A rapid test next to your tooth brush: that’s what Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has had in mind since February, when parliament insisted on finding a way to reopen higher education. This morning a step was taken in the right direction. It is now possible for students and employees to order self-tests free of charge via Zelftestonderwijs.nl.
Those of us who were ready and waiting in front of our laptops last Wednesday at 10AM were reminded of the old days of trying to buy concert tickets online.... with multiple tabs open and your mobile phone at hand... waiting for something to happen on screen. In the end, it took an hour longer than planned for the website to go live.
Why is delivery so slow?
Once you were logged on, it was smooth sailing and placing an order took less than a minute. But on the next screen, the following striking information appeared: “The self-tests will be shipped by PostNL within five working days”. “PostNL delivers on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.”
This means students and lecturers must place their orders well in advance. If you try and order a test on Monday so you can go to class on Wednesday, you’re out of luck. Why is delivery so slow?
This is mainly due to PostNL’s current capacity, says a spokesperson for SURF, the IT organisation for education. “Shipping these self-tests to all students and employees is a huge and complex undertaking, so of course it is difficult to predict the exact date of delivery. Our goal is to have a processing time of five working days before your order is visible using track and trace.”
She confirms that PostNL will only deliver the self-tests on Wednesday through Saturday. This was agreed due to their capacity.
A little stash
The good thing is that you can order between two and four self-tests each time. This means that you will have a little stash when you receive your order. “The goal is to get as many first sets to as many students and employees as possible”, explains the spokesperson. The portal will show when you can order your next set of tests.
And what happens if there’s suddenly a rush on tests? Will there be enough for everyone? “Of course we are always dependent on how many tests are available before we can accept and process orders. But we are prepared for large numbers. The website is now only being used by universities and universities of applied sciences. Students of vocational education and training will not be able to order tests via the portal until June.”
The government has budgeted half a billion euros to make these voluntary self-tests available to higher education. If you have any symptoms you will still need to drop by the GGD Municipal Health Services.
HOP, Evelien Flink | Translation: Taalcentrum-VU