Schools in Flanders will reopen on 4 January as planned, as Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts stated that he does not want to extend the Christmas holidays.
The announcement came on Monday, following consultation with the education umbrella organisations and virologists.
An extension of the end-of-year holidays as has been suggested by some experts and politicians, as well as the EU - which recommended to extend the school holidays as a “buffer period” to reduce transmission risks immediately after the festive season - would only increase the learning deficit, according to Weyts.
Earlier this year, the autumn holidays were extended for three days, until 11 November, in an effort to reverse the rising coronavirus figures.
"We have had strict safety measures in place for a very long time and schools are not the motor of the virus," he said. "So, let us make sure that schools do not fall victim even more than they are today."
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Additionally, the current measures for schools will certainly remain in force in the first two weeks after the holidays (until 15 January), meaning that school do not have to prepare for new measures during the Christmas holidays.
Two days before the reopening, on Saturday 2 January, the education organisations will meet again for a new evaluation of the situation.
They will then consider whether there will be a need for future restrictions in schools, or whether there could be more room for more contact education in the second and third grades of secondary education, for example.
The choices people make during the Christmas holidays will have a big impact on schools at the start of next year, the education organisations stressed, calling on everyone to follow the measures properly and not to make trips abroad during the Christmas holidays if they are not strictly necessary.
The Brussels Times