DTU maj 2020. Foto: Bax Lindhardt.

DTU carefully reopening for more staff and students

University Director, Executive Vice President Claus Nielsen provides a status on the partial reopening of DTU. The second phase includes, among other things, oral exams, which require physical attendance.

DTU’s premises have been closed since 12 March. Staff and students were sent home, from where they have continued to work and study. Very few areas of research or critical functions have been excluded – only those that relate directly to coronavirus and COVID-19.

In connection with the first round of partially reopening the universities at the end of April, the green light was given to increase the number of research projects that could be carried out at DTU. During this initial phase, only a small number of researchers were granted access to the laboratory facilities.

Careful reopening

From Monday, 18 May, the second phase of the reopening made it possible to also hold lessons and exams with physical attendance. However, guidelines issued by the authorities state how many students, teachers, and staff can be present at the same time.

Students due to sit an exam, for example, have been instructed to show up no earlier than 30 minutes before the exam, and they must leave the campus immediately afterwards.

It is clear that, even though DTU is now in the process of being reopened, it will take a long time, with every step being carefully considered, says University Director Claus Nielsen:

“Many of the oral exams, and all the written ones, will therefore still take place online, just as a lot of employees are continuing to work from home,” he says.

“This is because we are having to exercise extreme caution in reopening the University. All those covered by the guidelines will have noticed how extensive the documentation is that we require. We are doing this to ensure that DTU fully complies with the guidelines set out by the authorities as well as the agreements made with the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science under the auspices of Universities Denmark.”

Guidelines designed to prevent infection

Before staff and students arrive on campus, arrangements have been made to ensure extra cleaning and that the authorities’ requirements regarding distancing and hygiene, for example, can be observed. At the same time, everyone who visits the campus must comply with a wide range of additional requirements while they are at DTU to avoid the risk of infection.

This includes, among other things, assuming more responsibility for cleaning your own office. Employees who have been given the opportunity to return to work can therefore order a bag which contains a cleaning agent for their desk and keyboard as well as a personalized bottle of hand sanitizer – this offer will also be made during the next stages of reopening.

“We want our employees and students to feel safe when spending time at DTU. This is why we are doing what we can now, when there are only a few people on campus, to provide information on how to behave when you return. At the same time, it will enable us to see where it might be necessary to adjust the guidelines,” says Claus Nielsen.

Next round

During the third phase of the reopening, from 8 June research activities requiring physical attendance will continue to be opened up, while campuses will also be generally reopened for increased attendance by staff.

It is too early to say exactly how this will be implemented at DTU, but the authorities are expected to again publish general guidelines on how many people can be in one place at any given time and how this should be documented. As part of the process, the guidelines may be modified, and it will be necessary to take account of this.

“Personally, I’m very much looking forward to DTU being able to return to some kind of normality, where we can all meet again. The physical environment you return to will be very similar to that which you left back in March, yet a lot has obviously changed. In particular, we will have to mix with each other in a new way for a long time to come in order to look after each other and our families,” says Claus Nielsen, and adds:

“Although the date for the complete reopening of DTU is still unknown, we are in the process ensuring it can take place in a way that makes the safety of our staff and students the top priority, and so that after the summer holidays we can welcome all the new students to a University which has done everything necessary to make their start as positive an experience as possible.”