“You are not responsible” for the Coronavirus pandemic, Education Minister Caroline Désir told the children of Wallonia-Brussels Region (FWB), on Friday on RTL Info’s evening newscast.
In an evident reference to fingers being pointed at children, often labelled “superspreaders”, the minister explained that if many infections were being detected among children under the age of 10 years, that was because they have not yet had access to vaccines.
“You are not responsible,” she told the federation’s children, according to Belga news agency. “It’s not your fault,” she stressed, adding that the health measures being taken, such as facemasks for those aged six years and above, hybrid secondary education, and early holidays for kindergarten and primary schools, “are not a punishment, and should not be viewed as such.”
“We know it’s hard, wearing a mask is hard, but we’ll help you,” the minister promised, adding that teachers had been asked to support the pupils, for example by allowing them moments of relaxation. “It’s up to us, adults, to assume our responsibilities, protect ourselves, comply with social-distancing measures, limit our contact among adults,” she stressed. “Together, we shall try to overcome this hurdle.”
Minister Désir also had a message for teenagers, who face a return to hybrid learning – both in person and online – from Wednesday, except during examinations, which will only be sat in person. The hybrid system will only be in place “for a limited amount of time,” she said, “it’s not the model we want.”
According to the minister, hybrid education had been a difficult experience for both adolescents and teaching staff last year. “We’re asking you to help us to get over this hurdle,” she said.
“We’re asking for these efforts so that we can return to normal education,” the minister stressed. “We shall manage to reopen with in-person learning in January,” she predicted.