Face masks and quarantines: New school measures enter into force today

Face masks and quarantines: New school measures enter into force today
Credit: Belga

New rules regarding the health safety of pupils will be introduced both in French- and Dutch-speaking schools as of today (Monday), including the re-introduction of face masks for certain age groups.

Before the start of the autumn holidays, education partners decided to (re-) introduce measures to curb infections among students at school, as the number of new cases was once again rising, especially among pupils in primary schools.

"The main purpose of the measures is to keep the schools open as much as possible," a press release from Flemish education minister Ben Weyts read, in which the announcement was made two weeks ago.

In Dutch-speaking schools, wearing a face mask in the classroom will once again become mandatory for pupils in the final two years of primary education.

Meanwhile, nothing will change for students in secondary schools, as the high vaccination rate among 12- to 15-year-olds has helped contain infections here.

"This results in much lower infection rates and means that extra general measures in secondary education are not necessary at the moment," Weyts' statement read, adding that secondary education, too, must remain vigilant and that extra measures can be implemented if necessary.

Meanwhile, in French-speaking secondary schools, face masks are once again mandatory when pupils are sitting, as was already the case in French-speaking schools in Brussels.

In French-speaking nurseries and primary schools, children will not have to wear face masks, however, teachers will have to wear them at all times.

Quarantine rules

In Dutch-speaking schools, a new testing and quarantining strategy will also be implemented on Monday, which aims to reduce the number of children being kept at home unnecessarily.

In the two weeks prior to the new strategy being announced, 28,000 pupils were quarantined at home, including many children with no symptoms.

Now, only children under the age of 12 that are showing symptoms will be tested, and a class will only go into quarantine for a week if four outbreaks are detected within one week in one single class.

For Dutch-speaking schools, these measures could remain in force until the Christmas holidays, but there will be an evaluation in the meantime.

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