Primary schools, daycare will reopen on February 8, minister confirms

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Education minister Arie Slob confirmed on Sunday that primary schools and daycare centres will reopen as planned on February 8, but that secondary schools and after-school clubs will remain closed. The decision has been taken on the basis of recommendations by the government’s Outbreak Management Team, which says young children are not more likely to spread the more infectious versions of coronavirus now in circulation, Slob told reporters after a meeting of ministers on Sunday afternoon. The decision to reopen schools, he said, is a responsible one. It is important for children’s social development that they can go back to school and meet their friends, but also for parents who have been doing the difficult job of working from home and supervising lessons, Slob said. But he warned parents to limit their contacts with other parents and ‘not to hang around the school gates’. If a child tests positive for coronavirus, the entire class must go into quarantine and be tested, Slob said. Primary schools will also make more use of fast testing. Fewer positive tests In total, 3,714 positive tests were reported to public health institute RIVM in the 24 hours to Sunday morning, the lowest total since October 1. The figure is below the average for the previous seven days – and further evidence of a declining trend. Since the outbreak, nearly 980,000 people in the Netherlands have tested positive for coronavirus, and the one million milestone is expected in the coming week. Despite the decline in positive tests, Slob said that the situation in the Netherlands remains very worrying. Prime minister Mark Rutte and health minister Hugo de Jonge will hold a press conference on Tuesday evening to outline the latest developments and to say if any more of the current measures, such as the curfew, can be lifted. Ministers said earlier that their priority is to get the schools open again.

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