While the obligation to wear a face mask in secondary schools will be lifted in Flanders from 1 October, the rules for schools in the Brussels-Capital Region will remain the same.
The opinions on maintaining the compulsory mouth mask are very divergent - also within the educational field, which is why Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts decided on his own, based on a thorough risk analysis.
"Ultimately, children and young people run a very small risk of becoming seriously ill in the event of infection," he said in a press release. "For the most vulnerable - our seniors - there is now an extra layer of protection with the third shot. The non-vaccinated adults, on the other hand, are making a conscious choice."
"We cannot let children and young people bear the brunt of those adults' personal choices," Weyts added.
- Brussels' Dutch-speaking schools still require masks; Francophone ones do not
- Mental wellbeing of students at ‘top of the agenda’ in Flanders
- Brussels schools 'informally ask' about vaccination among pupils
He decided that, from 1 October, the mandatory wearing of face masks will be lifted for teachers and pupils in secondary education, as well as for teachers in primary education.
Additionally, a stricter framework for ventilation was introduced in which CO2 meters have a place in Flanders.
Weyts also stressed that the education sector will take its responsibility to take stricter measures, and possibly re-introduce the face mask obligation, if they are needed.
In the Brussels-Capital Region, nothing will change for the time being, due to the region's lower vaccination rate.
In practice, this means that in Brussels' Dutch-speaking secondary schools, staff and pupils (aged 13 to 18) have to continue wearing a mask when indoors.
Meanwhile, in Francophone secondary schools in Brussels (and Wallonia), face masks in the classroom are a thing of the past: when students sit down or stand still in class they can take off their masks.