Today I, as Vice-Chancellor, decided that teaching and assessment will be conducted remotely this summer, until 30 August 2020.
At the same time, I also decided to allow disciplinary domain/faculty boards to grant certain exemptions for specific elements in exceptional circumstances. The term ‘specific elements’ means, for example, mandatory and practical tasks that cannot be carried out remotely but demand physical presence in the University’s premises or elsewhere (e.g. field trips). Exemptions may be granted on condition that measures are taken to ensure the campus-based activity can be conducted in a way that limits the risk of infection. Decisions on exemptions may be delegated to vice-rectors/deans. The students must be consulted before taking a decision.
Today’s decision also permits exemptions from the remote assessment requirement for individual students receiving special educational support, as long as it is possible to comply with the recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the examiner considers it feasible. Our focus is on ensuring the best interests of our students, within the framework of government guidelines and Public Health Agency of Sweden recommendations.
With regard to travel and meetings, no business travel abroad will be allowed as long as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs continues to advise against travel, which is currently until 15 July. International conferences and visits are cancelled during the corresponding period. National conferences and other gatherings should preferably be held by electronic means.
At all face-to-face meetings, physical distancing must be practised and remote participation must be facilitated. My own rule of thumb would be a third of the usual number allowed in a venue.
Having said this, it is time for us to begin preparations for gradually increasing the staff presence at our workplaces again. Careful readers of the decision that takes effect on 8 June will observe that a word has changed. The decision still directs that anyone with symptoms must stay at home and that individuals in at-risk groups should work from home if possible. The rule for other staff is that they may work from home with the agreement of their manager if the work situation allows it. This should be interpreted to mean that it remains both acceptable and desirable for us to work from home part of the week (which will help reduce crowding at the workplace and on public transport), but there is an increased expectation that, in the absence of any special reasons, employees will be physically present at the workplace for parts of their working time.
Finally, a cliffhanger. We will be back in a separate post in this blog tomorrow with assessments and a decision update ahead of the autumn semester.