Starting Friday, February 18, the limit on the number of students in classrooms will be lifted. The week after, on February 25, the mask mandate will end.
Healthcare minister Ernst Kuipers (D66) announced these changes on Tuesday evening during a press conference on the pandemic. ‘The country is reopening’, the minister said. The same goes for higher education. The recommendation to work from home has also been changed. The ministry now advises people to work from home as much as possible and go to the office only half of the time.
Overarching organisation Universities of the Netherlands (UNL) is happy with the relaxed restrictions. ‘Working and studying from home has been extremely hard on many employees and students’, says UNL chair Pieter Duisenberg. ‘It’s great that employees will be able to see more of their colleagues and students and that students can finally experience education the way it’s meant to be experienced.’
Student organisations the National Student Union (LSVb) and the Intercity Student Consultation (ISO) are also enthusiastic about education going back to normal. ‘Anything that restricts on-site education is something we’d like to be rid of’, says ISO chair Lisanne de Roos. ‘I can imagine many students were relieved after watching the press conference.’
Ama Boahene, LSVb chair, is also glad to see the end of the mask mandate. ‘Wearing face masks in class is a hindrance to students. It’s important that the mandate no longer applies to education.’