Professor Heiß, what will winter semester 2021/2022 look like? What should students and teachers prepare for?
Hans-Ulrich Heiß: After three digital semesters necessitated by the pandemic, the increase in the number of people vaccinated means that we may be able to offer a relatively normal in-person semester this fall. To this end, TU Berlin is making preparations to hold the majority of classes in person. To attend an in-person class, you must either be vaccinated, have recovered from COVID, or have a negative test result. Everyone will be required to wear a mask. An in-person semester would allow students to meet up on campus and the University community as a whole to use the campus as a place for teaching, learning, discussion, and relaxation.
What basic conditions for studying on campus will be important?
The basis for participating in face-to-face classes is the vaccinated-recovered-tested rule. It will only be possible to attend classes on campus if you have either been fully vaccinated, and/or recovered from COVID, or have a current negative test. It will also be necessary to continue wearing masks. We will check to see if we can dispense with the distancing regulations. Our Crisis Committee is currently working on implementing the conditions necessary for studying on campus. However, this will only be possible if there is no dramatic increase in the number of infections and as many students as possible are fully vaccinated by October. TU Berlin is working with a vaccination clinic to offer appointments for both doses of the vaccine. If a significant number of students remain unvaccinated and incidence rates reach a certain level, it is likely that we will be unable to hold classes on campus as planned. It will also not be possible for us to provide testing in the scope necessary.
What does this mean for TU students and their plans for the winter semester?
An in-person semester requires students to be on campus to fully attend and participate in courses. We do not have the resources to offer classes both in-person and digitally at the same time. Streaming from lecture halls will only be offered in individual cases. International students who are currently not in Germany must apply for a visa and make the necessary preparations for travel to Germany. It is likely that students who are unable to come to Berlin by mid-October will not have full access to all courses.
So, will all lectures and seminars be offered as in-person classes?
An in-person semester does not mean that all courses will take place in a lecture hall or seminar room. Both instructors and students have found the teaching videos created in the last semesters to be an effective method of teaching and learning. As such, these will continue to be used, especially in courses with large lectures. However, supplemental synchronous offers (practical tutorials, tutorials, and Q&As) will take place in person along with other types of courses which require direct interaction, such as seminars and project groups.
What specific steps will you be taking next?
Our Crisis Committee continues to meet regularly. We are currently looking at how to implement the vaccinated-recovered-tested rule in practice. At the beginning of September, we will also meet with the Berlin Senate and the other Berlin universities to assess the current pandemic situation and decide on further details. We will provide full information via all channels in good time to allow our students and teachers to plan. My plea to everyone is to use the period until the start of the winter semester to get vaccinated. By doing so, you play a key role in allowing us to implement our plans for a winter semester on campus.
Interviewer: Stefanie Terp
TU Berlin is working together with Diagnostikum Berlin to provide an easy way to book vaccination appointments: https://www.diagnostikum-berlin.de/
The key issue paper on the coming winter semester published by theState Conference of Rectors and Presidentsof Higher Education Institutions in Berlin can be viewed here.