Coronavirus crisis calls for different methods of teaching

Health is the government’s top priority when it comes to children, young people, teachers and support staff. The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has shown convincingly that closing all schools will have little effect. The health risks to children and young people are low. Children and young people play a very limited role in spreading the virus. RIVM stands by its recommendations. It’s important that children and young people can continue with their education , whether they are at school or at home. In this time of crisis, we have to consider alternative ways of teaching. This is what education ministers Arie Slob and Ingrid van Engelshoven write in a letter to the House of Representatives in which they discuss the situation in primary, secondary and secondary vocational education.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may lead to situations in which teaching will need to be organised differently, because there are fewer pupils, students, teachers and support staff.

In these situations, priority will be given to:

  • Lessons for secondary schools pupils and students at schools for secondary vocational education preparing for their leaving examinations;
  • lessons for pupils in the final year of primary school preparing for secondary school;
  • teaching and childcare for the children of parents who need to be able to continue working, for example healthcare and emergency workers.

If children and young people have to stay at home, teaching will be organised for them too, wherever possible. Schools will receive help in continuing to provide the best possible education in the circumstances. Some lessons can be given online, enabling schools to respond to the recommendations issued on 12 March.

The coronavirus crisis and the measures to deal with it have led to much concern and an emotional response among schools and parents. Mr Slob and Ms Van Engelshoven understand people’s concerns. In a bid to provide more clarity on what these measures will mean for schools, they have entered into talks with the sector councils and trade unions.

Distance learning, regional cooperation and facilitation of teachers and support staff on whom even greater demands are no being placed, are some the issues the education ministers will be exploring and fleshing out together with the sector councils and trade unions. Secondary vocational education institutions have offered to look at how students can help provide childcare, particularly for the children of parents who have to go to work.