Pilot Rapid tests for higher and vocational education Amsterdam completed
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The pilot for rapid test locations, in which VU Amsterdam, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, ROC van Amsterdam and Hotel School the Hague, Campus Amsterdam, worked together, will come to an end this summer. The various test locations will be closed in phases. "We are pleased that we were able to make a social contribution to the question of how testing can be used to open up education. But we are also happy about the positive epidemiological developments as we prepare for education without having to maintain a one-and-a-half meter distance," says VU Board member Marcel Nollen.
The pilot was a nationwide initiative of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science (OCW). It was launched end of March and will end in mid-August 2021. Educational institutions investigated how more education on location could be safely provided despite Corona. In the Amsterdam region, the institutions initially focused on practical education. Board member Nollen: "As institutions, we felt it was important to use every opportunity we had, to gain new insights and offer students more physical education."
The research first focused on practical issues, such as the logistics involved in setting up and facilitating a rapid test location. Through questionnaires, the study also examined the main factors that affect the willingness of students to submit themselves to a rapid test. We also observed the attendance at the test facility at various educational institutions. "Doing research in times of crisis also means the researchers were faced with unexpected circumstances. The constantly changing circumstances, such as self-testing becoming available for students also caught up with us. There are some important lessons to be learned for the future," says research coordinator Ralph Lasage.
Willingness to get tested
The researchers already shared their findings with the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science. One of the main conclusions of the research is that the willingness for students to get tested is strongly related to the risks and benefits participants are offered. That willingness to submit to a rapid test was also strongly influenced by the availability of self-testing. Finally, the number of people who ended up getting themselves tested was significantly less than we would have predicted based on the answered questionnaires.
Testing in the future
The researchers also noticed a significant difference between educational institutions. For instance, willingness to get tested and attendance in higher education turned out to be higher than in vocational education (MBO). Research coordinator Ralph Lasage: "If you want to use testing in the future, choose a generic approach that allows room for the differences between educational institutions. Be aware of the factors that play a role for students and teachers to decide whether or not to get themselves tested." Lasage adds that the cooperation with an external specialist party to facilitate the test location has worked out very well. This is certainly an aspect to consider when moving forward with rapid testing.