Dear relatives and members of the University of Erfurt, colleagues, academic and administrative staff, dear students, ladies and gentlemen,
Europe, the world and all of us are currently experiencing the worst pandemic crisis we have ever faced. The consequences and effects are enormous and in many respects still unforeseeable. Nevertheless, we must deal with them and remain as capable of action as possible. Above all, we must not lose sight of the future and hope. For all of us the burdens are immense.
We also want to pause for a moment and think of all those affected, sick and deceased worldwide. None of us has ever experienced such a worldwide threatening event. All the more reason for us to stick together.
I would also like to express my sincere thanks to all those who are contributing to the core operations of our university during these difficult and confusing times and who are doing everything possible to ensure that our university is functioning properly at the present time, and above all to prepare in the best possible way for the coming summer semester, which is still uncertain in the "how". The Chancellor, the Vice Presidents, the members of the crisis management team, the computer centre, the core administration, the University Library, the University Communication, so many are working in the background, partly in the home office, partly on site, to ensure that we remain functional now and in the coming months, despite all the restrictions and restricted conditions.
Of course, we want, will and have to inform you all very practically about the current situation and we want to answer the many pressing questions to the best of our knowledge. As best as we can, we will keep you fully informed, but we ask for your understanding that we still cannot provide answers to some questions at present, because, for example, this still requires agreements between the states and the federal government. Decision-making situations, circumstances and requirements can change on a daily basis. What we know for sure, we will of course pass on immediately in the future as well.
So here is an overview of the most important current talks and agreements:
Due to the still increasing number of infections, also in Thuringia, the ministry has postponed the decision conference, initially planned for March 30th, to begin lecture operations (as of today: May 4). Together with the Thuringian Conference of State Presidents, the ministry will now decide on April 7 and plan further steps. The resumption of full or partial attendance at the University of Erfurt, which we are currently planning for April 20, is also dependent on this decision.
To avoid misunderstandings: the resumption of class is not the same as the beginning of lectures. This means that courses - whether on campus or online - will not start before 4 May (or the date to be determined by the Ministry on April 7). The resumption of classroom operation, which serves the "orderly start-up" of the campus and the preparation of courses, will not take place before April 20.
We hope to be able to provide information in the coming week on how a partial resumption of classroom operations might look in concrete terms.
In addition, there is currently a discussion going on as to whether there should be different modalities, formats and time frames for different universities and subjects throughout Thuringia within a set framework. The Presidium is in close contact with the Ministry.
One possibility currently being discussed nationwide is to extend the 2020 summer semester until the end of October and at the same time to shorten the following two semesters moderately so that the winter semester in 2021/22 can then take place again in the regular rhythm. This option is favored by Thuringia's universities. The Ministry is coordinating with the other states to find a solution that is practicable for everyone.
In addition, the Presidium is in discussion with the "Studierendenwerk Thüringen“ about aid measures for students who have got into financial difficulties through no fault of their own due to the Corona pandemic and are not entitled to BAföG. The University of Erfurt has agreed in an emergency decision to make financial resources available to the „Studierendenwerk“ in order to increase the number of bridging loans of up to 800 or 1,000 euros provided by the „Studierendenwerk“ if necessary.
In addition, a virtual learning room on the „Moodle“ platform is currently being developed, in which uniform solutions for the expansion of digital teaching will be made available to all teachers at the University of Erfurt. A further letter from the Vice-President for Student Affairs will be sent to you shortly. The University is also introducing the web conference system "Big Blue Button", which can be used to offer webinars. Detailed information on this will follow.
Above all, we would like to point out emphatically and repeatedly that the comprehensive information on our website on dealing with the corona virus SARS-CoV-2 is constantly being updated. Please visit our website regularly at: www.uni-erfurt.de/corona-info/.
The crisis management team has also established the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org, where colleagues are available to answer your questions.
And once again a big thank you to everyone who is working with us - whether in "emergency operation" on site or in the home office at home - to redesign the processes now so that we can bring the summer semester, which has just started, to a good end even under the more difficult conditions. You are all doing incredibly valuable work. This deserves recognition from all of us. But also you, who patiently wait to see how things develop, who improvise your teaching or who continue to work on your papers and prepare for exams in perhaps unusual formats, you are all helping to overcome this serious crisis and to prepare for the time after it already today. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
We wish you, your families and your loved ones all strength and patience and all courage to pass this time, to engage in new and unusual ways if necessary and to keep confidence in the future. Only together can we achieve this, will we achieve this. That is what we are working on. And above all: Take care of yourself, stay healthy, stay protected.
I send you our warmest greetings.