Third of teachers thinks return to school ‘too risky’


Over a third of primary school teachers think re-opening schools on May 11 is too risky, and the risk of children spreading coronavirus is major worry, a survey by education research group DUO and the Algemeen Dagblad shows.

The teachers want to delay the return to school until the results of the RIVM probe into the contagion risk in children have been finalised and fear they will be infected or will infect their pupils, the paper reports.

Almost a quarter of teachers said they have no faith in the Outbreak Management Team’s statement that the risk of contagion from children is slight. ‘Our survey shows there is much unease among teachers. Is this the right decision? Why did the cabinet not wait for the RIVM results?,’ researcher Vincent van Grinsven told the paper.

Some teachers said they felt like ‘guinea pigs’, with one teacher saying she was ‘not afraid for myself for one second but for my colleagues and the children’.

Another teacher said he was worried about research from Germany which seems to suggest children can spread the virus. ‘I understand we have to start somewhere and we are the first in line unfortunately. I’m not cheering,’ Gert Jan Baarda said.

Teacher Niels Gerritsen from Spijkenisse said he was ‘not very worried’. ‘The RIVM study will not give 100% security anyway,’ he said.

Some 93% of the teachers expect to start working on May 11, 4% will not be returning to the classroom because they or their relatives are at risk and 3% is still in doubt.

Primary schools, special education schools and after-school activities will restart on May 11, nearly two months after they closed. The government had said that it wanted to keep schools open but bowed to pressure from parents and teachers to close them after all.

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