Lockdown: certain students set to return to school on 29 May
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    Lockdown: certain students set to return to school on 29 May

    Credit: Jasper Jacobs/Belga

    The education trade unions, umbrella organisations and Flemish Minister for Education Ben Weyts agreed to several relaxations of the rules concerning the reopening of schools on 15 May, on Tuesday.

    Schools will gradually reopen from Friday 15 May, when the first and second grade of primary education and the 6th and 7th grade of secondary education can restart.

    A week later on 22 May, there will be an evaluation. If the result is positive, schools can decide to also start the second and/or fourth grade of secondary education from 29 May, reports VRT.

    Initially, Belgium’s National Security Council announced that a maximum of 10 students could be taught at the same time. However, as this would see many classes split in three, it caused great problems in organising the lessons.

    By allowing up to 14 children per class, provided the minimum space of 4 square metres per child is respected, teachers can decide to teach one half in the morning and the second half in the afternoon, said Lieven Boeve of the umbrella organisation of Catholic Education to VRT.

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    Face masks will become mandatory for teachers and children over 12 years old. However, if there is enough space in the classroom, and the teachers can teach at a sufficient distance from the pupils, masks can be omitted, provided that a wall of plexiglass is fitted between teacher and pupils, or the teachers wear a standardised face shield, Boeve said.

    More flexibility regarding the number of teaching days will also be given to all schools, so they can decide for themselves what is and is not manageable.

    “We emphasise, once again, that the reopening of the schools must be safe and manageable,” Flemish Minister for Education Ben Weyts’ spokesperson told De Standaard. “We want to do the maximum we can, but in maximum safety. Every school must be given the green light, based on a risk analysis and a decision by the school board after social consultation. Schools have autonomy over teaching times,” he added.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times