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Focus on coronavirus at semester start

The risk of an outbreak is high at the start of the semester. Therefore, infection control at UiA becomes especially important when students and staff return to campus after the Christmas holidays. We have to prevent the spread of Covid-19 infection.

Universitetet i Agder - Campus Grimstad (øverst) og Campus Kristiansand.

University of Agder - Campus Grimstad (top) and Campus Kristiansand

See below for more information on infection control measures, teaching and exams in the spring semester.

The general infection prevention measures from the autumn semester will continue at UiA, with some adjustments in the spring semester. See Information and guidelines about the coronavirus (will be updated). 

“We must constantly take into account that the situation can change quickly, and we must be prepared to adapt our measures at short notice”, Rector Sunniva Whittaker and University Director Seunn Smith-Tønnessen say.

During the autumn semester, students and staff managed to limit the number of coronavirus cases through joint efforts. The reward was that we were able to avoid large shutdowns. Now we must continue to be vigilant.

Increased risk of transmission at the start of the semester

Many students and staff will travel or receive visitors from other parts of the country during the Christmas holidays. Those who stay at home may meet people they have not met in a long time. Mobility increases the risk of transmission.

To stay ahead of any future outbreak, some new measures will be introduced to reduce the risk:

  • Mobile test centre for employees and students. There will be test opportunities at both campuses, the planning is ongoing.
  • QR codes in classrooms to trace close contacts
  • Volunteers welcoming and assisting students at semester start (trivselsvakt)
  • Do not hang around on campus during the first two to three weeks after the holiday. Students are kindly asked to leave campus after lectures during the first two weeks, as they may be unsuspecting carriers of the virus after the holiday. If many people gather in common areas, like Vilhelm Krags hall/Gata or in the canteens, transmission risk increases. Remember to maintain the one-metre distance when doing teamwork in group rooms and keep other infection control guidelines in mind.

The mobile test centre is not ready yet and is only planned for Campus Kristiansand. The test centre will be run by Kristiansand municipality in collaboration with UiA and will only test employees and students, not people who are not connected to the campus. In Grimstad the municipality is planning for another solution for Campus Grimstad - but there will be test-opportunities for students and employees at both campuses.

See the advice from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health on safe ways to celebrate Christmas: (In Norwegian only)

QR codes provide better contact tracing

QR codes for contact tracing will be pasted on each seat inside the classrooms, following the same pattern as the green stickers marking approved workplaces. You use your phone’s camera to register. The procedure will be entered here and on this website when ready. For now, some technical work remains to make QR registration as easy as possible:

When each workplace has its own QR code:

  • Tracing of close contacts of a possible case will be much easier.
  • Only those who were in close contact with the possible case will be quarantined and not the whole cohort.
  • It is especially important that everyone scans the QR code as they sit down, and scan again if they move around.

Because of the QR codes, chairs and/or desks in the classrooms cannot be moved.

LAST AUTUMN: Gunn Kristine (to the left) and Marie were in a hurry but stopped anyway to use hand sanitiser at the main entrance at Campus Kristiansand. Behind them are the "trivselsvakter" Amna Drace (to the left) and Elin Gauslaa ready to give out refillable pocket-sized hand sanitiser bottles. (Stock photo)

LAST AUTUMN: Gunn Kristine (to the left) and Marie were in a hurry but stopped anyway to use hand sanitiser at the main entrance at Campus Kristiansand. Behind them are the "trivselsvakter" Amna Drace (to the left) and Elin Gauslaa ready to give out refillable pocket-sized hand sanitiser bottles. (Stock photo)

Pandemic measures continue 

In November, several measures were implemented to reduce the risk of transmission. The background was that there was a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.

Employees can work from home: Continued focus on continuity and use of home office where appropriate. Each faculty/department must assess the scope and needs.

Online meetings: The main rule is that meetings must be held digitally.

A maximum number of participants: Meetings with more than 10 people or with participants from different units must be conducted digitally. Exceptions must be approved by the faculty/department director

Professional and social events with more than 20 participants, or which gather participants from different units must be conducted online, postponed or cancelled.

Business trips: Only strictly necessary business travel can be undertaken.

Travel between campuses must be limited as much as possible.

Events: Private events are not allowed at UiA. The measure was previously intended to be permitted. This has been reassessed, and private events will now only be allowed when the current restrictions for students and staff can be reversed.

Teaching and exams next spring

Postponed exams: Postponed exams will be held in February-March. All postponed exams will be held with the same form of assessment as the ordinary exam in the autumn semester.

This means that tests that were carried out with physical attendance this autumn will be carried out with physical attendance at a postponed test. Tests that were changed to online exams in November will also be home exams in the event of a postponed exam.

Ordinary exams in the spring semester: Predictability regarding exams is important to both students and course teachers. Therefore, no written supervised examinations (school exams) will be held in the 2021 spring semester.

The decision is final. It will not be possible to change to a written examination on campus even if the infection situation should improve before the examination period in May 2021.

Announcements about the examination form for each individual subject will be posted in Studentweb when the information is ready.

Exceptions:

  • Testing of practical skills, where physical attendance is necessary, can be carried out if justifiable in terms of infection control.
  • Oral examinations can be held with physical attendance if justifiable in terms of the transmission situation. Alternatively, oral exams can be conducted online.
  • In very special cases, exceptions can be made from the rule of no written examinations on campus. The threshold for granting an exemption will be high.

Teaching at semester start

Health and safety is our top priority at UiA. The goal is for our students to have a normal study progression. To achieve this, it is important that everyone follows the steps and measures put into place to prevent spreading the virus.

  • Much of the teaching will take place online.
  • Teaching on campus will often be offered online.
  • If you are unable to attend teaching that is not offered online, contact your subject teacher to set up an online option for you.
  • In case of physical attendance: Remember to scan the QR code (see information above)

How to stay safe

In order to reduce the risk of transmission on campus at semester start, when many people have had close contact with people from other regions, it is important that everyone adheres to the general infection control guidelines:

  • Stay at home if you are ill or develop respiratory symptoms
  • Wash your hands or sanitise them frequently
  • Social distancing is important – maintain at least a one-metre distance
  • Limit the number of close contacts you have as best you can. And keep track of the people you have been in contact with for more than 15 minutes within two metres of each other.