Information from the Rector
Mail from 19 April 2021
Dear employees and students,
Almost a year ago, a summer semester at Magdeburg University began almost completely digitally for the first time. Probably only very few assumed in the spring of 2020 that teaching would continue to take place without face-to-face lectures after another 12 months.
Many service facilities on campus are closed to the public. Conditions for students are still particularly difficult. Innovative teaching and examination concepts have been developed, but they do not exist across the board and, above all, they cannot replace the lack of social contacts, professional exchange, undisturbed access to the laboratory and the elimination of the student job. Many employees have also had to adapt their work considerably. Some activities are certainly predestined to be carried out in mobile version. Nevertheless, we are all feeling the effects of the pandemic-related restrictions on a massive scale, such as limited mobility.
But one thing is absolutely indisputable after a year under corona conditions: there can only be a way out if a sufficient proportion of society has vaccination protection. In recent weeks, we have received repeated inquiries as to when the staff of the University of Magdeburg would have the opportunity to be vaccinated against Covid19.
The federal vaccination regulation governs the order of vaccination based on 3 priority groups. Especially in the first weeks there were violations of this order, which were intensively discussed in public. These are all individual cases, from which an institution like the University of Magdeburg cannot derive any justification for institutional consideration - deviating from the vaccination ordinance.
Yesterday, the booking option for priority group 3 was opened by the state capital Magdeburg and we are in close exchange with the city, to what extent this allows a rapid vaccination perspective for employment groups of the university.
From today, Monday, the University of Magdeburg also offers its employees and students the possibility of a weekly, free antigen self-test under supervision in the OVGU test center in building 5. In this test center, you will be issued a certificate with the test result, which is valid 24h within the OVGU.
The offer is initially intended primarily for those who do not work mobile. There is also the possibility for employees to pick up self-tests for testing outside the test center. The test contingent is currently sufficient to provide at least one test per week for all employees who do not work mobile.
All other information regarding the online appointment booking process and hours of operation is now available at www.ovgu.de/testzentrum.
There are a variety of testing center offerings in the city, including those immediately adjacent to the university. There is a close cooperation with the rapid test center in the IBA store, which is operated by the University Medical Hospital Magdeburg. Please take advantage of this additional opportunity - even during working hours.
Based on a close-meshed testing concept and progressive vaccination successes, we hope for a stabilization of the situation in the state capital Magdeburg. This would give us the opportunity to provide for openings on campus in the course of the summer semester 2021. Among other things, the university library should soon reopen its doors to the public, we want to create learning spaces for student small groups again and enable face-to-face lectures where the past months have taught us that online teaching does not work properly.
In the coming days, please follow the updates on the hygiene concept and the step-by-step plan. We eagerly await the federal decisions on the so-called emergency brake.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all university employees for your cooperation in addressing the corona-related challenges and encourage you to take advantage of the testing opportunities available.
With best regards
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jens Strackeljan
Mail from 30 March 2021
Dear students of the Otto-von-Guericke-University,
Before the start of the summer semester 2021, we would like to send you important information regarding the implementation of teaching and everyday university life.
Due to the dynamic infection events, the lockdown has been extended and at the moment, unfortunately, there is little to suggest that the situation will change in the short term. This means that Otto-von-Guericke-University remains in stage 4 of the current gradual plan.
The hygiene concept as well as the step-by-step plan will be adapted to the federal-state resolutions and the current dynamics due to the virus variants. Opening steps are already considered in the revised gradual plan.
We will publish the revised plans and regulations on our websiteat the beginning of April. In addition, we will continue to inform you - as usual - about all current changes on the university's social media channels.
Below we have summarized the most important determinations regarding teaching in the summer semester 2021.
We have a clear goal in mind: we want to open up teaching carefully and gradually with necessary accompanying safeguards for face-to-face courses. We are taking the first step by opening up small events with a maximum of 25 participants, where presence is particularly important from a didactic point of view. This applies, for example, to laboratory practicals or practical events in sports.
Strict infection control measures apply, which go beyond the rules of the winter semester 2020/21. To protect both teachers and students during classroom events, a minimum distance of 1.50 meters must be observed. In addition, the wearing of medical masks is mandatory for students during all face-to-face events, including at the seat. For instructors, medical masks are mandatory during classes if a minimum distance of 3 meters from students cannot be maintained. As an additional protective measure, the wearing of FFP2 masks is mandatory during meetings in presence between students and lecturers.
