Flanders has announced a proposal to reopen nursery schools and allow more pupils to return to primary and secondary schools, from 2 June.
The proposal was agreed on by the Flemish educational umbrella organisations, the trade unions and the Flemish Minister for Education Ben Weyts on Friday. However, the National Security Council still has to give the go-ahead.
Until now, only pupils in the first, second and sixth grade of primary school, as well as pupils in the sixth and seventh grade of secondary school, were (partly) allowed to go back to class. For all other pupils, distance learning is still the rule.
After the first week of classes (meaning this weekend), schools would consider the possibility of also allowing secondary school pupils in the second and fourth grade to return to school.
— Ben Weyts (@BenWeyts) May 22, 2020
Translation: “Proud of our education system. After seven hours of negotiations, a strong agreement that gives hope and perspective to all children in Flanders.”
Additionally, an increasing number of people has also been calling to reopen nursery schools, with a collective of 16,000 doctors signing an open letter to allow all kindergarteners and primary school pupils to return to class this week.
“The Flemish educational field wants all pupils to be able to return to their familiar classroom this school year. In consultation with the GEES (Group of Experts for the Exit Strategy), the educational partners have drawn up a scenario for the rest of the school year,” Weyts said in a statement on his website. “For the schools, there will be peace and clarity. For the parents and all pupils, there will be a concrete perspective,” he added.
With their proposal, the organisations and Weyts advise that nursery schools should be completely reopened from 2 June. They will not have to respect the social distance measures.
For primary schools, at least half of the time during which pupils are taught should be spent at schools. The schools can create their own systems on how this would be handled exactly.
Pupils in the second and fourth grades of secondary school will also be allowed to go back to school, according to the advice. They could attend school for a maximum of 2 full days, or 4 half days a week.
The pupils will attend school for a maximum of 2 full days or 4 half days a week. The intention is to have at least one more day at school in the first, third and fifth years. Additionally, they aim to allow pupils in the first, third and fifth grades to come to school at least for one day.
Education for pupils with special needs could also resume. Here, too, the schools themselves have the autonomy to decide on what kind of system they will use, as well as possible restrictions on pupil transport.
“After all, schools offer more than just education: they also fulfil numerous social functions for the pupils,” Weyts said. “It is incredibly important for all children and young people that they have the opportunity to attend class together this school year,” he added.
The Brussels Times