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Information for all university members: Preparation for the winter semester 2021/22 and vaccination

2021-07-14

Dear members of Leuphana,
dear colleagues, dear students,

while the infection figures in Germany are currently pleasantly low and give hope for the future, but at the same time new virus variants are developing, many of you are wondering what university life can and will look like in the coming winter semester. About three months before the start of the winter semester, we as the Presidential Board, aware of the uncertainty of future developments, would like give first preliminary answers about our current assessment.

1) First of all, we believe that Leuphana University Lüneburg is and will remain a face-to-face university. We all know and appreciate the value of personal encounters, of personal exchange for study, research and science and for personal togetherness as a university community. This is not only about the deliberately planned encounters in courses, research groups or in the circle of colleagues, but also, in the sense of serendipity, about the chance encounters that allow new insights beyond what was originally sought or planned. It is our firm conviction that it is these chance encounters with unknown people, ideas or observations that essentially shape universities as a scientific but also social space and make them the special places they have been for a long time and will continue to be in the future. As the Presidential Board, we are committed to carefully nurturing and strengthening this place of encounter - and to jointly shaping our university as a place where the fascination of science can live and grow: the fascination of knowledge gained in research and study, the fascination of development resulting from contributions to shaping our society, and the fascination of shining eyes because people unfold the potential inherent in them.

2) Leuphana will therefore be and remain a university that relies heavily on the presence of its members and lives from this presence, even after the pandemic has subsided. This presence should and may allow for flexibility. It has been shown that digital elements can make important contributions and will remain part of our university culture in study and teaching, research and work in the future - among other things, through digitally supported teaching or mobile working. More information on this will follow. However, in our view, it is crucial that all members and affiliates are able and willing to reliably and trustingly contribute to the shaping of the university - and thus shape a place where all university members can be actually are personally “present”. We are convinced that in this sense we can and should speak and answer questions in personal encounters within the university as well as towards society - and thus take responsibility in the literal sense for ourselves and for others, for the university and for our society in studies, research, transfer and administration.

3) These considerations shape our assessments and goals for the further handling of the pandemic and for the coming winter semester, which we are closely coordinating with the other universities in Lower Saxony and the state government. From our point of view, the following is essential: According to all the information available to us, fully vaccinated persons are in principle very largely protected - both against infection with SARS-CoV-2 and against contracting Covid19, and in particular against severe courses of the disease. According to our current knowledge, this also applies to the currently increasing delta variant of the virus. After the initial supply difficulties, vaccination appointments can now be obtained quickly and easily from both vaccination centers and general practitioners - even for students. As far as we know, all adults in Germany who are willing to be vaccinated will probably receive an offer for an initial vaccination by the end of July or the beginning of August.

4) We therefore expect that by mid-October all members and relatives of Leuphana can be vaccinated and will be vaccinated if they want to be. In the future, the decision to be vaccinated will no longer be affected by the shortage of vaccine, at least in Germany. Against this background, we as the Presidential Board are working towards ensuring that Leuphana University Lüneburg can and will again offer full and regular attendance from October 18, 2021, i.e. at the start of the lecture period for the winter semester. This means that we want to offer regular courses for students again, that we want to enable research operations without restrictions, and that the university administration should also be able to work regularly without restrictions - in other words, as a rule, a presence at the university is planned again.

5) Against this background, we would like to strongly encourage and request all members and affiliates of the university to be vaccinated against the virus. Please take advantage of the existing vaccination offers in vaccination centers and in your family doctor's offices and make sure that you will have received a complete vaccination protection by the beginning of the winter semester at the latest through first and, if necessary, second vaccination. The most complete possible vaccinations of university members and staff will be the most important prerequisite in order to be able to return to largely regular attendance in the winter semester - assuming the best possible further course of the pandemic - and to be able to jointly experience and shape regular, personal university operations in attendance again from October onwards.

6) Although we strongly recommend vaccination to all university members, we would like to point out at the same time: All members and affiliates of the University are free to choose whether or not to be vaccinated. This decision is a personal one based on your respective personal risk assessment. The University cannot and will not impose any regulations on its members and relatives in this regard.

7) However, we would also like to emphasize: Assuming a generally low incidence of infection, i.e. in the case of the best possible further course of the pandemic, the University may not (be able to) give any special consideration to persons who do not want to or will not be vaccinated as of the coming winter semester. The personal risk that results from the decision not to be vaccinated will be a risk that must also be borne personally.

8) Without prejudice to this, we will continue - as in the last 1.5 years - to make every effort to find special solutions, individually or in general, for all university members who, for other reasons, will also experience restrictions in the future due to the pandemic and its consequences. This may include, for example, special solutions for international students who may not yet be able to enter Germany (and for whom we may have to set up hybrid courses in the future), as well as special solutions for university members belonging to special risk groups who cannot be vaccinated for proven medical reasons.

9) All of the above considerations are, of course, subject to the proviso that the incidence of infection and the overall burden on the health care system will be low during the winter semester. We cannot rule out at this time that the incidence of infection from a fourth wave will be so high that we will have to continue to restrict attendance or that restrictions on University operations will continue to be imposed on us by law or regulation. However, it is important to us to convey to you through this email: As much as we have prioritized the health protection of all university members since the beginning of the pandemic (and will of course continue to prioritize this highly in the future) and for this reason have relied on a virtual, digital university operation as much as possible, with the now achieved and guaranteed availability of vaccinations we want to rely on a complete presence operation of the university again as soon as possible - specifically, in compliance with all necessary hygiene rules, as early as possible in the coming winter semester.

Further decisions on the concrete implementation of courses and examinations in the winter semester 2021/22 or the entry into force of the already prepared Corona Annex to the Framework Examination Regulations will be made and communicated by the Presidential Board by the beginning of September 2021 at the latest.

All current information regarding the University's handling of the corona virus can still be found at www.leuphana.de/portale/coronavirus. In addition, cv-info@leuphana.de will continue to be available for your questions, comments, and suggestions.

With best wishes for the summer and
with best regards

Sascha Spoun
President

Christian Brei
Executive Vice President

Erich Hörl
Vice President College

Simone Abels
Vice President Graduate School

Jörg Terhechte
Vice President Professional School

Susanne Leeb
Vice President Research