Purpose of this framework
This framework combines the measures implemented by the Dutch Government with the recommendations of the OMT and RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment for childcare centres and schools that are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as much as possible. In addition, employees are entitled to safe, healthy working conditions under the Working Conditions Act. See the working conditions catalogue for the relevant professional group for more details: Childcare, Primary Education, Secondary Education.
This framework includes day-care (0-4 years), childcare provided by host parents, pre-school and after-school care (4-12 years), primary education, special primary education, special education, secondary education and secondary special education.
Limiting the spread of the coronavirus is achieved by implementing the known principles of COVID-19 control for pupils, parents and staff:
- source measures: health check, testing policy, quarantine and isolation, and contact and outbreak investigation;
- collective measures: hygiene measures, sufficient ventilation, distancing and pedestrian flow, limiting the number of contacts in childcare and school (and beyond);
- individual measures: extra points for attention for staff;
- personal protective equipment: the use of face masks that cover the mouth and nose.
Practical application of this framework
The childcare and education sector can use this generic framework to update existing protocols. Childcare centres and schools are then responsible for creating or updating their own protocol based on this framework and the sector-specific protocol. The protocol for each childcare centre or school describes the extent to which the measures are applied and how. In any case, legal requirements must always be met. In addition, childcare centres and schools are responsible for the implementation, execution and monitoring of compliance with the national measures of the Dutch Government, occupational health and safety laws, instructions issued by local authorities such as the Municipal Health Service (GGD), and the recommendations of this generic framework.
Existing guidelines, standards of quality, or laws and regulations on working conditions and other aspects may be applicable within childcare facilities and schools. This includes how hygiene measures or cleaning is organised. These are sometimes stricter or more detailed than this generic framework provided by RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment
. Of course the existing guidelines, standards of quality or laws and regulations will take precedence in that case.
Generic principles for secondary education and special secondary education (for ages 13-18 years)
The following document uses general terms: childcare (day care, pre-school and after-school care and host parent childcare) and school (primary education, special primary education and special education). If a point only applies to a certain organisation, this is explicitly mentioned. In terms of both structure and location, host parent childcare differs from childcare provided in a centre and from education provided in a school. Nevertheless, the following recommendations are also applicable to host parents.
For more information on childcare and host parenting, see also the information on the website of the Dutch Government (only in Dutch).
For more information on primary education and special (primary) education, see also the information at Government.nl
Health check (triage)
- Pupils and school employees who have symptoms that could indicate COVID-19 must stay home and get tested.
- For the rules on quarantine, see Government.nl.
- Employees must do the health check before starting the activities. If the answer to any of the questions is ‘yes’, then that employee must stay home and get tested.
- Inform parents/carers of the policy that they will not be allowed to come to the school if they can answer ‘yes’ to any of the questions in the health check.
- If an employee or pupil develops symptoms during the day, that person should go home immediately and get tested.
Testing, quarantine and isolation
Source and contact tracing, outbreak investigation, communication and cooperation with the GGD
The Municipal Health Service (GGD) performs source and contact tracing in the event of a child or staff member with COVID-19. The childcare centre or school can support the GGD in these efforts by pro-actively drafting a step-by-step plan (operational perspective).
For further details on source and contact tracing, see Protocol on source and contact tracing (in Dutch) and Guidance on contact and outbreak investigation for COVID-19 in children (in Dutch).
- In addition to a protocol, the school should draft its own step-by-step plan (operational perspective) for infections or outbreaks at school. In that plan, specify the agreements outlined below and how communication with parents will take place.
- The GGD has often set up a school team for cooperation with schools. If there is no contact yet, please contact the GGD yourself to establish contact on behalf of the school. Even if there have not been any infections at the school yet, it is important to communicate and to consult about cooperation, such as:
- the (preventive) measures and protocol currently in place at the school;
- the contact person for the school, and the contact person at the GGD. This will often be someone from Child and Youth Health Services (the youth physician or youth nurse);
- the procedure in the event of infections at school;
- communication between the school and the GGD regarding reports (and notifications of absence due to illness) of employees/children who tested positive for COVID-19;
- source and contact tracing by the GGD and the role of the school in this context, e.g. keeping track of class schedules and seating plans, and daily attendance lists per class/group;
- the measures in place for quarantine and testing policy;
- the steps to be taken and the decision-making process in the event of multiple infections or outbreaks.
