Rise in school infections has Dutch experts calling for stricter measures

Secondary schools in the Netherlands are seeing a disproportionate rise in the number of students infected with coronavirus. One expert believes this is because schools need stricter measures.

Secondary schools are now the fourth highest source of coronavirus infections in the Netherlands. Last week saw several outbreaks in classrooms across the country and the question of whether more measures should be implemented has arisen.

Pediatrician epidemiologist, Patricia Bruijning, told Nieuwsuur on Sunday that this comes down to many infections taking place under the radar. She pointed out that young people may be carriers of the virus without knowing:

“It is precisely from teenagers that we know that they often go through an infection without or with few complaints. That is why we suspect that a lot is happening under the radar.”

More testing and measures in schools

In order to prevent the further increase in the number of infections in schools, she believes more students need to be tested. On top of this, she argues that the measures that apply outside of schools need to also be implemented within schools.

“We have already taken a lot of measures outside the schools. If we want to go down with the numbers, I think we should also look at the schools.”

While she doesn’t see the maintenance of appropriate distance as feasible in schools, she does suggest that break times and classroom end times should be staggered.

More clarity needed from the OMT

The Trade Union, Teachers in Action, is in agreement with Bruijning. “There does seem to be more going on in schools when it comes to corona infections than was previously claimed” Chairman, Peter Althuizen tells the NOS. “A poll among our members shows that there is an urgent and compelling recommendation for additional measures.”

He believes that the arbitrariness of the current school measures has been much cause for confusion. Measures have been drawn up by both the union and the secondary education council but schools struggle with how and what to implement.

For the moment, the main protocol when there is an outbreak is for schools is to contact their GGD for advice. This results in different schools adopting different measures, a source of further confusion.

How do you feel about additional measures in schools? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. 

Feature Image: Thirdman/Pexels

Sarah O'Leary
Sarah O'Leary
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.

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