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Covid-19 update 4 June 2020

It has been a while since our last update on the Covid-19 situation. One could say we are entering a new phase: a gradual yet limited restart of a number of activities on campus, which is first and foremostly materialising at faculty or (service) department level. A lot of colleagues have put effort into achieving this milestone, which deserves great recognition.

Towards a 1.5 meter university

The Netherlands is slowly easing itself out of a lockdown. Not only are we witnessing the restart of activities that are considered crucial, but we are also gradually going to take up events again that contribute to our wellbeing. Also at the UT, we have noticed the call for meeting our colleagues and working on campus again.

Some of us have already started using campus facilities again. As of 15 June, we would like to facilitate colleagues to work on campus if they are experiencing difficulties with working from home. At first, working on campus during specific hours or for particular activities will only be possible on a small scale and for a limited number of people.

We would also like to facilitate, to a limited extent, small-scale meetings again, because they will contribute to the wellbeing of our employees and the (social) coherence within teams. Examples of small-scale activities that may be held again are infrequent meetings and occasional working group sessions. Please note that working from home remains the norm.

We are currently working on a protocol aiming to ensure a safe and healthy restart of activities. In many cases, we need to find tailored solutions so that we can use our campus as effectively as possible. This calls for a large degree of personal responsibility, of each and every person involved. We believe it is a communal as well as an individual effort to make sure the guidelines from the national authorities are being met. One of these guidelines is to minimise the use of public transport, by refraining from travelling or by encouraging the use of other transport means. As soon as the protocol is available, it will be published on the Employee Portal.

Roadmap to the next phase

Gradually we are opening our campus more and more and allowing new activities to take place. This goes for both education and research but also other types of activities. This will not be a paved road, and we will need to figure out along the way what is possible and what is not.

As of 2 June, the library in the Vrijhof building is open again, with limited workspaces available for students. Making reservations is required. A small number of student organisations is allowed to use the Bastille building again and also the water sports centre and Pakkerij will reopen on a small scale. First pilots are being done with on-campus PhD and PDeng defences, to determine whether this could be extended further. This week, the use of lab facilities will be increased to approximately 40 per cent of regular capacity. The experiences in the last weeks have shown us that this can be executed in a safe and workable manner, following health and safety regulations strictly. Researchers with questions on lab use may get in contact with their research chairholders.

To give you a clear overview of all activities that will be resumed, we have made an infographic. This is not an all-encompassing overview but will provide some insights into the roadmap for the coming weeks.  

Covid-19 roadmap

A better view on the situation after 1 September

The further ease of some of the restrictions will help us form a better idea of what we can and cannot do after 1 September, the start of the new academic year. We aim at organising a substantial amount of education and research activities on campus again, because we have a spacious campus and many facilities to put to use.

We will need to find a balance between all users and the many activities. One of the priorities is welcoming new students appropriately and warmly. Extending a personal welcome and helping new students find their way around the university are important to a good start of an academic career.

As preparations for next year are well underway, for both employees and students, it is valuable to know in time what they can expect in the new academic year. Colleagues and students from faculties and service departments are developing a framework to support these preparations. They will be completing their work in the coming weeks, after which the framework will be published.

International exchange in the first semester

In our previous update, we informed you about international exchange. As a university, we embrace international exchange as a valuable aspect of studying. No (incoming and outgoing) international exchange will be facilitated until the start of the coming academic year. We are hopeful that international exchange will be possible again at the start of the new academic year. This goes for both incoming as well as outgoing exchange.

As the uncertainty about travelling abroad may continue for a while, UT students are asked to register for an alternative minor in the Netherlands. Students that have not enrolled for an alternative yet need to contact the minor coordinators via minor@utwente.nl.

On www.utwente.nl/corona we have gathered all information regarding the Covid-19 situation. In case you have a question that is not being answered on the website, send us your question via email: info@utwente.nl.

L.P.W. van der Velde (Laurens)
Press relations (available Mon-Fri)