Primary schools could reopen before end of extended lockdown: Report
The government plans to extend the national hard lockdown, which was supposed to end on January 19, by 21 days, but primary schools may not have to stay closed for that entire period, sources in The Hague told broadcaster NOS after the government met at Prime Minster Mark Rutte's residence on Sunday.
The government is waiting for further research into the effect of the highly contagious United Kingdom variant of the coronavirus, the B117 mutation, on young children, the broadcaster's sources said. If it turns out that young children still play only a small role in the transmission of the virus, primary schools may be allowed to reopen while the country is still in lockdown.
Secondary schools will remain closed until the end of the lockdown, no matter the results of the research. The cabinet hopes to have these results shortly, so that teachers, pupils and parents can know what to expect.
The Utrecht branch of the PO-Raad, the council for primary schools, told RTV Utrecht that primary schools want an "all or nothing" approach. "If it is responsible, the schools would like to reopen fully, such as before the Christmas holidays. If that is not possible, members of the PO-Raad would prefer to continue with distance learning in combination with emergency accommodation, rather than opting for a phased reopening," a spokesperson said to the regional broadcaster.
Reopening in phases, with only half of pupils coming to school or pupils only coming to school for half days, is not an option because of "work pressure, staff shortages and the unrest this entails for education, students, parents, and childcare partners," the PO-Raad said.