Top image: UNIS and the Svalbard Science Centre. Photo: Eva Therese Jenssen/UNIS.
Based on the current Covid-19 national regulations and on direct advice from the infection control doctor at the Longyearbyen Hospital, UNIS has decided that all teaching shall be digital throughout the month of January. This decision might be extended depending on the national and local infection control rules.
13 January 2021
Press release from The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS)
On 2 January 2021, the Norwegian government decided that all teaching at tertiary vocational colleges, university colleges and universities must take place digitally until 18 January. Today the government signalled that the current regulations will most probably be extended.
Based on this decision, the current Covid-19 situation in Norway, and on direct advice from the infection control doctor at the Longyearbyen Hospital, UNIS has decided that all teaching shall be digital throughout the month of January. This decision might be extended depending on the national and local infection control rules.
This means that the winter safety course (AS-101), scheduled to commence on Monday 18 January after lunch, is postponed. The theoretical aspects will be taught digitally during week 3 and 4, whereas the practical exercises of the winter safety course are planned to be executed in three sections, divided into the weeks 5, 6 and 7 (1 -19 February). These dates might always be subject to change depending on the national and local infection control rules.
“Since the start of the pandemic, UNIS has had extensive infection control procedures in place at the institution. The goal of the procedure is to prevent students and staff from becoming infected as a result of participating in UNIS activities,” says UNIS director Jøran Moen. “That is why we have, on advice from the local health authorities, decided to start the semester with only digital teaching, and postpone physical teaching until February”, he says.
UNIS infection control procedures are based on national and local guidelines, but in some cases, UNIS internal rules are more restrictive than local and national guidelines.
“This is due to special challenges related to the institution’s uniqueness with fieldwork in the Arctic as a specialty”, says UNIS HSE director Fred Skancke Hansen.
Digital semester opening on 18 January
UNIS invites all students to a digital semester opening on Monday 18 January at 09:00. From Tuesday 19 January students should be prepared for digital teaching in their respective courses.
The director acknowledges that 2021 is not starting the way we wanted it to.
“I wish I could have welcomed all students personally on campus, but unfortunately the spring semester is not starting as we are used to. We are all disappointed with this, but we must try to make the best of the situation”, says Moen.
“We are now experiencing a time with a lot of uncertainty and restrictions from the government that affects our working life and private life. It is important to take care of both physical and psychosocial needs during these times and both students and staff have professional psychosocial resources they can use if needed”, says the UNIS director.