Those who were online at exactly 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning to order a kit were given a reminder of what it used to be like to try and buy concert tickets for popular bands online: several browsers and tabs open simultaneously, mobile phone on hand, waiting for something to happen on screen. In the end, it took the webmasters an hour longer than scheduled to get the site online.
Once you have logged in, though, ordering a kit is a piece of cake. Your order will be placed within a minute. However, you will then see a rather remarkable message on screen. “The self-testing kits will be dispatched through PostNL in five working days,” it says. “PostNL will make the deliveries on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.”
In other words, it is vital that students and lecturers place their orders well in advance. It is no use ordering a kit on Monday to be able to attend a lecture on Wednesday. Why does it have to take that long?
A spokeswoman for SURF, the IT organisation that serves the education sector, explained that it is mainly due to PostNL’s capacity. “Sending self-testing kits to all students and staff is a major and complex operation, so it’s hard to predict exactly when the kits will be delivered. We seek to complete the process in five working days before you can check the status of your order with a track-and-trace code.”
The spokeswoman confirmed that PostNL will only deliver the self-testing kits on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For capacity-related reasons, that was the arrangement agreed with PostNL.
Supply at hand
The good thing is that you will receive two to four self-testing kits each time you place an order. In other words, once your order arrives, you will have a small supply. “The objective, right now, is to provide as many students and employees as possible with a first kit as soon as possible,” the spokeswoman explained. The portal will tell you when you can order your next kit.
Now suppose that a whole lot of students suddenly decide to apply for a kit. Will there be enough kits to get around? “Of course we will depend on the number of kits available in accepting orders, but we are prepared for large numbers. At present, the website is only used by universities and universities of applied sciences. Students and staff of VET colleges will be able to order kits via the portal starting from June.”
The Dutch Cabinet has set aside half a billion euros to provide the higher education sector with these voluntary self-testing kits.
People who are experiencing symptoms should continue to get tested at the GGD (regional public health service).