Coronavirus: distance-learning could 'no doubt' continue into autumn

Coronavirus: distance-learning could 'no doubt' continue into autumn
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It is unlikely that the start of the new school year in Belgium will go down as normal come September, the minister for Francophone education said on Monday.

In a radio interview, Francophone Education Minister Caroline Désir said schools in Belgium would have to find a new wave of functioning if the coronavirus pandemic was still not under control after the summer.

"If we are still in a situation where the epidemic my flare up again, where we risk going through a second peak, we will evidently have to adapt our way of going to school," Désir said.

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The minister, responsible for compulsory education in French in Brussels and Wallonia, said that there was "no doubt" that a scenario in which students went to school only every other day from the return to class in September could be likely.

Under the new conditions, a regular school week could be reorganised with "moments of on-site schooling and moments of distance learning," Désir said, also adding that experts recommended that children be allowed to take lunch or play breaks in smaller groups.

"For now, we are working on the reopening of schools in May 18 and 25, but we already have to think about the back to school period in September," she said.

Last week, Belgium's National Security Council gave the green light for schools to resume in-person teaching from mid-May under strict social-distancing rules.

Désir also said that parents who did not send their children back to school over health-related concerns —such as in families where children were in contact with someone belonging to an at-risk group– would not be penalised.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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