Rising numbers of infections require changes in the winter semester

E-mail from the president to all students and employees (except medicine)

Dear students,
dear colleagues,

The corona pandemic is heading for a new peak. In Germany and many other European countries, the number of new infections per day now significantly exceeds the peak levels seen in spring. For this reason, the federal and state governments have agreed last Wednesday on far-reaching interventions in public life to slow down the spread of the corona virus. This has effects on the University of Tübingen, too.

The state government of Baden-Württemberg is currently working on translating last Wednesday's policy decision into concrete guidelines. These specifications are not yet available to us. However, we must assume that we will not be able to realize our previous plans for a combination of digital teaching and on-campus classes in the current winter semester. I would therefore ask all teaching staff and students to prepare themselves for the possibility that at the beginning of the lecture period next Monday the majority of the planned on-campus classes will not take place. Instead, the major part of teaching will have to take place online once again.

As in the summer semester, exceptions will probably be made for examinations and for courses that require the presence of both teaching staff and students, such as in medicine and the natural sciences (for lab practicals and similar classes). At the moment we also assume that the libraries at the university can remain open. As soon as the university management has received the state’s new corona ordinance, we will inform you about the contents in detail immediately. Until then, please refrain from making inquiries at the deans’ offices or the university’s central administration.

Teaching staff who have planned on-campus classes starting next week are requested to contact their students and inform them when they will be able to switch to digital formats. As was already the case in the summer semester, online classes should be recorded, if possible, in order for students to take part asynchronously, i.e. at a time of their choice. If lecturers decide to offer synchronous classes, I would ask you to stick to the agreed time schedule of 60 minutes per lesson.

At present, we should not give up hope that we will be able to return to the originally planned mix of on-campus and digital teaching during the winter semester. In the interest of a sensible linking of different teaching offers, it is therefore imperative that we continue to maintain the 60-minute schedule. For the same reason, I also ask all teaching staff not to return already booked classrooms to room administration at this time. Just like our policymakers, we will reassess the current pandemic situation by the end of November at the latest and, if necessary, make adjustments in teaching.

As you know, the university now has a variety of tools for digital teaching. The corresponding services have been expanded again for the winter semester. I would ask all teaching staff to make use of the technical possibilities available. You can find more information on the digital teaching website. https://uni-tuebingen.de/en/teaching-staff/digital-teaching/

For courses in medicine and the natural sciences, for which attendance at the university is required, as well as for face-to-face examinations on campus, the regulations in the university's hygiene concept still apply. Such events may continue to be held without the need for special approval from the deans’ offices or central administration.

The coming months will once again bring numerous strains and often overly high demands for all university members. The pandemic is far from over and there are many indicators that the most difficult phase is still ahead of us. To be able to master the challenges ahead, it will once again be important for all members of the university community to work together. I am confident that we will succeed in doing this again in the coming months – as we did in the summer semester. Please stay healthy!

Best regards,
Professor Dr. Bernd Engler