Local police in Wommelgem in Antwerp province have placed two patrols at schools in the town, after threats made by protesters against the wearing of face masks by children over the age of six years.
The commune, according to police, has received several threatening messages about the new measure, which are being taken seriously.
“We can never be sure whether something could happen,” said Marlies Thijs of the local police zone. “It is important for us to take such matters seriously, because this threat involved several letters and an email.”
Two schools – de Boomgaard and Sint-Johanna – have received reactions since the mask obligation came into force on Monday.
“In one letter, the tone was so menacing that we decided to pass it on to the police zone, said Erik Laenen of the Sint-Johanna school. “No specific threats were made, but the tone was menacing and rude enough. There is no place for such a letter, and this should be looked at by other authorities.”
In the letter to the school, a person claiming to be a parent of a pupil threatened to cause a riot at the school gates in protest. In response, the police zone is posting patrols at the school gates morning and afternoon, as well as increasing its presence at other times.
The parent alleged to have written the message was later seen at the school gates, but no incident took place. “We want to be there to make sure nothing serious happens, and to intervene where necessary,” a local police spokesperson said.
The zone will take no further action in the meantime, but will remain alert for other potential threats.