SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – New rules to deal with the spread of coronavirus in families with primary school children come into effect from Wednesday, following recommendations by government health advisors.
Almost one fifth of the new infections are in children aged five to 14, and one in four children who was tested for coronavirus in the past week was found to have the disease.
Their parents are also increasingly testing positive. The changes are now being incorporated into school protocols. Parents are no longer allowed into schools while staff and pupils must stay home if they have other symptoms on top of a runny nose.
In addition, no outsiders can be brought in to celebrate Sinterklaas and Christmas, for the coming weeks at least.
Staff are also being urged to work from home, unless they have to either teach or their presence is in the interests of pupils. Team building events must be held online and adults must keep 1.5 metres apart.
Both primary and secondary school staff are being urged to take a self-test twice a week. Schools can order the tests directly from the government. Primary schools’ council PO Raad said it is in the interests of children to ensure they can continue to go to school in as normal circumstances as possible.
However, some government advisors say that school closures are inevitable, given the surge in coronavirus cases.