On 16 April 2020, the Minister of Education, Children and Youth, Claude Meisch, explained the phased resumption of activities in schools and childcare facilities.
"We have managed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but it is not possible for us to reopen the schools all at once, nor to make them function as they did before 13 March", the minister warned.
The government has analysed how to lift the suspension of school and educational activities step by step. A timetable and a method have been identified, with two clear objectives: to provide all children and young people with the best possible prospects for the future and to protect the health of students and teaching and educational staff to the greatest extent possible.
Gradual reopening over one month
As far as the timetable is concerned, it was decided to reopen classes first to high school students who, due to their maturity, are better able to respect the barrier gestures and measures to continue to slow down the spread of the virus. "For us, public health is a priority", emphasized Claude Meisch.
From 4 May, students in the senior classes will resume courses, followed on 11 May by all other classes in secondary education and vocational training, as well as the Advanced Technician's Certificate (Brevet de technicien supérieur - BTS). Trainees will be able to return to their apprenticeship positions in companies in sectors that have been deconfined.
From 25 May, the children will once again be able to attend elementary education and the childcare facilities and parental assistants will be able to resume their work.
For the most vulnerable pupils, the skills centres, the psycho-socio-educational teams and the services of the National Office for Children will be able to continue their care from 20 April.
Following on from the measures announced on 2 April, the challenge remains to prepare effectively for the start of the new school year on 15 September by focusing on the learning of essential content.
One week of classes, one week of revising
In terms of method, the government has opted for a return to the classroom on a rotating basis. Specifically, each class will be divided into two groups, both in elementary and secondary education and in vocational training. Each group will have a week of classes and learning at school or high school, followed by a week of revision at home or in a childcare facility. The teacher will hold the same course two weeks in a row.
Barrier measures to be respected by all
At the same time, a series of barrier measures will have to be put in place and respected in the schools. In particular:
- social distancing, which will be facilitated in schools and school transport by the system of alternating courses;
- the wearing of a protective device to cover the nose and mouth, which will be allowed in class and compulsory in transport. The Ministry will distribute 2 such devices to each student and teacher;
- the provision of disinfectant;
- the respect for class groups so that pupils don't mix too much;
- closing the canteens to avoid contact between students from different groups;
- the regulation of movement in the corridors;
- the organisation of alternating breaks;
- the compression of school hours, particularly in basic school.
Distancing rules will also be applied to secondary school leaving examinations and final integrated vocational training projects.
Special recommendations will be developed for crèches and cycle 1 of fundamental education, where it is more difficult for young children to comply with barrier gestures.
In music education, individual lessons will restart on 11 May and group lessons are postponed until further notice.
'I hope that soon the school can once again become this place of life, laughter, meeting and exchange that is so important for our children and young people', concluded Claude Meisch.