After a long confinement, which sometimes caused a lot of damage, social or psychological, all Belgian children should finally be able to return to school soon, according to the procedures detailed by the concertation committee by press release this Wednesday evening.
After a first meeting Tuesday evening without decision, the representatives of the federal government and the federated entities of the country met again this Wednesday evening to discuss the future stages in the deconfinement, in particular in school matter. And the Concertation Committee finally agreed on the next steps for the return to school of Belgian students.
In the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, the Minister of Education Caroline Désir however announced by a press release that a circular would specify the conditions for recovery, and above all that “the organizing authorities, on the basis of their local realities and specific constraints, may choose to postpone or adapt this new stage of resuming lessons. It is up to them, if necessary, to fix the exact moment of the resumption of the lessons and the teaching time adapted to their possibilities “.
The following timetable therefore remains theoretical, and in principle:
June 2 for kindergartens
- All the courses in nursery schools will be able to resume from June 2.
- No need to wear a mask when the teacher is taking care of children.
- Respect for safety distances is not necessary.
June 8 for primary (with test possible June 5)
- All the courses in primary schools will be able to resume from June 8 (with a “test” day possible on June 5).
- Primary students must not wear a mask.
- For teachers, the wearing of a mask is strongly recommended if the safety distances cannot be respected.
- The safety distance instructions (m2 required per student, per class) may be relaxed with regard to primary school pupils. They must nevertheless continue to apply between pupils and their teachers, between the teachers themselves and between teachers and parents of pupils.
- During recess, students should play as much as possible with their classmates on the principle of “contact bubble”.
No date fixed for the other secondary years
- In regards to secondary education, if the Communities decide to allow more students to go back to school, this can only be done for a few days.
- Wearing a mask is highly recommended for students and school staff.
Hygiene and ventilation in all cases
- Hygiene measures (frequent hand washing, etc.) remain essential for everyone.
- Classrooms, hallways and teachers’ rooms should be ventilated at all times.
- It is best to turn to outdoor activities / classes when possible.
- Each school must be able to put in place an emergency plan in the event of an outbreak of contamination
Avoid the negative effects of containment
“Child development is a priority for authorities, argues the press release of the concertation committee. However, it is also recognized that confinement has more or less significant effects depending on the case from a mental, social and educational point of view.
“The further deconfinement of education depended particularly on the development of the health situation in Belgium. In their recommendations, the experts of the GEES underline several elements allowing to continue this deconfinement. First, the relevant indicators in monitoring the evolution of the spread of COVID19 in our country continue to be encouraging; and this, taking into account the effect induced by the incubation time of the virus. Then, knowledge related to the virus has grown in recent weeks within the international scientific community. In addition, experts from the GEES indicate that studies as well as experience acquired in different countries show that children are, on the one hand, less affected by the virus and, on the other hand, less contagious“.
“Consequently, the reopening of schools does not lead to a significant recrudescence of the epidemic provided that certain protocols continue to be scrupulously followed“.
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Questioned Wednesday in plenary session of the Parliament of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, both Minister-President Pierre-Yves Jeholet (MR) and Caroline Désir (PS) had expressed their desire to achieve a relaxation of the safety standards currently applied in schools to be able to increase the number of children returning to school.
Before the deputies, Caroline Désir reiterated on Wednesday her wish to see the nursery classes return to school as quickly as possible to end the negative effects of confinement for them, but also to relaunch their socialization and their learning capacities.