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Semester start at UiA with social distancing

Updated 4 August: UiA wants to give our students as much face-to-face teaching as possible, but from semester start the one-metre distance requirement will be maintained both in lectures and on campus in general. This is in line with the government's decision on 28 July - and in line with the plans UiA has prepared for semester start and the autumn semester.

Campus Grimstad (top) and Campus Kristiansand

University of Agder - Campus Grimstad (top) and Campus Kristiansand

Update 4 August:

Employees: Faculty directors and Department directors can allow employees to work on campus. Fully vaccinated employees (2 shots) decides themselves whether they will work on campus or not. Everybody must follow the Infection control guide, including the 1 meter social distance.

Students: All students will be offered vaccine from the Municipal Health services in Kristiansand and Grimstad. After next weekend the information will be updated if the municipalities decides to perform the vaccination at campus.

“Uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant and increased spread both in Norway and internationally means that the government has decided not to implement step 4 in the reopening plan now. A new assessment on whether to move to step 4 will take place in mid-August,” the government writes in a press release 28 July.

It is possible that the government will introduce some announced stage 4 adjustments in mid-August, but no decision has been made yet - and there will probably not be any new announcements until possibly at the end of week 32, perhaps Friday 13 August .

A large proportion of our students at UiA come from other parts of the country - 47 percent of offers were given to applicants from regions other than Agder in the main admissions round. Many of UiA's students are young, UiA is one of the higher education institutions with the most students under the age of 21. Both of these factors were considered in the assessment UiA made when planning the autumn semester and semester start. There is also uncertainty surrounding the vaccines because of the Delta variant, the government writes.

Timetabling is a huge puzzle

Semester start at UiA is Monday 16 August, and this means that the autumn semester starts according to plan. You can read more about semester start here.

Among the possible changes in the reopening plan, the government states that "Universities, colleges and vocational colleges may return to face-to-face teaching with no distance requirement during the lesson itself."

The task of preparing timetables at UiA began in April. It is a giant puzzle to ensure that lectures do not collide, while factoring in room sizes and other variables. Therefore, it is difficult to change assigned lecture times and rooms overnight. UiA plans to be able to offer the maximum number of students in-person teaching, and the university has also rented external premises in both Kristiansand and Grimstad to make this happen.

In addition, the lecturers have been preparing their teaching for a long time, preparing digital lectures and hybrids with both in-person and online teaching.

When the government introduces the adjusted step 4 and removes the distance requirement in auditoriums and classrooms, UiA will try to adapt to this as far as possible - but getting back to normal, as we all want, will necessarily take time. The changes brought about over the last 18 months have provided some positive experiences with elements of digital teaching, these will be continued and developed.

For more about teaching: Scroll down and choose ‘Teaching’ on the website ‘Information and guidelines about the coronavirus’.

Exams will largely be completed online this autumn as well.

A precautionary approach

Ever since lockdown was introduced in March 2020, UiA’s guiding principles have been health and safety and a normal study progression for our students.

That means that everyone must take the course in protective measures and continue to follow the basic principles to reduce transmission risk, even if you are vaccinated as emphasised by NIPH:

  1. Stay at home if you know you are sick - and take a test as soon as you can.
  2. Keep a one-metre distance from others.
  3. Wash your hands often or use hand sanitiser.
  4. Use QR codes in lectures and where relevant. This makes contact tracing easier, and only the persons nearest you will be affected should you have to self-isolate. The stage we are at now,  step 3 of the government’s reopening plan requires the registration of attendees, and UiA has chosen to use QR codes for this purpose.

In addition, UiA asks everyone to register in NIPH’s Smittestopp app, since this makes infection tracking easier, not least in common areas - and that will help us avoid having to close down campus.

Read more about semester start, buddy groups and onboarding here.

The vaccination centre in Kristiansand is located at Sørlandssenteret. (Photo: Børge Røssaak Nilsen, Kristiansand municipality)

The vaccination centre in Kristiansand is located at Sørlandssenteret. (Photo: Børge Røssaak Nilsen, Kristiansand municipality)

Vaccination

Many students and staff will not have been fully vaccinated at the beginning of the semester. According to the latest vaccination calendar from NIPH (28 June), people over the age of 18 will not be fully vaccinated until October.

Both Kristiansand and Grimstad offer vaccinations to students. Read more about how to receive the second dose, possibly both doses, even if you are registered as a resident in a different municipality. (Scroll down to the second item – ‘Vaccination’) See update on top of the page.

UiA employees and home office

From 9 August, employees who want to work on campus must clarify this with their HR responsible: Faculty Director / Division Director, as before. That is because the government has not allowed for a full return to the offices in step 3 of the reopening plan. At the same time, UiA wishes that employees will be able to return to campus. It is positive both for the individual employee and not least for the students.

Update 4 August: Faculty directors and Department directors can allow employees to work on campus. Fully vaccinated employees (2 shots) decides themselves whether the will work on campus or not. Everybody must follow the Infection control guide.