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On 15 April, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the state premiers agreed to gradually relax restrictions on public life.

Based on the deliberations, Saxony’s cabinet announced the following decisions that will slightly loosen restrictions in the Free State of Saxony from next Monday (20 April 2020). The changes will also affect a wide range of areas at Leipzig University. “Despite the plans to ease the restrictions, which we are all pleased about, our two goals remain the same: firstly, prevention and secondly, maintaining the continuity of the University. In this respect, the Rectorate continues to ensure that the spread of the virus will be contained as much as possible in the coming weeks and months,” said Rector Professor Beate Schücking. At the same time, the particular academic and administrative challenges of the upcoming summer semester must be overcome jointly with the support of all staff. 

The University’s Head of Administration and Finance, Professor Birgit Dräger, will inform staff about the specific precautionary measures and regulations which must be observed in future, in particular those regarding working processes and working hours. In principle, the first stage of relaxing the restrictions at the University will involve stepping up activity above all in those research areas that operate laboratories or similar facilities. It should be noted that all hygiene regulations must be observed. Moreover, it must always be possible to trace who was present in which area or which persons came into contact with each other – for example by keeping laboratory notebooks. This phase can begin on 21 April, or a few days later depending on individual circumstances. It offers support to those students whose final thesis depends on laboratory work. It is also important to consider which mandatory internships can take place from May onwards (subject to the relevant hygiene regulations). For the time being, it will be necessary to continue offering classes with large groups and regular lectures via e-learning. The Vice-Rector for Education and International Affairs, Professor Thomas Hofsäss, will consult the Deans of Studies about which small face-to-face classes can take place from 4 May 2020.  

In organising their work, all University staff should remember that cases of illness or quarantine can occur at any time. This means that, where possible, it would be advisable to organise parallel teams that only ever meet virtually and can cover for each other in cases of quarantine. Wherever and whenever feasible, members of staff should work online and from home. In any case, many employees will still be involved in childcare at home.

The provisions announced in the staff emails of 17 March and 7 April 2020 will initially continue to apply until 16 May. Any amendments and additions to these provisions will be announced on Monday, 20 April in another staff email.

First phase of library openings from 21 April

Leipzig University’s libraries will also gradually return to normal operations. In the first phase, which will begin on 21 April, the Bibliotheca Albertina, the Campus Library, the Library of Medicine and Sciences, the Education and Sport Science Library, and the Veterinary Medicine Library will introduce contactless lending of open-access and closed-stack items, with books returned via machine. The libraries will trial the use of self-checkout machines. However, face-to-face consultations are still not possible. There is a special arrangement for the Law Library: for the time being, the library will be open exclusively to the approximately 250 exam candidates. A maximum of 120 persons will be admitted in two time slots. Among other arrangements, the Faculty of Law has announced that it will grant students compensation for disadvantages when assessing coursework. In addition, the assignment of coursework topics has been adapted to the available electronic resources, with assessment criteria modified accordingly. “If all these measures prove successful, which I assume they will, there will be further steps towards opening up the other library branches,” said the Rector.