Facemasks off from Saturday - Dutch Cabinet to Decide Mid-August about Social Distancing at Universities

Facemasks off from Saturday - Dutch Cabinet to Decide Mid-August about Social Distancing at Universities

Wittenborg Expecting Full Return to Classroom Teaching in New Academic Year

Dutch universities are preparing for a return to campus life without the need for social distancing when the new academic year starts in late August. Cabinet has indicated that from 16 August the 1.5-m social-distancing rule will probably be lifted, but a definite decision will be made on 13 August.

Facemasks off from coming Saturday

Dutch universities are preparing for a return to campus life without the need for social distancing when the new academic year starts in late August. Cabinet has indicated that from 16 August the 1.5-m social-distancing rule will probably be lifted, but a definite decision will be made on 13 August.

Facemasks off from coming Saturday
Meanwhile, most restrictions including the mandatory wearing of facemasks in public places will be lifted from the coming Saturday, except where social distancing is impossible, such as public transport.

At Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, classes are due to start on 23 August. Wittenborg President Peter Birdsall said he is confident that there will be a full return to in-person teaching. Even if the social-distancing rule remains, Wittenborg does not foresee that this will be an obstacle to classroom teaching.

Social distancing is one of the few COVID-19 measures which remains in place as infection rates and hospitalisation have fallen drastically since the country's vaccination programme speeds ahead.

The outgoing Dutch minister of higher education, Ingrid van Engelshoven, tweeted last week that the best approach for institutions would be to prepare for both scenarios - with and without the social-distancing rule in place. Lecturers, however, have complained that this would mean double the work.

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) has chosen to look on the bright side, welcoming the fact that so many COVID-measures have already been lifted. "This means first-year students will have the freedom to enjoy introduction week activities and we are looking forward to an academic year without curbing measures. The corona crisis has shown us how important social contact is for shaping academic prowess," it said in a statement.

Over the past 15 months, universities and other institutions of higher education have gained lots of experience in online teaching methods as well as conducting classes in hybrid fashion.

WUP 25/6/2021
by James Wittenborg
©WUAS Press

Related Content