Primary and secondary schools are considering using commercial coronavirus testing for their staff. Because the waiting time for a coronavirus test at the Municipal Health Service is increasing and the results do not come immediately, teachers with cold problems can sometimes not teach for almost a week.
Scholenkoepel SSOE, for special education in the vicinity of Eindhoven, has already cut the knot. Teaching staff can take a coronavirus test at a commercial provider, says director Hilbert de Vries to De CCeit on Friday. “It costs me a hundred euros per test, but if a teacher is missing a few days while waiting for the results, it costs me fifteen times as much”
Commercial providers see the increased pressure on the market, but still manage to obtain test materials:
Gerda Baas, a Dutch teacher, works at a secondary school that does not use commercial coronavirus tests for the time being. Baas suffers from shortness of breath and has to sneeze often, and wanted to be tested after consultation with the family doctor’s assistant. Wednesday morning she called for an appointment, Friday afternoon she could only go.
“I thought I could join the queue on Wednesday afternoon. So that’s disappointing. Half my classes are off Thursday. That’s almost 60 students who don’t get lessons.” If all goes well, the results will come in two days. “I’ve told my supervisor that I hope the results are on Sunday, so I can get back to work on Monday.”
It is precisely for this reason that sector organizations of primary and secondary education, the PO Council and the VO Council, understand that some schools choose to have teachers tested by commercial organizations. They can usually go there immediately and the results often come the same day.
“If the situation remains such that in some cases you are busy for four days before the results are available and a teacher sits at home all this time, then the choice is understandable. But we don’t want it,” says a spokesperson for the VO Council.
“We now see the beginning of a class infarction: more and more schools have to send classes home. A teacher who is not allowed to be there for four days is a huge problem for the parents of students,” adds a spokesperson for the PO council. “Teaching money shouldn’t be spent on coronation tests. Rapid testing of teachers should be arranged centrally.”
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a motion giving people with a vital profession, such as teachers, priority for a coronavirus test. But how that will be arranged is not yet clear. “It would be nice if Minister De Jonge could get that done over the weekend,” said the PO Council.
If it takes a while before people in vital professions can actually be tested more quickly, then commercial laboratories are ready to provide their services. At Coronalab.eu the testing capacity at the ten locations will soon increase significantly, says entrepreneur Patrick de Boer. “From 750 to 1000 tests per day to 2000 to 3000 tests per day.”
It’s not just schools knocking on the door of the lab. “We see media companies wanting to test the actors or the panelists for productions. Or it’s sports teams that have to perform close to each other and therefore have to be corona-free. Bank employees are also coming to us.”
The commercial laboratory will soon also be carrying out tests for the GGDs. It’s a few hundred tests a day. “The offer to help has been off for a long time,” says De Boer. “I think there could have been a little more power behind increasing the national capacity in recent months. Everyone knew it was going to be difficult, especially in the coming flu season.”