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PRAISE FOR STAFF MEMBERS IN VOLATILE CORONAVIRUS TIMES

PRAISE FOR STAFF MEMBERS IN VOLATILE CORONAVIRUS TIMES

Fewer clusters of students may attend the same lecture. Work from home for a few more weeks. The coronavirus situation continues to have a significant impact on our daily lives and is likely to do so for a long time to come. Pro-rector Inger Askehave and University Director Antonino Castrone have only praise for staff members and their persistence in delivering teaching and continuing their work, despite a framework that is constantly changing.

Text: Trine Kristensen, AAU Communication
Translation: LeeAnn Iovanni, AAU Communication
Photo: Svenn Hjartarson

Part of the teaching at the AAU will probably have to be reorganised after the Ministry of Higher Education and Science recently adjusted the guidelines for the operation of universities.

Since the beginning of the academic year on 1 September, the university has been able to deviate from the requirement of one-meter distance between persons in teaching situations where the students have been divided into groups of no more than 30 people – the cluster principle. Now the health authorities want to limit the use of clusters as much as possible, in particular to limit the risk of crowding when entering and exiting auditoriums.

In the future, therefore, the cluster principle may only be used for classes of up to 100 students who are physically present at the same time in the same room. This applies regardless of the number and size of the clusters, reducing the risk of students in large classes crowding together in auditoriums, while maintaining as much in-person teaching as possible.

In AAU's largest auditoriums that can hold far more people, more than 100 students may still attend class in person. However, when teaching such large classes, the cluster principle must not be used, and everyone must be able to keep at least one metre away from each other in such teaching situations. In practice, this means that only every other seat in the auditoriums may be used when teaching classes of more than 100 students. In other words, only half of the auditorium's capacity may be used.

PRO-RECTOR: WE ARE READY FOR ONLINE TEACHING AND EXAMS

The new guidelines therefore once again entail new tasks in reorganising teaching.

- I completely understand the frustrations related to again dealing with the logistics of making in-person teaching work. I would therefore like to express my sincere thanks to all those who are once again making a huge effort in getting things to come together in new ways. In spite of all that’s going on, the fact that right now we can continue in-person teaching is a very positive thing, says Pro-rector Inger Askehave and continues:

- If the unfortunate happens and we have to teach and hold exams virtually, we’ll be ready for it. The impressively rapid transition on the part of staff to digital teaching and task management in the spring was very instructive. We will certainly draw on these experiences if we are all sent home once again, says Pro-rector Inger Askehave, adding that she is fully aware that all the changes are taking their toll on staff and creating hardship for both students and staff.

UNIVERSITY DIRECTOR: KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK FROM HOME

On 18 September, all employees in both public and private sector workplaces were called upon to work from home as much as possible – a call that was extended until 18 October.

- Most people would probably prefer to show up for work and take care of business in conjunction with colleagues. While the home office can also provide a peaceful space for contemplation, the prolonging of working from home is a sad reminder that the coronavirus epidemic is still with us and that we don’t know how long this will last. I can therefore only encourage us all to keep up the good work from home and help each other maintain our good spirits. All staff members have made and are making a huge effort to keep the university going – keep it up, says University Director Antonino Castrone.

Since the beginning of the new academic year on 1 September and up to now, there have been a total of just over 100 cases of coronavirus infection at AAU. The vast majority of cases are among the students. All have been handled in accordance with the authorities' guidelines for self-isolation and contact tracing – often in consultation with the Danish Patient Safety Authority.  In several cases, larger or smaller groups of students and staff were therefore sent home for testing and self-isolation.

The cases of infection are spread throughout AAU and currently there is no indication that infection occurred at the university.

- In general, the behaviour at AAU – both among staff and students – is very good and an example of how it should be everywhere. We keep our distance, we use hand sanitiser, and we make sure to thoroughly clean all high-touch surfaces. We must continue to do so in order to minimise the risk of a new lockdown, says University Director Antonino Castrone.

Find more information on how AAU is handling the coronavirus situation at aau.dk/coronavirus