‘Higher education will go out of lockdown next week’

13 Jan 2022

Under restrictions, universities and all vocational education are allowed to have physical classes again from next week, sources in The Hague say. The most involved ministers made that decision today after council with their advisors.

From Saturday, people can make appointments at non-essential shops, barbers, and other places that involve physical contact again, according to RTL-Nieuws and NOS. Gyms are also allowed to open again, but cafés, restaurants, and cultural establishments such as theatres remain closed.

The cabinet bases these decisions on new scenarios by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT). The omicron variant of the virus makes people less sick than previously feared. The news is not set in stone until Prime Minister Rutte and Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Kuipers announce these new measurements during their press conference Friday evening.

Emotional load

Student organisations, educational institutions, and psychiatrists last Wednesday insisted on the reopening of all higher and vocational education. They feared for a huge emotional load on students because of the lockdown. Minister of Education Dijkgraaf also emphasised that the reopening is high on the list of priorities.

Under which restrictions and in what manner higher education is allowed to reopen is still unclear. Last Monday the OMT wrote that students and lecturers need to wear medical face masks when to return to campus; not only while moving through buildings but also when seated during ‘education in large groups’.

Face masks

Yesterday OMT-member Andreas Voss told Vox that face masks also need to be worn during tutorials and exams.

He stated that higher education needs to think well about how to implement physical education: ‘Lectures with large groups should remain online, and tutorials with fixed participants should – while keeping distance and with good ventilation – be held physically.’

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