A better COVID-19 plan for the UT

| Michaela Nesvarova

The University Council (UC) rejected the UT’s plan for measures in various COVID-19 scenarios. The Council felt that the presented approach was not sufficiently detailed and didn’t offer effective university-wide rules. ‘We need to think of uniformity, not just leave it up to the programmes.’

The draft document ‘COVID-19 – Preparation for various scenarios’ was extensively discussed during the UC meeting in Horst today. The plan provides a description of the measures that the UT should take in five different COVID-19 scenarios. These range from a ‘green’ scenario, in which nearly no measures are needed, all the way to a strict ‘black’ scenario involving a lockdown.

Uncertainties

The Council struggled to give consent to the presented plan. ‘The underlaying question is: are these scenarios sufficient for us to be properly prepared?’ said UReka member Milan Gomes. ‘In our honest opinion, they are not. There are still a lot uncertainties.’

Council member Hanneke Becht stressed the importance of providing a more detailed strategy: ‘At this stage, you have time to think of all the scenarios. If we are in the crisis situation, there will be panic and our headspace will be different. That is why we should elaborate on the scenarios now.’

Uniform solution

On top of wanting more elaborate plans, the UC stressed the importance of a uniform solution valid for the whole university. ‘Programmes themselves now have to think of what they can offer,’ responded rector Tom Veldkamp. ‘Different programmes have different solutions. We have to accommodate some differences.’

‘We need more than that,’ disagreed Jaime de Bruin from UReka. ‘If you got COVID-19, you have to stay home. That is a national rule. We need a clear policy. If one programme says: if you cough, you cannot come, but others say otherwise, it is too confusing. It’s not fair if a student in one programme has all kinds of possibilities, while others just have to stay home. That is why we need a university-wide rule.’

Common ground

In order to find an acceptable solution, UT President Vinod Subramaniam suggested to work together directly with the UC. ‘Could we get a couple of members from the Council to sit together and think about what we can agree upon? We are trying to find the common ground. We can also ask specific programmes about their scenarios and search for similarities. I would really like to have active participation from the Council to make sure that we have the right plans. If we can do that, we can make a significant step forward.’

As a result, the University Council agreed to revise the COVID-19 plan together with the Executive Board. ‘I like the idea to sit together, but that means going back to the drawing board rather than finding peace,’ stated Jaime de Bruin. ‘We think the plan now is not worked out enough.’

‘It’s mostly about responsibility,’ added UC chairman Herbert Wormeester. ‘We were overjoyed with the government’s decision to make our own plans in order to keep education open. With that comes a great responsibility to ensure that our community, students and staff, feel comfortable with what we ask them to do.’