On Thursday evening, Belgium’s National Security Council announced new guidelines to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. The National Security Council confirms the policy that the universities developed: we will remain open but will move all teaching online or switch to remote teaching. Our approach is very different from that of schools.
The distinction that we made as a general rule between groups of less or more than 50 students can no longer be sustained, however. As of Monday, we will therefore be switching to the new method of remote learning for all teaching. Lecturers will develop replacement assignments for practicals, where possible. Derogation to these rules are only allowed for small groups, depending on very specific circumstances and only if it is possible to maintain a sufficiently large distance between all the people present. The Deans have final authority when it comes to implementing the university’s arrangements in their respective faculties.
Since Wednesday, the faculties have been working day and night to implement this transition. This is a complex operation, that requires creativity and that can only be gradually implemented. We ask that students check blackboard continually for the latest updates and information. Other than that, the situation is no different since the communications of Wednesday 11 March.
I invite everyone to work, study, and relax at home, as much as possible. This is also the best way to relieve the pressure on public transport during this risky period.
Employees who cannot work at home should avoid public transport during the rush hour. Being on campus is not a problem as long as you maintain a safe distance and follow basic hygiene rules.
The libraries will remain open but I call on all students who have all they need to work at home to effectively work at home. The library is reserved for staff and for students of the University of Antwerp who effectively need it (papers, research…) and for all students who do not have the required study facilities at home. I call on you all to act responsibly. Please do not use the library unnecessarily.
The komidas (student restaurants) will be closed but we will transform them into shops that sell sandwiches, that cannot be consumed onsite, however.
Finally, the basic hygiene rules continue to apply.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly
- No physical greetings (shaking hands, kissing…)
- Social distancing
- Remote contact only with people who are sick or at risk groups (the elderly)
- Stay home if you are sick or have a cold