Dutch higher ed. should require Covid-19 vaccination, access tests: Hotelschool leaders
Higher education students have shown little interest in free, voluntary coronavirus testing on campus during a pilot program earlier this year, said the leadership of the Hotelschool The Hague. For that reason, students should only be allowed to physically attend classes if they are either fully vaccinated against Covid-19, or have proof of either a recent negative coronavirus test, or evidence that they recently recovered from the viral infection, argued the Hotelschool leaders.
“Students only bother [to get tested] if they will gain something from it, such as access to lecture halls or entertainment venues,” they wrote an opinion piece in the Volkskrant on Sunday. The piece was authored by Regine con Stieglitz, the executive board chair for the Hotelschool, and Arend Hardorff, the dean.
The applied sciences university, or hogeschool, took part in a half-year pilot with the Vrije Universiteit, the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, and ROC van Amsterdam to determine the effect of having a professionally-run, freely available coronavirus test site at educational facilities. “Students could be tested for free at any time during the school day. But participation was disappointingly low because there were no further liberties granted with regard to the testing,” the Hotelschool leadership said.
Additionally many students avoided getting tested because they did not want their positive result to force others into quarantine. “Only our MBA students made structural use of the testing facility because, within their pilot group, they only had access to physical education subject to testing.”
They believe a valid QR code in the CoronaCheck app from the Dutch government should be required to gain access to education facilities. In the opinion piece, they also noted that vaccination certificates are required at hundreds of institutions in the United States, Canada and China.
Higher education and upper vocational schools in the Netherlands will begin offering courses in person on Monday. Earlier in the month, the Cabinet announced the plan to stop most coronavirus restrictions for research universities, applied sciences universities and higher vocational programs.
The decision was made despite calls from the GGD health services to delay the plan until vaccination rates are higher among people under 30 years of age. Several academic workers expressed similar concern, with one University of Amsterdam lecturer tendering his resignation over the issue.
Just over half of people in their 20s are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease, according to data from the RIVM released last week. About 76.1 percent of all adults in the country are considered fully protected. This falls to 61.5 percent when taking into account the entire population, including those whose young age excludes them from the vaccination program.