Claude Meisch, Luxembourg's Minister of National Education, Children and Youth; Credit: SIP

On Tuesday afternoon, Luxembourg's Minister of National Education, Children and Youth, Claude Meisch, held a press conference alongside Syndicat intercommunal des villes et communes luxembourgeoises (Syvicol) President Emile Eicher, on the reopening of schools and the latest education strategies.

As part of the first phase of Luxembourg's COVID-19 lockdown exit strategy, final year students returned to secondary schools yesterday, Monday 4 May 2020. Phase 2 will see the reopening of secondary schools to all years from Monday 11 May, while phase 3 foresees the reopening of primary schools and creches from Monday 25 May 2020.

During this afternoon's press briefing, Education Minister Claude Meisch maintained that distance learning would remain an important part of teaching in schools even after their reopening. Nevertheless, he stressed the importance of social contact between students and teachers.

Regarding the reopening of primary schools in the coming weeks, Minister Meisch confirmed that class attendance was mandatory, although other courses can be taken at home. He added that pupils will be split into two groups that attend class in person on alternate weeks. More specifically, the week starting 25 May, both groups will attend class on two days each before alternating attendance after the upcoming holiday. During the school week, pupils will have lessons from 08:00 to 13:00, after which they can either return home or stay in childcare facilities until 18:00. 

It will be up to the individual municipalities to decide how to distribute these groups in schools and childcare facilities in a way that meets social distancing requirements.

Claude Meisch concluded that this new form of schooling would continue until the summer holidays. 

After Monday 25 May 2020, family leave will be available exclusively in the following cases: if a child has an existing medical condition or is considered vulnerable; if there is no space left in childcare; or if parents are taking care of a toddler aged 1-3.

For his part, Emile Eicher, who is the President of Luxembourg's municipality trade union Syvicol, pointed out the logistical challenges posed by the reopening of schools. He also estimated that teaching staff would need to be increased by a third. Another challenge is school transport, although the Luxembourg government confirmed that it would provide additional buses to take students to and from school. The Syvicol president added that parents should inform the union as soon as possible if they plan to only send their children to mandatory classes or if they will also take part in additional distance learning courses.