Friday 25 September 2020

A national school lockdown will not happen again, education minister says

Photo: DutchNews.nl

A national lockdown of schools must be prevented at all cost, and local or regional closures are the most likely scenario if coronavirus is makes a comeback, education minister Arie Slob has told the AD in an interview.

Schools in all three regions are back from Monday amid ongoing checks of ventilation systems and a range of different safety measures.

However suggestions that the government prioritise teachers when testing for coronavirus, which would enable those with symptoms to get back to work sooner if the result is negative, are not on the cards, Slob said. ‘The idea is to get anyone tested as soon as possible – whether teacher, nurse, supermarket worker or journalist. We are not prioritising any groups at the moment,’ he said.

Universities

Most university students will not be going back to the lecture rooms, apart from first-years. Apart from worries about the quality of the online offerings, the Volkskrant has found vast differences across the universities, with some opting for mostly on line classes and others inviting all students back in

‘We will not be checking how universities make the division,’ higher education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven told the paper in an interview.  ‘But we will be monitoring quality’.  She ruled out discounts on fees, however, saying students will get ‘the best education possible and that comes at a price’.

The main worry for students who will spend most of their time online is social isolation, Van Engelshoven said, and she encouraged students to make contact and look out for each other.

She also told the paper that a budget increase of €1bn, which would bring the Netherlands in line with  the Lisbon requirement to spend 2.5% of GDP on research and innovation, will form part of the next government formation negotiations.

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