Universities relieved that face-to-face teaching is possible again
The government has decided that the universities in the Netherlands will be permitted to open partially for education and research again from 17 January onwards. Once again, universities will be required to limit class sizes to a maximum of 75 people, as was also the case between 13 November and 17 December 2021. Universities will be informing their staff and students as to what this means for them as soon as possible. Pieter Duisenberg, President of Universiteiten van Nederland: ‘It’s great to hear that face-to-face teaching is possible once more and that lecturers and students will again be able to meet regularly on campus. In view of the rising infection rates, we will be proceeding as safely as possible and devote ample attention to the concerns of staff and students. It goes without saying, then, that we will be religiously adhering to the safety measures announced, such as proper ventilation. The use of face masks is to be expanded too.’
The lack of face-to-face teaching and meeting up and the uncertainty as to how long this situation might persist this time round has hit many students and lecturers hard. According to research carried out by Statistics Netherlands and a joint study by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), GGD-GHOR and Trimbos, many students experienced a decline in their mental health during the pandemic. It is therefore extremely important for face-to-face teaching to be possible again, so lecturers and students can meet at the university once more, albeit with optimal precautions in place. To this end, the most significant measures are:
- a maximum class size of 75 students per individual room;
- exceptions for exams;
- people advised to stay 1.5 m apart wherever possible;
- face masks mandatory within teaching facilities;
- preventive self-testing twice a week urgently recommended;
- walking routes mandatory;
- continuing to ensure proper ventilation;
- universities calling on staff and students to get vaccinated/have their booster jabs;
- compliance with basic rules (hygiene measures) and quarantine guidelines.
Universities are preparing to provide face-to-face teaching again soon. In many places, it will not yet be possible to start this from next week. The timetables will need to be adjusted accordingly.