Belgian kindergartens reopen amid union concerns

Belgian kindergartens reopen amid union concerns
Credit: Belga

Kindergarten will start again on Tuesday and primary schools will follow next Monday. Teachers’ unions have expressed apprehension and anger at this next stage of the deconfinement and the haste of the political world to reopen schools.

The consultation committee announced last Wednesday the restart of kindergartens along with the return of more pupils to secondary school.

The decision was based on the favourable evolution of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic since the start of deconfinement on 4 May, a better knowledge of the virus, and an appeal launched on 19 May by 269 paediatricians for a wider reopening of schools to preserve the mental and social well-being of children.

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The decision shocked many school principals who had undertaken efforts to allow a very partial return in certain primary and secondary years.

The CGSP-Enseignement union then announced the deposit of a notice covering any action by its affiliates from 2 to 5 June. The socialist union also demanded from the French-speaking Minister of Education, Caroline Désir, the postponement of the resumption of classes to 8 June at the earliest.

SLFP and CSC-Enseignement, two other unions, also denounced the hasty measures and requested a postponement of the resumption of classes.

The announcement is coupled with a controversy between regions. The Flemish government and its education minister, Ben Weyts, are accused of putting pressure on the consultation committee to hasten the move.

On 22 May, the Minister-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Pierre-Yves Jeholet, had already expressed his “irritation”.

“We had the impression that we were being taken hostage by the Flemish government,” explained the president of CGSP-Enseignement, Joseph Thonon, on Sunday on French-speaking TV channel RTL-TVi.

The Brussels Times

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