MPs concerned about schools staying open in Netherlands

Parliamentarians from both coalition and opposition parties are worried about the government's decision to keep schools open for the time being. 

On Thursday the Prime Minister announced stricter measures in the fight against Covid-19, but closing daycare institutions, primary schools an high schools was not one of them. PVV leader Geert Wilders called this "irresponsible" and "playing with people's lives", in a debate about the new measures, NOS reports. The FvD, PvdD, 50Plus, DENK, an PvdA also thinks that schools should close.

The PvdA did not support a PVV motion to close all schools immediately and the motion did not pass. A motion stating that parents who decided to keep their kids home should not be fined did get majority support. 

Wilders thinks that the government will soon regret their decision not to close schools. "I predict that if you keep this up, the Netherlands will revolt. People will take their children out of school and teachers will call in sick. And I agree with them right away."

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver asked the government to make sure schools have enough resources to fight the virus. According to Klaver, it is already quite a task for a family at home to wash their hands regularly, let alone for a teacher with dozens of pupils. And who keeps cleaning the door handles at schools, Klaver wondered.

The D66 thinks the government is putting a great deal of responsibility on school leaders, especially in Noord-Brabant - the province hit hardest by the coronavirus with 273 residents among the 614 positive test cases in the Netherlands. The coalition party asked the government to reconsider whether schools in the province should not be closed after all.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte defended his decision to keep schools open. "It is not that I want those schools to have to remain open," he said in parliament. "But I follow the advice of experts who say that the medical risks for children are considerably less. And I listen to bodies that say if we close schools, we will miss many people in sectors such as healthcare, the GGDs, the fire brigade and the police." If kids have to stay home, at least one of their parents can't go to work. Rutte strongly denied that he is "playing with human lives".