One virus, but two strategies for our schools

In school matters, Flanders’ strategy in the face of covid is not that of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. And we can regret that the management of the epidemic could not transcend community barriers.

Une twenty schools have just closed their doors due to the spread of the virus, causing a range of reactions that oscillate between reason and emotion. Bekkevoort, Welkenraedt, Etterbeek…: as many municipalities hosting schools that anti-ovid measures were not enough to preserve.

In recent months, maintaining compulsory education courses at all costs has become a credo. The first confinement had affected a whole youth. The experience should not be repeated. If we except the extension of the All Saints holidays, the school has held firm, even if it means forcing some of the teenagers to alternate between face-to-face and distance learning.

But the virus is stubborn. In December, it seemed certain that February would bring better days. Today, the spread of variants is weighing down that hope, threatening to once again poison the lives of hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren and their families. The Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke is moved to the point of sounding the alarm: “We must think carefully about the way in which we apprehend the contaminations in children because, at a certain moment of the epidemic, the life to the school can itself become a source of contamination. “

Different interpretations

This signal has given rise to different interpretations in the Communities. The strategy of Flanders which advocates rapid screening is not that of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, which is faithful to the PCR test. Flanders, which is extending the Carnival truce by focusing on distance for secondary school students, unlike its neighbor.

Two approaches, therefore. Still, the speed at which the British variant is spreading and the potential threat posed by its South African brother reinforce the same sense of angst. It is difficult to see why these changes would stop at the linguistic border. Last summer, remember that it only took a few days for the pandemic rebound that had brought Antwerp to a halt to land in the garden of Brussels and Wallonia.

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However, the intention here is not to designate who is right or wrong, who wisely interprets the precautionary principle or abuses it, but to regret that the management of the epidemic has not been able to transcend community barriers. More homogeneity would have helped reassure all parents whose children attend school, regardless of the region in which they live. This is not trivial.

And then there is this new ban which is emerging in Flanders: are we going towards a limitation of outdoor activities for children under 12, as in Flemish Brabant and Limburg? One more tile… Who would have said a year ago that a virus would break the infernal rhythm of post-school shuttles, from judo to music theory and from music theory to rugby, including fancy-fair …

The paradox is that this frenzy partly composes life. The virus destroys it.


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