Drenthe schools want kids who vacationed in Italy to be tested for coronavirus

Kids raising their hands in class
Kids raising their hands in classPhoto: luminastock/DepositPhotos

Pricoh, an umbrella organization of 13 schools in Drenthe, sent parents a message on Sunday instructing them to visit a doctor and have their children tested for coronavirus Covid-19 if they traveled to Italy over the holiday. A secondary school in Assen decided to postpone an exchange program with a school in Italy due to the recent reports of Covid-19 cases in the country.

Two people in their 80s died as a result of Covid-19 in Italy on Monday, bringing the total death toll up to five, according to NOS. With 215 confirmed infections, Italy is currently the country second most affected by the virus after China, where there are 77,150 cases, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. The epicenter of the virus was the Chinese city of Wuhan. 

"Have you been on vacation in an area where the coronavirus is? We would ask you to visit your doctor," Herman Klaster, director of Drenthe school organization Pricoh wrote in a message to parents on Sunday, RTL Nieuws reports. According to Klaster, one of his employees knew of at least one family who visited Italy, and he thought it wise to take action. "If the doctor confirms that there is nothing wrong, the children can come to school again."

Klaster will not check whether parents actually took their child to the doctor. "The message was purely to draw attention. We do not want to cause a panic, but rather to prevent panic. There are also parents who were not on holiday, but they do wonder what is happening with other parents who have been to Italy." 

According to public health institute RIVM, the call for parents to take their kids to the doctor is "unnecessary" and "no policy of the RIVM or the GGD", a spokesperson said to RTL.

The Dr. Nassau College in Assen decided to postpone its exchange program with Italy for the time being. 37 pupils and five minders were set to travel to the country on Monday. "It is very sad indeed. There is a lot of disappointment among the pupils, but also relief," a teacher at the secondary school said to RTV Drenthe. "Because there were a number of pupils who were concerned that they would be infected with the coronavirus."

The school was in contact with the host school in Santa Marinella. They hope to restart the exchange program in May or June.