Two weeks before lectures begin: Comenius University prepares for the winter semester
Bratislava, September 7, 2020: In two weeks most of Comenius University students will return to their academic obligations; faculties of medicine start one week earlier. The opening of the semester comes at a time when the number of new COVID-19 cases is rising sharply. The University pays great attention to the epidemiological situation and is prepared to act with great urgency and flexibility throughout the semester, in order to protect the health of its students, employees and their relatives.
By: CU Public Relations Office
AN OVERVIEW OF MEASURES TAKEN AND PLANNED BY THE UNIVERSITY.
Tuition during the winter semester
The Slovak Higher Education Act gives faculties the option of using either distance teaching or a combined teaching method to carry out education activities whose nature allows it. The rector and the University's leaders recommend that faculties use on-site tuition to familiarize first-year students in lower-degree full-time enrolments, however some faculties have still opted for distance teaching due to the sheer number of their first-year students.
Our University offers more than 800 study programmes and there are significant differences to the preparation of trainers, philosophers, pharmacists or lawyers. Most faculties have already given their students clear information on how tuition will be organized. Some faculties decided to teach fully on-line mode while others will attempt to maintain on-site lectures for first-year students; yet others will teach some subjects on-site and some on-line. Smaller faculties are planning to teach most of their curriculum on-site. These measures, naturally, arise from the situation as it was in August/September and we request our students to monitor all communication channels of their departments, institutes or faculties very closely. Changing situation may lead to further changes in the organization of study. Any tuition-related inquiries should be directed to the study advisors at the students' faculties.
Furthermore, due to the situation and the need to protect senior citizens the leadership of the University decided not to open the University of the Third Age at the Center for Continuing Education this year.
At the moment, due to the epidemiological situation in Bratislava's District 1, and with a view on public health, the University plans to forego the academic year opening celebration, graduation ceremonies and other academic ceremonies in the CU Auditorium at Šafárikovo námestie, and neither recommends to organise public events or other mass gathering events in the University's premises.
In all indoor areas of the CU including the dormitories it is obligatory to wear face masks, use the hand sanitizer available at entrances and to maintain a distance of at least 2 metres/6 feet (the mask-distance-hands principle). For on-site lectures we recommend to reduce the number of students in the group, ventilate the room intensively and insert longer breaks between lectures. Infographic panels with detailed instructions have been placed in all premises.
Stricter rules have been introduced at dormitories as well: face masks covering both the mouth and the nose must be worn while in the communal areas. Visits will not be permitted during the winter semester and the capacity in the canteens run by the University is restricted (1 person per 15 m²/160 sq.ft). We particularly request the students to wear face masks in lifts which are considered particularly high-risk areas.
Students who test positively for COVID-19 will be accommodated, if possible, in an isolation room and all their roommates (including other rooms in a unit) will need to be isolated in the room/accommodation unit for the necessary period as required by the Slovak Public Health Authority (PHA). The dormitory will coordinate its further steps with the Permanent Crisis Staff of the University and the PHA.
Some students are considering to cancel their accommodation contracts due to the availability of on-line tuition. We will assist them by allowing the contracts to be terminated without having to find a replacement tenant. Take note, however, that the situation may change during the year; if it improves on-site tuition becomes more frequent, if it becomes worse, emphasis will be on on-line teaching. The trend is impossible to predict at the moment and we all need to show a certain level of flexibility. The University leadership realises that some students have obtained a dormitory room but will not be needing it. We intend to ascertain the number of such students and will be dealing with the issue accordingly. It needs to be noted, though, that accommodation in the student homes is a social service provided at cost-price so most dormitories are unable to offer any discounts on rent.
The Rector established two crisis management bodies - a larger Crisis Staff of the CU which takes decisions in major issues and adopts university-wide measures, and a smaller Permanent Crisis Staff which deals with day-to-day matters.
We urge the students to monitor the situation frequently. We are also asking the students to contact us without delay if they test positive for COVID-19 or have a suspicion they may have COVID-19 so we can act immediately and take swift measures.
IMPORTANT CONTACTS FOR STUDENTS:
- Current information about the crisis:
https://korona.gov.sk/ (includes a form in which you can request a test)
- Call centres:
- Slovak Public Health Authority +421 917 222 682
- National Health Information Center 02/32 35 30 307
- If you already suffer from a health problem:
- call your general practitioner
- call 155 in case of a medical emergency
- Comenius University Infocentre:
- infocentrumuniba.sk, +421 2 9010 9986 (workdays 8:00 – 16:00).