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Belgium education ministers announce further regulations for the education sector

In order to reduce the number of coronas in schools, the Belgian education ministers are implementing a series of additional regulations which they announced this evening at a press conference in Brussels.

Viceminister-president and Minister for Onderwijs, Sport, Dierenwelzijn Ben Weyts:

"We want the pupils to be able to go to school safely until the Easter holidays, and to be able to go to school completely from the Easter holidays onwards."

After the Paasvakantie, there will be a complete restart with 100 per cent contact education for all pupils. Weyts insists on a 'fine-grained approach'.

"That means taking action where it is needed. Elsewhere: just let the children go to school."

The three education ministers, Ben Weyts, Caroline Desir and Lydia Klinkenberg, are also pleading with the federal government to prioritise the vaccination of education staff, after the vaccination of the over-65s and high-risk groups.

"If the federal government says it is difficult to organise, we will do it ourselves in Flanders, with our CLBs. We are already organising contact research, but we are not authorised to do so, and the same applies to the rapid test strategy. We are not a requesting party, but if necessary we will also include vaccination."

After consultation with the education sector and coordination with the education ministers of the other communities, extra safety measures are taken to minimise the risk of infection during the two weeks up to the Paasvakantie:

  • indoor classrooms strictly separated;

  • as many open-air activities as possible

  • as little contact between adults as possible;

  • in municipalities with a rising trend: distance learning for the class in question from 1 infection onwards

The aim of this set of measures is to maintain the ambition that pupils can continue to attend school as much as possible until the Easter holidays, that there can be a complete restart with 100% contact education after the Easter holidays and that staff and pupils can be protected as much as possible at all times.

The measures indicated below with a (*) are mandatory.

Under no circumstances should indoor classes be mixed

  • The refectory/canteen must be closed until the Paasvakantie. Pupils eat lunch in the open air or in their own classrooms.*

  • Avoid communal transport and call on all pupils to come to school on foot, by bicycle, on a scooter or by other means of personal transport.

  • Organise playtimes separately and/or alternately.

  • Utilise empty spaces in the neighbourhood, such as sports club canteens, parish halls, etc. to spread the groups even more.

  • The Paasexamens can be safely organised according to the previously communicated guidelines.

Do as much as possible in the open air

  • Extra-curricular activities are only allowed in your own class group and in the open air.*

  • Late lunch breaks, (gym) lessons, etc. take place outside as much as possible.

  • Set up an outdoor teachers' room.

Limit contact between adults to a minimum

  • Meetings may only take place digitally.*

  • Physical registrations are not allowed.*

  • Externs are not allowed in school for school visits.*

  • Only these outsiders are allowed inside the school walls:*

  • CLB staff

  • Teachers in training

  • External practice teachers

  • Nurses and therapists

  • Personal assistants

  • Staff of an MFC or rehabilitation centre

  • Interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing

Place class in quarantine from one infection

  • In municipalities where the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) has increased the level of vigilance, the class must be quarantined after one contamination.*

  • The existing list of the municipalities in question can be found here. The RAG updates the list frequently.

  • CLBs may give other guidelines and extra instructions if necessary due to the local situation.

  • For the students of the class(es) in quarantine, distance learning is organised.

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