Covid sweeps through Hasselt school after ski trip: 101 students out sick

Covid sweeps through Hasselt school after ski trip: 101 students out sick
Photo by Kipras Štreimikis on Unsplash

101 third-year students at a secondary school in Hasselt are out sick following a skiing trip to Austria during the Christmas holidays during which many contracted Covid-19.

About 20% of fifth and sixth year students at the school are also absent because of the coronavirus, reports De Standaard.

“It took a while to count, but there are 101 third-year students absent,” headmaster Guido Voets said, out of a total of 470.

“I haven’t been able to find out how many are absent in other years… but there are certainly more than 90.”

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Voets pointed out that bot every student is necessarily absent because they have tested positive: “I do know that some stay home as a precaution because they can follow the lessons online. The symptoms vary from very mild to not feeling well, but there are no really serious cases.”

Infected while visiting Austria

Around 84 students from the Virga Jesse College in Hasselt travelled to Austria by bus on 1 January for the ski trip, arriving back in Belgium on 9 January.

Upon arrival in Austria, some students began experiencing symptoms and stayed in their rooms instead of skiing.

A week later, when back in Belgium, many were still sick and it was decided that everyone who went on the trip would take a self-test. The tests revealed that a large proportion of the students from the trip were infected.

© Belga

The school had taken the necessary precautions before the trip, requiring all participants to present a Covid Safe Ticket and a negative PCR test taken 48 hours before departure.

“Everyone was in order according to the applicable rules. We can only guess where the contamination came from,” Voets said.

One teacher is also absent due to Covid-19. For the time being, sick students are following lessons online.

Not entirely unexpected

The situation isn’t entirely unexpected – earlier this week, the medical director of the Antwerp University Hospital said that “the coronavirus will rage through the classrooms like wildfire” now that schools are back in session.

His warning was echoed by Belgium’s Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke, who predicted that the current Omicron infection wave would be “very disruptive for our society,” with schools expected to be impacted.

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