No return to campus before February for Francophone universities in Belgium
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No return to campus before February for Francophone universities in Belgium

A building of the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) campus on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt in Brussels. Credit: Sally V/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

Francophone universities in Brussels and Wallonia will maintain distance-learning modalities until at least February 2021, aligning themselves with regulations announced earlier for Flemish universities.

Valérie Glatigny, the minister for higher education for the Brussels-Wallonia Federation, confirmed that there were no plans to allow students to return en masse to campus at the start of the new semester.

The possibility to revert back from the current red-code risk scenario would only be reviewed, she said, until after the first-term exam period concluded, around late January.

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“The situation will be re-evaluated after the exams, meaning there will be no changes until, at the earliest, early February,” Glatigny said, warning that any changes would be contingent on an “improvement of the sanitary situation.”

Francophone universities in Belgium returned to distance-learning as infections spiked in late October, with only labwork, art classes and practical modules still allowed to hold classes on campus.

Her announcement comes moments after Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts said that Dutch-speaking universities in Flanders and in Brussels would also remain under code red for a bit longer, until late February.

Weyts said that the decision was made in an effort to offer some perspective and stability, saying that a longer effort was preferable that shorter-term relaxations which risked having to be reverted if the situation worsened.

The news from education officials on either side of Belgium’s language border come after both said universities would be allowed to organise the upcoming first-term exams on-campus, provided they followed specific rules and conditions.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times