Studying during corona: HU starts campaign 'Study safely together'

How do you create a safe study and work environment in the densely populated Utrecht Science Park for 38,000 students and 3,600 teachers and employees during corona? And how do you organize physical education and online education in such a way that as many students as possible can meet each other on campus? How do you use public transport, the available space in the buildings and how do you ensure that everyone keeps 1.5 meter distance from each other? With the 'study safely together’ campaign, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences starts an integrated plan in which these questions are answered.

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The campaign starts on Monday, October 5. From Monday 5 October, the urgent advice to wear a mouth mask in the public indoor areas of the HU will also apply.

The 'study safely together' campaign consists of several components: behavioral communication, cooperation with student organizations, measures and facilities aimed at health and safety and the optimal use of space in public transport and the buildings for educational activities. “The aim of this campaign is to provide physical education to as many students as possible in a safe way,” says Jan Bogerd, president of the Executive Board. "Seeing each other, studying together, attending practical training together - of course according to the guidelines - is important for the bonding of students with each other and with the study program, and thus for student welfare."

Behavioral communication as a basis

The measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are primarily aimed at behavior. Keeping a distance of 1.5 meters, washing hands, staying at home in case of complaints, getting tested and cooperating in contact research; these are effective measures if everyone observes them.

In the campaign, the HU uses not only visual behavior-influencing communication such as information screens, (floor) stickers, lines and posters. The HU will also deploy a number of coaches who approach students and employees in a friendly and clear manner if they are sitting or standing too close to each other. Including the message to not only to observe the measures at the HU, but also in their own social environment. In support of this appeal, the HU uses social media to draw the members of the HU community to the attention of the guidelines and the importance of adhering to them in a fun but urgent way. With the hashtag #samenveiligstuderen (study safely together) the campaign is supported with videos, polls and quizzes.

Collaboration with student organisations

The Utrecht student organizations have jointly designed the action plan ‘Students together against COVID-19’. The HU supports these organizations in the implementation of the action plan. The HU also supports the national government's campaign 'That's what I do it for', aimed at young people.

Health and safety

Following the cabinet's urgent advice to wear face masks in public indoor areas, students, teachers and service staff are strongly advised to use a face mask in all public indoor areas (such as corridors, restaurants, open spaces and sanitary facilities) and when moving to and from rooms (for example when entering or leaving a room). For all other areas (classrooms, laboratories, library, work areas) everyone is free to wear a mouth mask or not, unless this is required on the basis of specific regulations, such as in the practice rooms for health care training courses, laboratories and the HU Clinics.

In addition, the HU is investigating the possibility of setting up a corona testing facility at the USP for students and employees. For the time being, both a PCR and a rapid test facility are being considered. If there is a rapid test facility, it will be possible to immediately get a corona test result. With a negative result, it would not be necessary to go into home quarantine for ten days.

Optimal use of space

Since the restart of education in September, the numbers on the use of public transport and space at the HU show that the available capacity can be better utilized. In order to make full use of the capacity, the educational activities at the HU will be spread out more throughout the day. This means that more students can come to HU for education, testing and practical lessons.

Intensifying student activities on campus also contributes to improving student well-being, which has declined in recent months. The HU provides support to students through study career counselors, student psychologists and the Student Support Center. There are also 150 study places available on campus, 19 are available at HU Amersfoort. For employees who cannot work from home due to circumstances, workplaces are available in consultation with the manager.

Together

With the ‘Study safely together' campaign, the HU connects various factors that are important to the HU community of students, teachers, researchers and staff of the services. The campaign brings together influencing behavior, capacity optimization, safety and cooperation with student organizations. With the aim of organizing as much physical education as possible in a safe environment, where students can meet and study together. An environment in which teachers can provide physical (practical) education, in addition to distance learning.

“We will put this campaign into practice together,” says Jan Bogerd. “The well-being of our students and our staff comes first, within the constraints imposed by the cabinet measures and RIVM guidelines. As HU community, we are now even more closely linked; with our behavior, our professionalism, flexibility and commitment. Together we face the challenge of offering our students the best education in this corona era as well. With ‘study safely together’ we have a good answer to this challenge."

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