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"We will have an unusual semester together"

Today, the Presidium sent another circular letter to the staff* of the University of Erfurt informing them of the current status of the semester. The letter in the wording...

Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

with regard to the current course of the corona pandemic, the Federal Government and the countries speak of a "fragile interim success". Accordingly, cautious openings are being made, but they want to avoid any premature exuberance. The point is to proceed tentatively. This policy should also apply to our university.

Starting on May 4, we will start a shortened lecture period this year with online offers. In order to prepare these lectures as well as possible at the moment, we will first of all open up access to the lecturers' offices and infrastructure and set up a digitisation service for required literature at the university library. This will apply from April 20. From then on, the campus will be open to teachers again.

For the time being, the administration will be limited to a core operation, which will in particular ensure central services and a minimum staffing level at the faculties. We will announce the next steps here at the end of next week.

All in all, the sensible and necessary hygiene and distance rules will always apply: i.e. consistent hand hygiene, no simultaneous office sharing if possible, a minimum distance of two metres between the students, unconditional avoidance of physical contact, coughing and sneezing in the crook of your arm and the use of nose and mouth protection. Appropriate reusable washable masks are currently ordered first for the staff and should be available and handed out at the beginning of the next week.

We ask the students to be patient for the time being, because the focus is now on the preparation of the online teaching. We are still in consultation regarding the further opening and use of the university library and campus after the start of the online teaching.

Similar to the federal and state governments, we want to move forward in two-week steps, observing and considering the effects of each measure. The overall aim must be to be able to trace possible infections as quickly as possible, including contacts, and thus prevent a flaming spread. In view of the 50,000 students and around 10,000 employees in Thuringia's higher education sector, it is clear that there is a particular danger of contagion lurking here, which requires the greatest possible caution.

So, together we will experience an unusual semester that will demand efforts and sacrifices from us, but in which we will also be able to make an enormous amount of new experiences. This will also include finding alternative formats for large exams that cannot be conducted in the current form. Once again, in summary, the current situation is as follows:

  • still no events on campus
  • from April 20 onwards, opening of the offices for lecturers and the administrative staff required for core operations in preparation for semester operations (subject to compliance with the above-mentioned hygiene and distance regulations)
  • from April 20 onwards, provision of digital copies required for online teaching by staff at the University Library (see letter from the Vice-President for Academic Affairs dated April 15)
  • start of the digital teaching offer on May 4
  • currently under discussion are possibilities for examinations in summer semester 2020 and for the gradual resumption of (smaller) reference events and library operations.

Let us together be patient, strong, inventive and open to improvisation in order to master and overcome this crisis together. Remain protected in all dangers. We wish you all the very best.

Walter Bauer-Wabnegg and the Presidium