Government parties in no rush to abandon social distancing

| HOP, Bas Belleman

Opposition parties are urging the government to speed up its decision-making on Covid measures in higher education for the coming academic year. But in yesterday's vote in the House of Representatives, the government parties blocked a motion to this effect.

Photo by: flickr creative commons | Ron de Boom

The government plans to put off any final decision on social distancing in vocational and higher education until mid-August. This leaves educational institutions facing two possible scenarios: welcoming students back with or without restrictions.

Difficult challenge

Leaving such a crucial decision until only weeks before the start of term poses a ‘very difficult logistical challenge’ for the education sector, to quote the motion submitted by Partij voor de Dieren. The party called on the government to ‘make every effort’ to bring this decision forward.

Universities and universities of applied sciences are eager to know where they stand, sooner rather than later. While bolstering online education initiatives and making some allowances for the threat of a new lockdown, they say they are working towards only one scenario.

The motion garnered support from across the political spectrum, from SP, GroenLinks and PvdA on the left, to PVV and FvD on the right. The smaller parties also gave it their backing.

No pressure

However, the four-party coalition of VVD, CDA, D66 and ChristenUnie held firm and voted down the motion. This means that the education minister is now under no pressure to give the go-ahead for lifting social distancing measures before mid-August. If indeed it happens at all.

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