Coronavirus no longer needs an introduction. Its worldwide impact is evident in most countries, affecting economic and health systems. Many governments have taken measurements to minimize the number of infected citizens, by declaring mandatory quarantine and limiting daily study and work activities.
Despite this scenario, the Swedish government has decided to postpone the isolation measures as long as possible. It was only until yesterday (March 17th) that virtual classes were recommended to universities and other higher education institutions.
However, the fear of continuing with the normal academic activities was latent among the students of Lund University, who face a situation of possible contamination when exposed to public spaces and with crowds, such as classrooms and public transportation. The uncertainty is greater for international and exchange students, and students with scholarships or loans, those who have not been clear about the status in their specific conditions.
Onur Fidangul, an international student of the Master’s in Social Studies of Gender at Lund University, in company with other students, decided to request the highest authorities of the university to take action on the matter. Through a letter signed by more than 1.300 students and staff members, the directors were asked to take immediate action to stop all kinds of meetings, classes, and reunions that would put the health of the community at risk. They also require the university to temporarily suspend Student Nations’ activities as well as other cultural and social events at the university.
In response to this open letter, Torbjörn von Schantz, Vice-Chancellor of Lund University, declared on his blog (March 16th): “Lund University considers it important that education and research can continue to be conducted. Campus-based activities will, therefore, remain in place and to delay the spread of infection and help the healthcare sector, we urge all our units that can conduct digital education with retained quality to do so”.
However, yesterday (March 17th) the government communicated a recommendation for all colleges and universities to withdrawn every campus-based activity and convert to distance education. On a press conference held yesterday afternoon, the university declared to follow this recommendation.
Additionally, on the official web page of the university, it is determined that “guidelines regarding self-isolation at home apply to all students and staff who show symptoms (runny nose, cough, and fever), whether they have been abroad or not”. Even though, “it is now widely known that people who do not have symptoms or present only mild symptoms can transmit the virus as well”, replied Onur Findagul.