Masks jettisoned in secondary education

From 1 October pupils in Flemish secondary schools will no longer need to mask in a bid to stem coronavirus cases.  Masks had already disappeared from Flemish primaries.  Teachers too no longer need to mask except in Brussels where masking rules for pupils and staff remain unchanged due to the poor uptake of the vaccine and worrying case numbers.

The decision follows talks between education minister Weyts (nationalist), the school networks, experts and the unions.  Mr Weyts, who points to the high vaccination rate in Flanders, conceded it was a difficult consultation but at the end of the day he took the final decision: “Given relaxations in society at large we also need to be able to relax measures for pupils and teachers too.”

Koen Pelleriaux of the official schools network adds: “It was difficult to explain to pupils.  Seated at a desk masks were no longer required, but the minute pupils headed for the playground they needed to mask.”

Lieven Boeve of the Roman Catholic network: “Virologists are worried about a new wave.  It’s an issue for society at large.  If stricter general measures are taken, fresh measures will be introduced in education too.”

Scientists and unions were not enthusiastic about fresh relaxations.  “It’s no secret that we argued in favour of greater precaution” says biostatistician Molenberghs.  “It would be a shame to see cases rise and for restrictions to be tightened up once again.”

Top stories