Universiteit Utrecht
Update coronavirus
Dear students and staff,

Yesterday, we informed you on the Cabinet's decision to ban large gatherings, to ask employees to work from home where possible, and specifically to universities to offer distance education through 31 March. We reported that we have heard this appeal and that we will provide more information today on how we at UU deal with this situation.
The coronavirus is very worrisome and has had a major impact on the whole of society, including our university. We understand that very well. We want to prevent delays in students’ studies and problems with researchers’ research as much as possible. At the same time, we want to contribute to containment of the spread of the coronavirus. The health of our students and staff is paramount. The mission is finding the right balance, and we need everyone for that. Today we as a board consulted with the deans. Below is a list of the decisions that have been made and what we require from students and staff in this exceptional situation.

First of all, the following still applies: please stay at home if any symptoms, e.g. cold, cough, sore throat or fever are present. Avoid social contact. Call your general practitioner only if symptoms worsen. For students, face-to-face education (on location) is cancelled. For employees, work at home if this is possible for your work. Do this in consultation with your manager. There is a website with manuals for employees and students about working and studying remote (or from home).

Face-to-face education/exams (on campus) cancelled until Monday April 20th
All educational activities such as lectures and tutorials, labs, and exams will not take place on location until the end of the current block (April 20th). The cabinet has asked the university to offer education only from a distance for the time being. We want to heed such a call. We intend to ensure that students can nevertheless successfully complete the courses of this block, which is near its conclusion, without physical meetings taking place. That is why we ask lecturers to look at alternative teaching methods with which to successfully complete their course.

Are you a lecturer?
Then we ask you to investigate how you can complete your courses remotely while maintaining quality and standards of instruction. This does not have to be innovative. We ask you to see in which alternative ways you can guide students, answer questions, teach and test. In this phase of the block it can be especially important that questions from students when studying the material are answered properly, for example in Blackboard. There is a great deal that can be done in new forms of education; this is explicitly not a goal in itself. We will give you a few examples to help you with your thoughts on this.

Do you give lectures? Then there is an option to give your lectures via Microsoft Teams and stream the lecture or offer a PowerPoint with audio in Blackboard. Microsoft Teams also offers online collaboration and answering questions to replace tutorials. There is an intranet page on distance teaching to help you with this. Also think about how you can organise assessments; other forms may also be possible. It may be necessary to postpone your exam to the beginning of the next block in some cases.

We ask you to inform your students through the usual channels (usually Blackboard and MyTimetable) about what they can expect for their course at the latest on Wednesday 18 March.

Are you a student?
We want to resume education remotely as soon as possible. You will receive a message from your teachers about how your courses will be continued remotely at the latest on Wednesday 18 March. Your lecturers will inform you about alternative ways in which you can be guided, ask questions, follow education and take tests. Until you have received a message from your lecturer (usually via Blackboard or MyTimetable), all your course activities including exams have been cancelled. Internships may continue.

In the meantime, we ask you to contact your lecturer if you have questions in regards to this. We ask for your understanding about the situation which all study advisers currently face with a large number of questions, to which they also have no answer at the moment. Only once the alternative methods of education are clear, exceptions in which your study advisor can play a role will also become clear.

Are you a student at UCU or UCR?
The upcoming semester that starts on March 23 will be offered fully digitally. More information about this will be available on the student site of UCU and UCR.

What if a course cannot be completed?
If a course cannot be completed in block three (possibly with an extension in block 4), the lecturer of the course will notify the students of this and will look for an opportunity to catch up on the course at a later stage. If students are delayed in their studies, this is force majeure and the profiling fund can be used.

(Research) internships, research projects, research projects
(Research) internships at Utrecht University will continue. Internships at external institutions or companies can continue if the institution or company offering the internship agrees.

Libraries closed, online services reamain
Today it was decided that the university libraries in the city centre and at the Utrecht Science Park will be closed to the public from Saturday 14 March onward, to prevent further spread of the virus. Study spots, and other rooms and catering facilities in the library buildings will not be available during these measures. In light of the Cabinet's advice, we ask students not to use study spots in other university buildings, but to study at home. Students and staff can consult digital scientific sources online. For more information about access to digital sources and applying for a collection from the collection, visit the University Library website.

University buildings remain open to employees w/limited catering
In addition to the university library, university buildings remain open for employees to perform (research) activities. However, a limited number of catering locations are open and there are adjusted opening hours. The catering locations that remain open from 10 am to 2 pm are:
  • Educatorium
  • Vening Meinesz building A
  • Madame Jeanette
  • UCU Jazzmans
Student desks / facilities (remotely) accessible
We think it is important that students can contact the university with their questions. We request that students do not physically come to the student desks, but ask their questions by email or telephone. Student psychologists and deans will remain available in alternating shifts for emergency appointments with students. 

Events cancelled
All events and large gatherings (with more than a hundred people) will be cancelled until 31 March. This certainly applies to inaugural lectures, farewell speeches and graduation ceremonies. An assessment framework is available for smaller gatherings. 

Activities of study associations
We ask study associations, in line with the cabinet decision, to cancel their events and activities until March 31. We also call on the boards of study associations to work from home as much as possible.

Promotions only with limited company
If the PhD candidate agrees, promotions can take place, but only with a limited group. This means that only the immediate family of the PhD students can attend the ceremony. At the request of the Phd candidate, the promotion can also be rescheduled for a later date. This in coordination with the beadle.

Have you planned a trip abroad?
As announced yesterday, traveling abroad is discouraged in all cases in the current circumstances.

Are you abroad?
For students and employees who are already abroad, the following applies to areas with red / orange travel advice. For areas with yellow / green travel advice, keep an eye on advice from local authorities and contact your manager or study advisor. Are you a student abroad or are you studying as a foreign student in Utrecht and you want to go home in view of the uncertain situation, then you can travel back according to your wishes. This applies regardless of the travel advice from the Ministry of BuZa. We will do our best to help you avoid a study delay. If you experience a study delay regardless, you can appeal to the profiling fund.

The situation we are dealing with is very exceptional and is putting us to the test. We realise that we are asking a lot of the creativity of the already busy lecturers to help students complete their courses. We also know that students like to use the study rooms, for example, and it is difficult that this is no longer possible. We ask you all to understand. And we want to emphasise that it is very important to follow the directions. Only if all of us work together can we, as a university community, contribute to containment of the spread of the virus.

On behalf of the Executive Board,

Anton Pijpers