Dutch primary schools, daycares will not re-open before Jan. 18 as hoped
Primary schools in the Netherlands will not be allowed to open their doors before Monday, January 18. With the winter vacation period ending on January 3, it means most schoolchildren will have to make the most of distance learning during the first two weeks of 2021.
Daycare centers and after school care will also remain closed, the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs announced on Thursday. “I wanted it to be different. But opening earlier is not possible, because healthcare is still too heavily burdened by the coronavirus,” said Arie Slob, the Education Minister.
The Cabinet said that additional restrictions in education could be announced next week. The Outbreak Management Team now wants children under the age of 12 with symptoms of Covid-19 to be tested for a coronavirus infection, and was also examining how mutations of the coronavirus might impact education in the immediate future.
The Netherlands went into a lockdown just over two weeks ago which included the shutdown of all primary and secondary schools in the country, as well as daycare and after school care. Prime Minister Mark Rutte previously said the Cabinet would closely monitor the situation and would consider whether primary schools could open before the lockdown is lifted on January 19. Over the past two weeks, the average number of new coronavirus infections has remained above 9,000, while the Covid-19 hospital patient total has gone up by 41 percent.
Part of the reason the Cabinet included school closures as part of the lockdown was to ensure parents remained home. This was to effectively force them to reduce their movements between locations and to limit their physical interactions with others.
“Unfortunately, we had to decide today that childcare cannot be opened earlier,” said Bas van ’t Wout, the State Secretary for Social Affairs. “That is a shame. Primarily for the children, but also for all parents who work from home.”
Child care facilities will still be allowed to remain open for children whose parents are considered to be in crucial professions, and for those children who are in more vulnerable circumstances.