As the Covid-19 infection rate is showing a positive trend, Dutch national authorities have decided to ease the corona lockdown measures. Yesterday, the authorities presented a new roadmap for the coming months. Gradually more activities will be allowed, depending on the development of the number of new infection cases (read the full guidelines here). We would like to inform you about the impact on the University of Twente.
We recognise our staff's desire to resume working on campus. Yet, in the coming period, people in the Netherlands will continue to work from home as much as possible. The authorities have made an explicit call to continue to do so, as it provides space for other activities to take place again. Furthermore, public transport continues to have limited capacity.
This guideline also applies to the UT: we will continue to work from home when possible, as we must allow space to facilitate other activities on campus that cannot be undertaken elsewhere. This applies to both research in the labs as well as the use of campus facilities for educational activities.
At the moment, there is still little lab capacity available for research purposes. Although we facilitate research considered urgent and critical on a limited scale, research activities for bachelor’s or master’s theses cannot take place yet. Over the next weeks and months, we aim to expand the capacity, still in line with guidelines and advice on health and safety as issued by the authorities.
Restarting activities on campus is a complex puzzle: safe and responsible use of labs is a broader challenge since what happens in one lab might affect the possibilities for other facilities. Some issues need to be considered in conjunction, e.g. the number of people per building and the availability of emergency response officers.
The new guidelines from the national authorities state that sports, cultural activities and library services may gradually be resumed, following strict rules. The UT is preparing to re-open the sports centre, Vrijhof and campus library. We hope they will be available again soon.
Earlier this week, the Dutch universities launched the campaign ‘On campus, if we can | Online, because we can’. The UT aims to offer as much education on campus as possible after the summer break. At the same time, we need to be realistic and take into account that considerable limitations will apply for the time being. Education on campus is important to us, as our educational concept calls for close collaboration in small groups and extensive interaction between teachers and students.
After the summer break, we will continue to offer online learning in addition to education on campus. This will provide some relief in terms of campus building capacity. Having experienced online education in the past months will contribute to providing quality digital solutions. We will continue to explore and prioritise which activities will need to take place on campus, e.g. (research) practicals or assessments.
We got to be inventive in using our campus as effectively as possible. This could be by offering (online) alternatives to large-scale lectures, flexibility in opening hours and rosters and use of space. In close consultation with faculties and service departments, we will develop suitable solutions.
As has been announced, the Kick-In will not take place as regular. The student organising committee is working in close collaboration with the university on an inviting alternative: partially online and hopefully with activities on campus or in the city if they can be held safely. We are a university with a bustling student community. Building a social network is an important aspect of the study experience.