Minister of Education Arie Slob has announced that primary schools and childcare will remain closed until at least February 8.

The cabinet did investigate the option of opening earlier but has determined that it will not be possible, reports the NOS.

Minister Slob says it’s a “great disappointment for the children, parents, teachers and childcare workers.”

The minister explains that “We follow the OMT advice.” Because the number of infections is still high and there is uncertainty around the spread in children, “It didn’t give us the boldness to open the schools earlier.”

Support for parents

The added stress on families with school children is being considered along with this decision. Consultations will take place this week about the possibility of paid care leave for parents who are homeschooling while working from home.

According to Slob, “We are discussing this with employers and the social partners.” While coronavirus leave is primarily the responsibility of employers, the minister says they are “prepared to make a financial contribution to this as a cabinet.”

PO Council in favour

The PO Council, the umbrella organisation of Dutch primary schools, is concerned about the effects of the long school closure on the children but supports the cabinet’s decision. “The safety of students and teaching staff is always paramount.”

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