- Ensure targeted communication from the school to parents regarding the measures and protocol currently in place at the school, the procedure in the event of infections at school, and communication regarding children or staff who tested positive for COVID-19. This should preferably be done in consultation with the GGD.
Steps in the event of an infection or outbreak in a school:
- If one or more children or employees test positive for COVID-19, it is important that the school board contact the GGD to discuss their action plan (operational perspective) and measures. See also the Guidance on contact and outbreak investigation for COVID-19 in children (in Dutch).
- Ensure good communication directed at employees, pupils and parents regarding the procedure in response to the infection(s).
The following points are supplementary to the standard hygiene measures in schools. See also the General Hygiene Guidelines (in Dutch).
- Ensure that employees and pupils maintain good hand hygiene: wash your hands with soap and water, at least upon arrival at school, when you come in from outdoors, before preparing or eating food, after going to the toilet, after contact with animals, and when hands are dirty or sticky. An alternative to washing hands with soap and water is to use cleaning wipes intended for hands. See also Hygiene and COVID-19.
- Communicate about the hygiene measures and have everyone follow them as meticulously as possible: do not touch your face, do not shake hands, always cough or sneeze into your elbow, and use paper tissues to blow your nose and discard them after use.
- Clean touch points, such as door handles, multi-user touchscreens and lesson materials, several times a day with cleaning wipes or soap and water (e.g. with all-purpose cleaner).
- Make sure that employees have their own dining area / break room / toilet(s) / etc., where they can distance from each other and follow the hygiene measures.
- Ensure that the toilets are supplied with sufficient (hand) soap and paper towels.
- Clean the room/facility thoroughly according to the regular cleaning protocol after each working day.
- Ensure that the ventilation complies with the regulations (Building Decree in Dutch), working conditions catalogues and current guidelines.
- Provide sufficient ventilation by leaving windows open at a tilt, by opening ventilation grilles or gaps, or by using mechanical ventilation systems.
- Air out classrooms and other rooms regularly on a daily basis. This should be done at times when the indoor spaces are not occupied by multiple people. Air out the indoor spaces for 10 to 15 minutes by, for example, opening windows and doors across from each other during the break.
- See also the LCVS Guidance (in Dutch), Indoor and outdoor environment for primary schools (in Dutch) and Government.nl
Maintain distance and keep people moving through
In secondary education and special secondary education, pupils and school employees must stay 1.5 metres apart. Pupils should also distance from each other
Measures to promote distancing:
- Define fixed walking routes within the school and mark them clearly. Arrange walking routes in such a way that employees and pupils can pass each other in different directions while staying 1.5 metres apart. Otherwise, set it up for one-way traffic.
- Remind employees and pupils to stay 1.5 metres apart from each other. Post reminders of the 1.5 metre rule in multiple locations, including the teachers’ room and break rooms.
- Train and supervise employees in following the measures and recommendations and monitor that everyone stays 1.5 metres apart.
- Arrange spaces (such as the staff room, group areas and classrooms) in such a way that sufficient distance can be maintained. Place tables and chairs in fixed locations in a room/hall, for example in a zigzag pattern.
- Also arrange staff rooms and offices in such a way that adults can stay 1.5 metres apart.
- Limit the number of employees in a single room wherever possible. Always ensure that people can stay 1.5 metres apart in a room AND that the number of employees in the room does not exceed maximum capacity according to the current measures.
Limiting the number of contacts at school
If there is a child or employee with COVID-19 at school, there is a risk that the person’s contacts will be infected. Therefore, it is important to limit the number of contacts as much as possible. This also makes it easier to do source and contact tracing in the event of an infection.
A number of options for minimising the number of contacts are provided below. It is important for the school to ensure that contacts are limited as much as possible.
These measures can be difficult for children. Ensure good communication and explanation to children and parents/carers and prepare children well for the measures.
