As schools are seeing staff and pupils drop out after a positive test or a high-risk contact at a rapid pace, virologist Steven Van Gucht proposed self-tests to prevent the closures of schools or classes.
In recent weeks, schools have requested changes to the quarantine policy following a number of issues with teachers and pupils being stuck in isolation or quarantine, resulting in closed classes or even entire schools.
“We need to look at whether you really need to send home children who have had a high-risk contact and/or have been in such a class with four or more infections, or whether you can start testing them as an alternative,” Van Gucht told Het Laatste Nieuws.
“If they test negative, for example with a self-test, you can assume that they are probably not infectious and you might be able to keep them in school after all,” he added.
Van Gucht stressed that these self-tests are the only viable alternative to quarantines and closures, but it will also take a lot of energy. “It will still mean that children will be sent home because they are sick or infectious. You will not be able to avoid that completely. I do expect a decision on that from the Ministers of Health.”
According to Van Gucht, patience is the most important tool now. “This is not going to take long. Just a few more weeks and the pressure on the system will really start to ease.”