After a summer of staycations, we are nearing the start of a new semester. It is always a joy for the University management – and for the University in general – to welcome our students. However, while we are happy to be able to meet on campus again, it is more important than ever to follow all the recommendations and guidelines to reduce the risk of infection. Wash your hands, stay home if you are sick and – very important – get tested if you have any symptoms! It’s free and the health services in Uppsala and Visby have plenty of capacity.
We have all been in different places and met different people while on holiday and we know that the start of the semester tends to be accompanied by a spate of colds. Fortunately infection rates in Sweden have been low over the summer, but this could mislead us into becoming a little less careful about routines. There are plenty of examples to show that infection rates can quickly increase again locally, so now we all need to play our part to ensure that the positive situation continues. For the sake of our first-year students in particular, it is important that we avoid having to go back to doing everything remotely.
The University’s departments, faculties and support services have worked hard before and during the summer to prepare for the start of the semester. Many people have taken part in these solution-oriented preparations. Sincere thanks! We will all need to keep an eye on the way everything works in practice and take action where necessary.
Useful information, including ideas and advice, is available in the Staff Portal and for students at uu.se. Signs have been produced for display around campus. Receptions and other relatively large gatherings have been adapted to avoid the risk of infection. We learned a good deal in this area last semester, when fewer and fewer events were cancelled as time went on; instead, they moved to virtual formats. On 28 August it will be time for us to welcome our freshers, this year at a virtual event with a digital talk show in the Grand Auditorium.
Despite all our preparations, we are bound to run into challenges as the autumn proceeds. We particularly need to manage the anxiety that we know exists among students and staff alike. This is an issue the University management has felt to be a significant challenge in our communications. If we play down the situation some people may take excessive risks, while explicit warnings risk amplifying the fears of those who are already worried. We have discussed this at length and concluded that while there is good reason to take things seriously, we should all keep calm. Common sense and cooperation go a long way. Let us continue to take responsibility together.
We would also like to take this opportunity to remind everyone who is in a position to do so to offer a room to a student. Although there will be rather fewer international students to begin with this year, 3,000 more Swedish students have been admitted than last year and many are looking for somewhere to live, just like every semester.
Welcome back for a new semester!