As from Monday 18 January, the University of Groningen (UG), Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Hanze UAS) and Noorderpoort will pilot a rapid testing centre at Zernike Campus with the aim of investigating how more in-person teaching activities could be possible in the short term during the coronavirus pandemic. Groningen is the first city in the Netherlands to run such a pilot project. Students of the UG and Hanze UAS who are enrolled for an on-site examination will be invited to take a rapid test before their exam.
This pilot falls within the plan of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) to research on a step-by-step basis how more in-person teaching activities can be arranged in the short term, and what the added value of rapid testing may be to this end. The UG, Hanze UAS and Noorderpoort are the first institutions for which this rapid testing pilot will be run. The focus of rapid testing will initially lie on testing students before on-site examinations. The results of this initiative will be used to investigate how rapid testing could be used on a wider scale.
There is limited capacity for the pilot. Therefore, only a number of students who are scheduled to sit an exam at Zernike Campus will be selected for the pilot. They will receive an invitation via email with the request to book an appointment for a rapid test at the rapid testing centre before their exam. They will receive the results of their test within three hours. A negative test result is valid for 24 hours.
If a student tests positive, they will be called by the Municipal Health Service (GGD) and the student must then follow the regular GGD process. For students who test positive, a resit opportunity will be available as organized by each institution during the coronavirus pandemic. In certain cases, online exams will be possible. If a student tests negative, they will be able to take part in the exam as normal. The coronavirus measures, such as maintaining a 1.5 metre distance between one another, will continue to apply to all students including those who receive a negative test result.
The UG and Hanze UAS will request their students to take part in the pilot. In the short term, rapid testing might help us to open up more on-site examinations and teaching activities once the situation allows.
On the basis of the results of the pilot project, together with the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health, the institutions will investigate the effects of rapid testing on safety during exams and on limiting the spread of the coronavirus. Research will then be done into behavioural, legal, technical and logistical elements and whether a similar rapid testing centre could be set up for practical lessons, for example. Noorderpoort will provide students following programmes to become doctor’s assistants and administrative service providers for the pilot.
The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) has designated three university cities to start pilot rapid testing centres in order to investigate how in-person teaching activities can be scaled up in a safe manner. Alongside Groningen, Amsterdam and Delft are also looking into the possibilities for establishing rapid testing centres. Universities, universities of applied sciences and regional education centres are participating in the pilot rapid testing projects.
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