Two Brussels schoolteachers are being investigated after allegations that they organised an illegal class trip to Turkey during the Easter holidays.
The two are alleged to have taken 12 students on a trip to Turkey in the first week of the Easter vacation earlier this month. Then, there was a ban on non-essential travel in force that was not lifted until 19 April – the end of the school holiday.
To escape that, the group travelled by bus to Germany and caught a flight in Cologne to Istanbul.
The trip had originally been planned for last year, but then too regulations on Covid-19 caused a cancellation. “It could not be reimbursed, so we left anyway,” one of the students told the RTBF. “I knew it was illegal, but I decided to take the risk,” said another.
As far as the parents of the students were concerned, they were assured the trip was being organised with the full knowledge and authority of the school, La Cime in Forest commune. But the school only became aware of the trip after the group had returned.
According to La Dernière Heure, which broke the story, students and staff all took a PCR test before leaving and on returning. And the trip was organised in the first half of the holiday to allow time to quarantine on their return.
At that time, Turkey was experiencing an infection rate of 40-50,000 cases a day, for a population of over 83 million. That places the country in fourth place for the number of infections, and in fact, a new full lockdown comes into effect tomorrow.
“The board of directors wishes to be better informed about all the details of this case and is giving itself a few more days to think before making a decision,” said school head Christian Watterman.
“The teachers are still finishing the school year, and then the matter will be settled. I don’t know what the consequences will be yet, but these are serious allegations. I have already spoken to one teacher and he has apologised. He did not want to cause any problems and did this in the interest of the students. If he had informed me, I would certainly have forbidden it. He made a big mistake.”