Dutch Universities Allowed to Start with Physical Classes from 1 July as Per New COVID-19 Regulations
Wittenborg In Line with Minister's Call to Adopt "Hybrid" Education Model after Summer
Dutch universities are expected to re-open en masse after the summer holiday as the government announced a further ease in restrictions this week. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, has called on the higher education sector to adopt a "hybrid" model, by providing online as well as class-based education – in line with a plan announced by WUAS two weeks ago. Van Engelshoven emphasised the importance of face-to-face education, especially for first-year students.
The Executive at Wittenborg released a plan detailing its return to class-based education in August after moving online in March due to COVID-19. All lessons will be run on location and students are required to attend with laptops or tablets, and students who cannot attend will be able to follow online using Moodle and Teams. Wittenborg invest heavily in online databases of journals and books, and successfully extending its ICT infrastructure to facilitate online delivery. "These investments will help make our education provision in the future even better," Wittenborg President Peter Birdsall said. He emphasised, though, that Wittenborg has no plans to become a fully online university of applied sciences.
Online Education Assessment
Wittenborg also sent out a survey to students to assess their experience of remote learning the past quarter. Results are expected soon.
In a parliamentary debate on the corona crisis and education, Van Engelshoven urged institutions who plan on continuing online until the end of the year to "rethink", according to an article in Het Parool. She said "hybrid education" - combining online and physical classes - must be properly fleshed out. "Digital education is a great addition, but should not be the only option. Institutions who are planning to stay digital until 31 December should think carefully. It is imperative that first-year students in particular interact with each other, their lecturers and on campus. This cannot be done in one's bedroom, behind a screen."
These are the main changes to regulations that will apply from 1 July:
- People are urged to maintain the social distancing rule of 1.5 metres as a fundamental guide.
- All seats on public transport services can be utilised again, but wearing a mask remains compulsory.
- Universities and universities of applied sciences like Wittenborg can start with physical classes again, adhering to social distancing rules.
- People can also sit next to each other in coaches and non-family groups can travel in the same car. Masks are recommended.
- Outdoor events will no longer have a maximum number of visitors, as long as social distancing is observed and people are seated and have booked places in advance. Without reservations, the limit is 250.
- Indoor events have a limit of 100 people excluding staff. Seating is compulsory.
- Stadiums can reopen for events, as long as people keep 1.5 metres distance and do not sing or chant.
- Saunas, sports schools and gyms can reopen, and competitive sports can also resume.
Night clubs and discos, however, remain closed and singing in large groups, including in church, remains banned due to the risk of infection.
by James Wittenborg