Dutch primary schools reopened but 55.000 children still absent
Primary schools resumed on Monday as part of the gradual reopening of the country, after having been closed since mid-March due to coronavirus. According to a survey conducted by the general association of school leaders (AVS), some 55.000 school pupils have still not returned to school. Many parents are keeping their children home in case they contract or spread coronavirus.
Only 10 percent of schools achieved full attendance this week
Of all the schools that took part in the survey, 90 percent reported absences. "Often, it was 1 or 2 percent of the pupils absent, but in 8 percent of schools, more than 10 percent of pupils are not yet at school," AVS chairperson Petra van Haren said to NOS. Just 10 percent of schools achieved full attendance this week.
Some teachers have not yet returned to work
More than 50 percent of schools have resumed without their full staff. Approximately 2 percent of teachers stayed at home because they or a member of their household were affected by coronavirus. However, only 5 percent of schools were hampered by the shortage of teachers to the extent that they were prevented from bringing all classes back to school.
The return to school went well for 97 percent of school leaders in the survey. 21 percent went so far as to label the return to school as “great”. Van Haren told NOS: "There was a lot of joy in seeing the children again. We are proud of all the school leaders who organised this together with their team and are back to normal in this unusual time."
Hygiene measures were adhered to
97 percent of survey participants said that they observed that hygiene was adhered to as requested. About 21 percent of schools are actively using masks or gloves. They are particularly necessary for teachers with special care duties such as dealing with pupil injuries or teachers of special needs education who may have more physical contact with pupils than in a typical setting.
Pickup and drop-off rules for parents
New measures came into place for pick-up and drop-off procedures and the agreements with parents for such procedures were adhered to as desired. Parents have faced practical problems this week, however.
A helpline has been set up by the Foundation for Working Parents to deal with complaints. The helpline has received around 400 complaints from parents this week, such as siblings needing to be collected or dropped off at different times due to the schools operating in half-day shifts.
There were also new challenges in getting children from school to after-school care and in some cases, children of essential workers are now being denied places in crucial sectors childcare due to the schools and ordinary daycare centres re-opening.