Parents file lawsuit demanding stricter Covid measures at schools
A group of concerned parents, united in the Protect Everybody Foundation, filed a lawsuit to try and force the government to implement stricter measures against the coronavirus in schools. "Plaintiffs want the government to follow the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) in advising on measures for children," the foundation's lawyer Marijn Kingma said to Nieuwsuur.
The parents want face masks to be mandatory in the classroom, and for children to also maintain social distancing from each other. They also want the State to provide more complete information about the risks of the coronavirus spreading among children. And for compulsory education to be suspended during the pandemic.
"It is great that the decision was made in the summer that students did not have to keep their distance from one another, but then the infection rate in the Netherlands was low. In this phase, the infection rate in the Netherlands is high. Then the question is whether the government can still substantiate relying on summer's advice," Kingma said.
The coronavirus infection rate in secondary schools increased over the past weeks, raising concerns among pediatricians. The Outbreak Management Team advised the government to look into closing schools for an extra week around the Christmas holidays, to see if this can break the increasing infections.
Kingma pointed out that countries like Germany, France and Spain included WHO advice in their coronavirus policies for schools. "It is not clear why the Netherlands is not doing that. Why does the Netherlands look so differently at the advice?"
Advice from the WHO is not mandatory in itself, Kingma said. "But the State does have a duty of care that arises from human rights. Such as the right to family life and the right to health. As State, you must have a good explanation for why neighboring countries do take the advice and we don't."