From today, primary and secondary schools will be supplied with self-tests.
Teachers and other school staff can use these to detect COVID-19 early on. The goal is for every school in the Netherlands to have a two-week testing kit stock within two weeks. So, schools should get 14 million kits by the summer holidays.
School personnel can use these to test themselves, preventatively, twice a week. They are, however, not obliged to use the self-tests. But outgoing Eduction Minister Arie Slob says many schools are willing to cooperate.
‘Infections can be isolated’
“Everyone knows that if they all do this, it’ll ensure that any infections can be isolated. The rest of the staff and pupils can simply carry on,” he said on NOS Radio 1 News. Minister Slob is basing this on recent self-testing trials at some schools.
The idea is that employees (and students) who test positive will go into quarantine. They will then make an appointment at their local health department (GGD) for a standard PCR test. School staff have priority in the GGD testing facilities.
If there’s a COVID-19 outbreak at a school, students from, say, the same class can also use these kits. That’s done in consultation with their parents. The General Education Union (AOb) is pleased with this development.
But, they point out that it’s not the primary solution. “It can work preventively, but, of course, we can’t abandon the existing measures. Only vaccines will provide true certainty.” These tests will complement existing measures in schools.
AOb board member, Tamar van Gelder, said on NOS Radio 1 Journaal that many teachers are still worried about this virus. “Enforcing the 1,5m rule is sometimes tough, especially in high schools. And those students are between12 and 17. The number of infections is rising in that age group.”
Translator: Melinda Walraven