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Letter from the President: Standing Together in Crisis

Dear staff and faculty members,

we live in troubled times. Whether television, radio, newspapers or social media - everything revolves around the coronavirus. Almost every day, a new decree from the state of Thuringia or city of Jena with the aim of containing the spread of the virus reaches the university's crisis response committee. Our reports are thus often quickly outdated.

Social Distancing as an imperative of the hour

Social Distancing – maintaining distance – has become the imperative of reason in these times. This also has massive effects on our working culture. We have ordered the adherence to measures recommended by the Federal Government and told everyone who can work from home to do so. Telephone numbers have been rerouted and consultation hours are being held at home by phone or in chat rooms during working hours. Entire teams now join video or telephone conference calls for their meetings. Faculty members are preparing to teach online. Many of us look after their children or relatives and face the challenge of continuing to work from home at the same time. Some of you are home alone and may miss social contacts and conversations. If you have not already done so, please contact your supervisors and inform them where and how you can be reached.

Hygiene rules for on-site work

Importantly, there are numerous employees who continue to be indispensable on site every day because they sort our mail, pay our salaries, process sensitive files, protect our buildings, take care of animals, look after our servers or large-scale equipment, conduct long-term research or continue our construction projects. In doing so they protect us from secondary risks or potential damage that could take on immense proportions. These key staff members make a decisive contribution to our community and their safety is of utmost importance. To ensure this, we have issued the attached hygiene rules for your information. As a doctor, I know how effective hygiene is in defending against disease. Please adhere strictly to the rules to protect yourself and others.

Let us help our University Hospital

Our doctors, nursing staff and many other spirited individuals who serve our health in the background at the University Hospital are preparing for emergency procedures to help us when we most need it. Let me remind you once again that over 80 percent of the people infected with the coronavirus have no or only mild symptoms. However, they continue to carry the virus and can spread it to people who may be at greater risk than they are. We must therefore do everything in our power to ensure we don’t overwhelm our medical institutions by reducing the number of people that fall ill at the same time. This is the only way we can maintain good medical care.

Wave of solidarity

Containing the corona pandemic is now a huge challenge for all of us. One thing is encouraging: despite social distancing, we are experiencing a great wave of solidarity. Younger people are staying at home to protect the older generation, neighbours go shopping for each other, book readings and concerts take place free of charge on the internet.

I would like to invite you to one of these concerts this evening, Sunday, 22 March 2020. The Psycho-Choir of the University of Jena will give an “almost live” concert via youtube at 7 pm today, which you can follow here: https://www.youtube.com/user/PsychoChorJena.
These online concerts will take place every Sunday for the time being.

Further online event tips can be found under the questions and answers section of the university's homepage, on Facebook, instagram, twitter and as of yesterday also on this blog. Please also check these regularly for the latest developments.

Under the keywords #TeamJena #ZusammenAllein the FF USV Jena collates relief actions on its Facebook page. We support this initiative and are happy to join this call for communal assistance. We encourage you to contribute, if it is possible for you to do so. You can also send suggestions and information about volunteer work to praesidium@uni-jena.de

Stay in contact with us by phone and mail and above all: stay healthy!

Yours, Walter Rosenthal

President of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena
Head of Crisis Response Team