A circular meant to protect young people who skip school to march for the climate has been sent to all French-speaking schools in Belgium, Sudpresse newspapers reported on Tuesday. The letter, signed by Interim Director-General for Compulsory Education Anne Hellemans, noted that while taking part in a climate march could not be considered a justifiable reason for staying away from school, such absences would “exceptionally” not be penalised as long as the participants’ parents or legal guardian had agreed.
“Thus, no student may lose the regular attendance rating due to the accumulation of absences linked to the marches for the climate,” Hellemans said.
In early March, the Minister of Education for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Marie-Martine Schyns had said that she did not wish to consider such absences as “justified absence” nor did she wish to jeopardise the year for the students, who could be prevented from sitting their examinations if they accumulate more than 20 half-days of unjustified absences.
Since some schools had their classes participate in turns in the marches, and others, students were absent only on half a day each week, the cabinet does not expect hundreds of cases, the daily stated.