Universities, university colleges and secondary vocational education may resume face-to-face teaching next week under certain conditions, sources in The Hague state. The ministers concerned are said to have decided this today, following meetings with advisors.
As of Saturday, shopping in non-essential stores, hair salons, and other contact professions will reopen with a booking system, RTL-Nieuws* and NOS news stations reveal. Sports centres and gyms may also reopen, but the catering and cultural sectors will remain closed. The cabinet bases its decision on the new scenarios presented by the Outbreak Management Team. The omicron variant of the coronavirus is less pathogenic than previously assumed. The news about the eased measures must still be confirmed by Prime Minister Rutte and Minister of Public Health Kuipers during this Friday’s planned press conference.
Student organisations, education institutes and psychiatrists called for a reopening of higher education last Wednesday. They fear the emotional burden of the lockdown on students. Minister of Education Dijkgraaf also stated that reopening higher education is a priority.
What conditions will apply to the reopening of education is unclear. On Monday, the OMT wrote that students and teachers are to wear facemasks upon returning to the campus. When moving through the building and when they are seated “during crowded lectures”.
In an interview published yesterday, OMT-member Andreas Voss clarified that the facemask would also be required during workgroups and exams. He added that the higher education sector must carefully consider when face-to-face education is offered: ‘Large lectures could continue online, while practicals or workgroups with a fixed group of participants may take place in a live setting, with social distancing and proper ventilation.’
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