Recommendations on limiting the number of contacts between adults:
The guiding principle is schools only provide education.
- Limit other activities that may lead to non-necessary contact, or have them take place digitally. For example, organise parent meetings, parent-teacher talks, team meetings, etc. online. This also applies to open days and test lessons for pupils from the last year of primary school who are looking for a secondary school .
- If applicable: make sure that parents/carers do not enter the school when bringing and collecting children. If this is not possible, make sure that a distance of 1.5 metres can always be maintained between different parents/carers and between the parents/carers and the staff. Arrange the walking routes to ensure distancing.
- If applicable: organise the picking up and dropping off of pupils in such a way that parents/carers can maintain distance from each other outdoors. This could be done by marking off spaces that are 1.5 metres apart.
- If applicable: in order to limit contact between different parents/carers, staggered drop-off and pick-up times can be used.
Recommendations on limiting the number of contacts between children:
- In the schools, every effort must be made to keep the different classes, subjects, school years and/or school levels separate as much as possible, and preferably to set up fixed groups as much as possible.
- One option for limiting contact between different classes is to spread the number of pupils using central areas such as schoolyards, cloakrooms, assembly halls and canteens at the same time by staggering break times and/or setting up a rotating schedule for which classes spend the break in their own classrooms on different days.
- Another option is to only rotate the teachers, rather than the class, wherever possible. This prevents many pupils from walking through the corridors at the same time and interacting with each other during transit.
- And to implement staggered start and end times of teaching days and lessons and staggered entry of pupils, where possible through different entrances.
- Schools should also make an effort to work with designated pairs/buddies (2 children sitting next to each other and working together, for example) within one class and/or subject, maintaining distance between these pairs/buddies as much as possible (1.5 metres apart wherever possible, but at least 1 metre).
- Keep records on which pairs or groups are formed, and update these records frequently.
- Physical education (gym class) should take place outdoors whenever possible. During these classes, pupils should stay 1.5 metres apart as much as possible.
- For the rules on school transport, see Government.nl.
Extra points for attention for employees
- Make sure that staff members are aware of the current measures and guidelines within the school.
- Every school is obliged to appoint at least one prevention officer. The prevention officer actively works to promote health and safety in the school. For more information about the role of the prevention officer, RI&E Support Centre (in Dutch).
- Reduce contact between employees, for example by staggering breaks or setting up multiple break rooms for the staff. The measures (such as distancing) remain in effect during these times.
- Ensure that only necessary staff are present at school, and work from home if possible.
- Schedule all meetings, consultations etc. digitally.
- Employees should know that they can visit the company doctor for questions about their health in relation to work, even if they are not (yet) experiencing absences from work or symptoms. See the Health and Safety Portal.
- Employees who are in a risk group (as explained by RIVM) can, in principle, carry out their normal work as long as their medical situation is stable. For more information, see Points for attention regarding vulnerable employees (in Dutch). In these situations as well, an employee’s options for deployment in the workplace must be assessed on an individual basis, and may need to be tailored to the individual situation. A company doctor must be readily available to answer questions and assess the risks, followed by an advisory opinion presented to the employer on deployment in the workplace and the possible need for work adjustments.
- For information for pregnant employees, see Pregnancy and COVID-19 and the annex to the COVID-19 guidelines (in Dutch) on Pregnancy, (work) and COVID-19.
Face masks that cover the mouth and nose
The Dutch Government has mandated the use of a face mask that covers the mouth and nose in indoor public spaces and covered areas, such as schools. Here is how that is implemented in education:
- See Government.nl for all regulations regarding face masks in secondary education and special secondary education.
- While inside the school, pupils and staff must wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose, except during lessons. The face mask does not need to be worn if pupils have a fixed place to stand or sit. The teacher also does not need to wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose during the lesson as long as it is possible to stay 1.5 metres apart. Staff may also use a face-shield instead of a face mask that covers the mouth and nose. This does not apply to the pupils.
- While in the classroom, teachers and staff members must wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose when it is not possible to maintain distance from pupils.
- There is an exception for pupils who cannot wear a face mask that covers the mouth and nose because of a disability or illness; see Government.nl.