus test

Several teachers at a Jewish school in Antwerp went on strike on Wednesday after some pupils returned to school without first having taken a second coronavirus test. The news first appeared in the daily ‘Gazet van Antwerpen’ and has since been confirmed by VRT News sources. 

After a coronavirus outbreak at the Jesode-Hatora Beth-Jacob school in Antwerp it was advised that pupils should take a second coronavirus test before returning to school. On 21 January the vast majority, around 90%, took a first test for the virus. They should have undergone a second test 7 days later on 28 January. However, some pupils were only tested for the first time on 28 January and so they should have waited for the results of a second test to be taken on 4 February before returning to school. 

Those in charge of running the school had asked parents to get their children tested. They did so after consultations with the Flemish Care and Health Agency and the provincial and city authorities. However, this was a request and parents were not obliged to get their children tested as a condition to them being able to return to school.

One parent called the Flemish Care and Health Agency to ask whether the school could refuse to admit children once the legally applicable quarantine period of 10 days was up. They were told that the school would have no legal basis on which to do so. A small minority of children returned to school without being tested.

On Wednesday teachers in the girls’ section of the school found out that a few of their pupils had returned to school without having been tested for a second time. On learning of this a large portion of the teaching staff at the school downed tools and returned home in protest. The strike was only on Wednesday and the teachers have since returned to work. 

Like at all other secondary schools in Flanders next week, the last week of school before half term, will be a so-called “cooling off” week and lessons at the Jesode-Hatora Beth-Jacob school will be taught by distance learning methods. 

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