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UFB: University services during the corona crisis

Although the majority of University staff are currently working from home, dozens of UFB employees are still at work in University premises. They are manning the reception desks, for example. But what else is going on?

Digital facilities for teaching and PhD defences

Lecturers who record material for lectures and tutorials at home can rely on the full support of  the staff of the audiovisual department. Some of this support is individual work, such as digitising teaching material. Fortunately, the University offers a range of applications and solutions to make this process as pleasant and easy as possible and AV staff are available to help where necessary.

Live teaching is also possible, supported by the video department of the University Library. The Kaltura Live Room programme allows lecturers to create a digital classroom where both teacher and students are visible. This makes the lectures more personal and lowers the threshold for students to ask questions. Lecturers can also share documents wth students in real time via this platform.

As well as providing support for the various types of digital teaching, such as assisting lecturers who prefer to record lessons in a lecture room, the UFB also provides the services necessary for digital PhD defences. The facilities for live-streaming inaugural lectures, which have been in use within the University for over a year, were not able to support defence ceremonies.  This is because inaugural lectures are one-way traffic, whereas for digital defences interaction and easy access are essential. Here, too, Kaltura Live Room provided the solution. The different parties involved can take part with just a press of the button. The Pro-Rector - the deputy for the Rector, who obviously cannot be present at all the hundreds of defence ceremonies - logs in from the lectern in the Academy Building so that the PhD candidate can still experience the charm of the Great Auditorium. Some ten researchers have now had a digital defence ceremony, roughly four a week.  

Assisting other departments

Obviously, there are also team members who cannot do their  normal work, such as catering staff. As the University cafés and restaurants are closed, these members of staff are making a valuable contribution to operational processes elsewhere in the organisation. Some of the catering staff are currently working on the Easy Access project, a continuous process where documents are checked for copyright issues. The aim of the project is to gain an understanding of the number of documents in the online learning environment that are subject to copyright. 

Other catering staff are helping their colleagues with general service activities. Multidisciplinary teams are painting lecture rooms, for example, a job that is normally contracted out. Other teams are tidying up loose cables in offices and are fitting new clothes hooks in the toilets. They are cleaning the area in front of the Pieter de la Court building, cleaning the bookshelves in the library and giving a fresh coat of paint to the bicycle storage at the Wijnhaven location - having tightened up all the screws in the bicycle racks. Bucketfuls of cigarette butts have been dug out of the bricks in the courtyard and garden furniture is being cleaned and re-laquered. Teams are also checking the first aid kits to make sure they are complete and others are replacing the protective caps on chair legs. In their daily rounds these teams remove any perishable items from fridges and water indoor plants. They are also helping the Post and Transport department by delivering office furniture to staff at home. With all this work going on, there's an enormous feeling of solidarity among the different departments, even  in a time of social distancing.  

Providing facilities in a time of crisis

The crisis is also calling for activities that fall outside the regular services,  and that are intended to guarantee the safety of staff and visitors to University premises. The UFB is installing what are popularly known as 'cough screens' where necessary throughout the University. These screens have a small opening so that items can be exchanged. 

An attendance registration tool has been developed to keep a check on the number of people in the different buildings. Reception staff keep a record of people entering and leavings University premises, including, for example, students who come to pick up books. The number of people present in a building determines how many emergency support staff have to be present in the building.  

To prepare for the limited opening of University buildings, the UFB has started to work on the notices needed to constantly remind people of the measures they need to take. Roll-up banners, posters and noticeboards state clearly how logistics within the University are complying withthe one and a half metres distance requirement. They remind people to register when they enter buildings and to wash their hands regularly, as well informing them about the maximum capacity and use of rooms, stairs, lifts and other facilities. 

And finally, minor but nonetheless important maintenance is being carried out. In line with protocol, for example, taps, hand showers and reels have to be rinsed at least once a week to prevent legionnaires' disease. The UFB staff are using this period when the buildings are closed to make regular maintenance patrols. 

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