Universiteit Utrecht
Coronavirus update 20 May
Dear students and colleagues,

This is the coronavirus update of May 20, 2020.
Government policy
The Cabinet has decided that we can slowly resume our educational activities under strict terms. From 15 June ‘assessments, practical training and mentoring vulnerable students can be resumed on location if an online alternative doesn’t suffice’. Please read the Cabinet letter here (Dutch only). Because the Cabinet wants to relieve public transport as much as possible, higher education institutions can only start and end the educational activities in question between 11.00-15.00 and after 20.00 o’clock.

No changes have been made with regards to working from home for the higher education personnel. Working from home will remain the standard in our sector for now. Excluding some specific location-bound activities. Please also have a look at the Protocol Relaunching Universities (Dutch only) that the VSNU has established together with the ministry. This protocol applies to all universities. Below we will elaborate on what this means for the UU.

Education block 4
All education that is now taught online in block 4, stays online, including work groups. Educational practices that have stopped because they cannot happen online and the guidance of vulnerable students (by study advisors and academic personnel, f.e. with a thesis) will be launched within the space and frameworks currently available. We still have to abide to the time slot given to us by the Cabinet. The Cabinet offers some room for local tailored solutions with regards to times and mobility (in our case within the Utrecht safety region). We are currently in conversation about this with partner institutions, transport companies and mayor Jan van Zanen. We expect to give more clarity on this subject next week. Then, we’ll be able to match requests from courses with the capacity in buildings and possibilities for transport. Students will receive word no later than the 4th of June from their teacher/mentor about education and mentoring that will be launched on 15 June. 

Education in the new academic year
We should take into account that a large part of our educational activities will have to take place online for some time to come. Next week, we will establish frameworks and tools for prioritising education in the first semester. We will also inform you about our decision-making in the phase leading up to the summer. For this, we will build upon the preliminary work done by various university and faculty working groups. Our aim is for students to know where they stand as soon as possible, and for lecturers to be able to start preparing for semester 1 before summer starts.
Study exchanges in the first semester
Earlier this week, some universities decided to cancel study exchanges for incoming and outgoing students in the first semester of the new academic year. We will discuss this topic with the faculties and partner universities next week. Our university will decide on international exchange, including international internships, on 28 May.

Working and studying from home
A start was made this week with the resumption of location based (non-human) laboratory research. We are working on possibilities to resume location based (people-related) experimental research in the Faculties of Humanities and Social and Behavioural Sciences. Yesterday's Cabinet decision does not yet offer room for an expansion of non-location based research or more office work in our buildings. For students, PhD's and other staff with specific limitations to be able to study or work from home, we are investigating the possibilities to facilitate special study/work places from 15 June onwards. Please note: this only applies in exceptional cases, with permission and coordination. We expect to be able to clarify this in next week’s newsletter.
As advised by the project group Work pressure and Welfare, we are looking into additional actions around home-office facilities for employees who continue to work from home for the time being. Of course, this raises tax-related and other questions. We hope to have more clarity on this in the beginning of June. In the meantime, the Facilities Service Centre, together with the faculties, is making plans to enable you to come collect personal belongings and office equipment again to help you work from home more comfortably. Your faculty or department will inform you about this.
And finally
The Cabinet's decisions give the universities only very limited room for expanding working and studying in UU buildings. After the first acute crisis phase and the period in which we all worked with temporary solutions as best we could, we have now entered the next phase. A restart of the first activities has started and we are making preparations for the first period of the new academic year. It is clear that this will not be easy for all of us. We are ready for clarity now, for reducing the workload and for making clear choices. We also experience how demanding online working is, especially in larger groups, and eagerly look forward to actual meetings with our colleagues.
The reality is that it is very complex to prepare the next steps within the set framework and with the issues surrounding the distribution of public space. Especially because we suspect that we will have to maintain these choices for some time during the coming academic year. It is therefore important to prepare these choices very carefully and in good consultation. We hope you will understand this. Keep courage. And watch out for each other. We will inform you as soon as possible about any subsequent decisions.

Kind regards,
The Executive Board,
Anton Pijpers, President 
Annetje Ottow, Vice President 
Henk Kummeling, Rector Magnificus

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