Looks like Christmas is coming early this year! At least for Dutch primary school children. The extended holiday will start next week to curb all those coronavirus infections at elementary schools.
The cabinet has decided to, finally, follow the pressing advice of the Outbreak Management Team and close primary schools a week earlier than originally planned, reports the NOS.
Parents with young children can breathe a sigh of relief however, childcare services will remain open, RTL Nieuws reports. Schools are also asked to organise daycare for children from vulnerable families.
No exact dates just yet
Sources remain unclear about when this early holiday will begin and when school will resume. Because it is on such short notice, schools are given some leeway regarding the early closing.
Schools are meant to reopen sometime between January 11 to January 14. Hopefully, tonight’s press conference will make things a little clearer.
Why the early closure?
There are two main reasons for the decision:
- The spread of the omicron variant
- High infection rates amongst school children
Children under 12 are not yet vaccinated and it is naturally difficult for young kids to keep their distance from one another. Unsurprisingly, infection rates have been high compared to other age groups.
Still, the decision might come as a bit of a surprise. The cabinet has long opposed the idea of closing schools early. Frequent closures of schools and remote learning have raised concerns about the quality of education of Dutch youngsters.
Concern about omicron
However, many questions about the omicron variant remain unanswered and infection rates are stable but high.
“We still know very little about the variant, but what we know, is not very reassuring,” Dutch health minister De Jonge tells RTL Nieuws.
Press conference will provide more answers
The new coronavirus measures will be officially announced during the press conference tonight at 7 PM. This will hopefully shed more light on how long schools will remain closed and if there will be other measures set in place.
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