The coronavirus situation is continuing to unfold, sometimes in unpredictable ways. We sympathise with the feelings of inconvenience and discomfort this may entail. As University of Twente, we feel an obligation to ensure a safe and comfortable working environment for all, as an important requirement for carrying on our work as good as possible. We would like to share our considerations with you and express our appreciation of everyone’s efforts to handle the situation in a responsible and sensible manner.
We do not take the decisions that need to be made lightly. The situation on the coronavirus is monitored around the clock. We are in close contact with our colleagues from other universities across the country on what needs to be done. We also inform ourselves about measures taken in other countries, as we are part of an international community. From that, we note a great variety of approaches and measurements and observe conflicting opinions.
As may sound as a routine to many, we adopt national expert assessment to make a proper translation to our own situation. As UT, we have aligned ourselves with the regional, national and international interest by following the guidelines communicated by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Municipal Health Services (GGD), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken). By doing so, we underline the importance of a coordinated national expert approach and are glad to note that all universities in the Netherlands act accordingly. Moreover, we feel our responsibility to society to align with RIVM guidelines. Although we consider various scenarios, for now, there is no convincing reason to deviate.
In line with this, we have chosen to continue our work and activities as planned, as goes for the Open Days which are planned on 12-13-14 March. This is also in line with other Dutch universities. We understand if you are having reservations to join the Open Days. Our decision, of course, comes with all due respect for staff members or students who find them not being able to carry out their work during events like the Open Days, for example, because of fear of exposing vulnerable loved ones at home to health risks. If you cannot do your work during the Open Days on Thursday, Friday or Saturday, please contact your manager/contact person and discuss possibilities to ensure prospected students can be facilitated in making an informed study choice. No doubt, this will require improvisation and creativity.
We proactively ask prospective students not to come to the Open Days if they feel sick or if they feel uncomfortable with the current situation. Instead, we offer them other ways of information provision like the Online Open Day on 13 May or -more tailor-made- a ‘Student for a day’.
Once visitors arrive at our campus, they receive a flyer with hygiene measures we have taken and they will find hand washing instructions in all restrooms.
The situation we outline here may become outdated at short notice. We will continue to inform you via www.utwente.nl/corona as soon as the situation changes or after every weekly meeting from the Central Crisis Team. We are open to your feedback, as it helps to integrate different viewpoints in handling with the current situation suitably. And more specifically how we can communicate in a way and on topics relevant to you. There is a communication team answering questions and passing on your suggestions to the Central Crisis Team. You may contact them via email@example.com. In most cases, you will receive an answer within four hours, the team is also available on weekend days.
In this uncertain moment, we have every confidence in our university’s ability to pull together with care and concern for the common good.
Victor van der Chijs
Chair of the Executive Board