One-and-a-half metre requirement lifted for education

Resource asked Arnold Bregt, Arthur Mol and Gijs Rotteveel to respond to the news.

The press conference of 13 August brings good news for the higher education institutes, various media predict based on sources in The Hague. Resource asked dean of education Arnold Bregt, rector magnificus Arthur Mol and Gijs Rotteveel of the Student Alliance Wageningen for their reaction to the news.

Dean of education Arnold Bregt: ‘This is what we aimed for’

‘I am delighted. This is the scenario Wageningen aimed for. It is good news for the students. If we are to maintain the one-and-a-half metre rule, we won’t be able to accommodate nearly as many students on campus. This news means we will be able to offer relatively normal campus education and that students and teachers will once again be able to meet and interact live on campus. We will be able to resume our education in the way we want to. Teachers also much prefer teaching on the campus. Although knowledge transfer is possible online, working methods such as discussions require a group getting together physically on campus to be successful. This step is sorely needed.’

‘Many questions remain, so we await the press conference. The devil is in the details. On Monday, the WUR corona task force will get together to see how the new measures affect Wageningen. All in all, this is good news for teachers and students. We can once again teach as we want to.’

Rector magnificus Arthur Mol: ‘Excellent for education.’

‘Before the summer, we got together with the VSNU (Association of Dutch Universities, ed.) and formulated a joint position: If at all possible, the social distancing rule must be lifted at the start of the new academic year. The number of infections seemed to be heading in the right direction at the end of May and the start of June, but the numbers increased dramatically after easing the measures, which was cause for concern. Nonetheless, together with the universities of applied sciences, student associations and unions, we continued to push the Hague to lift the distancing rule at the start of the academic year.’

‘I am curious to learn what measures will be announced precisely, particularly with regard to issues such as routing, face masks, hygiene measures and ventilation. What rules will apply to the cafeterias? What will happen to the working from home guideline? What about public transport? I believe we might still have some discussion about mandatory vaccination and testing for entry.’

‘Many students struggled with feelings of isolation, loneliness and demotivation over the past year. They had trouble enjoying their studies, or things did not go entirely as planned. The fact that the government is now taking this step is good news for education, students and teachers. There will likely be some restrictions, but I expect students will have a completely different learning experience than last year. This news brings back energy into our organisation and motivates students and teachers.’

Gijs Rotteveel of Student Alliance Wageningen: ‘Fantastic to see student life return to normal’

‘When we heard the news, all of the student unions were thrilled. This offers students the opportunity to learn properly and especially to develop their collaborative studying skills. For the first-year students, in particular, it will be great to have a normal student life once again.’

‘As a union, we still have many questions. What accompanying measures will be put in place? Will contact hours be compulsory, and how will this affect international students still having to travel to the Netherlands. How will this affect public transport? Must students avoid rush hour, and will the timetable be adjusted accordingly? Some issues are still to be clarified, but we are delighted with the easing of the measures.’

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