Teaching under corona conditions

President's circular to all employees

Dear colleagues,

The Baden-Württemberg state government has issued a new Corona ordinance for studies and teaching. The regulations have been fundamentally revised and will shape many aspects of everyday university life in the future. The new ordinance is effective immediately and, strictly speaking, only until July 26 (after which revisions are expected). However, at this point in time – just a few weeks before the end of the lecture period – it is likely to have only a minor impact on studies and teaching in the summer semester. More importantly, the regulations provide initial guidelines for planning the 2021/22 winter semester.

We are all eager to return to a ‘face-to-face university’. The President’s Office is also aiming to have a busy campus again in the coming winter semester. This means that, as far as possible, all employees and students will be back on site, even though we are likely to have restrictions with regard to face-to-face teaching. The Corona ordinance on studies and teaching aims to have more classes held in attendance again in the coming fall and winter as well, without losing sight of the risk of infection.

As long as the 7-day incidence remains below 100, a variety of face-to-face formats can be resumed. However, each face-to-face class must be approved by the President’s Office. The main guideline for face-to-face teaching in the winter semester should be the following:

  • Classes with over 100 participants should continue to be offered online.
  • Classes with a high practical component, but also classes that thrive on interaction and discussion between teachers and students, should be offered on campus whenever possible.
  • All online courses should be offered asynchronously to make it easier for students to switch between face-to-face and online classes.

With regard to room planning, the new ordinance on studies and teaching gives us additional scope of action. For example, under certain circumstances (e.g. if participants have been tested or vaccinated or recovered from a Covid-19 infection), the distance requirement of 1.5 meters can be abolished in class. This applies, among other things, to classes with up to 35 students; classrooms can generally be filled with up to 60 percent of the permissible capacity. In these and all other cases, the contact tracking already in place as well as sufficient airing will remain mandatory.

If we look again at the status quo in studies and teaching during this summer semester, all face-to-face courses we currently have can also continue on the basis of the revised Corona ordinance on studies and teaching. These include lab practicals and dissection courses, other classes with mainly practical lesson elements, examinations and admission procedures, classes for students in the first three semesters or special events for students who are about to graduate. As far as classes are already running face-to-face and are approved, there will be no changes.

It is too early at the moment to set all the framework conditions for teaching in the winter semester here and now. Too much can and will change in the coming months up to the start of the lecture period in the fall. However, it is already very clear that a return to face-to-face teaching will only be possible without major risks if a considerable proportion of our employees and students are vaccinated. Against this background, I once again appeal to all members of the university to take advantage of the summer months and – if they have not already done so – to be immunized.

With best regards,

Professor Dr. Bernd Engler