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Flanders keeps sending all pupils to school full-time

Credit: Belga

Despite announcing that all Flemish schools have to switch to “code orange” by the autumn holidays at the start of November, Flanders will keep sending all pupils to school full-time.

In “code orange,” half of the pupils in the classes of the second and third grade (which in Flanders corresponds to the third through the sixth year) would normally alternate going to school to reduce the risk of infection and the transport flows.

Now, however, the protocols have been changed so that all pupils in primary and secondary schools will still have to go to class five days a week, even in code orange or red.

Secondary schools will still be given the opportunity to organise distance learning for pupils in the second and third grade, if necessary, and if they can guarantee they effectively reach all pupils this way. To compensate for keeping all children in school, other safety measures will be tightened up.

In primary schools, code orange means above all that extracurricular excursions are no longer possible.

All staff must wear a face mask if social distance cannot be guaranteed, outdoors as well. The safety measures must also be closely monitored in the staff room.

For primary school pupils, meals will have to be eaten per class group during lunch break, in the classroom if possible. If this is not possible, pupils will be given a fixed place in the mess.

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For secondary schools, the face mask obligation will be tightened up, meaning that both staff and pupils will have to wear a mask at all times, also during breaks and outside.

During the lunch break (and other possible meals), pupils have to eat per class group. If this is not possible, pupils are given fixed seats in the refectory. Eating in class group does not necessarily have to be in their own classroom, but is also possible in the mess, with sufficient distance between the different groups.

In the classroom, pupils have to sit in a fixed place. If possible, alternating break times should be organised.

Physical education classes will be organised according to the protocols of the sports sector, meaning that indoors sports activities can only take place if a 1.5 metres distance can be guaranteed. Showers may also no longer be used, and pupils have to keep their face masks on while changing in the changing room.

Additionally, possible internships and dual learning should be organised digitally if possible. Pupils have to follow the rules that apply at the company they are interning at.

For teachers, the measures are also being tightened. Face masks are compulsory when speaking in the teacher’s room. When eating, a distance of at least 1.5 metres should be kept from others.

The new scripts also stipulate that all contacts between adults within a school (primary or secondary) must take place at a distance. This concerns staff meeting, parent-teacher contacts and all other councils.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times