The University of Oulu has updated its guidelines regarding the COVID-19 virus on the 12th of March. Earlier the university informed students and staff that travelling should be limited and people returning from areas with corona should work from home. Yesterday the university released a statement underlining the importance of distance between people in order to stop corona from spreading at the university. In practise this means working remotely for both for students and teachers.
Behind the university’s decisions lie the cases of corona in university students in Oulu. 17 new cases were found in University of Oulu students on the 12th of March. The cases are connected to ski resorts in Austria. The students exposed to the diagnosed patients have been quarantined on the 13th of March.
Also affecting the university’s decision is that The Finnish government decided on measures against corona yesterday, on the 12th of March. The Government recommended that all gatherings of over 500 people be cancelled until the end of May. Travelling and organising other events should also be considered carefully.
As a result of the limitations, the university has for example moved this spring’s Doctoral Conferment Ceremony to Autumn 2020.
Teaching to happen online, laptops to teachers
The University of Oulu recommends increased remote work and says they will increase online teaching. People with flu-like symptoms can not participate in classes, exams or come to campuses.
The university’s Chief Information Officer Kari Keinänen says that the university is preparing to offer all teachers a laptop to guarantee education.
“We ordered 209 laptops: everything the supplier had in storage. We aim to secure computers for teachers if they were to need them to teach online”, Keinänen told the Student Magazine on the 13th of March.
The CIO says they estimate around 300 teachers might need a computer. If the new laptops will not be enough, the university’s laptop vendors will be employed for use in teaching.
“The laptop vendor computers are available for students to use and will continue to be as long as there are computers. They currently hold 140 laptops that are in circulation as usual.”
To guarantee smooth teaching, the university is arranging training for the teaching staff, Keinänen says.
“We are going to have webinars next week where we aim to train teachers to use online teaching tools. We are also reforming the IT support services so we can continue to help teachers as they work remotely.”
Students who don’t have their own computer for remote work have also been taken into account. The Vice Rector for Education Helka-Liisa Hentilä said on the 12th of march that teaching will be offered in a way that suits mobile devices. Students will receive more information and support regarding this.
The university library released a statement of friday the 13th of March saying the customer service will end at libraries starting on the 16th. Using the library spaces, loaning books and returning them will function like normal with the current automated services. The Pegasus library will be open on weekdays between 8 am and 5 pm. The library will be closed on saturdays starting tomorrow. The libraries of Kontinkangas campus and OUAS will continue to be open normally.
Studies at a normal pace
The University of Oulu aims to guarantee teaching so that nobody’s studies will be delayed because of the epidemic.
Kela released a statement on the 13th of March saying delays in studies caused by corona will be taken into account when deciding student benefits. Student allowance will be given even if the amount of completed studies slows down. More months for student allowance can also be granted.
The start of studies should also not be delayed due to the virus. The university stated that even though entrance exams are also an event of over 500 people, they would be organised so the amount will not reach the maximum capacity. The decision for how to organise the exams will be made together with other Finland’s universities. The first entrance exams are to be held in Oulu on the 23rd of April.
The policy for the University of Oulu is that all current exchange students of Oulu university are to return to Finland. This decision has been made due to the Finnish Institute for Health and Wellbeing (THL) stating that clear lines for where the epidemic is in effect can no longer be drawn and all travel is risky.
Upon returning from an exchange the University of Oulu will pay for all extra expenses caused by travelling back, if the expenses are not covered by travel insurance or grants. According to the university students can keep the grants they have received for the exchange, even though the exchange period has been interrupted.
The University of Oulu as well as the Oulu University of Applied Sciences (OUAS) recommend that exchanges planned for spring 2020 be cancelled and no students go out on exchanges.
Upon returning from an exchange students must study remotely for 14 days. Longer instructions for returning have been sent out to students through the SoleMove-website on the 12th of March.
Wappu and free time remotely?
The measures taken affect free time as well as studies. The Student Union of Oulu University OYY informed student organisations on the topic on the 13th of March. OYY recommends that organisations carefully consider organising events. In future events they should secure the option to participate remotely as well as ensure good hygiene. The OYY office will also be closed for the time being.
OYY advices student guilds to close their guild rooms and to hold their board meetings remotely. The reason for this is that virus infections spread effectively in small, closed off spaces.
Cancelling events of over 500 people also affects the traditional student event, wappu. The Technical students association of Oulu OTY gave a comment on this on the 12th of March.
“OTY is following the situation regarding corona. There is no reason to worry about Wappu, as it will happen either way. If needed it will be organised completely remotely through Twitch, Snapchat, Instagram and other social media. More info will follow in the near future, said Riikka Haataja.
The University Sports of Oulu OKKL has also stopped all of their activity for the time being starting Friday the 13th.
The University of Oulu released a statement regarding the new actions against corona on the 12th of March. The University will have a group of people meet every day to discuss future actions. Follow the latest info on the University’s website.
More information about corona can be found here. In case you get sick you can check out the information by the city of Oulu and Finnish Student Health Service.