‘Absurd’: all Brussels schools should have the same Covid rules

‘Absurd’: all Brussels schools should have the same Covid rules
Credit: Belga

Several city councillors for education in Brussels are calling to abolish the “absurd” differences in coronavirus measures for Dutch-speaking and Francophone school children in the Capital Region.

Belgium’s education policy is determined by the different Communities, not the Regions, meaning that Dutch-speaking schools in Brussels follow the Flemish decrees and guidelines, and the Francophone schools follow those of the French Community.

This leads to “absurd situations” such as the fact that the Flemish Community forbids pupils to take public transport as a class group: extra-curricular activities are allowed, they just cannot go there by metro, tram or bus.

“The guidelines imposed by Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts do not take into account the specific metropolitan context,” city councillors Ans Persoons (City of Brussels), Elke Roex (Anderlecht), Jef Van Damme (Molenbeek) and Lydia Desloover (Saint-Josse) said in a joint press release.

“A large proportion of our pupils come to school by public transport, during rush hours,” they added. “It is incomprehensible that the same pupils in class, at much quieter times of day, should not be allowed to use public transport.”

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However, as the rules of the education system of the French Community are different, pupils going to a Francophone school are allowed to do this.

The city councillors stress that the health experts’ advice is “uniform” and “does not distinguish between the languages in which children are taught.”

As the experts are currently focusing on measures specific to areas and regions, it seems obvious that the rules are the same for all children in Brussels, they say.

In practice, the Communities have interpreted this advice differently, but that cannot be explained to parents, children and educational staff. “After all, the potential health risk in Brussels is the same for everyone.”

“It seems clear to us that there is an urgent need for coordination among the Community Ministers,” they said. “The absurd differences must be eliminated.”

Additionally, they argue that it is irresponsible to continue punishing children for the lack of vaccination coverage of other generations in Brussels. “Now that the adults are being held responsible with the general introduction of Covid Safe Ticket (CST) in Brussels, it is high time to allow the children their freedom once again.”

Hannelore Goeman, MP of the Flemish Parliament, will question Minister Weyts on these issues in the Flemish Parliament. The aldermen also ask for the support of Flemish Community Commission board member responsible for education, Sven Gatz.

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