Higher education faces at least three more weeks of lockdown

09-03-2021

THE NETHERLANDS. Higher education will continue under the current restrictions until 30 March, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Minister Hugo de Jonge said last night in their press conference. But after that the door might be opened a crack.

By the beginning of summer, everyone “who wants it” will be vaccinated at least once, Prime Minister Rutte announced last night. “That will be the time when we can finally take significant steps in the direction of normal life.”

But we’re not there yet. The number of new cases of Covid-19 is stable, but too high. That’s the reason the government doesn’t think it’s a good idea to open up yet. At the end of March this may perhaps be possible, including re-opening the outdoor cafés.

Easter

“That means that in the week before Easter Sunday higher education will be able to start up again”, De Jonge said. “By allowing students to attend classes one day a week.”

Currently students are only allowed on campus for labs and exams. ‘Vulnerable students’ can also visit their university of applied sciences or university for guidance counselling.

De Jonge sounded optimistic. He sees rapid tests as offering possibilities for making campuses accessible. “That’s because with rapid testing we can make education safer and prevent more people from catching the virus.”

Home testing

Home testing will also help, he expects. Moreover, he’s enthusiastic about a new corona check app, which you can use to show that you’ve had a recent negative corona test and won’t infect others.

The app may also be capable of showing a “green tick mark” if someone has been vaccinated, but that will only be possible when we know if those who have been given the vaccine are really no longer infectious. In any case, the outgoing government does not want to launch “any direct or indirect vaccination requirement”.

Rapid tests and other measures to make in-person teaching safe are currently being piloted in higher education. The question remains how quickly these pilots will deliver reliable results.

HOP, Bas Belleman

Translation: Taalcentrum-VU