Even if covid rebounds, the university plans to keep its doors open

28 Sep 2022

What if covid flares back up again this autumn? At the government's request, Radboud University has drawn up a plan, which was discussed yesterday in the university council. The intention is to keep the university's doors open for as long as possible.

With the arrival of autumn, respiratory viruses are back on the rise. Even though it’s still unclear what role covid will play this autumn, Radboud University wants to be prepared for the worst. At the request of the government, the university has drawn up a covid plan.

The plan discusses four scenarios, each with their own colour: dark green, green, orange, and red. The first two phases mainly focus on preventive measures, such as extra attention to communication on basic advice, ventilation, and vaccination.

In the case of a strong rebound of the virus, the colour codes orange and red come into play. Even then, the university wants to allow students to come to campus as much as possible. Students and employees will however be asked to take a self-test twice a week, stay home if they’re experiencing covid symptoms, and abide by the basic measures.

Comenius building

In the case of code orange, education will take place on campus as much as possible, but lectures – if need be – can be viewed via a livestream. In the event of code red, a maximum of 50 percent of the university’s lecture hall capacity may be used and employees will be required to work from home.

‘You can keep enough distance from each other in the Comenius building’

By and large, Radboud University thereby follows the government’s advice, but on one point it charts its own course. In the event of code red, the university chooses to have many tests in the Comenius building anyway. ‘We would then exceed the 50 percent prescribed by the government’, rector Han van Krieken explained in the University Joint Assembly on Monday. ‘But in the Comenius building there is not much movement and you can keep enough distance from each other.’

Informal care

On behalf of the works council, Peter van der Heiden asked how the university will deal with employees and students who, for whatever reason, fear a covid infection. Are they required to come to campus?

The rector answered by saying that campus safety is currently guaranteed, since whoever tests positive stays at home. ‘Covid is currently in a phase that is comparable with a flu epidemic. But we will always pay attention to students and employees with a weakened immune system or who perform informal care.’

Effort obligation

Members of the University Student Council (USR) wondered what should happen to students who miss an exam due to a covid infection. USR members Isa Witteveen, Noah Vetter, and Giovanni Meijer argue for one approach for the entire university, where all students are entitled to a third exam opportunity in the same academic year.

‘During the last covid wave, many students with covid symptoms came to campus anyways, in fear of losing an exam opportunity’, says Witteveen. ‘This way, they endangered other students.’

‘There will always be the risk of a study delay’

Rector Han van Krieken emphasised that all students who missed an exam last study year due to covid have since gotten a third opportunity. ‘But it is not always possible to have that opportunity in the same study year. There will always be the risk of a study delay.’

No guarantee

After the meeting was briefly adjourned, the students and the Executive Board agreed to a compromise. The covid plan now also states that programmes will try their best to offer a third opportunity in the same academic year to those who miss an exam due to a covid infection. ‘But there is no guarantee that this will succeed’, the rector said.

Translated by Jan Scholten

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