New corona regulations of the Baden-Württemberg state government
E-mail to all students and employees
Last Thursday I had informed you about foreseeable changes with regard to teaching and studying at our university. The assessment at that time has since been confirmed. On Sunday, the state government in Stuttgart has issued new corona regulations with the goal to down the further spread of the corona virus and to prevent overloading of the health care system – mainly the intensive care units in hospitals. The associated restrictions also affect the universities to a large extent. In the following, I would like to briefly outline the essential points:
Teaching and studying
On-campus teaching at the university will be suspended for the time being until November 30. Lectures and classes must therefore be offered online. Exceptions are only possible if face-to face teaching on site is absolutely necessary to ensure a successful and orderly course of study in the winter semester. On-campus teaching is only permitted if the course content cannot be taught using electronic information and communication systems. By an express decision, the president’s office has granted exemptions for laboratory practicals, dissection courses, examinations, admission procedures as well as courses with a predominantly practical teaching component, for example in medicine and sports studies. The president’s office will decide on other exceptions upon application.
I would like to ask all teaching staff who have planned on-site classes during the winter semester and now need to switch to online formats to update the respective entries in the ALMA campus system. Please also enter how and where your classes will now take place digitally. If your on-site class is one of the above-mentioned exceptions, I would also ask you to publish a corresponding note in ALMA as soon as possible to inform your students. Furthermore, I recommend that all teaching staff contact their students directly and inform them.
The university has further improved the technical possibilities in the field of digital teaching in recent weeks. For example, all employees and students now have the option of applying for their own zoom license from the IT Center (ZDV). This makes it possible to quickly, easily and reliably set up video conferences for teaching as well as for student work groups. Teaching staff can obtain a license that allows for courses with more than 300 participants. ZDV will also offer BigBlueButton for the winter semester 2020/21. This system is operated via the ZDV’s own servers and can thus also be used for examinations. All data is stored exclusively on servers of the university. This service is also directly integrated into the learning platforms Ilias and Moodle. The division of academic affairs and the ZDV have compiled information on these and other possibilities on the following websites:
Closure of facilities
The new regulations aim at limiting study and teaching at the universities as little as possible, despite a far-reaching reduction in on-site teaching. Accordingly, university institutions that are absolutely necessary for study and teaching are to remain open as far as possible. In addition to laboratories, this applies above all to libraries and archives as well as sports facilities of all kinds. On the other hand, the refectories, the university museum and the botanical garden must close with immediate effect. The cafeterias remain accessible, but snacks and drinks may only be offered to go. The Studierendenwerk Tübingen-Hohenheim (student services) will announce further information in this regard within this week. Cultural events of all kinds, such as concerts, dance and theater performances, are prohibited until November 30, 2020, for the time being.
It is expressly forbidden to close other facilities of the university, for example, complete institutes and faculties, without consulting the university management. In particular, advisory and service facilities for students must remain open. It is conceivable that advisory and other services could be changed to telephone or online services. All facilities must ensure that they can be reached by telephone and e-mail during normal office hours. Only the president’s office can decide on the closure of other university facilities not mentioned above.
Meetings and conferences
I ask all employees of the university to hold meetings and conferences online as far as possible. The digital tools mentioned above will also be useful here. Even though the state’s corona ordinance allows for the accumulation of more than ten people for official purposes of business, I ask all of you to refrain from holding meetings in person, if possible, for reasons of infection protection. The same applies to on-campus conferences until 30 November 2020.
Infection protection within the university
In recent months, the University of Tübingen has developed a detailed hygiene concept to ensure a high level of protection for employees and students within the university. I would like to take this opportunity to appeal once again to all members of the university to adhere strictly to this concept. This includes, among other things, the observance of basic rules such as the obligation to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters, to wear a mouth-nose covering and to observe good hand hygiene. If you suddenly have to cough or sneeze, please use a disposable handkerchief or the inside of your elbow. Please also make sure that your work rooms are aired regularly.
According to the corona regulation for study and teaching, only university members may enter the buildings of the university from now on. The entry ban does not apply to libraries. All persons who have to enter the university for urgent business reasons, for example members of external companies, are also excluded from the entry ban. Without exception, all persons who have been in contact with a person suffering from Covid-19 during the past 14 days (contact also means a patient-related activity without adequate protective equipment, i.e. at least FFP2 mask, protective gown, gloves, goggles/ visor) or who show typical symptoms of an infection with the coronavirus or have shown them in the last 48 hours (fever, dry cough, runny or congested nose, impaired sense of taste or smell) are not allowed to enter university buildings. Further important information can be found on the university homepage:https://uni-https://uni-tuebingen.de/en/174042
Working from home
Due to the general infection situation, there is currently an increasing demand from employees for a change to working from home. In principle, working from home in the current situation can contribute to fighting the pandemic. In this context, I would like to refer to the existing agreements for working from home on a case-by-case basis and on tele-commuting. The respective applications can be submitted by employees to the personnel department after approval by the respective superiors. For the time being, I would ask that all applications that are based solely on the current pandemic situation and a general defense against infection be limited until November 30, 2020.
In all cases, I would ask superiors to ensure that normal business operations are not noticeably affected when tele-commuting or work from home from home on a case-by-case basis is approved. Employees who notice symptoms of a possible Covid-19 infection (see above) in themselves or in a person in their own household have the option of working from home at short notice and until the symptoms are resolved (see agreement on tele-commuting – case-by-case work from home). In these cases, patients are requested to contact a 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.
I am aware that the coming changes, especially with regard to on-campus teaching, will bring new, sometimes considerable, strains for students and employees. This is all the more true as these changes were decreed at very short notice by our policy makers. Nevertheless, I am confident that we will master the upcoming challenges at the University of Tübingen just as well as we did in the summer semester of 2020. In terms of organization and technology, we are currently much better equipped than we were in March or April. We are aware of the risks posed by the novel corona virus and know how to deal with them. And last but not least, thanks in part to the research efforts of the University of Tübingen, we are much closer to an effective vaccine today than we were in the spring. Please do your part to manage these new restrictions for the benefit of all – and stay healthy!
Professor Dr. Bernd Engler