In-class teaching remains suspended until the end of current winter semester

E-mail to all employees and students

Dear students, 
Dear colleagues,

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to have a major impact on our lives. Unfortunately, the partial lockdown imposed by Germany’s federal and state governments at the beginning of November did not lead to the hoped-for big reduction in new infections, merely slowing the spread of Covid-19. The number of newly infected persons remains high right across Germany, including in our region. In this situation, the Baden-Württemberg state government has decided against any loosening of the regulations for universities in the near future. In the following I would like to inform you of the main contents of the latest Coronavirus directive, which has been in force since December 1.


According to the Coronavirus directive published last Monday, in-person classes will remain suspended until 20 December 2020. However, in view of the pandemic, the University President’s Office does not see any prospect of the rules being eased any time soon. In order to give all University members planning security, the President’s Office therefore decided on December 2 to suspend classroom teaching until the end of the winter semester. Courses must therefore be offered online. Exceptions are only permissible if classroom teaching is absolutely necessary to ensure a successful and orderly course of study in the winter semester. Classroom teaching is only permitted if the course content cannot be taught using electronic information and communication systems.

At the beginning of November, the President’s Office granted exemptions for laboratory work, dissection courses, examinations, admission and approval procedures as well as classes with a predominantly practical teaching component, for example in medical and sports studies. These exemptions continue to apply. The President’s Office shall decide on further exceptions upon application.
The current Coronavirus directive from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts stipulates that visitor data must be recorded in all areas where studies are conducted. This concerns not only classrooms and libraries but also facilities such as Student Administration, examination offices and student advisory services. Please use the University's data collection or participant form (Appendix J.2 in the Hygiene Concept) or another suitable form of data collection. In order to enable a follow-up by health authorities, the following data must be collected from visitors: Given and family name, address, date and duration of attendance, and telephone number. Students may enter their student ID number instead of the address. I ask the staff responsible for the above-mentioned areas to ensure that the data collected is stored securely and destroyed after four weeks. Utilities and administrative institutions that are not primarily responsible for the studies are exempt from the obligation to collect data.   

Closure of facilities

University facilities that are essential for study and teaching will remain open for curricular classes. In addition to the laboratories, this applies above all to libraries and archives as well as sports facilities. The refectories, the University Museum and the Botanical Gardens will remain closed. Cultural events of all kinds, such as concerts, dance and theater performances, are prohibited until December 20, 2020. According to Student Services, four cafeterias on campus will remain open and offer snacks and drinks to take away. The cafeteria in the Morgenstelle Lecture Center also offers a daily hot meal. Student Services provides information about the details on its website.


Meetings, conventions and conferences

Even though the state Coronavirus directive allows for gatherings necessary for official purposes, I would ask you all for reasons of infection control to refrain from holding in-person meetings if possible. The same applies to in-person conferences and meetings until the end of the winter semester (March 31, 2021). 

Working from home

Due to the general incidence of infection, there remains a call from employees for the option of working from home. In principle, working from home in the current situation can make a contribution to pandemic defense. In this context, I refer you to the existing agreements for case-based work from home and alternating work from home.  Such applications by employees must be addressed to their respective superiors, coordinated with them and forwarded to Human Resources. I ask that all applications that are based solely on the current situation of the pandemic and general infection prevention be limited to January 15, 2021. The crisis management team, with subsequent involvement of the Staff Council, will discuss further procedures and the temporal extension of the regulation.

In all cases, I would ask supervisors to ensure that normal business operations are not appreciably affected by the authorization of any form of working from home. Employees who experience symptoms of a possible Covid-19 infection in themselves or a person in their own household (see above) have the option of working from home at short notice and until the symptoms are resolved (see agreement on Telework - case-by-case work from home). In these cases, patients are requested to contact their doctor by telephone as soon as possible or to call 116117 for medical advice outside office hours. In emergencies, such as acute shortness of breath, you should call the emergency number 112.

The Advent and Christmas season will also be impacted by the Coronavirus crisis. Advent is meant to be a time of reflection and shared experience. Many institutes, study or research groups usually celebrate the end of the year with a Christmas party. But this year we have to keep our distance, as difficult as that may be for us. We all have people in our family or circle of friends who, due to their age or health problems, are at risk of serious illness. These people need to be especially protected in the coming weeks. Therefore I ask you all to assist with correct behavior in your official as well as in your private life to break infection chains, and to give the virus no chance.

Sincerely yours,

Professor Dr. Bernd Engler