“The latest recommendations issued by the Public Health Agency of Sweden which came into effect on December 8 do not affect our activities. We can carry on in the same way during the rest of the semester,” says Maria Strand, head of the Division of Educational Support and chair of the University’s coordination committee for pandemic-related measures. “However, we should avoid large gatherings and for this reason we will not arrange a Lucia celebration this year.”
In a meeting between the Public Health Agency of Sweden (FHM) and The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions (SUHF), it became clear that FHM recommends all higher education institutions to carry on with their core activities in the same manner for the time being.
Staff at the University should work from home when that is possible.
“This means that a few more members of staff can work from home compared to the situation in October when many returned to campus,” Maria Strand says. “But no service disks will be closed; they should remain staffed. Opening hours will not be reduced either. Teaching activities should be carried out on campus as planned, which means that staff should be on campus when needed.
Higher education institutions should continue to be restrictive concerning public lectures and large gatherings. University of Gävle has refrained from arranging meetings, conferences, and fairs with external participants during the autumn semester and will continue to do so.
The new recommendations will not affect any written examinations during the rest of the semester.
“Written examinations are not public gatherings, and examinations are carried out as safely as possible,” Maria Strand says. “For each exam, we know how many students who are registered. We then book a room with adequate ventilation that is suitable for the number of students. We also provide hand sanitizers and face masks. Moreover, desks are placed a safe distance from each other.”
All general recommendations issued to tackle the pandemic are still valid:
- Employers should make it easy for their employees to get vaccinated and inform them of the importance of staying at home if they have symptoms.
- We should keep a safe distance from each other indoors, for example in meetings and in coffee rooms. And we should avoid large gatherings.
- We should stay at home and get tested if we have symptoms of COVID-19.
- Unvaccinated people should avoid contact with people in risk groups and with older adults.
No decisions have yet been made about activities during the spring semester at University of Gävle. However, all those who are now planning teaching and examinations during study period 3 should assume that the situation will be roughly the same as it is now at the beginning of the next semester.
“We are monitoring developments closely day by day and we are also in contact with the region's infection control services,” says Maria Strand. “Our working plan for study period 3 is that campus-based courses and modules will be carried out on campus.”
“The new recommendations from the Public Health Agency mean that it is up to all of us to do everything we can to avoid an increase in the spread of infection. Hopefully, the upcoming holidays of Christmas and New Year will not make us have to go back to the way things were during the pandemic next semester.”