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Information for all university members regarding the infection situation and further developments regarding university operations during the winter semester


Dear University Members,
dear Colleagues, dear Students,

the rapidly increasing numbers of infections throughout Germany in recent days and weeks are currently giving many university members cause for concern. Against this background, I would like to provide you with an update on the University's handling of the Corona pandemic and further developments.

First of all, I can give a reassuring signal: In order to ensure safe university operations during the winter semester, Leuphana University of Lüneburg has introduced the 3G rule for students and faculty as well as employees and implemented a comprehensive hygiene concept (masks, spacing, ventilation) in everyday university life. In addition, according to all available data and reports, we can assume that the vaccination rate of university members is significantly higher than the vaccination rate of the population as a whole; in the group of students, in agreement with reports also from other universities, we now assume a vaccination rate of 90% or more and thus a vaccination rate sufficient for herd immunity.

Against this background, we observe that since the start of regular courses for the winter semester at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, there have been no infections that can be proven or presumably attributed to courses or other events of ongoing university operations. University members have informed us of 26 cases of infection since the start of regular courses to date. We have received reports from the Health Office in only three of these cases; the vast majority of the 26 cases reported to us have not been deemed of concern by the Health Office. To our knowledge, none of these 26 cases involved transmission in a course. Therefore, we believe that all of the cases were infections that occurred off campus in other contexts rather than on campus.

The university currently prophylactically informs all teachers and students of courses attended by the infected persons in a period of 10 days prior to notification of an infection to the university. Since the beginning of the winter semester, participants in 75 courses have been informed of the cases of infection reported to us. With this information, we want to sensitize all possibly affected university members as comprehensively as possible - even if, from the point of view of the health authorities, there is no reason for immediate concern.

After three semesters conducted almost exclusively digitally, Leuphana University of Lüneburg, like other universities and colleges in Lower Saxony and Germany, has very consciously and consistently returned to conducting courses as completely as possible in presence with the winter semester. All lecturers are currently required to teach courses entirely in attendance, unless there are medically justified exceptions. This priority on face-to-face teaching corresponds to the tasks of our university as a face-to-face university, follows the lines agreed upon among universities statewide and nationwide, and also corresponds to the wishes expressed by the vast majority of university members, especially students, in preparation for the winter semester.

Nevertheless, it is the case that the changing situation must be constantly re-evaluated, especially against the background of the current particularly sharp rise in the number of infections. To this end, various consultations are also taking place this week with the advisory groups set up for this purpose (with deaneries and deans of studies, department heads, staff council, student body), with the responsible committees (presidium, senate), with the other universities in Lower Saxony and Germany (within the framework of the State University Conference and the University Rectors' Conference), and with the state government (Ministry of Science and Culture). In addition, as you know, the Bundestag is discussing an amendment to the Infection Protection Act this week. As a result, there will certainly also be adjustments to the Corona Ordinances of the State of Lower Saxony.

Against this background, I ask for your understanding that we will first wait for the results of the ongoing consultations this week and the announcement of the changed political framework conditions before deciding on possible effects on teaching at Leuphana. In doing so, it will be a matter of keeping an eye on the best possible fulfillment of the university's tasks in education and research, the personal situations of the university members, health protection, and the legal basis, and weighing them up carefully. As far as the general conditions allow, the aim of the university to be as present as possible will certainly continue to exist in principle. We will keep you informed about further developments in a timely manner.

Finally, in the interest of the greatest possible safety for university operations, I would like to ask you once again: Adhere to the mask requirement and regular ventilation in university buildings, as well as spacing as far as possible. Take advantage of the now renewed offers for free citizen testing, e.g. at the testing station in the cafeteria of the Central Building, even if you have already been vaccinated or have recovered. Report confirmed Corona infection to the University (cv-kontaktnachverfolgung@leuphana.de) and follow all regulations found on our Corona portal at www.leuphana.de/portale/coronavirus. Last but not least: Follow the recommendations of public health authorities and get vaccinated or seek appropriate medical advice if you have questions about vaccination. Immunization appointments for first, second, and third vaccinations will be offered on November 23 and 30, and December 7, 14, and 21 in the Central Building cafeteria without an appointment.

With best regards
Christian Brei
Executive Vice President