23 students and 8 staff members have tested positive at the school of director Kees Versteeg. He sent the superstructure home as a precaution. “I was surprised that education was not mentioned in the press conference, because the problems are increasing.”
250 students from Griftland College in Soest are now at home as a precaution. “From each class 8 to 10 students. And 15 teachers are still waiting for the results or are in quarantine”, says Versteeg. Things get out of hand and Versteeg feels his education sector has been abandoned by the government. The press conference was very disappointing to him. “I thought: have they forgotten us? Because you expect there would be more guidelines nationwide.”
When does the entire school close?
The top 3 classes are now taught online and the lowest 3 classes still go to school. In total, the school has 1400 students. In the hallway, students have to put on a face mask. The catering is closed and the students have to eat lunch in the classroom.
Versteeg feels insecure, because schools must mainly determine their own measures. He mentions a long list of things he runs into: “Choirs are not allowed to come together, but singing in music lessons should be allowed again, but is that dangerous?” The ventilation may not be good, but his school building is old and written off, will he get money to replace it? “In indoor spaces, groups cannot exceed 30, but some classes have 32 students,” says Versteeg. And when does he have to close his school?
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The Griftland College in Soest has to deal with many corona infections. But how do you deal with this if there are no guidelines?
‘Communication can give freedom’
In the meantime, teachers and education boards across the country are raising the alarm. The Teachers in Action action group wants more government control over education. D66’er and former teacher Paul van Meenen is not surprised at the increasing concerns among teachers.
“You’ve seen it coming for a long time,” he says. He understands that school director Versteeg feels abandoned. “That attention has not been there for a long time and certainly not in this press conference.” And that worries Van Meenen. “People notice it at home, children are coming home again and are lagging behind. That is very worrying.”
Closure of the school
There are now 31 cases of corona known at Griftland College. According to De Telegraaf, infections have now been detected in more than 350 schools. Director Versteeg wants to postpone the closure of the school for as long as possible. “I see what it does to the home situation when we send students home. And we were just glad that we just started again.” Versteeg feels like Don Quixote: someone has to figure this out all by himself. According to Versteeg, every school director is now figuring it out on his own.
As the numbers increase, the principal feels compelled to close the school. “But when do you do it? I haven’t heard any guidelines about it.” He has decided for himself that the school will close completely after 50 infections.
If Versteeg looks at the past few days, he expects new infections tomorrow. “I think until last week teachers thought they wouldn’t be infected by students, but now we think they are. Teachers are getting sick of the students.”
At first Versteeg wondered whether the seat of the fire would be in his school. “And the GGD supports me in this: the answer is ‘no’. Perhaps infections originated just outside the school, at a football club or at the party nearby where students gathered with a case of beer.” The latter made him pissed off. Versteeg has been in the business for 31 years, 16 of which as director. “I have never experienced anything like this and hope never to experience it again”, he sighs.
Director Kees Versteeg in conversation with reporter Laura Kors
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