Belgium's education ministers call for relaxed masks rules for children

Belgium's education ministers call for relaxed masks rules for children
Credit: Belga

Belgium's different education ministers have agreed that if the country switches to 'code orange' on the barometer at the Consultative Committee on Friday, children must be given priority for relaxations.

Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts met with his colleague Ministers of Education of the Francophone (Caroline Désir) and German-speaking (Lydia Klinkenberg) communities, he said in the Parliament on Wednesday.

"If the Consultative Committee decides to switch to 'code orange', children should be given priority. At least in primary education, the compulsory use of masks should be abandoned," he said.

It is up to the Committee to decide when it is appropriate to switch to 'code orange' on the barometer, Weyts stressed, "but once it does, children must be given priority."

Earlier on Wednesday, the Minister-President of the Francophone Community Pierre-Yves Jeholet also stated that he would plead for a relaxation of the face mask obligation in schools on Friday.

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Since the classes resumed in early January, face masks have been compulsory for everyone from the age of 6. Raising that age to 10 or 12 will be discussed, according to Jeholet. He added that there has never been a scientific consensus on wearing a mask at school.

On Tuesday, however, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said that requiring children to wear masks is "indeed uncomfortable" and the rule should not be kept longer than necessary, "but there is no scientific basis for the opposition."

“I do not know of any serious study that mentions serious disadvantages for children,” he said.

Earlier this week, Flemish Youth Minister Benjamin Dalle also called on the Consultative Committee to lift the mask obligation for children as soon as possible, as he said it has a detrimental impact on children’s learning process and development.

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