NOS (national broadcaster) has published the recommendations from the so-called Outbreak Management Team. This advice also covers the re-opening of education. For the cabinet, the advice is one of the main sources on which it bases its policy.
The advice sounds optimistic, stating: “There is a clear drop in the number of new hospital and ICU admissions, and this is expected to continue under the current measures”.
Models used by the team suggest that childcare, special education and primary schools could re-open. At least, this should not lead to “considerable additional disease burden or strain on the healthcare system.” If necessary, the schools could start with halved class sizes. It is possible that secondary education could follow a month later.
Higher education is a different story. The physical presence of students at universities and universities of applied sciences could form “a real risk”. The OMT recommends waiting to see what happens when primary and secondary education restarts.
After all, universities and universities of applied sciences cover a greater area than individual primary schools. Children generally live close to their primary school, while many students use public transport to travel to their university/college, and that is a risk.
Can exceptions be made for practical training and internships? The OMT would first like to know “how many people fall under such an exception” before producing recommendations about this.
The advice stated: “In the coming period, a balance needs to be found between controlling the virus on the one hand, and the least possible disruption to society on the other”. “What is essential is that the measures have a broad support base, prove to be achievable in society and are complied with.”
The advice also, however, mentions all kinds of uncertainties. Scientists do not know everything about the virus, by a long way. And yet, “society” does partly need to start up again. “Considering the extremely significant social, financial and economic consequences of the measures, it is not possible to wait until all knowledge gaps have been filled”.
Prime Minister Rutte will be holding a press conference about the coronavirus crisis, education and other matters tonight at 7.00 pm. The cabinet’s views on this advice will then become clear.