Secondary schools allowed to fully reopen for first time in half-year
Secondary schools in the Netherlands were allowed to fully reopen on Monday after six months of either full time or part time distance learning for their students. Physical lessons can be offered to all students five times per week, RTL Nieuws reported.
Schools that chose not to fully reopen on Monday have until June 7 to do so. In schools, students will have to keep their distance from teachers and staff, but not from each other. Face masks are mandatory in the hallways.
"The fact that students will receive at least six weeks of full physical education this school year makes a big difference," said caretaker Education Minister Arie Slob, who was upbeat that students can trade their "behind the screen" participation for classroom interactions. "Not just for school performance, but for their well-being."
That decision followed positive advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT). The coronavirus figures have recently improved considerably and the 1.5-meter rule can safely be abandoned in secondary education, they stated.
"But don't forget to do the self-tests twice per week," Slob said, referring to the requirement that students use a coronavirus self-test kit twice weekly at home to help identify infections before they develop into clusters. Schools are supplied with these tests from the Ministry. "I, too, have to regularly do a self-test."
A number of education sector unions have expressed their dissatisfaction with the reopening last week. They argued in favor of the current situation, according to which half of the students would attend lessons at school at the same time, until summer holidays or until more staff members can be vaccinated against Covid-19.
"The students go to school for an average of two and a half days. It is in everyone's interest to keep this situation this way until the summer holidays. And not to create a more restless and worse situation in education that will arise due to the dropouts of employees and cancelations of classes," they were quoted as saying in an RTL Nieuws report.
Nu.nl contacted representatives of a number of Dutch schools yesterday and reported that many of them were not able to fully reopen under current conditions. Many schools found themselves struggling to set up the self-testing scheme and adjust classes’ schedules.