Dutch primary schools and daycare centres to reopen on February 8
Dutch schools and daycare to reopen
Last week several government ministers had made it clear that they hoped to open primary schools in February. The latest advice from the OMT - which leaked on Saturday - revealed that the majority of members acknowledged that “room is needed for...some relaxation,” and felt primary schools and daycare centres could reopen, but that the relaxation of the lockdown entailed a “real risk” for the number of hospital and intensive care admissions.
On Sunday, the government announced it would be following the OMT’s advice. “It is a relief that the schools can open again. For parents and teachers, but of course especially for the students,” Education Minister Arie Slob said, “[but] we will continue to keep a close eye on the situation because the situation in the Netherlands remains serious.”
Slob hopes to start trials which will allow for teachers to access rapid tests quickly and easily in order for infections to be detected early. The National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) has also proposed potential measures in order to ensure the safety of staff and students when schools reopen.
Since the announcement on Sunday, a group of teachers has started a petition stating that schools should only reopen once all the teaching staff has been vaccinated. It currently has over 14.500 signatures. The Education Union has also issued a statement asking for stricter measures to be introduced - for example, better testing and vaccination for teachers - before primary schools reopen: “Without additional measures, we consider reopening for staff irresponsible.”
Will other measures - like the curfew - also be lifted?
While the caretaker government has made an announcement about schools, nothing has been said about the national curfew which is due to be lifted on February 10. The latest OMT advice does state, however, that schools and daycare centres can only be reopened safely “if other measures are maintained for the time being.”
However, according to NOS, sources in The Hague have reported that, should infection rates continue to fall, the curfew will be lifted at 4.30am on February 10 as planned. The Netherlands has seen a downward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases since the start of the year, with Sunday seeing 3.714 new infections - the lowest number of reported cases since October 1.
Acting Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge will hold a press conference at 7pm on February 2 to announce whether other restrictions will be lifted or extended.