Instructors will inform students in advance of how the course will be conducted in detail. To allow for openings for face-to-face/hybrid events during the semester if necessary, rooms will remain visible in the LSF. Participation in face-to-face courses will continue to be voluntary for students in the summer semester 2021. If there are problems with hybrid teaching or with the implementation of courses, students should contact their respective deans of studies in the faculties directly.
The range of face-to-face courses will be gradually and carefully expanded over the course of the summer semester. The latest federal and state decisions show us that we cannot implement openings on campus without a functioning and meaningful testing concept. Therefore, the Rector's Office and the Crisis Team are working on a testing strategy for OVGU since mid-March.
#Additional notes for teachers:
Since participation in the classroom lectures is still voluntary for students in the summer semester, we ask you to pay more attention to ensuring that the course content is made available to all students and that they can prepare for the examinations. Please inform students of the special features of the individual courses before the start of lectures.
A contingent of FFP2 masks will be made available for collection in the area of occupational safety and environmental protection (K43) for reported attendance events of the faculties (priority lists).
By offering rapid antigen testing, OVGU plans to protect all members of the university who are currently present on campus and wish to do their part to help contain the pandemic. Currently, the rectorate, crisis team, administration and Magdeburg University Hospital are working closely together to develop a meaningful testing strategy for OVGU. We too are dependent on stable supply chains, but the experience of the past few weeks unfortunately shows that this is still a challenge at present.
We are confident that most outstanding issues can be resolved by the start of the lecture season and will continue to update you regularly on specific steps in the coming weeks.
Only through everyone's joint efforts will we be able to get a little closer to the normality of everyday university life again. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support and cooperation.
Prof. Susanne Schmidt
(Vice Rector for Studies and Teaching)
Prof. Dr.- Ing. Jens Strackeljan
Mail from 18 February 2021
Dear students, dear lecturer,
as announced in January, the university management met with the deaneries in the middle of the week to discuss the further design of the remaining examination period of the winter semester 20/21 and the design of the summer semester 2021.
Since the lockdown in Saxony-Anhalt is in effect until at least March 10, 2021, and the dynamics of the pandemic, especially with regard to the mutations that have occurred, cannot be predicted, we have decided that the alternative forms of examination are to be retained for the remaining examination period until April 10, 2021.
The examination committee in the faculties may approve exceptions to this rule, such as, for example, for laboratory or sports practical examinations. Face-to-face examinations are an exception in the current situation and can only be approved if (I) there is a maximum number of 25 examinees, (II) a minimum distance of 2 meters is maintained in the examination room at all times, and (III) a masking requirement (medical masks) is in place throughout the examination. Students who cannot or do not wish to participate in a face-to-face examination shall be offered alternatives.
Preview of the summer semester 2021
In the summer semester 2021, we want to create opportunities for collaborative learning, although this will be limited. Teaching will mainly take place in hybrid form. Lectures with a larger number of participants will be organized digitally. Smaller lectures and other teaching formats, e.g. practicals and exercises, should be possible at the start of the summer semester in small groups with a maximum number of participants of 25 and under strict hygiene conditions.
The decision as to which events these will be lies with the deaneries on the one hand and depends on the availability of appropriate premises on the other. Last but not least, the then prevailing pandemic situation will have to be taken into account. It may be possible to increase the number of participants in the current semester. Unfortunately, this cannot be predicted at present.
We will focus our efforts on reopening service facilities such as the library, at least with restrictions, on facilitating small learning groups on campus, and on implementing open learning spaces in the open areas.
We would of course very much like to welcome our international students, who have not yet been able to enter, to the Magdeburg campus. However, if travel to Germany cannot be realized, they have the option of continuing to pursue their studies online.
At this point, we would like to point out once again the overlap of the examination period in the winter semester 20/21 with the start of courses for the summer semester 2021 until 10.04.2021. As instructors, please make it possible for students to take exams during this time by making your course content available asynchronously.
We wish all students and teachers good luck with the upcoming exams despite the difficult conditions in some areas. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the staff in the dean's offices of the faculties.
