Schools in Brussels should consider building “safe rooms” so staff and students have somewhere to hide in the event of a terrorist attack, the Belgian education minister has said.
Joëlle Milquet made the suggestion in a letter to schools, outlining key safety measures they should take as they prepare to reopen following this week’s “lockdown”of the Belgian capital over fears of an imminent terrorist attack.
But Le Soir newspaper reported that the mayor of Brussels, Yvan Mayeur, had poured cold water on the idea, saying that it was important to avoid creating “hysteria”.
Around 300 police are being deployed to guard schools when they open their doors again, which is expected tomorrow.
Brussels has been in a state of lock-down since the weekend, amid worries of a terrorist attack. Police and soldiers have been carrying out numerous raids in the hunt for Salah Abdeslam, suspected to be the only surviving member of the terror cell that carried out the attacks on a concert venue, cafes and restaurants in Paris on November 13.
According to Le Soir, Ms Milquet has also told schools to make sure entrances are guarded before and after lessons, by someone who recognises all pupils and parents.
The minister also recommended that schools avoid large gatherings in front of their premises, and limit pupils going off-premises, especially during the lunch break.
She said the recommendation to create safe rooms had come from the police.
The advice to Brussels schools came as schools in the Ile-de-France region of France – covering Paris and the surrounding area – continued to be subject to special security measures.
On Monday, the education ministry in France told schools to practise drills for seeking safety – either within or outside the school building – in the event of a terror attack on the premises.
Schools should also take special measures to make their buildings secure during the day, it said.
School outings from outside of the region into Paris remain banned, and staff wanting to take trips to other parts of France must notify the authorities.