14 million coronavirus self-tests on their way to schools
On Monday, elementary and middle schools across the country will begin receiving self-administrable coronavirus tests to help detect infections amongst teachers at an early stage. Health Minister, Hugo de Jonge, announced the planned distribution of self-tests in school in a statement to Parliament last week.
The goal is that within two weeks all schools will have a two-week supply of self-tests at hand. In total, that means schools will receive 14 million self-tests come summer. Once the self-tests arrive, school staff will have the opportunity to test themselves at home twice per week in case they experience symptoms of the coronavirus.
The tests are also intended for daycare centers adjacent to school buildings.
Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and Media, Arie Slob, was enthusiastic about the use of self-tests in schools. “I am happy these tests are available now. Hereby, students are able to have as many on-site classes as possible and teachers are able to stand in front of the class with less worries”, Slob said.
Should a teacher test positive for the coronavirus, they will go into quarantine and make an appointment at the GGD for a regular coronavirus test where the nasal swabs are deeper and the tests are more accurate. After the second test confirms the infection, the GGD begins tracing contacts to detect any further spread of the virus.
Slob clarified on NOS Radio 1 Journaal that it will not be mandatory for teachers to use the tests, even as many schools have shown extensive interest in the self-tests. “Everyone has the realization: if we do this for one another then we ensure that possible infections are isolated as soon as possible and the rest can return to school”, Slob said.
The self-tests are mainly intended for the staff, however, should an outbreak occur at a school then students will also have the opportunity to test themselves, given their parents grant permission.
The director of education labor union AOb, Tamar van Gelder, remained cautious in her optimism about the use of self-tests in schools. “It can work as a preventive measure, but we cannot let go of the measures in place. If you want real security, then we need the vaccines”, van Gelder said.
Many teachers are still concerned about contracting the coronavirus on the job, van Gelder pointed out. "In secondary education it is certainly difficult to maintain one and a half meter distance. And you are working with students between the ages of 12 and 17 were infection numbers are high", van Gelder warned.