Intensive work on campus to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19

2020-07-26

How can on-campus instruction in the autumn be conducted safely? Social distancing should be the aim in all teaching, examinations and other meetings, and intensive work is being done to address the premises issue at the University's campuses.

The Public Health Agency of Sweden currently limits public gatherings to 50 people. This shall be a guiding factor for teaching, examinations and other meetings within the University, according to the latest Vice-Chancellor decision.  Social distancing shall be the aim in all activities so as to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The practical work to ensure social distancing falls to the facilities manager of each campus. At Ekonomikum, Facilities Manager and Campus Coordinator Peter Götlind created a document with rules of conduct and measures that can be used at all of the campuses. The recommendations were defined in collaboration with the Buildings Division, Security and Safety Division and Communications Division.

“We recently performed a safety inspection focused solely on preventing the spread of infection in the teaching and study situation. We facilities managers have to do our utmost to ensure social distancing and clearly communicate what applies so we can create an environment that works if everyone follows the directive. It’s a huge job that has to be done, and a lot has already been done to coordinate our work between facilities managers,” he says.

A large number of suggested actions have been put forward, and several of these will be implemented. For example, one recommendation is to set out floor markings to remind people to maintain distance, and to put signs on the doors to clearly mark entrances and exits, including in lecture halls if possible. Other signs, such as table sign displays with clear messages about rules of conduct, will also be in place. 

Maximum 50 people

In lecture halls, the number of available spaces is max. 50, excluding the teacher, and the distance between individuals should be at least 1.5 metres. However, there is no maximum number that applies to reading places or other seating areas in corridors and cafeterias. In such places, it is enough to ensure there is sufficient distance. It is advisable for facilities managers to review all empty premises to see whether they can be used as study places. We are currently investigating the possibility of increasing the number of places by setting up large tents. Ventilation for better air circulation is also being reviewed.

The document with these recommendations has been sent to all of the facilities managers, and is also available on the employee portal. The facilities managers’ group space in the employee portal contains a template for a special safety inspection. All Facilities Managers at Uppsala University.

Information regarding what rules apply for autumn will be sent out to employees and students by email – but, naturally, you can also contact the facilities manager of your particular campus to find out what applies there. 

Work with these measures is not entirely easy, since not everyone truly understands the importance of maintaining distance. Peter Götlind has included a photo he took recently (with the individuals’ consent) of a group of students around a table. Campuses have enforced social distancing by taking away every other chair. To get around this, one of the students chose to instead sit hunched over on the table to be closer to their study companion…