Universiteit Utrecht
Coronavirus update 4 February
Dear colleagues,
This is the Coronavirus update of 4 February 2021.

In a press conference on Tuesday evening, the cabinet reported that most measures, including the ones that apply to higher education, will be extended until 2 March due to the spread of the British variant of the coronavirus. For our university, there are no changes at this time.
Reduced email and meetings weeks
There has been a massive response to the survey about the previous reduced email and meetings week. No less than 1,422 colleagues have completed the survey. Thank you for that. The survey shows that the reduced email and meetings week was generally well received. After a particularly hectic year, this week, in which we could start up without meetings and overflowing email inboxes, contributed to a sense of more calmness. Read more about the results on intranet.
We have taken your input and ideas to heart and decided on two new weeks with as little emails and meetings as possible this spring. We have coordinated the timing with the faculties and service departments. They are:
  1. the week of 22 to 26 February (spring break in the Central and North regions)
  2. the week of 19 to 23 April (last week of term 3)
During these weeks there is an explicit request not to plan any meetings and gatherings and to send as few (cc's of) emails to colleagues as possible. These weeks give you space to do what helps you in doing your work in a pleasant way. That could mean using this week to focus on a task or project in relative peace. Or that you take a week off and spend time on yourself or your family without your mailbox flooding.
We realise that it does not suit everyone to work completely meeting- and email-free during that particular week. There are undoubtedly colleagues who have deadlines and work to do this week that they can't move around. We therefore ask for your understanding for colleagues who do have a (meeting) request. At the same time, we ask everyone to look very critically at whether it is possible to relieve others. It creates space, which many of us need to keep going.
Educational results are good
We too are concerned about the mental health of students. We take these signals very seriously. We actively keep in touch with students who fall behind schedule and offer all students help and support, for example in the area of study choice, study skills and a sympathetic ear. First-year and senior students received an e-mail about this last week. 
Recent numbers show that, on average, our students are obtaining enough credits. In the first term of this academic year, students gained an average of 13 credits, compared to 11 credits in the first term in the previous academic year. The provisional figures also show that fewer first-year students quit their studies in the period up to 1 February than in previous years. These are signs that all efforts in these difficult times are having an effect. That is worth a big compliment to students ánd to teachers and student counsellors.
In closing
The cabinet has decided to reopen elementary school and childcare facilities starting next week. We sincerely hope that this is going to make a positive contribution to the children's development. We also hope that this will ease the pressure for colleagues who are currently homeschooling. And that it will prove to be a first step towards more space for other (educational) sectors.

Kind regards,
The Executive Board,

Anton Pijpers, President
Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus

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