Physical lectures and new face masks: a bit of getting used to

| Jelle Posthuma

Despite the relaxation of the corona rules, many lectures at the UT remain online, as time is needed to adjust the education. In the meantime, the new face mask rules are also causing questions among staff and students.

The new corona rules require time to adjust, says UT spokesperson Laurens van der Velde. Especially when it comes to the physical lectures. 'After last Friday's press conference we did not expect teachers to give physical lectures again on Monday morning. That was also stated in the update sent to staff and students: take your time.'

Van der Velde cannot say which part of the lectures will be physical again. 'That differs per study programme. They determine how they organise education.' According to Van der Velde, the fact that the current quartile at the UT lasts only two weeks also plays a role. 'The timetables have already been made. It must be worth the trouble to switch back to physical education for these few weeks.'

During the press conference, explicit reference was made to young people experiencing difficulties because of all the restrictions. The government hopes that the relaxations in higher education will give this group more breathing space. The UT also wants students to have as much physical education as possible, says Van der Velde. 'This is very important from a well-being perspective, both for staff and students. But we are not putting any extra pressure to organise as much physical education as possible, because we believe there is already sufficient motivation within the study programmes.'

Medical masks 

In addition to the relaxation for higher education, Prime Minister Mark Rutte and the new Minister of Health Ernst Kuipers also announced new face mask rules. In short, UT staff and students must wear type-II mouth masks (almost) everywhere. According to Van der Velde, this led to some confusion among staff and students. Monday evening the UT therefore sent an e-mail with additional information. 'Also because we had more information after the weekend.'

Wear the mouth mask always and everywhere, is the general rule. But there are exceptions, Van der Velde knows. 'In some situations we ourselves feel that it is a bit silly to wear a face mask. In an otherwise empty office, the mask has no added value for employees. Students also wondered whether they should keep the mask on during an exam lasting several hours. For some. it feels like a hindrance and it can negatively influence the outcome of the exam. In such a case, the mask may be removed temporarily.'

At the service desks, type-II masks are temporarily available this week. 'The UT has stocked up on them just before the press conference, so that staff and students can easily comply with the regulation. But I would say: don't count on there always being masks available at the counter. They are available as long as the stock lasts.'

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