We are open - welcome back children!
Today, most of the primary schools in the Netherlands welcomed children back to school after an extended period of online learning. The government’s Outbreak Management Team confirmed that young children are less likely to spread the virus, including the British variant of the virus. Minister Slob considers the importance for children’s social development that they go back to school and meet their friends, but also for parents who had the difficult job of working from home and supervising lessons.
With this welcome news also came a long list of arrangements that had to be made to ensure the opening would be safe for all children and teachers. The RIVM, the Ministry of Education and the PO council provided schools with a framework, including additional restrictions to limit the risk of infections.
We asked Optimist International School (OIS) in Hoofddorp to tell us more. And this is what they told us….
‘At Optimist International School (OIS) in Hoofddorp parents received a clear ‘COVID’ plan outlining the new and updated measures, acknowledging that we all need to think differently and creatively about the learning priorities when responding to challenging circumstance.
“Even though the list sounds endless, we are all very grateful that children can go back to learning at school, and with the strong support of the community we can make this work. We all have the students’ best interest at heart”, said Anne Marie van Holst, Director Optimist International School.
So what are some of the rules implemented?
- school is open unless infections or a risk of infections gives cause to closure (advised by GGD)
- after school care remains closed
- stricter test policy, quarantine policy and track and trace amongst children
- if a child is tested positive, the entire class, and all in close contact, must go into quarantine for ten days
- to make the quarantine shorter, adults and children can get tested after 5 days
- primary schools will also make more use of a fast testing
- children and staff should be ‘mixed’ as little as possible, so ‘bubbles’ are created within the school environment
- adults always to maintain 1,5 meter distance from each other
- staff and children must abide by the stay home, health and quarantine rules of RIVM
- children returning from a trip from orange/red areas must, like adults, be in quarantine for 10 days.
Additional safety procedures OIS has implemented…
- a staggered beginning and end of school times
- parents to wear face masks on school ground
- teachers and children in group 7 are strongly advised to wear a facemask unless they sit at their desk
- if weather permits PE lessons will be held outside (also in case of snow)
- toilets have been allocated to groups
- no gathering of staff, also not during break time
- children in upper-class sit together in fixed groups as much as possible
- during playing outside children from different groups are kept separate
- library will be closed; no books sent home
- no after school activities
- dedicated hygiene procedures throughout the day; also no sharing of computers and where possible children receive their own materials
- classrooms ventilated properly and windows will be opened a number of times
- no volunteers or visitors in the building
- no tours for prospective parents. Zoom/skype calls and introduction videos provided
For any concerns, parents can contact the schools confidential person, school counselor or school doctor.
At Optimist International School we pride ourselves on our communication; a clear understanding of the regulations and restrictions our teachers, students and families will encounter during the next few weeks, maybe months. It’s only by working together as a strong and determined team can we continue to provide the best international education.
Stay safe and stay alert!
This article appeared in ExpatsHaarlemmermeer on 8 Feb 2021.