Flemish universities remain in code red through February
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Flemish universities remain in code red through February

The campus of the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Credit: Belga

Flemish universities and colleges will continue operating in code red until the end of February, Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts announced on Tuesday.

“Instead of small relaxations in the short term, which may have to be withdrawn soon, we choose to keep up the efforts for longer,” Weyts said, allowing for “more drastic” relaxations in the long run.

In that way, “we are now choosing for stability, but with a clear perspective,” he said.

Code red (high risk) is the last of four phases in the pandemic matrix for Flemish universities, which also includes codes green (zero risk), yellow (low risk) and orange (moderate risk).

When universities are operating in code red, they can no longer teach in auditoriums or in small groups, while practical and lab exercises require the wearing of a face mask.

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The decision to extend code red was taken in consultation with virologists, Het Laatste Nieuws reports, and will be re-evaluated ant the end of February.

“Many students and teachers hoped for a quicker relaxation, but we don’t want a yo-yo,” Weyts underlined, noting that “the situation is still precarious at the moment.”

Meanwhile, rector Rik Van de Walle of the University of Ghent (UGent) announced that his university would continue operating under code red until at least 21 March, saying that “the recent evolution of the corona indicators should encourage us to remain cautious and caring.”

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times