EB update coronavirus 15 December
It is a major setback that we are facing new restrictive measures right before the Christmas break. We hope that these measures will reduce the spread of the coronavirus and that we will be able to meet again on campus as soon as possible. In this update, we explain what the measures announced by the cabinet mean for our university.
From Wednesday 16 December 2020, until Monday 18 January 2021, there will be no educational activities on location and education will be offered remotely. An exception applies to planned examinations, practicals and the guidance of vulnerable students (by tutors, student psychologists, student advisors, student councellors). These can take place on location.
The most acute effect of the measures will be on on-site education scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Teachers will inform their students as soon as possible whether the classes scheduled for these days will continue remotely or will be cancelled. Here, we apply the same principles as in early spring.
Whether or not an (internal) internship can continue, depends on the applicable rules for the sector/industry in which the student is doing the internship. If the activities in the sector can continue according to these rules, the internship can also continue. Internships abroad will not take place, as previously decided.
In the coming weeks we will study as much as possible at home. Self-study in the university library remains possible (on reservation) for students who cannot study well at home due to circumstances. You can reserve a place yourself and do not need to ask for permission. In addition, study places in several buildings in the city centre and Utrecht Science Park will be available for this group. When you enter these buildings, you register for a study place. Availability is on a first-come first-served basis. If you want to be assured of a study place, it is best to make a reservation at the university library. At the beginning of January we will see if we can make more study places available in the run-up to the exams.
Working from home and workplaces in buildings
Working from home is and remains the starting point. Exceptions are essential work that can only take place at a UU location. Workplaces remain available in our buildings for employees with difficult home situations. If you want to use such a workplace, consult with your manager.
Researchers also work from home as much as possible. They are allowed to work on site within office hours when their work is strictly site-specific (laboratories, test rooms). When allocating lab space, we give priority to PhD students and postdocs who are in the final phase of their research. This is at the discretion of the dean. From 16 December, research outside office hours will only take place with the approval of the dean.
Experimental research with test subjects on location can continue if it cannot be postponed and if it can be done safely (e.g. at one and a half metres). If a choice has to be made, PhD students and postdocs have priority.
Childcare facilities for employees with crucial professions
The government has determined which professions are crucial and who are therefore allowed to make use of childcare in childcare facilities or at primary schools. This applies to teachers, indispensable facility or support staff, ICT staff, among others. The UU has decided that veterinarians and animal care staff also qualify for this. This means that their children can go to childcare facilities and after-school care under conditions, just like in the spring. You can find more information about this and how to request an employer’s statement required for this on the intranet and on the website of the Dutch government (in Dutch only). If you still have the employer’s statement, you do not have to request a new one.
PhD defences, inaugural lectures, graduation ceremonies and other meetings
All PhD defences can only take place online from Wednesday 16 December 2020 until 18 January, much to our regret. The same applies to inaugural lectures and graduation ceremonies, and other lectures, public activities and activities of study associations.
Travelling within the Netherlands
Students and staff may travel by public transport if this is necessary for teaching or research activities on site.
The policy on travelling abroad will be extended until mid-March 2021. We will not travel abroad unless strictly necessary and with the approval of your supervisor.
All measures for education will apply until 18 January. In the week of 11 January, we will inform you about the situation after the lockdown.
The new lockdown is a heavy blow to many people, although there is also sympathy with the stricter measures. We see and hear it around us and notice it for ourselves. We sympathise with people who are feeling alone this Christmas and New Year and with entrepreneurs who are in danger of going out of business. During this lockdown universities are relatively spared, but the effects are difficult for us too. Students are once again being restricted in this phase of life which is important to them. Colleagues will once again have to show flexibility and adapt how they teach and research. In the coming weeks, we will all be able to meet family and friends only to a very limited extent, and again, many will have to combine working at home with other activities or childcare or home-schooling.
We appeal to all of you: keep courage in these difficult times and look out for each other. We ask special attention for those of us who need it extra, including international students and staff, sometimes far away from home and family. We greatly appreciate the initiatives of student organisations. They are working on activities for students to make sure that they are not alone in the coming weeks. We encourage you to join an organisation, when you are not a member yet.
We look forward to better times and hope that, in spite of everything, you will have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and that you can get some well-deserved rest.
The Executive Board