Brinksma believes we are at a tipping point in the pandemic. “The last year and a half have raised our awareness of the risks we run. We’ve learned to avoid taking risks. Now we must revert to a situation in which we accept that risks are part of life.”


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Slightly concerned

At the same time, Brinksma does admit to some concerns, as Dutch infection rates are no longer decreasing and it is vital that everyone comply with the restrictions if universities are to continue to be allowed to teach their classes on campus. Furthermore, he has noticed around him that young people aren’t necessarily interested in getting vaccinated, even though this is important for them, too. Which is why the Executive Board last week sent an email to all students and members of staff to encourage them to obtain proper information on the vaccine.

Brinksma also understands that some lecturers have some concerns about returning to in-person teaching, because vaccination rates among young people are not yet sufficiently high. “I do understand it, but if lecturers are vaccinated themselves and are not at high risk for the virus, the risks are fairly insignificant.”

Strange at first

Thanks to the current ‘safety measures’ that have been implemented, such as the maximum group size and the obligation to wear face masks in the corridors and lobbies, Brinksma is optimistic about the near future. “Universities were meant to be open. I attended the Eureka Week opening ceremony at Ahoy, and yes, it was a little strange at first to have five thousand people in one room. But the risks are manageable, and if we don’t do it now, when will we? We must learn to deal with the risks. Because if we have to teach online and observe physical distancing rules, we won’t be able to give our students the kind of scientific training we want to give them.”