At central level, Sandra Klarenbeek is looking at the options in the study areas and classrooms. First of all, the examinations are approaching, which are all taking place digitally. But after the summer, there is the maxim: “On campus if we can, online because we can,” Klarenbeek explains. “And another principle is that a module that started online will also be finished online. This is important for international students, who might have chosen to study at home with their parents.” After 1 September, big lectures will probably also be online, because with a capacity of 15 percent, all the rooms are too small. “Take the Aula, for example, which can accommodate 880 people. In the new situation, that leaves only 130 seats.”

Half groups

“For tutorials, the faculties are now considering how they can use that limited space. For example by dividing up the group: first one half present in the room, the other half for the second seminar and the rest via video link. We are also exploring whether and how we can install equipment to record online lectures in rooms that don’t yet have them.”

Klarenbeek calls it a challenging and sometimes frustrating situation. “As soon as RIVM issues advice, you start writing a plan. But by the time you finish it, new advice has been issued.” The important thing is that new students can get to know each other and the campus after 1 September, according to Klarenbeek. “We are very much focusing on that.”

Three phases

At Rotterdam School of Management (RSM), Aisha de Valk is responsible for drawing up a plan for staff. She had two weeks to draft a plan for the six hundred workplaces at RSM. “We are planning three phases. In the first phase, around 10 to 15 percent of staff can come to the office. In the second phase – from 1 September – that will rise to around 20 percent. But even after that we won’t have a vaccine, so the 1.5-metre rule stays.”

According to De Valk, drawing up a plan is very complex, particularly because it is so detailed. “Firstly, you have lots of different wishes: one member of staff is unwilling to come to the office, another is very keen to do so. And then you have people who fall in the risk group.” Furthermore, De Valk needs to take into account the other users of Mandevillegebouw, which accommodates much of RSM. “We talked to ESSB and ESE about the communal areas, such as the toilets, halls and lifts. For these areas, we need uniform rules and we managed to agree on an advice on those.” The lifts are a particularly tricky issue in the eighteen-storey building. “In our plan, there is room in the lift for four people, but they must wear a face mask.”

Elbow door handle

And what about door handles, toilets, coffee machines and other surfaces that are frequently touched? “You could consider technological solutions, like automatic doors, but we don’t have enough time. However, there are also smarter, cheaper solutions, such as a different door handle you can open with your elbow.” De Valk is also considering a special key with which you can operate printers and coffee machines, without touching them with your fingers.

Despite all the details, the plan must also be flexible enough to allow modifications to comply with new advice and changing circumstances. De Valk: “I’ll also be interested to see how Real Estate Services assesses these plans in two weeks’ time. And what if we then hear that our plan has been rejected and we can’t re-open at all?”

The departments must submit the plans by 1 June, and then – after approval – implement them from 15 June.

Erasmus Universiteit

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