Coronavirus: ‘keep teachers nearing retirement away from classrooms’
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    Coronavirus: ‘keep teachers nearing retirement away from classrooms’

    Teaching staff who are older or who belong to at-risk groups for Covid-19 should not be put back in front of the classroom immediately, the head of an emergency EU Covid-19 research project said. Credit: Stock image/Pexels

    Teachers nearing retirement age should not be brought back into the classrooms if schools return to on-site schooling in May, an epidemics expert said.

    “I would not immediately put someone who is about to retire and subject to certain risk factors in front of a class,” Professor Herman Goossens, who heads the lab where Belgium’s second Covid-19 case was confirmed, said in a televised interview.

    “I’d maybe let them telework or give them different jobs to do within the school system,” Goossens said, in an interview which came after a leaked paper on Belgium’s lockdown exit strategy suggested schools could start gradually reopening from 18 May.

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    Gossens is the coordinator for PREPARE, an EU-funded institute for clinical research on epidemics and has also been put at the helm of the bloc’s emergency Covid-19 research project, RECOVER, launched in mid-March.

    His comments follow news that Flemish education officials were going to push for an even earlier restart, on 15 May. The Flemish proposal, unveiled Wednesday, is set to be discussed during a meeting of the National Security Council on Friday.

    While Francophone education officials in Brussels said that they were not planning on putting forward a date, local school representatives on Thursday said they welcomed the prospect of a gradual return to shool from mid-May.

    “The sooner we can open, the better,” the director of a nursery and primary school in Schaerbeek said, while the head of the Flemish community education said having a set date provided clarity and gave time to make preparations.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times