At 90% of Dutch primary schools, some children have stayed at home since the reopening. This is according to a survey conducted by the General Association of School Leaders (AVS) among more than 1,100 school principals in primary and special education. It is estimated that 55,000 children have stayed at home for fear of the coronavirus.
“Often 1% or 2% of the pupils were absent, but in 8% of the schools more than 10% of the pupils are not yet at school”, says AVS chairman, Petra van Haren. “A lot of schools are concerned about teaching these students.
Besides, not all teachers were present at more than half of the schools. On average, 2% of them stayed at home because of the virus. Most of the teachers who did not come to school were remotely involved, for example, by teaching students from home. In 5% of the schools, there were not enough teachers to provide all classes.
Nevertheless, 97% of the school leaders feel positive when looking back on the first days of the reopening. “There was a lot of joy to see the children again,” says Van Haren. “We are proud of all the school principals who organized this together with their team in this unusual time.
Satisfaction with hygiene measures
According to 92% of the school principals, handling hygiene products went according to plan. One-fifth of the schools used mouth caps or gloves; teachers in special education often have physical care duties and teachers in regular primary schools feel safer cleaning or sticking plasters.
But teachers also question the feasibility of the corona measures at school. “There are concerns about whether the 1.5-meter distance for adults will work and whether everyone will remain healthy after the reopening,” says Van Haren. “In special education, there are also concerns about safe student transport,” continues Van Haren.
The agreements between parents and schools about picking up and dropping off have been met at almost all schools. That is according to the school principals. The same applies to extracurricular care, with which 95% of the schools have made clear agreements. At 88% of the schools, pupils were transferred directly to the extracurricular venue after school hours. In the remaining cases, pupils were housed at school for a while.
The reopening of the schools did not go smoothly everywhere. The Working Parents Foundation’s ‘Doors reopened’ hotline received 400 complaints in three days. These include complains from parents with an essential profession. The emergency care facilities have refused them because the schools are now open again.
There are also complaints about schools that have chosen to give half-day lessons, which leads to siblings sometimes not attending school at the same time. There are also complaints about the connection with the extracurricular venue.