Teachers’ unions have joined in criticism of a suggestion, made by Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts, to extend the school year, because of the backlog of work caused by the shutdown due to the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
By the time the latest shutdown deadline is reached on 3 May, schools will have been closed – other than for reception of children of parents forced to go to work – for five weeks, or the equivalent of 10% of the school days in a normal year.
“Now it is all about getting in as many lessons as possible,” said Weyts during the week.
“Normally, the school year ends on 30 June. But it might be a good suggestion to carry on teaching and conduct evaluations until 30 June, and only then organise grading and announcing the results. But the decision is up to the schools,” he added.
The teaching unions were not at all open to the idea.
“Students and teachers have worked hard during the corona period, perhaps in a different way, but it was by no means a holiday,” said Nancy Libert of the union ACOD Education.
“Many teachers also worked hard during the Easter holidays to be able to offer new material digitally on Monday. So in our opinion, the suggestion to extend the school year is an irrelevance,” she said.
“Extending the school year would be like a slap in the face to teachers who have been working all this time,” said Koen Van Kerkhoven of the Catholic schools union.
“Not only that, but it would also be a strange choice in terms of content. What difference would those three or four days extra make? And let’s not forget that grading often takes place in the evening, outside of class hours.”