Even now with more confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in the Netherlands, schools and universities have been told not to close their doors. For the time being, they are to keep an eye on recommendations issued by their municipal health service (GGD).
A list of questions and answers published for education institutions by the national authorities explicitly states schools need not take precautionary measures. They should leave this to local health services and hospitals.
Sentiment and emotions
Last Thursday, interim president of the Executive Board Hans Smits expressed concerns about ‘the sentiment and the emotions’ surrounding the coronavirus. He emphasized that it is not the intention to refuse students who come back from winter sports in the corona area for example in college. Various lecturers have considered refusing students.
In Wageningen, employees at the university’s LaptopShop posted a sign notifying customers that due to the virus they would not touch customer’s devices. The notice has since been removed. A university spokesperson called it misguided.
Turn away student from corona area at the lecture hall? No way
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Precautionary testing pointless
Study trips and exchange projects may be a problem, however. Travel to affected regions such as northern Italy and China’s Hubei province is discouraged in travel advisories issued by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Precautionary testing for the virus is pointless if a person doesn’t actually feel ill: “Even if someone is infected, there’s not enough of the virus in their body in those initial days. So we aren’t screening for the virus until symptoms appear.”
The government has opened a crisis number: 0800-1351. People with questions can go there, although they can also find a lot of information online. The HR department at Erasmus University also has a special ‘corona help desk’. The university’s telephone number and current information about the coronavirus can be found here.
Last Tuesday, virologist Marion Koopmans explained in Studio Erasmus what happens when it’s determined that somebody is infected with the corona virus.