Mouthguard issue divides schools, health concerns remain

One in five secondary schools requires or advises students to use mouth caps. A number of schools are still considering this, despite the current RIVM advice that a mouth mask is not necessary. One school also wants pupils to keep their distance from each other.

Schools tell about it during a tour of the CCeit along about a hundred communities for secondary education. The first schools started last week in the North region, this week the Southern provinces followed and next week the Central Netherlands region will start. School leaders say they have concerns about the near future.

Month caps

Most of the schools do it, as long as the RIVM doesn’t have to, for the time being without mouth caps. Schools that do prescribe mouth masks do so especially if the one and a half metres between teacher and pupil is difficult to maintain. This is mainly the case with practical subjects. “In Technology, the teacher has to explain machines. Teacher and pupil have to wear mouth masks”, explains a vmbo-school. Another one mentions the catering classes, “where food is prepared for others”.

Mouth caps are also prescribed here and there when changing lessons. A number of schools emphasize that wearing mouth masks there is voluntary. The Huygens Lyceum in Eindhoven says: “If employees or pupils feel safer because of this, they are free to use them”.

Other people name the signal function it assumes. For example, the Atheneum College Hageveld in Heemstede says: “It contributes to pupils’ awareness of keeping their distance and behaviour at school”

Ventilation

In recent weeks there have been many concerns in schools about the role of ventilation in the spread of the coronavirus. Minister Slob called on schools to check whether their systems comply with the building regulations. Almost all of them have done so in the meantime, or they are doing so in the short term, according to the tour.

Only half of the schools that responded take extra measures to fix the ventilation system. Many schools ensure that recirculation systems are switched off. They also indicate that they measure the air quality more often and change the adjustment of the system so that more air is sucked in from outside. Windows and doors are opened massively.

CCeit Stories went to high schools to look:

Distance

A school on Terschelling has purchased a tent of one hundred square metres, as an extra covered outdoor space during breaks. “This will give pupils and teachers more physical space.”

Confusion and worries

Most of the schools are satisfied with the current government guidelines. A few schools, however, criticise the lack of clarity in recent weeks. Last week pediatrician Kรกroly Illy, for example, advised that pupils should keep a meter distance from each other.

It led to confusion in schools. A rector from Groningen complains that the Outbreak Management Team, of which Illy is a member, does not speak with one voice. A school director in Alkmaar: “It would be nice if experts did not speak before their turn and realised what the impact of their statements is on the average teacher.”

There are also concerns about the fear of employees and “the number of teachers who won’t be able to come to school and have to be tested in the event of a small cold”. And about pupils and teachers who may have to spend some time in quarantine

A school leader from Schijndel finally shows himself to be particularly optimistic: “We are delighted that we are once again able to receive the pupils in classes and teaching groups. Tranquillity, safety, common sense are the key words”.