Higher education measures in force until end February

Summary

Universities and colleges in Flanders will continue to operate in code red, with distance learning the norm, until at least February

‘Precarious situation’

Colleges and universities in Flanders will operate under current coronavirus measures until at least the end of February. At that point, says Flemish education minister Ben Weyts, the situation will be evaluate and adapted if possible.

Higher education institutions are currently operating under code red, which means that distance learning is the norm. An exception is lab work and practical lessons that require materials and equipment and so cannot be taught digitally.

Students looking for a quiet place to study or help from lecturers can also arrange to be on campus, as long as no more than 10% of capacity is breached at any given time. Institutions can adhere to stricter measures than this if they choose.

Long-term approach

In consultation with university authorities and virologists, it has now been decided that these measures will remain until at least the end of February in all universities and colleges in Flanders and Dutch-speaking Brussels.

“We are choosing for stability, but also with a clear perspective,” says Weyts. “Instead of relaxing measures here and there over the short term – which might have to just change again – we are going to carry on with these stricter measures. Then when the time is right we can relax some measures all at once.”

Students are preparing now for exams, after which they will return to a code red situation in January. “Many students and lecturers would like to see measures relaxed sooner, but we don’t want a yo-yo effect,” says Weyts. “It’s better to put up with these stringent rules a bit longer so that we can relax them safely later. Right now, the situation is too precarious.”

Adult education centres are operating a bit differently; classes are taught in person, with a maximum of 10 present in a classroom at one time.

Photo ©Jonas D’Hollander/BELGA