Universiteit Utrecht
Coronavirus update 14 October
Dear colleagues,
This is the Coronavirus update of 14 October 2020.
Yesterday, the Cabinet announced additional measures to curb the rapidly increasing number of infections of the coronavirus in the Netherlands. It will have effect, once again, on our entire society. Although the educational sector has been spared, the additional measures also have consequences for UU.
Educational activities to continue
Educational activities on location will continue. Taking study progress and social bonding into account, Utrecht University deems it important to continue all scheduled educational activities on location (the maximum group size of thirty does not apply to education).
To limit travel movements and observe the one and a half metre distance, the rule that we schedule a maximum of thirty percent of the education offered in university premises, remains in force. Lecturers and students that cannot come to the campus because of their health or that of a close relative or roommate are not obligated to attend or give lectures on location. This also applies if they are in quarantine advised by the The Municipal Health Services (GGD).
Face masks when moving around in buildings
The Cabinet has decided that face masks will become obligated in public indoor spaces. It has been explicitly mentioned this will also apply to universities. As UU we decided and communicated last week, that face masks should be worn in our buildings in situations where keeping one and a half metre distance is difficult. We have noticed that this premise is being interpreted in multiple ways. That’s why the following applies from now on: wear a face mask when you move around in university buildings. If you’ve arrived at your destination you can take off your mask. In specific situations, for example with some labs, it is not always possible to maintain a one and a half metre distance at your destination. In that case, wear a face mask as well.
Exams: maximum hundred people in one room
Exams are educational activities and can therefore continue. We do however choose to make alterations to exams in which over a hundred persons are present in one room, as was the explicit request of some of our lecturers and students. We take these concerns seriously and by choosing alternatives now, we will be better prepared if more drastic measures are announced by the Cabinet. We strive to have made the adjustments by 26 October 2020. Per exam that will be for more than one hundred students, the lecturer, together with the education director and exam board will determine whether:
  • the exam can continue (e.g. because students are split over multiple rooms),
  • the exam should be postponed,
  • an alternative can be offered (e.g. splitting over more rooms; homework assignment; do exam online).
Have you registered for an exam of which the examination is altered, then you will be notified at least two days befóre your exam by your programme. Lecturers are also free to continue exams online instead of on location between now and 26 October.
To guide students that will be taking exams, measures have been taken in and surrounding buildings where exams take place. Please follow the instructions of the corona coordinators. We want for students to safely take their exam and for invigilators and lecturers to have a safe work space. Please only attend the exam if you don’t have health complaints and the coronacheck indicates you are welcome. Keep one and half metre distance from each other and keep your face mask on until the moment you have reached your destination. Are you unable to attend the exam on location, e.g. because you are in quarantine, this will not be at the expense of the number of exam opportunities. 

Study places will remain available
The study places in the university libraries (300) and in other UU buildings (700) remain available to students. The places in the library can be reserved; the other places can be used in between lectures. Students who are unable to study at home due to circumstances can reserve a study place via the study advisor. We know how important it is for some of our students to be able to use a study place - especially during examinations. In all of our buildings, we have carefully indicated which places are available and which are not. An important condition for continuing to make study places available is that the regulations are properly observed. If it turns out that students do not abide by the rules, we will not hesitate to intervene. In that case, we will close the study places and fellow students will consequently suffer.

Working from home remains the norm
The starting point remains that we work from home. This applies not only to staff, but also to the boards of student organisations. Employees who cannot carry out their work from home (researchers who work in labs, animal caretakers, maintenance staff, security staff, etc.) can come to work. Researchers (including students and PhD students) only come to the university if it is necessary for their research. An exception to this is made for people who, due to circumstances, have difficulty working from home. In that case, there will -in consultation with your supervisor- still be opportunities to work some of their time in the university buildings. Teachers can also come to work to collect teaching materials from their offices. Training courses can take place on location up to a maximum of 30 people, but are preferably followed online. Travel by public transport as little as possible or at quiet times.
PhD ceremonies
PhD ceremonies count as educational activities can therefore continue. PhD ceremonies were already restricted to a maximum of 30 people. This measure will stay in place. Receptions afterwards are not allowed.
Graduation ceremonies and events cancelled for four weeks
In the context of the ban on events and the call to restrict non-necessary commuting, all events planned for the next 4 weeks will be suspended or shifted to online. For example lectures and symposia of Studium Generale and student associations count as events. There are no inaugural lectures planned for the next four weeks. It goes without saying that it is a great pity to have disappoint those who were looking forward to a festive celebration of graduation on a such a short notice. 
Canteens stay open, other catering closed
The on-campus canteens remain open. In accordance with the measures of the Cabinet, other catering facilities at the university are closed, including the Faculty Club restaurant, the Olympos sports café, the Parnassos bar and the UCU bar. No receptions will take place in the University Hall (Academiegebouw). The Botanica garden café in the Botanical Gardens is opened only for coffee and lunch to go.
Travel abroad only if it is absolutely necessary
The policy for business and study travels remains in place. In principle, we do not travel abroad for work or study, unless you have an explicit permission from your manager or the dean of your faculty. For travels abroad we follow the guideline of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In closing
The announced government measures are far-reaching. There are different opinions about the measures. It is of great importance that our experts will continue providing and reinforcing a scientific foundation for the government policy. And remember: at the end of the day it all comes down to our collective behaviour. If we want to prevent people from being affected even more severely, it is necessary that also we as Utrecht University demonstrate discipline and address each other’s behaviour in case we notice any lapses. Let us not make the situation unnecessarily difficult for each other and show respect for the corona coordinators if they point at the guidelines. We sincerely want to respect the 1.5 metres measure. We stay home if we develop any symptoms of illness. If you plan to come to the university, take the coronacheck test beforehand so as to decide whether it is advisable. In order to minimalise further risks, we wear a face mask whenever we move around in the university buildings until we have reached our destination. Finally, we explicitly suggest that you concider to download the ‘coronamelder’ app.
This is how we all together do what we can, contribute to a safe environment for work and study, and prevent having to meet with even harder measures that would again lead to closing our buildings.

Kind regards,
The Executive Board,

Anton Pijpers, President
Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus

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