Students wear anti-mask passes to school

Students wear anti-mask passes to school
Credit: Belga

In some Flemish schools in Nieuwpoort, students have begun wearing anti-mask passes around their necks that say mandatory face masks are unconstitutional.

“Ministerial measures, regional and municipal decrees are contrary to the constitution. It is forbidden to enter places accessible to the public with one’s face fully or partially covered,” say the passes, as reported by Nieuwsblad.

The schools were immediately contacted by Mayor Geert Vanden Broucke (CD&V), who called it “a difficult matter.”

The schools are attempting a solution that involves setting the maskless students apart and having them socially distance, or in some cases using plexiglass if needed.

The mayor did not want to name which schools were involved or how many students were wearing the passes.

Stefan Grielens, general director of the CLBs in Catholic education, told Nieuwsblad he wasn’t surprised by the demonstration.

“I do not know the specific situation, but since the beginning of the school year all our CLBs have been inundated with parents who question the measures,” Grielens said, adding that the first thing they advise schools to do is seek a pragmatic solution.

“Enter into a dialogue with the parents and try to find a solution together. If that does not work out, then you can decide to refuse the pupil access to the school.”

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For the time being, Mayor Vanden Broucke is allowing the students concerned to keep attending classes without masks, but he’s annoyed by the situation.

“We don’t want to stigmatise these children, but we hope that the parents realise that it is they who are causing their children to be stigmatised at school.”

The passes were purchased for €4 from a webshop run by a man from Roeselare in West Flanders.

“I had made them to point out people’s rights,” he told Nieuwsblad, adding that the pass the students are wearing was actually made regarding the mandate to wear masks in public spaces, not a school obligation where the situation is legally different.

“I do understand the parents’ dissatisfaction with the mask requirement, though,” he said.

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