EDUCATION UPDATE AFTER PRESS CONFERENCE OF APRIL 21ST:
Primary schools will partly open on May 11th.
The classes may only be half full, and they will have to implement strict rules regarding hygiene. Parents are not allowed in schools anymore.
Schools may decide for themselves how they are going to organize the re-opening. They will mainly only teach the most essential subjects like Dutch language and math.
The school boards will discuss with their member schools about all practicalities, and each school has to reach an agreement with the Participation Council of their school, which consists of both teachers and parents.
Parents who don’t send their children to school, will not be fined.
Secondary schools will open on June 1st. They will have to apply the ‘1.5 meter’ rules.
Daycare centers and guest parents will fully open again on May 11th. Also here there will be some restrictions and strict rules regarding hygiene.
For now, the start and end dates of the summer vacation will not change.
Teachers will have the same possibilities to get tested as health care staff. The capacity to test other people is slowly increasing (but not there yet). Teachers who belong to the risk group do not have to teach in a classroom.
The prerequisites for re-opening the schools are that the infection rate has to stay below 1. The pressure on the health care system may also not increase. And the vulnerable and older people still have to be protected well. In case it increases again, some of the loosening regulations will have to be reversed.
The same rules will stay; when you have a cough or mild complaints, you stay home. When you have a fever, the whole family/household stays home.
Everyone tries to work from home as much as possible. Apart from the schools, all other facilities and venues which are closed now, will remain closed.
And of course, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and keep 1.5 meters distance as much as possible.
The research behind the measurements:
During the press conference, they referred multiple times to the OMT (the Outbreak Management Team), which advises the government. They have based their advice on their own research, as well as the results from other countries.
Research shows that young children have a low risk of getting sick, and on spreading the virus (but they are not immune). In the households with confirmed cases the authorities have monitored so far, most of the children never got sick. If they were sick, they were, so far, never the first one of the family and they barely passed it onto their siblings. They haven’t finished this study yet, though.
We have further learned that they took blood samples of a lot of random people. Looking at the antibodies, they could establish how many people must have had the virus. Only a very low percentage of the people with antibodies were children, meaning that they don’t get the virus as easily as adults. They also didn’t find any units of infection in schools or child care facilities that stayed open for emergency care.
Once the schools open again, they will continue these studies, and also monitor some schools very closely to see how it goes. They will also closely observe the developments in (Scandinavian) countries where the schools have recently opened again. And then amend the policies, if needed.
The numbers: Up to the day of the press conference (April 21st), in the Netherlands, 124 children below age 14 have been tested positive for the coronavirus (which equals 0.36% of the total number of positive cases). Of these 124 children, 47 have been admitted to the hospital (0.47% of the total). None of these children has died. One 16-year-old has been admitted to an intensive care unit (and got eventually discharged). The youngest person to sadly die of corona was 18 or 19 years old and had a pre-existing condition.
Your school should contact you soon to explain how they will manage the re-opening on May 11th. Make sure to share all your concerns and ask all your questions to the teacher and/or principal. This is new and challenging for everyone.
During this Saturday’s webinar, we’ll discuss the school re-opening and many other things related to the Dutch education system.
You can rewatch the press conference + the Q&A here.
A good source of information in English about the corona measurements in the Netherlands is also the NOS in English Facebook group.
Take care and stay healthy!