Students to Slowly Return to Class from 26 April - Dutch Ministry of Education
In three weeks' time, students in the Netherlands will be allowed to attend classes in person again! The ministry of education wrote to all institutions of higher education as the Easter weekend commenced to inform them that from 26 April students will be able to attend one class per week, after receiving online education for months now since the Netherlands went into lockdown on 14 December, 2020.
One of the big factors behind the change in regulations is the Dutch cabinet's decision to make self-testing kits available to students and staff at universities from 26 April, which is part of a wider introduction of these kits to society as a whole as another tool in the fight against COVID-19. The Netherlands intends to get everyone who wants to be vaccinated their first shot by at least 1 July – including international students.
The ministry stressed that testing remains voluntary and institutions are not expected to play a role in controlling who tested and who did not before allowing students to attend classes. Aside from attending class one day a week, the government is also making an exception for exams, practical courses and providing support to vulnerable students. In addition, when students do attend classes in person, institutions are expected to ensure compliance to the usual corona measures, like keeping a distance of 1.5m and the wearing of masks.
The government will be responsible for funding the self-test kits as well as their distribution and delivery. Institutions will handle the distribution among students and staff. The government will also take responsibility for any other support, such as providing information and funding logistical expenses.
Students and staff can do the tests at home and it will be their own responsibility to perform the tests correctly as well as informing the institution and the public health service (GGD) if they test positive and adhering to government provisions for people who test positive.
Institutions are not expected to keep track of students who do the test, but they are expected to monitor the number of tests distributed.
Though testing is voluntary, the ministry asked institutions to urge students and staff to get themselves tested at home. More information on using the tests will be made by the government soon.
by James Wittenborg