Francophone kindergartens have to close, Dutch-speaking ones can choose
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Francophone kindergartens have to close, Dutch-speaking ones can choose

Credit: Belga/Dirk Waem

The Consultative Committee’s decision to keep kindergartens open has already come under fire, as the French-speaking part of Belgium has decided to close them anyway, while Flemish ones can decide for themselves.

On Wednesday, the Committee decided to extend the Easter holidays to three weeks by closing all schools, except for kindergartens, from Monday.

By Thursday, however, the French Community (which is made up of Wallonia and Francophone Brussels) decided that kindergartens would be closed from next week too, following criticism from the trade unions, some of which threatened with a strike.

Following consultations with Minister-President Pierre Yves Jeholet, Francophone Education Minister Caroline Désir, and the education partners of the French-speaking schools, it was decided that “no more educational activities will be provided” from Monday.

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Additionally, parents are asked to keep their children at home as much as possible, but kindergartens will provide care for children whose parents are unable to do that.

In Flanders and Dutch-speaking Brussels schools, however, kindergartens have the option to stay open, but it is up to the individual schools whether or not that will happen.

“I was able to obtain during the negotiations [at the Consultative Committee] that the kindergartens can stay open, but they do not have to,” Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon told VRT. “It is up to the people who have to work in them every day to see how they can get it organised.”

Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts, who was very critical of the school closures as decided by the Consultative Committee on Wednesday, already called on parents in Flanders not to let their toddlers go to school next week.

In the Dutch-speaking GO! school group of Brussels, staff are trying to organise limited childcare for specific groups, according to spokesperson Karin Struys.

“You cannot mix class groups, so you need enough people to take care of those children,” she told Bruzz. “That is precisely the problem today.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times