The first batch of 30,000 self-tests will be delivered to schools in Flanders on Friday, and another 200,000 are expected to be delivered next week.
Every delivery to the various school districts, which are responsible for distribution to schools, will include sufficient self-tests for the teaching staff until the end of the school year.
“With these self-tests, we are building an extra wall of defence around our schools. Regular self-tests increase safety at school and the feeling of safety among teachers,” said Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts.
The focus on implementing rapid tests in schools and the mass rollout of self-tests follows the closure of all Flemish rapid coronavirus testing centres for teachers last Saturday after a survey showed there was little interest among teachers in preventative testing.
“After the classic PCR tests, the contact tracing by the Flemish Centres for Pupils’ Guidance (CLBs) the mobile testing teams and the quick tests, the teaching staff will now also be able to self-test preventively. Regular and persistent self-testing increases safety at school and the feeling of safety among teachers who are in front of the classroom every day,” Weyts added.
It was announced last month that the saliva testing project which took place in March would not be extended to the 2,700 schools in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, which will instead opt for the self-testing strategy, Education Minister Caroline Désir said.
“The logistical challenge is an insoluble headache for saliva testing, in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation as in Flanders, and the first analyses show very limited benefits,” the minister said through her spokesperson.
In March, more than 2,200 teachers from 20 schools in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and 40 in Flanders took a saliva test at home each morning before getting the results in the evening, but only two clusters were identified: one in Wallonia and one in Brussels.
All pupils in secondary school compulsory education in Belgium resumed their lessons 100% in the classroom from Monday 10 May, rather than 3 May, based on the opinion of health experts.