For the time being, no decision has been made about whether or not to limit or discontinue extracurricular activities for under 13-year-olds. Several municipalities are taking the plunge themselves and canceling activities.
On Monday, a meeting took place between the Ministers of Sport, Youth and Culture of the various communities, to determine whether extracurricular activities of children are being put on hold again in order to contain the further spread of the corona virus and its different variants. According to Tom Demeyer, spokesperson for Flemish Minister of Youth Benjamin Dalle (CD&V), the consultation was ‘constructive’, but concrete decisions have not yet been taken. According to Demeyer, there are various options on the table, which include the size of the groups, indoor and outdoor activities, and so on.
‘Those options are now being discussed with the field and further political consultation will follow’, it sounds. According to Minister Dalle, it is especially important that a ‘detailed and clear plan with clear scripts’ is put on the table. Weyts also says it is not a ‘frivolous’ decision. ‘These are expensive outlets for children, in a period when so much has already disappeared for them.’
Epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme left on Monday Radio 2 Antwerp understand that it may be useful to cancel the extracurricular activities. “Maybe that is an intermediate step before we have to take the very difficult and major decision to close all schools,” says Van Damme.
Municipalities switch themselves
The city of Tienen does not wait for a decision from above and cancels all extracurricular activities for children up to the age of 12. Earlier, the Flemish Brabant municipalities of Glabbeek, Zoutleeuw, Landen and Geetbets also canceled their extracurricular activities.
‘At the moment, the number of infections in Tienen is still limited. We do see a worrying increase in the municipalities around us, ‘says Mayor Katrien Partyka (CD&V). ‘It is a very difficult decision, but we are doing this as a precaution. We want to exclude as many risks as possible and prevent the closure of the schools. ‘
The measure will take effect from Wednesday 27 January, but associations are asked to cancel activities from Monday.
‘Better short pain’
Education trade union COV asks parents to comply with all rules, including those regarding extracurricular activities, as strictly as possible and calls on Minister Ben Weyts to ‘take vigorous action where and when necessary’. ‘We realize that it is painful to limit the leisure activities of the children even more. But here the health of the teaching staff is also at stake. Better the short pain than a spring and summer without the prospect of easing, ‘says the union.