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Letter from the Presidium: Mastering the challenges of the semester together

Dear students,

Since the start of the semester, we have been experiencing what is probably the most extraordinary semester ever at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. It started in lockdown, which had the goal to prevent further COVID-19 infections among students and employees of the university and in the city. With great discipline we have all contributed to keep the number of sick people in Jena low.

Teaching in attendance remains the exception

On Monday, May 4, 2020 the lectures will start. During the last weeks our teachers have spent a lot of time and effort to rework their lectures digitally or in elaborate scripts. As of Monday, attendance will only take place where digital formats are not possible, for example during selected lab practicals or excursions. For reciprocal protection, all face-to-face events are held under strict hygiene conditions, which are intended to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

The first facilities are also opening under strict conditions. For example, the mensa at Ernst-Abbe-Platz is open from Monday from 11 am to 2 pm and also offers take-away food (more on that here). At the ThULB, the contactless return of media is again possible. Online lending and a partial opening for the second week of May are currently being prepared.

Despite this limited opening, we ask you to learn from home whenever possible and, in your personal behaviour, take into account that great efforts are still needed to contain the virus. Compliance with the rules of hygiene, especially frequent hand washing, keeping a distance of 1.5 metres and wearing a mouth and nose protector even in the buildings of the university are requirements of the city of Jena, which serve our protection.

We stand up for your interests

Many of you would like to finally begin or continue their studies after the postponed start of the semester. Others wonder how they can study at all or successfully with the difficulties caused by Corona. We are aware of the challenges that parents or students from risk groups in particular are facing. We are in regular exchange with representatives of the students in order to consider your perspectives. You can rest assured that we will make full use of our possibilities to support you and will also stand up for your interests at higher decision-making levels. For example, we are lobbying the state of Thuringia to create childcare for student mothers and fathers.

This semester will not be a normal semester. However, it does not have to be a lost semester if lecturers and students stand together in one line and consider the challenges facing each other. We appeal to both sides to support each other and make the best of this semester. Our discussions with many teachers and students give us confidence that we will succeed.

Corona Emergency Fund and laptop donations

Together with the "Friends and Patrons of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena", we were the first university in Germany to set up a Corona Emergency Fund. Already more than 220 students could be helped quickly and unbureaucratically thanks to a donation of over 130,000 euros. The great solidarity that friends, alumni, teachers, employees, companies and citizens of Jena demonstrate here proves that you are valued as an important part of society. We are continuing to collect donations – even though there is now an additional movement at the federal level, with interest-free KfW loans for students and non-repayable funds from an emergency fund of the student unions. You can find further information here.

With a new campaign we would like to help those who have neither a laptop nor a tablet with which they can study well from home during the digital semester. If you need a computer, please send a short explanation by e-mail to cdo@uni-jena.de.

For a semester full of understanding and respect for each other

This crisis affects all parts of the university. The challenges are complex. But we can meet them with creative and flexible solutions. This also means that faculties, institutes and individual lecturers can find individual solutions. As executive board of the University, we provide a framework to ensure that you are not disadvantaged if you cannot provide all services due to Corona. If you should encounter difficulties that cannot be solved by the people who teach, examine or supervise you or by your student advisory service or examination board, please contact studium@uni-jena.de.

Keep checking the FAQs regularly, which are updated daily and always take into account new city, state and federal regulations as quickly as possible.

It will be an exceptional semester – let us all contribute to making it a semester full of understanding and respect for each other. Only together can we meet the challenges of this time.

We wish you a relaxing weekend, lots of strength and health.

With kind regards

Prof. Dr Walter Rosenthal
President of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena

Prof. Dr. Iris Winkler
Vice-President for Learning and Teaching