Summer semester opens today at faculties of medicine - remotely and with no exceptions

Bratislava, 8 February 2021: Those medical students who were to begin their practical preparation for final exams in hospitals today will stay at home Clinical jobs are only available to those who have contracts with hospitals.

10. 02. 2021 16.58 hod.
By: External Relations Office CU

Since 8 February 2021, Slovakia has been applying the COVID “automat” alert system which assigns one of several alert levels to all Slovak districts. Bratislava and Martin, the two towns where medical faculties of the largest Slovak university are located, are currently on the third alert level. According to the government resolution which restricts the freedoms of movement and of residence by a curfew, tuition can only take place remotely and accommodation in student dormitories is prohibited.

Comenius University Bratislava drew attention to the situation a week ago - at the time the Slovak government was deliberating the introduction of the COVID ‘automat’ alert system. On 2 February the Rector of Comenius University wrote a request addressed to the Chief Public Health Officer, the Minister of Health Care, Minister of Education and the Minister of Interior - who chairs the Central Crisis Staff - to permit on-site teaching at universities on a limited (exceptional) basis. The university has not received an answer yet and the exceptions listed in the current government resolution do not permit any on-site teaching.

Next week, on 15 February 2021, summer semester opens at the remaining faculties of Comenius University. At the request of faculty deans the rector Marek Števček granted an exemption to the students in some years and study programmes to be able to study on-site and to return to their dormitories. As a result, students of medicine, pharmacy or natural sciences were to return to laboratories and clinics.

At the moment, however, it is not possible to implement the rector's exemptions and the semester will begin remotely for all students. The exemption would apply to about 1660 students, half of whom would also need dormitory accommodation. Experts on epidemiology were of the opinion that such numbers would not pose undue threat to the operation of dormitories.

“It is important for the functioning of our society that attention is not paid exclusively to primary and secondary schools, but also to universities. Unless the Slovak government approves the exemption we requested, students cannot return to universities. They face the risk of prolonged study terms and there would be additional negative social impacts,” explains Comenius University Rector Marek Števček. “Future physicians, pharmacists or virologists should be preparing for their profession at full speed because their professions are already in short supply.”

Two weeks ago, Comenius University successfully set up its own mobile testing point which already provided two rounds of tests to university staff and PhD students. The testing point was slated to be used for testing dormitory guests as well. Comenius University is prepared for limited on-site teaching and it developed the necessary internal regulations and safety instructions.

During the ongoing pandemic, we need many capable doctors, pharmacists and virologists. These professionals should study in person so they can later help us cope with the difficult social situation and fight COVID-19. The University therefore calls on the authorities to respond to our request.

Letter of the Rector to the Chief Public Health Officer of the Slovak Republic