Business as usual, online working and learning, and social distancing
Wittenborg University of Applied Sciences will continue offering its programmes online until at least 17 May, which is the end of block 6, and is already making preparations to deliver the last block of the academic year online (block 7). The university has taken extensive, pro-active measures to make sure the education schedule is not disrupted, and that both students and staff are fully informed and equipped to continue as normally as possible in an abnormal global situation created by the coronavirus COVID-19.
No lockdown yet but enforced 'social distancing' - 1.5-metre rule enforced
The Netherlands has not yet adopted the 'lockdown' social and economic policies of surrounding countries; however, so-called 'social-distancing' is now being enforced, and everyone in the country has been commanded to keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres from each other.
Locations still open this week (23-27 March)
Meanwhile, some good news was welcomed on Friday afternoon when Wittenborg CEO Maggie Feng announced one of Wittenborg's locations in Apeldoorn, the Aventus Building, will be open on weekdays 07:30-17:00.
Its Spoorstraat campus in Apeldoorn as well as its campuses in Amsterdam and Munich will remain closed until further notice, in line with urgent measures announced by the Dutch government more than ten days ago.
An empty Aventus location will be open for students and staff, albeit operating a skeleton staff at the building itself. New Students who have arrived or are arriving for Block 6 must ensure they are in contact with the Front Desk and the Registry (firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com). Forthcoming introduction days will be held online as webinars. Students planning to arrive for Block 7 must contact the Registry for all arrangements.
Transition to Online Delivery
In a touching message to staff last week, Wittenborg's chair of the executive board, Peter Birdsall, said: "We think we have come up with a good solution, that will see Wittenborg comfortably through the closure of live classroom lessons and a transition to online delivery. This period will enable us to enhance and improve and maybe even excel in the further development of our online education support. It will also bring us together in a way that we may not have understood before – that we are ourselves a learning and developing community.
"Some of us are stuck abroad. Some of us may become ill. Some of us may be confronted with harrowing situations. All of us will be confronted with a ‘new situation’ either in administration or in providing the best possible education we can offer! We, therefore, ask everyone, from the depth of our hearts, to support Wittenborg, whatever your own personal situation. We take no decision lightly."
Arrangements for education delivery are outlined in continuous updates. These updates have been communicated to all students and staff. Wittenborg has more than 1,000 students from more than 100 different nationalities.
To accommodate the situation, Wittenborg has also made some changes to the teaching and assessment of students for the forthcoming block. This includes slight modifications to how exams are taken, assignments and the submission of assignments. For the duration of the coronavirus situation, the 75% physical attendance rate for all students has been replaced by assignments and a 'participation requirement', the latest policy update reads.
This week staff have worked tirelessly to ensure that the academic schedule runs smoothly, sorting out IT-hitches, encouraging each other, and aided by lots of support from management and senior staff, like Prof. Ron Tuninga, Vice-President of Academic Affairs, and Dr Jan-Albert Dop, Vice-President Corporate Affairs.
Shining Examples of Global Citizens
Finally, Birdsall urged students and staff to "be shining examples of good global citizens and give our support where needed".
Wittenborg's mainline telephone number +31 088 667 2688 remains available at all times during working hours (CET). Email firstname.lastname@example.org for all urgent questions about health and the effect of coronavirus. Email email@example.com for all IT and online login assistance.
by Anesca Smith & Others
©Wittenborg University Press