The extension of the shutdown was announced on Sunday afternoon by Arie Slob, the Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, and Bruno Bruins, the Minister for Medical Care. Bruins predicted that the extension was unlikely to be the last measure implemented by the Cabinet with regard to the coronavirus emergency.
Cafés and sports clubs, too, were told to close on Sunday, effective immediately. It seems likely that student associations are included in the category of clubs ordered to close their doors. Many student societies had already cancelled their events and get-togethers.
Five feet’s distance
At the press conference held on Sunday, the ministers repeated their recommendation that everyone stay at home where possible. People are allowed to buy groceries, as long as they try to keep approximately 1.5 metres’ distance from each other (i.e. about five feet). The Cabinet has asked people not to hoard groceries, as shortages are unlikely.
Students will continue to be taught, albeit by improvised means, including online teaching and telephone consultations. Solutions will have to be found for exams and work placements.
The Cabinet has asked universities and universities of applied sciences not to forget about secondary school pupils who are about to decide on a degree. They must not be denied access to the degree programme of their choosing if they fail to complete aspects of the student selection procedure or are unable to attend choice-of-degree interviews due to the coronavirus emergency.
It should be noted that the Ministers for Education (Ingrid van Engelshoven and Arie Slob) wrote the following last Friday on how the Covid-19 measures would affect higher education: “Researchers will be able to continue to conduct their research. The buildings will not be closed.”
However, researchers are naturally subject to the same guidelines governing all other Dutch people: they should stay at home if possible. In other words, they are only allowed to go to work if their presence is absolutely required for the success of their research projects.
The ICT organisation SURF, which provides ICT infrastructure for Dutch universities, has announced that the capacity of its network should suffice for the many remote workers who will presumably be using it.