OMT advises educational institutions to stay open 

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Despite the sharp rise of coronavirus infections, the Outbreak Management Team, the group of experts advising the Dutch government on how to deal with the pandemic, thinks the entire education system needs to remain open. The advice also applies to higher education institutions.

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On Friday, November 26, the Dutch government is set to announce new measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic. That's one week ahead of schedule. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) has been asked to give its advice earlier too.  

As usual, OMT's recommendations leak out ahead of the conference, and this time was no exception. According to pubkic broadcasting service NOS, the experts recommend educational institutions to stay open, come what may.  

Last week, the OMT experts wrote: “There is [...] one area of society that the OMT wants to save from new restrictions, and that is primary and secondary education”. According to the NOS, this also applies to higher education institutions. 

Measures 
It is not yet known what the government will do with the experts' advice. After all, plenty of different measures can be taken without closing campuses. 

Last time, it decided to restrict the amount of student allowed to gather in the same room without having to practice social distancing to 75. Maybe they are going to reduce that number even further, or ask students to observe social distancing in class as well. 

Moreover, higher education institutions have their own responsibility and can make their own decisions about the safety of students and staff. Maastricht University, for example, is considering is considering going back to online education when necessary, even if the government does not make it mandatory to do so.

The rector of Maastricht University, Rianne Letschert, told university magazine Observant that the university is keen to provide teaching on campus. At the same time, she is concerned “about the stress that this may cause among staff and students”. But she is not willing to go back to online teaching only.

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