Coronavirus directives permit further easing of restrictions

Circular to all faculty, staff, and students

Dear students and colleagues,

The Baden-Württemberg state government has sent us a revised, state-wide coronavirus directive and a new coronavirus directive on university study operations. This is linked to further steps toward a cautious re-opening of study operations. As you may have seen in the media, the government will differentiate more strongly in the future according to the level of infection in the respective location. Currently, the Tübingen district is in a very favorable situation with a 7-day incidence of less than 50. However, the past has shown that the incidence of infection can change rapidly. Against this background, strict adherence to hygiene requirements continues to be imperative for all members of the University. Supervisors bear a special responsibility in this context. 

Study areas in libraries to be re-opened

Work desks in the libraries may be used again under certain conditions. The University Library and those responsible for departmental libraries are currently examining how the official requirements can be implemented as quickly as possible. For the time being, borrowing and returning books will continue under the current procedure (traffic light system). More information about the opening of the work desks will be forthcoming. Up-to-date information will be posted promptly on the University Library website as well as on the departmental libraries' websites.

More in-person classes

With its new Coronavirus directive on study operations, the state government provides for more in-person classes for students in the early stages of their studies. According to the definition in the directive, this group includes all those who began their studies in the summer semester of 2020 or later. We informed you of the plans for the upcoming summer semester 2021 on January 8. 

Student leave of absence in summer semester

Students who prove that they cannot participate in classes in the summer semester 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic may be granted leave of absence for this reason. The application for leave of absence must be completed in full and signed and sent to Student Administration no later than 19.04.2021 (by mail or scan to studierendensekretariatspam prevention@zv.uni-tuebingen.de). The application may be found here: https://uni-tuebingen.de/en/study/organizing-your-studies/semester-and-study-planning/leave-of-absence/

Please note that students who are on leave of absence for the summer semester 2021 due to the Coronavirus pandemic are permitted (but not required) to take exams. This also applies to online coursework. Students on leave of absence in the summer semester 2021 may, in this exceptional case, participate in wholly online courses for which the number of participants is not limited. The University Library and the computer center services may also be used. Attending in-person classes (e.g. courses, laboratory practicals, etc.) is not permitted. 

Hygiene rules must still be obeyed

Despite relaxations, the widely-published hygiene rules are still binding for all employees and students. None of us can afford to slacken our efforts in this regard. Maintaining the minimum distance, wearing a mask, washing your hands and airing-out rooms are some of the most important measures everyone can implement to help contain the Coronavirus pandemic. They continue to be effective, even as new virus mutations emerge.

In this context, I ask all employees to ensure that masks are worn in offices that are occupied by two people at the same time. The minimum distance of 1.5 meters must be observed. Working without a mask is only permitted if each person in the room has at least ten square meters of space available. All supervisors are required to consider alternatives if several people are currently working in the same room. If possible, all employees are still to be given the option of working at home. A further measure to help ease the situation is working at different times in a shared office or using currently vacant office space, perhaps in neighboring sections.

Pregnant women and employees who could receive no treatment or only limited treatment if they contracted COVID-19, or who are at increased risk of severe COVID-19, and can document reasons via a medical certificate, are still barred from activities involving increased contact with persons, and from activities in which the distance of 1.5 meters from other persons cannot be maintained. In individual cases, the University medical service can provide advice.

Once again, I urge you to minimize the number of face-to-face meetings that are necessary for business purposes. The university now has the technical facilities to conduct even large meetings online. Supervisors are asked to set a good example. Please ensure that in your area of responsibility, in-person meetings only take place when they are absolutely necessary. Please also point out to your team that the hygiene rules also apply during breaks and that only one person per ten square meters is permitted in break rooms. 

Business trips and conventions

In view of the current infection rate, it is still essential to travel as little as possible. Please note that the prior approval of the President’s Office is required not for only business trips abroad, but also for conventions in external guest houses, hotels and the like. As we cannot predict the course of the pandemic, we cannot yet approve business trips for the summer semester or any time thereafter. Should you nevertheless be forced to book travel and accommodation now, please note the following:

  • Travel and accommodation must be booked in such a way that you may, if necessary, cancel free of charge. You will have to personally bear any costs incurred.
  • Submit travel requests at least four weeks in advance. It is no longer possible for the President’s Office to process them at short notice. 
  • Check that adequate medical care is available at your travel destination.

Recall action for masks issued by state government

You may have heard from the media that the state government felt compelled to launch a recall campaign for medical masks that had been delivered to various state institutions. The University of Tübingen is not affected by this recall.

The Coronavirus pandemic is not over yet. The infection figures are still too high across Germany. Hundreds of families in Germany are losing loved ones week after week. We all have a duty to remain cautious and vigilant in this situation. Against this background, the development of recent weeks in the district of Tübingen is encouraging. We should do everything we can not to squander this success which is the result of a joint effort by all members of society.

Thank you for your cooperation. Despite the difficulties, let us start the summer semester 2021 with confidence and energy. Stay healthy!

Yours sincerely,
Professor Dr. Bernd Engler