No New Corona Regulations for Higher Education in the Netherlands, however Wittenborg introduces compulsory facemasks in all public areas
The Dutch government introduced new measures this week to curb the spread of COVID-19, but nothing that directly impacts higher education for the time being. It is now strongly requested that all persons wear face masks in public indoor spaces throughout the Netherlands.
Facemasks become compulsory at Wittenborg
From Monday 5th October the wearing of facemasks is compulsory at all Wittenborg locations, unless sitting behind a desk, or in a classroom maintaining distance from others according to government guidelines (1.5 metres).
The new measures will be reassessed in three weeks and the government is hoping it will reduce the reproduction rate of the virus from 1.4 to below 1. The announcement was made by Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday evening at a broadcasted press conference. Masks will still have to be worn on public transport and at airports. Shops will be required to control the number of shoppers to ensure a safe social distance can be maintained inside.
Meanwhile, the President of Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences, Peter Birdsall, said the situation will be closely followed as it develops, but for now the institution will continue with the measures it implemented at the start of the new academic year. "We certainly hope that we will not go back to a full intelligent lockdown like earlier this year."
Hybrid Teaching – Success or Not?
Like many institutions of higher education, Wittenborg is currently practising hybrid teaching –offering both online and in-person teaching for all its undergraduate and master's students, while observing government regulations, such as wearing face masks in common spaces, limiting numbers in physical classes and keeping the 1.5m social distancing. "So far it is going well. Our lecturers are teaching in class and it is mainly the admissions staff at the office, while other staff members work from home or come in once a week." One of the new regulations is that people are urged to work from home unless it is impossible.
Birdsall said Wittenborg will also review its hybrid education policy in a month to assess students' progress. "Reports so far indicate that the quality of assignments has actually gone up, but we will see after the next exam and assessment week, which we will monitor carefully."
New Regulations in a Nutshell
The main regulations are:
- Wear facemasks in all indoor public places, unless seated at a table, desk or in a classroom where social distancing is possible.
- People are urged to work from home unless it is impossible. Companies where a corona cluster occurs can be shut down for 14 days.
- Visitors at home must be limited to 3 guests – excluding members of the household and those under 13 years.
- A maximum of 4 people will be allowed as a group in, say, a restaurant or cinema.
- The number of people in an indoor space like a restaurant or cinema is limited to 30.
- Restaurants must close at 10 p.m. – entries are only allowed until 9 p.m.
- In restaurants, bars and other eateries guests will be asked to register, so that it is easier to trace positive corona cases.
- Spectators are banned from all sport events.
- For outdoor gatherings, a maximum of 40 people is allowed.
- At walk-through spaces like monuments, libraries and museums people must reserve a time slot.
- In shops numbers will be controlled at the entrance.
It is now strongly requested that all persons wear face masks in public indoor spaces throughout the Netherlands.
by James Wittenborg
©Wittenborg University Press