Prof. Susanne Schmidt
(Vice Rector for Studies and Teaching)
Prof. Dr.- Ing. Jens Strackeljan
Circular mail from 1 January 2021
Dear Members and Employees of our University,
On behalf of the entire university management, I would like to wish you and your families a very happy New Year, with the very best wishes for the future, and especially - of course - your good health!
The challenges with which the “old” year ended seem set to remain with us over the coming months. However much we long to overcome the coronavirus pandemic and the associated hardships and adjustments to our lives and hope for the vaccination program to pick up speed, unfortunately the reality is that we probably have many more weeks of considerable effort ahead of us to manage the consequences of this crisis. The incidence of infection continues to be high, and since last Tuesday it has been clear that the lockdown initially imposed by the federal government until 10 January 2021 will now remain in place until at least the end of January and our private and public lives will continue to be subject to major restrictions. In the next few days, the decisions of the federal government will be transferred into state law. It is to be assumed that there will be no significant exceptions for the state of Saxony-Anhalt.
Our hope was that from 11 January 2021 we would again be able to offer face-to-face teaching wherever this was advisable for substantive or didactic reasons. Due to the current situation, however, we are obliged to adjust this aspiration.
Based on the current legal situation, the university management has decided the following:
- In line with the current tier plan, the University of Magdeburg will remain in tier 4 until at least 31.01.2021.
- Teaching for the 2020/21 winter semester is scheduled to remain fully online until lectures come to an end on 04.02.2021. This means that face-to-face teaching will continue to be suspended beyond January 10, 2021.
- To the extent that laboratory classes, practical tutorials etc. must be carried out in person, the strict hygiene regulations will continue to apply.
- The research laboratories in the faculties will remain open until the end of January 2021 in principle, and detailed arrangements regarding the organization of research and teaching assignments will be made independently by the Deans in consultation with the university management.
- The university library will remain closed to the public until the end of January 2021; it will still be possible to borrow and return books and media by arrangement.
- The Campus Service Center and URZ is also closed to the public, but can be reached by phone or online. If necessary, a personal appointment can be made at the URZ.
- Lecture halls and seminar rooms remain closed. This includes the closure of teaching rooms for groups of students.
- Regulations for the coming examination period will be made by January 15th after consultation with the faculties.
- For employees, until further notice the extension to working from home applies. If it is possible to work from home, then employees should do so in order to reduce contact with others to a minimum.
- Here you find information on the rules in connection with emergency childcare. In principle, written confirmation that your presence at work is essential will only be issued in exceptional cases. Managers are asked to carry out the requisite assessment.
Employees, lecturers and students in the Faculty of Medicine should note the separate regulations that apply to them.
The above-mentioned measures will remain in force until revoked, but at least until 31 January 2021. In the coming weeks, the President’s Office will decide how, in particular, to organize the examination period beginning in February 2021 in close consultation with the Faculties, central services and committees of the university.
On behalf of the entire university management team, at this point I would like to thank you again for your understanding and dedication to jointly overcoming the challenges before us! Should you have any outstanding questions, the members of the office of the president remain at your disposal.
Stay safe! Yours faithfully,
Circular mail from 15 December 2020
Dear university members,
The lockdown decided by the federal and state governments to contain the Corona pandemic will also lead to further adjustments at Otto-von-Guericke-University. After consultation with the faculties and the crisis team, step 4 of the OVGU's step plan will apply on the Universitätsplatz campus and the Zschokkestraße campus from Wednesday, December 16th, 2020.
Teaching and research
Teaching at the OVGU has already been restricted to the extent that lectures will be held exclusively online. From December 16th, 2020, all face-to-face teaching will be suspended until at least January, 10th, 2021. Courses are to be offered exclusively online or virtually. Examinations in presence may take place in step 4 in strict compliance with the rules from the hygiene concept. This means that wearing a mouth-nose protection is obligatory, and minimum distances must of course be observed. The research laboratories in the faculties will generally remain open from Wednesday, detailed arrangements for the organisation of tasks in research and teaching will be made by the deaneries on their own responsibility after consultation with the university management.
