COVID-19: Operating mode summer semester 2021

18. February 2021

Dear university members,

We are heading towards the third semester under Covid conditions. The current Covid numbers in Austria in combination with the new virus mutations make a return to regular operation still impossible. However, we are convinced that an (art) university cannot be run almost exclusively in distance mode over a longer period of time. The loss of personal interaction and collaboration, working and experimenting with materials and tools or direct communication weighs too heavily.
For this reason, all our efforts in the last few weeks have been directed towards creating a framework for the coming summer semester that, despite all the uncertainty, will enable working on-site, especially in the artistic subjects. At the same time it aims to show long-term perspectives for a complete return to on-site operation under the conditions of a global pandemic in the coming winter semester. 

We are very pleased that after intensive preliminary discussions with Hufak, the workers councils, the Ministry of Science, the City of Vienna and an exchange with the rectorates of the other art universities, we have succeeded in developing a strategy that makes exactly this possible.  

In the next few days, further talks with Hufak and the workers councils are planned, as well as a meeting with the heads of institutes, departments, workshops and divisions to clarify details and questions. However, since the summer semester is already approaching, we would like to inform you in general terms about the changes already today. Detailed information will follow in the course of the next week. 

The most important changes from March 1, 2021 at a glance:

Teststraße Angewandte
Starting March 1, 2021, a test lane will be set up in the cashier's hall of the former Postal Savings Bank for an initial period of two months. University members will be able to get tested there Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., without pre-registration, free of charge and without complications. Antigen self-tests ("nose picker tests") are used, as in schools.The smear test is performed independently under the prior guidance of trained personnel. The test confirmation handed out at the end of the test lane is only valid within the Angewandte. 

Carrying a negative test confirmation as well as FFP2 masks will be mandatory
In all university buildings the carrying of a negative Covid test confirmation, which is not older than 48h, is obligatory. Test confirmations from the ’Teststraße Angewandte', the Test Straßen of the city of Vienna or the federal states, as well as other official test sites (pharmacies, confirmed company test sites, etc.) are accepted. The control takes place decentrally in courses, workshops and studios, combined with regular rounds by a specially appointed person ("Health Checker").
It is also necessary to wear FFP2 masks throughout ––except in rooms with sole presence. A basic quota will be provided by the Angewandte. FFP2 masks can be requested monthly by the departments from the Covid staff office beginning next week. 

More flexible use of space
Testing in combination with the wearing of an FFP2 mask allows for more flexible use of university space according to specific needs. The safety distance is no longer centrally prescribed and controlled, but is to be organized at the individual's own responsible judgment.

One operating mode for the entire summer semester
Based on the already known operating scenario table, one simplified operating mode will come into effect for the entire summer semester. The regular tests are to ensure that even if the virus numbers in Vienna worsen, the planned on-site activities can be maintained. Any necessary changes will be incorporated by the Rectorate within this concept and communicated immediately. In any case, the operating scenario will be evaluated (and updated if necessary) at the end of April––especially with regard to events and work opportunities on weekends as well as for the preparation of final theses. 

Artistic teaching on-site, scientific teaching at a distance 
Throughout the summer semester, artistic teaching will generally take place on-site. People who, despite this new situation, cannot come to the buildings for specific reasons, are free to look for suitable possibilities (hybrid formats, individual supervision,...) with the respective artistic departments or course instructors, in order to be able to participate in the teaching as much as possible. Detailed information will follow. 
Unfortunately, scientific teaching must remain at a distance for the time being. 

Home office still recommended
The whole strategy aims at giving priority to artistic teaching. By allowing those activities that do not necessarily need to be done on-site to continue to take place in the home office, the overall density of people at the university sites will be reduced, further reducing the risk of contagion. In this respect, we continue to recommend home office for all employees. On-site work is possible at the decision of the supervisor and in compliance with hygiene regulations. Meetings, especially if they are not directly related to teaching, are to be held digitally if possible. 

We are aware that with these regulations we are taking a unique path in the Austrian university landscape. As usual, we will keep a close eye on the situation and make adaptations where and when this appears necessary.
We are convinced of the importance and necessity of this path: Only by this means can it be avoided  that the Angewandte will have to remain in the distance learning mode for a longer period of time; only by this means can we ensure that studying and research at the Angewandte can increasingly take place in a form that corresponds to what constitutes a university and even more so the Angewandte.

We thank you for your confidence and for supporting these measures.

With best regards,
Gerald Bast, Bernhard Kernegger, Barbara Putz-Plecko, Eva Maria Stadler and Maria Zettler