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14/05/2020 - 15:56

Take care as the Icelandic summer approaches

Announcement from the Rector to students and staff:

"Dear students and colleagues,

The outlook regarding the COVID-19 epidemic here in Iceland is now growing brighter and brighter. It is wonderful to have such heartening news as we go about our daily business and welcome the summer with open arms. Today, I wish to draw your attention to working procedures and building access with the relaxing of the assembly ban and plans for the summer courses and jobs that will soon be on offer.

Reopening of University of Iceland buildings and access

Generally speaking, University of Iceland buildings are open to students and staff, as stated on the University website.

  • The practice of closing University buildings from noon on Fridays to noon on Mondays has now also been entirely discontinued.
  • In the University Centre, study rooms and computer labs the number of chairs at a table is limited in accordance with the 2 metre rule. The maximum number of people in any one space is also limited to 50, cf. the government's notice. The same arrangements apply to other University buildings.

Working procedures

In recent weeks while University buildings were closed, most staff worked from home. However, as 18 of  May employees should now be working on site except in specific cases:

  • Employees with their own offices shall work on site as usual.
  • Employees who share an office shall work on site, subject to consultation with their immediate superior, but it is assumed that most people in this position should be able to work as usual. In open-plan spaces, there shall be at least 2 metres between work stations.
  • Staff with underlying health conditions, e.g. cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, lung diseases, or suppressed immune systems, as well as pregnant women, are permitted to work from home. Those who have their own office and prefer to work on site must take care and respect the two metre rule.
  • Buildings will be cleaned as usual, but with particular emphasis placed on cleaning surfaces.

Summer courses

We were delighted to learn this week that the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture has provided the University of Iceland with a ISK 250 million grant to fund summer courses at the University of Iceland. In organising the summer courses, efforts have been made to accommodate the needs of current University students, new students, students who do not meet admission requirements or who wish to better prepare themselves for higher education, and students who speak Icelandic as a second language.

  • The University will be offering various preparatory and preliminary courses, e.g. in the natural sciences and Icelandic, courses in academic working practices, courses in Icelandic as a second language, elective higher education courses in all fields, courses on innovation and social engagement, technology courses, etc.
  • There will be courses for credit as well as general courses without credit.
  • University of Iceland students who are registered on a study programme for the academic year 2019-2020 can take summer courses without paying a registration fee, since the summer semester is part of the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • Further details on summer courses will be forthcoming next week.

Summer jobs

The University of Iceland has asked to hire 350 summer employees as part of a special government initiative to increase the number of temporary summer jobs for students.

After a difficult winter, many people will be dreaming of travelling abroad, but let us not forget that our country also has a lot to offer. When I saw the dandelions start to appear this week, I was reminded of the poem Áfangar by Jón Helgason, which compared the decorative flowers from southern climes, warmed in sunny gardens, with the hard tufts of lyme grass that know nothing but the bright Icelandic summer. Let us continue to take care of one another and enjoy all that we have. Now the restrictions are loosening, it is imperative that we do not get carried away and forget ourselves. We must remember that civil defence is in our hands and every one of us bears a great responsibility.

I wish you all the best, dear students and colleagues.

Best regards,
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"