• EM Power

Rijksoverheid: NL primary schools and childcare facilities not re-opening earlier

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Primary schools and childcare facilities in the Netherlands will remain closed until 8 February, except for the emergency childcare for parents and carers holding 'vital professions'. According to Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu – RIVM's expert Outbreak Management Team – OMT, children seem to be as susceptible and infectious for the B117 virus as for the 'old' Covid-19 variant. However, more confirmation is needed. There are still too many concerns about the number of infections in the Netherlands and about the spread of new variants of the virus among the populace. As a result, it is not possible to open primary schools and childcare centres earlier. Contact moments between adults must still be avoided as much as possible.

Primary education (including special education) and childcare facilities will remain open for the emergency care of children of parents holding a 'vital profession' and for children in a vulnerable position. In view of the specific groups, this is justified according to the OMT.

Outgoing minister Arie Slob (Basis- en Voortgezet Onderwijs):

"Unfortunately, it is inevitable that schools cannot yet open for all pupils during this lockdown. I realise that this is a blow to parents, teachers and pupils. Helping your children with school while at the same time having to do your job is incredibly hard. It is also very worrying that children's arrears will increase further. That is why I am looking, together with the education sector, at which extra measures are needed, such as, for example, extending teaching time. We will work out the details in the coming weeks and the Kabinet wants to contribute financially to this on a long-term basis."

Outgoing staatssecretaris Bas van 't Wout (Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid):

"Unfortunately, child care cannot open earlier during this lockdown. I understand very well that this is a disappointing message for parents, pedagogical employees and children. I understand that the pressure is high, both in the emergency facilities and at home with parents. Great respect for all parents who combine working at home with caring for young children and providing home education, but full opening of child care [facilities] is not responsible at the moment given the current numbers of infections. For children in a vulnerable position and children with at least one parent in a crucial occupation, the emergency shelter can remain open. Partly thanks to the enormous efforts of childcare workers. I will continue to have discussions with the childcare sector ahead of the next weighing up of all the lockdown measures."

The opening of primary education and childcare will be included in the reconsideration of all lockdown measures, which are valid until at least 8 February. For childcare, the request to parents to continue paying bills during the closure remains. The previously announced compensation for the child's own contribution will also continue during this extended lockdown.

Emergency childcare is under pressure in several places because many parents use it. The childcare centres want to help the primary education sector; concrete agreements about this will be made next week. The Kabinet is also in talks with the social partners about 'corona leave' for parents who have to combine their work with caring for their children. The Kabinet is prepared to contribute to this.

The Kabinet has previously made more than 208 million euros available for catch-up programmes in primary and secondary education. More than 4,000 primary schools and almost 600 secondary schools have already made use of this. All available knowledge about catching up for teachers (in Dutch) can be found at lesopafstand.nl

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