Minister of Education Claude Meisch joined Paulette Lenert for a briefing on how schools will cope with Covid measures ahead of the new term.
Pupils and teachers will no longer have to wear masks in the classroom, both in primary and secondary schools. Masks will still be mandatory when inside school buildings, i.e hallways, and on school transport.
Primary school pupils will have to carry out two rapid tests per week at school. Secondary school students will have to conduct a test at school, and one at home, on a weekly basis. Tests conducted at school will be certified.
Vaccinated students, as well as those who have recovered from coronavirus, will no longer have to quarantine. Both schools and wrap-around care facilities (Maison Relais) will follow the scenario strategy from the previous school year, if individual cases of the virus should be detected. In scenarios 1 and 2 - that is, up to 2 cases per class or group - students who have been vaccinated or who have recovered will merely have to test every 48 hours.
In these scenarios, children who have not had the virus and not been vaccinated will only be permitted to attend school or wrap-around care and must spend the rest of the time in quarantine. Masks will also be mandatory for classes which have a case of the virus.
If there are 3-5 cases per class, only vaccinated or recovered students will be permitted to remain at school in person, but they must wear masks in the classroom.
If a cluster should develop in multiple classes in a school, the situation will be evaluated by the “Covid 19 and Education” committee to find a specific solution for that establishment.
Claude Meisch said they would not implement the full CovidCheck system for schools, as he did not believe it was sustainable for an activity which is obligatory and takes place on a daily basis. However, they will adopt elements of the process in the event that infections are detected within schools. Meisch said schools could not refuse to admit pupils who did not meet CovidCheck requirements, particularly if there was no risk of the virus within a school.
These new measures are designed to keep in-person schooling available as long as possible, while avoiding homeschooling and distance learning where feasible.
Maison Relais facilities will require children to wear masks if they are conducting activities in groups exceeding ten people.
Cycle 1 of primary school, as well as kindergarten classes, will continue following the same rules observed before the summer. Young children in this age group do not have to wear masks.
Paulette Lenert said vaccination was the best way forward to protect pupils and teachers alike. 90% of teaching staff are expected to be fully jabbed by the time schools reopen on 15 September, while 50% of the over-12s will be vaccinated by that point. The under-12s, of course, are still not able to receive the vaccine.
Both ministers underlined that coronavirus tests for schools will remain free of charge.