The impact of the pandemic

The currently sharply increasing spread of covid-19 in society is very worrying. For all of us, it is now important to take the situation very seriously, in both our private and working life. Last week, the government announced that from November 24, they intend to limit public gatherings to a maximum of 8 people, which is a historic decision. This decision led us to gather the university’s management to assess what we can do further to help limit the spread of infection in society. It is very important that we listen and move in line with the government’s message that the decision should be normative, even if it does not really cover our organization. Therefore, during the remaining part of the autumn semester, there will be a further tightening of the main rule on digital and distance at the University of Gothenburg. This means that we now will do our utmost to avoid presence on campus and, as a general rule, activities that gather more than eight people should not take place on the university’s premises.

It is very important that we listen and move in line with the government’s message that the decision should be normative, even if it does not really cover our organization.

The pandemic will continue to affect society and consequently the university also in 2021. This means that the university will have to adapt and conduct most of its activities digitally and remotely during the spring semester. This was the new policy decision Digitally and at a distance also during the spring term, which I decided on at the beginning of November. A central starting point for the decision is that all decisions we make, at all levels, must be made with the aim that together we should contribute to reducing the spread of infection in society but at the same time maintain quality in what we do. Nobody says it’s easy but it pretty much sums up what we have to relate to. The decision takes into account that regional recommendations such as those currently prevailing in our region, may be added.

Although I like many others feel worried, I feel a great deal of confidence in our organization, which at all levels takes great responsibility, prioritizes and coordinates its activities on a daily basis based on the current advice and restrictions. I have great confidence that the organization will be able to decide what is not possible to implement digitally. Some exceptions are necessary, this may involve some examination, some laboratory work and parts of the artistic education. But we should definitely not have staff meetings or lectures on site that could just as easily have taken place digitally.

The pandemic has required adjustments in the form of renewed working methods in teaching, research and operational support, as the university in a very short time has implemented a major transition to distance education and temporary working from home. The pandemic has posed great challenges for us and will continue to do so. But at the same time, we have had to rethink how we can relate to an increasingly digitalized way of working and this has in my opinion led to great progress in our international collaborations. For example, in our international collaborative projects EUTOPIA and MIRAI, it is my experience that we have not let ourselves be hindered by the fact that it is not possible to meet, but instead gained strength through professionally conducted webinars, frequent meetings and the like. An experience that we will take with us in the future.

Eva Wiberg

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