Library and Campus Service Centre
The University Library will be closed to the public from Wednesday onwards; borrowing and returning media will be possible and can be done by appointment. The Campus Service Centre will also be closed to the public from Wednesday, but can be reached by telephone or online. Details can be found on the websites of the University Library and the Campus Service Centre.
Access to buildings
Lecture halls and seminar rooms are closed from Wednesday on. There will also be a closure of teaching rooms for student groups. Campus buildings in general will close to the public from Monday to allow sufficient time for all employees to check locking authorisations. Building 6 will remain open up to and including December, 23rd, 2020. There will also be a closure of teaching rooms for student groups.
Canteens and cafeterias
The refectories on the Zschokkestraße and main campus will be closed from 16 December.
Home office and childcare
For staff, the mobile working extensions apply. If mobile working can be made possible, use should be made of it to actually reduce contacts to a minimum. To this end, work tasks can be reorganised. If nursery schools or schools are closed due to official decisions, the additional days off can be used if they have not yet been used up for that year and are not planned holiday periods. Remaining days can be carried over into the year 2021.
You will be informed about possible changes in a timely manner.
Teachers and students of the Faculty of Medicine please observe the regulations that apply separately to them.
The university management will agree on the further procedure with the faculties and the crisis team at the beginning of January 2021.
We would like to take this opportunity to ask you once again to strictly adhere to the hygiene measures that apply on campus and in the buildings. This way you can effectively protect yourself, your colleagues and also your families. The entire university is in a challenging situation, which urgently requires your cooperation. We expressly thank you for this and ask you to continue to intensively follow the information portal that has been set up. There you will find the detailed step plan and all the important FAQs for employees and students (including on the changes for mobile working and on teaching).
I wish you all the best, above all good health.
Circular mail from 10 July 2020
Dear Lecturers, dear Students,
The 2020 summer semester is drawing to a close, so I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the commitment, patience and flexibility that you have shown over the past few months. You have all had to process new experiences, and we will try to take the positives from these into the future.
In the last few weeks, the University campus and premises such as the library have become accessible again, and so hopefully, you, dear Students, have had the opportunity to prepare sufficiently for the forthcoming examinations. This year, exams will be held under unusual conditions. I wish you all every success in them over the coming weeks.
The shape that the next winter semester will take depends on the overall situation in the state of Saxony-Anhalt as well as the rest of the world. We are in dialog with the responsible authorities, meaning that despite any internal decisions that we make, we must remain flexible. Otto von Guericke University is a traditional university offering face-to-face teaching. Therefore, classroom teaching is and will fundamentally remain the desirable standard, complemented and enhanced by digital formats. Given that, for the 2020/2021 winter semester, the pandemic-related contact and distancing regulations will continue to apply, digital teaching is, solely for health protection reasons, unavoidable to a certain extent. We will therefore need to prioritize, and in this respect new students in their first semester are of particular concern to us. Current students will certainly still remember the first few days and weeks of their degrees at OVGU. Forming study groups, making friends and beginning (and enjoying) a completely new stage in one’s life is so much harder to do digitally.
We plan to commence classes for the 2020/21 winter semester at the end of October, with the exception of Medicine. The Senate will finalize the various dates on 15 July, after which we will notify you all as soon as possible. We hope that you will understand that at present we are unable to provide you with a precise timetable for the winter semester.
Prof. Jens Strackeljan
Circular mail from 20 May 2020
Dear employees of the university, dear students
Today I would like to thank you sincerely for your support of the fundraising campaign "GUERICKE helps!", which was initiated together with the friends and sponsors of the university, and to inform you about the pleasing results. Thanks to the commitment of numerous university members as well as several partners of the Alma Mater, we succeeded in reaching our donation goal of 50,000 Euros within only 3 weeks.
This is a sum for which I would like to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to the 420 donors who have made donations to date. No matter whether it was a small or large amount: Every euro received has helped us to support 111 students in need from all over the world with a one-off sum of 450 euros. The money will be transferred to them within the next few days.
This enormous sum is matched by well over 1200 requests and calls for help. 1200 mails or letters, which show us in a depressing way how great the hardships caused by the Corona crisis are for parts of our students, especially for our internationals.
