Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following announcement to students and staff today (19 August 2020):
"Dear students and colleagues,
Teaching for the new semester at the University of Iceland is now fully underway. Online teaching will form the foundation of the 2020 autumn semester, but the University is also focusing on options for on-campus learning, particularly for new students, on the condition that it complies with the current instructions of the Chief Epidemiologist and the authorities.
Priority for on-campus learning will be given to discussion periods, tutorials and similar classes, teaching in artistic subjects, practical teaching and clinical training.
The University of Iceland is responsible for ensuring that current public health restrictions are enforced, with the safety and wellbeing of students, teaching staff and other staff in mind. In light of instructions from the educational authorities received 19 August, the following rules will apply at the University for the 2020 autumn semester or until otherwise stated.
Teaching and other work on the University of Iceland campus must be conducted in consideration of the following:
General infection prevention and physical distancing
1. The University of Iceland primarily emphasises that individuals should take steps to prevent infection, e.g. physical distancing, hand washing and disinfection.
2. Students, teaching staff and other staff should not enter any part of the University campus if they:
• Are in quarantine.
• Are in isolation (also while waiting for COVID-19 test results)
• Have been in isolation due to COVID-19 infection and fewer than 14 days have passed.
• Are experiencing symptoms typical of COVID-19 (cold symptoms, cough, fever, headache, bone or muscle aches, fatigue).
3. Physical distancing in all University of Iceland buildings means keeping at least 1 metre away from other people, e.g. in common spaces, offices, cafeterias, gym facilities and all classrooms and laboratories. Students, teaching staff and other staff must also keep 1 metre apart in all their work at the University.
4. In situations where it is not possible to maintain physical distancing, e.g. in practical classes, art classes and clinical training, people must use face masks that cover the mouth and nose. In such circumstances, both the instructor and the student should be wearing a mask. Face masks must be used correctly.
5. Strict rules apply for groups of students undergoing clinical training in a healthcare institution, e.g. mandatory use of face masks in common spaces where people cannot stay 2 metres apart.
Restrictions on gatherings and separation of groups
6. No more than 100 people may be in any one space, whether a public space or private space.
7. If the number of students, teaching staff and other staff in a building exceeds 100, the building will divided into sections and all efforts made to prevent mixing between sections. This is done, for example, to make contact tracing easier if an individual at the University is infected.
8. Each section will be separated off and all efforts made to ensure that there is only one entrance and exit. Toilets will be designated for each section. Where circumstances do not permit full separation, it is permissible to use corridors between separated sections in order to allow students to access classrooms and toilets. In such circumstances, there will be prominent signs explaining that these corridors are only for moving between locations and may not be used for any other purpose.
9. If teaching staff and students need to move between sections, particular care shall be taken to prevent infection.
10. Teaching staff and other staff who work in closed offices are generally not counted as part of the total number of people in that section of the building.
11. In order to maintain physical distancing, it is necessary to prevent too many students gathering in common spaces. Corridors are only to be used to move between rooms.
12. It will be permissible to eat in classrooms in order to reduce contact with groups in common spaces. Students must tidy up after themselves and take their rubbish away with them.
13. Central spaces are closed unless it is possible to ensure that physical distancing is maintained, e.g. by converting them to learning spaces with desks and chairs set up in accordance with physical distancing and infection prevention rules.
Infection prevention and cleaning
14. Hand sanitiser will be available at the entrance to and inside each classroom (there may be more than one classroom in each section).
15. Common equipment and surfaces shall be disinfected at least once a day and emphasis placed on individuals taking steps to prevent infection. Common surfaces (door handles etc.) in classrooms shall be disinfected between classes. Each student must disinfect their desk – ideally students should come with a small spray bottle of disinfectant in their bag. It is recommended that the teacher wipe down the door handle after class.
16. Posters to remind everyone of the situation will be put up in University buildings. (See: https://www.covid.is/media).
17. The number of visitors to the University of Iceland shall be limited as far as possible (e.g. no large meetings, open events etc.). Any visitors must be reminded to be careful and always follow infection prevention rules.
18. It is not recommended to hold University events at this time. While the assembly ban is in effect, the University will limit events attended by staff from different schools or units.
19. If any events are organised inside University buildings, they must comply with restrictions on gatherings (no more than 100 in the same space) and measures must be taken to ensure that everyone is able to maintain at least 1 metre distance.
20. Instructions on how to respond to an infection can be found here. (in Icelandic)
Dear students and colleagues. Please remember that the current situation is temporary and with a united effort, we can ensure that our work can continue and safeguard the quality of teaching and learning at the University of Iceland.
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"