If the omens don't mislead us, there will be another hard lockdown starting tomorrow. What does this mean for higher education? Maybe not as much as you would expect.
An empty lecture hall. (Photo: Dalia Madi)

If the omens don't mislead us, there will be another hard lockdown starting tomorrow. What does this mean for higher education? Maybe not as much as you would expect.

Lees in het Nederlands

Tonight Prime Minister Rutte addresses the people from his office. That can only mean one thing: a hard lockdown. And the measures are already leaking out.

One of the plans is to close schools until 19 January. Non-essential stores should also close their doors. The question remains exactly what ‘non-essential' means, but it doesn’t predict much cheer for the holidays.

With the coronavirus infections are increasing: almost 8,500 new cases this morning, and more than five hundred patients in intensive care. This morning, the cabinet held a crisis meeting.

Roadmap
For universities and universities of applied sciences, this most likely means a replay of the situation in March: all education will be completely online again. After all, everyone should stay at home as much as possible.

But does the Dutch government follow its own roadmap for corona measures? If so, then exams may in theory still take place. That would be a relief for all institutions that have an exam week just before the Christmas break.

Furthermore, according to the roadmap, universities and universities of applied sciences are allowed to teach first-year students, even at the highest risk level, on campus. Practical classes may also continue, as may the supervision of ‘vulnerable students’. All when keeping one and a half meters distance, of course.

Aside
But the cabinet has already set aside its own roadmap and is now working on a new one. So it is possible that Rutte will announce stricter measures tonight and everything will have to be fully online again - including the exams.

This will be less drastic than the first time. In March, teachers made a lightning-fast transition from physical education to teaching online. A large part of the lessons is still online anyway.

But in the past few months, higher education seemed to be getting more and more opportunities. Universities and colleges were allowed to give more lessons on campus and teaching hours were extended.

Fast testing
But that wasn't enough for some. The rectors of the universities wanted more room for education. And just last week, some universities said they wanted to experiment with fast testing and crowd control. 

It looks like they can forget that for the time being as the number of infections is increasing too fast right now. Exactly what the government wants to do about this will become clear tonight. 

The press conference will be broadcasted live and can be followed via various channels of the NOS and NPO. Afterwards, the central government will publish multiple translations of the new measures on their website. English translations of NOS articles are available through the Facebook page NOS in English.            

HOP, Bas Belleman