This is why we have decided to continue even after we have reached our donation goal. Because even if normality moves into the world of work, there will still be students who, due to unfortunate circumstances, will not be able to finance their livelihood solely through student jobs or their families who do not receive support. There are many reasons for this, even beyond the Corona crisis, and they can affect anyone.
So if you have not yet had the opportunity to support our emergency relief fund, I would like to encourage you to visit the website, get informed and make a small or even larger contribution to our community work. Every Euro counts!
At this point I would like to thank you for your commitment - also on behalf of the entire university management and the Board of the Association of Friends and Sponsors.
I wish you all the best for the coming days and weeks: Stay healthy!
Prof. Jens Strackeljan
Circular mail from 17 April 2020
Dear employees and students,
After nearly four weeks, the German federal and state governments have started to gradually relax the measures put in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak in Germany. All of us have been awaiting these decisions with great excitement and some of you may have been hoping for more. The 4th Corona Containment Ordinance in Saxony-Anhalt will permit schools and certain shops to reopen on a very limited basis next week . But what will this relaxation mean for everyday university life on campus?
Firstly, the scheduled full launch of the online courses as of the 20th of April will go ahead as planned. There will be some minor simplifications for on-campus exams and exam preparations, but all these are still exceptions. Our assumption is that it will be possible to carry out on-campus activities, such as laboratory training or minor activities in smaller groups, in addition to online teaching and in compliance with the hygiene and social-distancing rules as of the 4th of May 2020. At least this is the procedure that the Minister of Science. Prof. Dr. Armin Willingmann and the state's universities have agreed.
This also means that, subject to hygiene, access control and queue avoidance provisions, we will be able reopen the University Library to the public. We also envisage a certain amount of relaxation at both the Campus Service Center and the International Office. Specific procedures are currently being worked out and will be communicated in a timely manner, but in this case too we are not expecting to start before the 4th of May 2020. Further details will be regulated in a decree from the state Ministry of Economics, Science and Digitisation, to which we will contribute with some of our own concepts.
Once again, it is particularly important to emphasise the fact that students will not be disadvantaged by these restrictions, for example if courses need to be cancelled or if they are unable to use the online services we are providing. University of Magdeburg will be flexible in terms of the semester dates and will take decisions that are in the best interests of our students. In terms of BAföG (the German Federal Training Assistance Act) or with regard to any study delays due to COVID-19 that result in students exceeding the standard study period, continued funding will be ensured for an appropriate period of time.
The second important point to note, particularly for employees, is that the strict hygiene and social distancing rules (1.5 metres between any two people) that have been in force up to now will continue to apply without change. The Federal Ministry of Labour has now adopted a Covid-19 occupational health and safety standard, which regulates the return of employees to their places of work. Naturally, this standard also applies to the OVGU and we will now come together to put plans in place for all areas of the university to significantly increase the proportion of attendance in relation to mobile work.
Taking personal responsibility during the coming weeks will also mean that anybody with recognisable symptoms, such as slight fever, flu-like symptoms or shortness of breath will have to leave the workplace and stay at home until such times as a doctor clears them to return to work.
In conclusion, let us continue to go forward together with new ideas to get through this unusual but by no means lost summer semester 2020 at the University of Magdeburg.
Circular mail from 7 April 2020
I hope you all began your week in good health and have been able to adjust to the new and, for all of us, unfamiliar circumstances whether on campus or in your home offices. We would like to give you a brief update on major events planned at the OVGU for 2020.
As you may have seen either in our newsletter or our press release published in the local media, our Alumni Day 2020, which had been scheduled for the 6th of June, has been postponed to an as yet unspecified date, which will hardly have come as a great surprise given the current situation. Nevertheless, for those alumni who would have been receiving their golden or silver diplomas to mark the 50th or 25th graduation anniversaries respectively, the postponement is a regrettable albeit understandable decision. Yet postponed is not cancelled: new plans are already in hand and we hope to be able to reschedule this special "class reunion" before the end of the year.
For the first time in over 14 years, the Long Night of the Sciences will also suffer an involuntary interruption: this event, which had also been planned for the 6th of June 2020 has had to be cancelled and will not be rescheduled. However, a date has already been set for the coming year and so, together with the City of Magdeburg and the other science institutes, we will have the opportunity to celebrate the 15th Long Night of the Sciences in a fitting manner on the 29th of May 2021.
