Two weeks ago, rector Rianne Letschert outlined the dilemma in the University Council: nobody knows what the world will look like at the beginning of April; has the COVID-19 virus been tackled even further, or is there still a strict lockdown? Still, clarity has to be reached about the education programme in period five, which will start in April. Students and lecturers don’t only want clarity but also an opportunity to be able to plan matters.
It has now been decided that every faculty can choose its own route: either education remains online (with the exception of a large part of the skills training, practicals and some exams), even if the COVID-19 measures are relaxed. Or there will be a return, as soon as this is allowed, to hybrid education as was the case in periods 1 and 2.
Law, Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) and Health Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML) choose the first option and will remain online until the end of the academic year. But as soon as the lockdown rules permit, the faculty buildings will be opened for students: for things such as curricular activities, for study associations, project groups, mentor meetings and to study.
At the faculty of Law, the tutorial groups in period 5 will go from one to two hours again.
The other three faculties – Psychology and Neurosciences, Science and Engineering, and the School of Business and Economics – will, as soon as the government allows, switch to hybrid education. Whether this will actually happen, obviously depends on the development of the pandemic. SBE, FPN and FSE will give a definite answer on this by mid-March.
Students who are abroad or who are afraid of becoming infected, can always take classes online. The same applies to staff members who fear infection. They can work from home, rector Rianne Letschert repeated to a committee of the University Council last Wednesday. “We will not force anyone.”
In that same meeting, thoughts went to the period after the summer: what will the education programme look like in September 2021? Will everything be back to ‘normal’, will the one-and-a-half-metre rule still apply, or will there still be a lockdown? And how to deal with vaccinations: will the UM ask for proof of vaccination? If so, is that ethical? A team of professors is going to look into that, the rector said. To finish off: “We need to be prepared for everything and have various scripts ready. But if we are allowed to open, we will open.”