50 organizations call for secondary schools to reopen
At least 50 organizations are jointly calling on the Dutch government to reopen secondary schools immediately. They are very concerned about the mental health and social development of pupils, "but the seriousness of this still does not seem to have reached politics," the organizations, including UNICEF, mental health organization GGZ, and Youth Care Netherlands, said in their call, ANP reports.
Young people are paying too high a price in the coronavirus pandemic, the organizations said. "Half of young people indicate that they feel lonely. There is also an increase in eating disorders, feelings of depression, and anxiety among teenagers."
Currently, most secondary school pupils are getting only online lessons, with only graduating students allowed to physically go to school. Primary schools and daycare centers were allowed to open last week.
"The current standstill literally means a decline for our young people. Don't let them become the invisible victims of the corona pandemic," the organizations said. They acknowledged that reopening schools could entail health risks. "But we know that schools are not major sources of infection and teachers are no more likely to contract the coronavirus than other professions."
On Thursday, the council for secondary schools VO-Raad called on the government to allow secondary school pupils to go to school at least once a week. The government should make money available so that schools that don't have enough room to maintain social distancing can rent external rooms from theaters or hotels to manage, the council said.
Children's Ombudsman Margrite Kalverboer also joined the call to reopen secondary schools this week. "The socio-emotional and mental damage of the corona measures and lockdown is so great for young people that it is not justified from a development perspective to keep secondary schools closed any longer," she said. "My job is to promote respect for the rights of children and young people. I see that in addition to the right to education, the right to development as a whole is also under serious pressure."
On Tuesday, Minister Hugo de Jonge of Public Health promised young people that he'd update them on the reopening of secondary schools in the next coronavirus press conference scheduled for Tuesday.