Schools likely to stay closed after April 6

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Empty classroomNL TimesNL Times

The decision on whether or not schools will reopen after April 6 will only be made after the results of a crucial study by public health institute RIVM are known, Minister Arie Slob for Primary and Secondary Eduction said on television program Op1. It seems very likely that schools will remain closed, because the RIVM told Nieuwsuur that this study will take six weeks and it started Tuesday.

The RIVM also said that it does not expect results to be in before April 6. Slob said on Op1: "If it becomes clear that the report will only be released after April 6, the measure to not open schools will be extended to a later date." Though he added that it is not clear how long the RIVM will actually need for this investigation. 

The RIVM study is focused on the role young people play in the spread of the coronavirus. Slob announced this study earlier this month, according to The RIVM will investigate 100 families in which a family member is infected with Covid-19 and will look into the impact this has on children, among other things. 

"The first signs from China were that children do not become infected, but we now know that is not true. They only get very few symptoms and the disease therefore takes a different course than in adults," epidemiologist Patricia Bruijning explained the RIVM study on Nieuwsuur. That is good news on one hand, she said. "But at the same time we ask ourselves: to what extent do children contribute to the spread of the virus? We have not yet been able to determine whether children pass on an infection to other children."

According to broadcaster NOS, the study could not start earlier because there was not enough protective equipment available for researchers to make home visits to Covid-19 patients. 

"We want to make the decision to open the schools based on Dutch research. We are waiting for that." Slob said.

Schools in the Netherlands have been closed since March 15. On Tuesday, Slob announced that the central exams for all school levels will be scrapped this year. Instead, pupils will pass or fail based on their school exams. The Minister gave schools an extended period, until early June, to have these exams taken - remotely as far as possible.