Cut the ties that children under 13 make outside of school. If there’s one action we should take now, according to virologists, it is. On Tuesday, the Flemish government will put forward a proposal.
Levin Boev, the oldest man in Catholic education, says she is surprised that the advisory committee did not decide to suspend extracurricular activities last week. “Virologists have been defending this for weeks,” he says. “If the goal is to keep schools open for as long as possible, why delay that?”
Indeed, extracurricular activities are a thorn in the side of experts. Sports, youth movement, music school: so far young children can still fully pursue these hobbies. Even several times a week. This is exactly where bridges form between the different bubbles, according to virologists. “The outbreaks that we see now in elementary schools are the result of the large networks that are still possible until the age of 12,” says virologist Stephen van Gucht (Scensano).
Several municipalities are now taking matters into their own hands by canceling extracurricular activities within their borders. The Flemish government also intends to continue this line in general. On Monday, consultations took place between Ministers of Sport, Youth and Culture from different societies and some experts from GEMS. Since then, proposals formulated there have been tested with the professional field. The slopes make smaller groups or limit indoor activities. At the same time, Weyts wants a greater perspective for children over 12 years old.
The intention is to continue those consultations today (Tuesday) and come up with a single plan for all communities. After all, it is inconceivable that the Dutch-speaking youth movement in Brussels would abide by rules other than French-speaking ones. On Wednesday, new consultations will take place with federal representatives to put everything in the right legal framework if needed.