A group of children who cycle to a special needs school are to be given an official escort from next week, because their route passes a refugee centre.
A spokesman for Loon op Zand town council told Nos radio that the council had been unable to assuage parents’ fears for their children’s safety, hence the decision to provide the escort. ‘These are special needs children and therefore vulnerable,’ alderman Wil Ligtenberg said.
Some 60 children from the town attend the special school in Waalwijk a few kilometres away but the council is not sure how many of them actually cycle, Ligtenberg said.
Once the new school term starts, the children will assemble on their bikes at a designated place and cycle under escort to school. The escorts, who will be volunteers, will also bring the children back.
Children attending ordinary schools will not have an escort if they have to cycle past the holiday village where up to 1,200 refugees will eventually live for up to three months.
A spokesman for Dutch refugee organisation Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland told the AD the measure stigmatised refugees. ‘You should take locals’ fears seriously but now the council is confirming unjustified concerns,’ the organisation said.
It has urged the council to talk again to concerned parents.
Last year, the council abolished a special needs bus service from Loop op Zand to the school because of spending cuts, the AD says.
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