In addition to the events mention above, our traditional "Super Saturday" programme, which is essentially shaped by our Course Information Day, also cannot and will not take place as scheduled on the 6th of June 2020 due to the current circumstances. In the absence of these tried and trusted approaches and given the unfortunate need to jettison proven processes and concepts at such short notice, alternative information channels and innovative formats are required to provide prospective students both within the state and beyond with information about the OVGU and our various programmes of study. We’ll need novel concepts and a great deal of commitment, which is why a focused exchange of ideas between the university management, MKM (Media, Communication, Marketing), the faculties and the central services must begin within the next few days. For one thing is clear: achieving higher education policy goals and attracting students will be no easy task for the OVGU under the current framework conditions. We will inevitably feel the consequences of the coronavirus crisis particularly when it comes to enrolling international students.
Yet, notwithstanding the challenges and tasks ahead of us, I would like to encourage all of you to play an active part in overcoming them, to step outside of your familiar comfort zones in a spirit of courage and optimism and, together, to dare to do something new. You can rely on the full support of the university management.
Despite the difficult times, I wish you and your families a Happy Easter!
Circular mail from 23 March 2020
Dear staff and students of the University of Magdeburg,
For some weeks now, the coronavirus has been challenging the day-to-day lives of our families as well as life and work at the University of Magdeburg, calling for decisions that seemed unthinkable just a few months ago. Yesterday, the state of Saxony-Anhalt imposed further restrictions in the form of contact restrictions, which should help to contain the epidemic, but which have an enormous impact on living and working together and require adaptation of previous forms of organization. Physical and social contacts must be kept to an absolute minimum.
What does this mean for the University of Magdeburg?
The most important thing: Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg is not closed! Within just a few days, we switched from normal operation to reduced basic operation. The university library is still running with a reduced service, refectories and cafeterias are closed, rules regarding working from home and working outside the university have been largely defined and implemented. We have agreed on a very high degree of flexibility, permitting staff to work from home wherever work can be performed outside the university.
After yesterday’s stipulations by the federal state, we have agreed to change the current status of our university to basic operation with minimum contact. Unfortunately, this means that specific rules are required here to ensure that flexible working is possible, for instance, in alternating shifts. It must be ensured that colleagues and supervisors can be reached, also when working from home.
The administration has defined core processes, so that new staff will be recruited, employment contracts renewed, appointments issued, invoices settled and salaries will continue to be paid.
The research laboratories in the faculties are still open, detailed agreements on the organization of tasks in research and teaching are being made independently by the deans following consultation with the university management. The central institutions are ensuring minimum operation and guaranteeing cooperation with the university administration and the President’s office by deploying on-site personnel to take care of essential tasks.
However, the University Medical Center cannot be transferred to basic operation. They are, and this should be expressly noted here, facing quite different challenges that must be overcome. The situation is changing rapidly and, if necessary, agreements on flexible working will have to be changed again. But this does not only apply to employees of the Medical Faculty and the University Hospital, but also to all employees of Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg.
Nevertheless, we have found answers to the most important questions in a very short time and for this I would like to thank all those who have supported the university management and the administration! The President’s office and the crisis unit acted swiftly in coordination with the deans and the Senate and in close consultation with the Conference of the Rectors of the Federal State (Landesrektorenkonferenz). You can find the latest answers to questions arising from the new situation in the Document entitled ‘Information to ensure basic operation with minimum contact’.
Dear students, we know only all too well that the situation is extremely difficult for you at the moment. Uncertainties about exam dates, the loss of student jobs or limited use of the university library have become the norm. However, one of the biggest challenges and priorities for all of us in the coming weeks is to prepare for what will very likely be a ‘virtual’ summer semester. I can promise you that we will do everything we can to find sound solutions and I assure you that you will not suffer any disadvantages.
Our university is proud of its high degree of internationalization. But this also comes with great responsibility for our students, which is certainly another major challenge in times of a pandemic that is spreading around the globe.
One thing's for sure: Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg depends on the commitment, cooperation and collaboration of all, and the current problems and challenges can only be mastered in collective responsibility and solidarity. Therefore, we ask that you inform yourself, pay attention to each other, help each other and above all: Stay healthy!