Face masks will be required for all primary school students in their fifth and sixth year, and the return of secondary school students aged 14 to 16 to the classroom fulltime has been postponed until after the Easter holidays.
Previously, face masks were only required for primary school students in years five and six if someone in their bubble tested positive for the coronavirus.
Beginning as soon as possible and no later than next Monday, all Flemish school children in those grades must now wear face masks regardless, reports De Standaard.
The new measures are in response to recent coronavirus figures, says Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts. Belgium’s average daily coronavirus infections have risen by almost 30%, according to the latest official figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Thursday.
“Schools are not the driver of infections. We want to keep the primary schools open, we want the secondary schools to fully open again and at the same time we want to keep it as safe as possible for the teachers and the pupils,” Weyts said, adding that vaccinating teachers is a priority.
The goal remains for all students to be back in schools full time after the Easter holidays.
The Centres for Pupil Guidance said there were 4,498 students (.038%) testing positive for the coronavirus in the first half of March, along with 432 educational staff members (0.26%).
About 1.56% of students and 0.20% of staff had to quarantine.
This is an increase from the previous reporting period, most notably in primary schools.
The Brussels Times