SHAPE schools go to remote learning as Belgium locks down

Visitors arrive at a SHAPE Elementary and Middle School open house in Mons, Belgium, in 2014. Some Department of Defense Education Activity schools in Belgium will go to remote learning starting March 29, 2021, following Belgium's decision to close schools and restrict nonessential business after an increase in coronavirus cases, school officials announced March 26.


By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 26, 2021

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Defense Department schools at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium will close Monday and conduct remote learning for three days before going on spring break, school officials said Friday.

Belgium announced Wednesday it planned to close schools and most nonessential businesses for four weeks after the country saw a 40% rise in confirmed new coronavirus cases over the previous week. The increase has been blamed on the more contagious virus variant first identified in Britain.

“Due to the recent restrictions imposed by the Belgium government, and in coordination with military commanders, all SHAPE American Schools will transition to remote learning,” said a letter school officials sent Friday to SHAPE families and staff members.

There is no school for students April 2 and spring break runs from April 5-16. Students are scheduled to return to in-person classes on April 19, the letter said.

During the three days of remote learning, teachers will have the option to report to school or telework, said Stephen Smith, a spokesman for the Department of Defense Education Activity Europe.

The three DODEA schools on the SHAPE installation in Mons enroll an international student body, including children of U.S. service members and other NATO nations.

Elsewhere in Belgium, DODEA schools in Brussels and Kleine Brogel will continue with in-person instruction, Smith said.

“Like in Italy, these decisions are made in coordination with local commanders and public health experts – and based on the local health dynamics,” Smith said in a statement.

Earlier this month, some DODEA schools in Italy went to remote learning as cases there climbed, while others continued with in-person classes.

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