Dear students, staff and faculty of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena,
the Thuringian Ministry of Education today announced mostly digital teaching in Thuringian schools from 5 to 14 January 2022 (schools will be closed on 3 and 4 January 2022). This affects many parents among the employees, teachers and students and the situation again requires us to be mutually considerate and supportive.
From 3 January to 14 January, therefore, all classroom teaching will be switched to digital formats, with the aim of returning to cautious and responsible face-to-face classes from 17 January, as in December, where teachers and students mutually decide to do so. The only exceptions to the conversion to digital formats are labs and practical exercises, supervision with a medical indication as well as examinations and doctoral defenses, which must necessarily be conducted in presence. Seminars with a maximum number of participants of 15 can be converted back to presence as early as 10 January if presence is didactically necessary, lecturers and students agree on the presence format together beforehand and, in addition, distance can be kept from the requirements in the infection control concept.
Superiors are asked to enable and support the mobile working of their co-workers wherever possible and necessary due to childcare.
It feels a bit like dejá vu that we are once again facing an uncertain pandemic situation in January beyond Christmas and the turn of the year. However, there is one essential difference: over 90% of students and teachers are vaccinated and the majority are already on their third protective vaccination or have an appointment for it. The vaccination does not protect us for sure from contracting the Omikron variant. However, it does protect us in large numbers from a severe course. The vaccination centre, which we run together with the city in the campus foyer, is therefore also open on Christmas Eve and between the years. Anyone who wants to get boostered there can do so without an appointment as early as three months after the second vaccination. You can find the exact opening hours on the websites of the University and the City of Jena. The vaccination gives us hope that we will withstand the 5th wave announced for January in relatively unscathed condition. Nevertheless, increased quarantine is to be expected, which will limit us in the first months of the new year.
The last two years have taken a lot out of all of us. No matter whether you have studied under pandemic conditions, have just started your studies or have given everything as teachers and employees to ensure that studies and research were successful under safe conditions. I wish you that you can find peace over the next few days and recharge your batteries for the new year. And if you are among those who are also working or studying over the holidays, I wish you every success in doing so.
At the beginning of January, the Executive Board will reassess the situation and inform you of any changes.
Despite the restrictions caused by the pandemic, I wish you all happy and peaceful holidays and a good start to the new year.
Prof. Dr Walter Rosenthal
President of the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena