Schools reopen in Noord-Nederland with extra hygiene measures, no social distancing

The schools in the Noord-Nederland region are the first to reopen after the summer vacation. Extra hygiene measures were taken to try and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But pupils no longer have to maintain social distancing with each other, even if they are already 18 years old. Teachers must keep 1.5 meters apart from each other, and in secondary schools also from pupils as much as possible, reports.

According to Minister Arie Slob for Primary and Secondary Education, it is safe to return to school. But he stressed that everyone must adhere to the rules in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. “We have been advised that the schools can open, but we never have a 100 percent guarantee that everything will go well,” he said to NOS. “It is important that children who have been in areas with an orange or even red travel advice to go into home isolation.”

Unlike before the summer, pupils in both primary and secondary education have to go to school five days a week again. Distance learning is now meant only as an alternative in the event that teachers cannot be physically at school. Pupils who are at high risk of the coronavirus, or have family members who are, can arrange for distance learning with their school. This also applies to children aged 13 or older who recently returned from a coronavirus hotspot. They will have to stay home for the quarantine period. Younger children still have to go to school, because according to the RIVM, they don’t play a big role in the spread of the virus. They can’t be dropped off or collected by someone who is supposed to be in quarantine, however.

Pupils with symptoms that may indicate the coronavirus must stay home.This also applies to pupils with family members who have a fever or shortness of breath. Primary school pupils in groups 1 and 2 can go to school with a cold, because children of this age often have the sniffles. Those who have been tested for the coronavirus, must stay home until they have the results. If they test positive, they must stay home until they’ve been symptom free for 24 hours.

Parents will only be allowed to enter the school and playground after answering a number of health questions. If it turns out they may have the coronavirus, or had contact with someone who did, they will not be allowed on the premises.

Schools took extra hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the virus. These may differ per school. All pupils will have to wash their hands regularly, for example at the start of a lesson. Tables will be cleaned often, door handles and other often touched items will be cleaned daily. One school in Assen is requiring that pupils and teachers wear face masks. Rooms will be regularly aired out, and the recirculation of air in one room must be avoided.

Schools will also try to spread out break times so that playgrounds and corridors don’t become crowded. If possible, pupils will spend their break only with their own classmates. Everyone must go home immediately after school, preferably on foot or by bicycle. Public transit is for pupils who have no other options.