The infection rates are rising ‘at lightning speed’, Prime Minister Rutted said while protestors outside the parliamentary gates demonstrated against the corona measures with whistles, pots and pans and yelling.

The protest was to no avail. The Netherlands will be locked down for a period of five weeks. “The fewer contacts, the better,” Rutte summed up. “We have to do everything we can now. We’ve got to bite this very sour apple before things get better.”

Take it seriously

This means that schools are closing once again, and higher education also has got to take it seriously. As it happens, the vast majority of education was still being given online, but occasionally more was possible, especially for first-year students.

Not any more now. Distance learning is becoming the norm again. Only ‘practical education’ can still be given on campus. On balance, you simply cannot learn some skills from behind a screen.

The Dutch government is also making an exception for exams. These may be held on campus. Of course, students and invigilators must apply the metre-and-a-half boundaries strictly and stay at home if they have any symptoms. Universities are free to decide for themselves whether or not to hold exams entirely online. They will first need to discuss this.

Vulnerable students

An exception has also been made for vulnerable students. The government does not provide a precise definition of what this entails, although you could consider students who do not have a suitable place to work at home or students with a disability who find it difficult to study at home.

Libraries will also be closed, except that you will be allowed to collect books from them. This will probably also apply to university libraries.

According to Rutte, the government has no choice but to take these measures. “Around sixty people are dying from corona every day. More people are ending up in hospital in the second wave than in the first wave.”