Education, Organisation, Research
Start of the Academic Year 2021-2022
We now have a clearer picture of what the relaxation of restrictions in education from 30 August will involve for us. More information is given below, supplementing the message we sent to you on 18 August. We also wish to give specific attention to the safety situation.
The basic principle is that the University will be open again. This is the government’s decision and we are pleased with the relaxation of restrictions that it offers for higher education, and with the new situation that will allow us all to return progressively to a ‘normal’ working and learning environment. At the same time, however, we will obviously comply with all the necessary measures. As an employer, the University does its best to provide a safe working environment.
A new campus protocol is posted on the University’s coronavirus website since 30 August, together with additional information about the COVID-19 policy. Meanwhile, we would like to explain here some of the measures designed to keep our education as safe as possible. Students will also be informed this week.
Face masks and the 1.5m rule
An exceptional relaxation will come into effect for the University on 30 August: the 1.5m rule will be lifted in all university buildings. This applies for students and staff, for lecture rooms, the University Library and offices.
However, from 30 August it will be a condition that students and staff will again have to wear a face mask when moving around the University buildings; in other words, this measure is being re-imposed. If you see someone walking along a corridor without a face covering, you may draw their attention to the campus protocol. We need to ensure that we all accept our responsibility and remind each other about this, if necessary.
Some colleagues have asked if they may request students to keep their face mask in place during a lecture. The procedure in the lecture room is the lecturer’s decision, and you can certainly ask the students to do this and make reasonable agreements about it; however, you cannot impose it as an obligation.
It is neither possible nor necessary to enforce the 1.5m rule in a lecture room, but as the lecturer you can naturally keep your distance wherever possible. It is not intended that you should split up a group of students so that social distancing of 1.5m is guaranteed.
Working from home
When not actually teaching, we will continue to work from home as much as possible. We will follow the government’s advice about this. You will be able to work at the University, if you wish, but please discuss this first with your manager. Staff members whose work involves specifically on-campus activities or teaching activities will naturally also be welcome on campus.
A return to face-to-face teaching
Everyone has the right to a safe environment. The University is doing everything within its power to ensure that on-campus teaching and learning are safe. If you have any questions or doubts about delivering face-to-face teaching, please speak with your supervisor to discuss the options. Our aim is to offer students mostly on-campus education. Only lectures for more than 75 students may be offered completely online. Offering other education exclusively online is only permitted with the consent of your supervisor, programme director and the Vice Deans, and if you have good reasons for this.
Maximum group size
The maximum group size for each separate room is 75 people. Information about this can be found in the Guidelines of 18 August (available on the FGW Learning website). The capacity of self-study places in, for example, the University Library and the Arsenaal will be increased by this measure; a place can be reserved through the study places website.
We ask teaching staff of large lectures to take measures themselves to make sure not more than 75 students are present. Later this week a separate e-mail will be sent about this (with some tips) by Onderwijsvoorbereiding.
It also means that a maximum of 75 people may attend PhD defence ceremonies, inaugural lectures and diploma presentations. Meetings and other group events (workshops and seminars) can take place in person again from 30 August, with a maximum of 75 participants. Events that are not directly linked to education and research, such as BBQs and drinks get-togethers, are also permitted but for the possibilities, please contact Facilities by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact them so they can look at your request individually. In general, the following applies: 1. guests have to be seated and 2. a maximum of 75 people. At the moment this also applies to outdoor locations such as the garden of the Huizinga and Reuvens.
Ventilation and cleaning
The ventilation in the lecture rooms meets all the requirements (the teaching rooms without windows have mechanical ventilation). There is no extra cleaning anymore in between lectures, but there are hygiene facilities everywhere and teachers and students can choose to clean their tables themselves.
How high is the vaccination rate among the students?
According to the latest reports from the Leiden public health service (GGD), the vaccination rate among students (including international students) is high in comparison with the age group (90% have received at least one vaccination dose).
A tool will become available sometime in September, which will allow students to see which empty lecture rooms they can use for self-study. This will also be helpful if they have to attend an online lecture before or after an on-campus lecture.
We are asking all students and teaching staff to take tests in principle twice a week. This enables us to detect infections sooner and makes us less likely to inadvertently transmit the virus to others. Free self-tests are available via a digital portal of SURF: www.zelftestonderwijs.nl.
Self-tests will also be supplied at the entrance of University buildings. Staff and students are further advised to have a PCR test performed by the GGD during or just before each weekend. They can request one even if they have no symptoms, and a PCR test is more reliable than a self-test. Staff and students can arrange this free of charge via https://coronatest.nl/.
As said, wearing a face mask when moving around the University buildings is required. Face masks will be available at the receptions for anyone who has forgotten to bring one. Self-tests will also be available at the receptions, but they are intended for use on a different day: the intention is not that you should go to the reception to take a test on the day when you are going to give a lecture.
What to do in case of infection
In the unfortunate event of infection, it is essential that the GGD carries out a source and contact investigation.
It is also very important to report your case internally, although this is requested on a voluntary basis. The information will be stored anonymously. The internal procedure for reporting a case is already in place. Please read here what to do in case of a coronavirus infection.
When you hear that someone from your classes is contaminated with covid, then the following is pertinent. If you are sufficiently protected (vaccinated more than 14 days ago or recovered from covid), you do not have to self-quarantine, but it is recommended to take a test when you develop any of the known symptoms. In the meantime, avoid participating in large groups. If you are not protected, self-quarantine for five days and test yourself regularly (see further information in the campus protocol).
Walk-in vaccination centres around Leiden and The Hague
In conjunction with the GGD, we are offering students aged 18 plus and staff the opportunity to be vaccinated without an appointment. The times and locations are on the websites: check here for in and around Leiden and in here for the The Hague area.
For other walk-in vaccination centres, please see prikkenzonderafspraak.nl.
Examinations for group sizes larger than 75 will probably be permitted after 20 September, but the 1.5m guideline will have to be observed (which will be difficult for large groups). More information about this will follow at a later date.
New protocols have been made for exams in the University Sports Centre. For FGW this means that we have to make adjustments for only three exams in October. The relevant programmes will be informed about this.
What do we do about students who choose not to attend on-campus education for several weeks, giving coronavirus or the related measures as their reason? Students are expected to follow their education on campus. If they test positive for COVID-19, they must report sick; the lecturer will decide how students can catch up with the lecture material that they miss. A student who has to self-quarantine will be absent for 5 days at most, and will therefore in principle miss no more than one lecture. Vulnerable students who cannot come to the campus, of those who are caregiver, can discuss this with their teacher or the study advisor. They will need to follow second best education such as streamed weblectures, hybrid seminars or independent study assignments.
If you have any questions, please contact the study coordinator or the programme director. For education support, please contact ECOLe. And please, regularly check corona updates for the Faculty of Humanities and de FGW Learning support website. Recent university-level information can be found on corona update 30 August and the new Campus Protocol.
People will naturally feel apprehensive about the weeks ahead, but we are confident that everything will go well. Safety will also be increased by the hygiene measures, testing, face masks, ventilation and vaccination. We have been told that the GGD is enthusiastic about the high vaccination rate of the Leiden students.
With kind regards,
on behalf of the Faculty Board,
Mirjam de Baar and Jeroen Touwen
Vice Deans of the Faculty of Humanities