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COVID-19: University of Zagreb recommendations for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate classes

The University of Zagreb, in coordination with the Croatian Institute of Public Health and the Andrija Štampar School of Public Health, has issued recommendations regarding the continued conducting of university classes and activities, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Basic items:

Any gathering in the infrastructure or facilities of the University of Zagreb (henceforth: the University) and its constituent units, including the travel to the constituent unit and the University and back, and especially if public transport cannot be avoided, can represent an increased risk of COVID-19 infection for families at home.

Therefore we recommend and issue the following:

- to the greatest possible extent, all university class activities including exam taking, as well as administrative operations (exam registration, enrolment, suspension of study, etc.), are to be conducted through online communication and telephone (remote classes and exam taking), avoiding meetings and especially large gatherings of students/university professors/staff;

- staying at home and taking classes remotely is especially recommended for students /university professors/staff with chronic illnesses (respiratory, cardiovascular, diabetes, malignancies, immunodeficiencies, students with significant physical/motor disabilities) and students/university professors/staff whose parents/caretakers or household members suffer from any of the mentioned diseases or are of an advanced age;

-students/university professors/staff are not to enter either the outer (yard, garden, field) or inner areas of the University/constituent unit if they have fever, respiratory symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath, could have been in contact with COVID-19 positive persons, are suspected of being infected with COVID-19, or are in self-isolation.

The University constituent units are encouraged to provide students with as much access to the necessary computer equipment as possible.

The deans of the University constituent units are tasked with assessment, selection and implementation of measures at their constituent units to carry out all obligations at every study level for students/university professors/staff, in accordance with the prescribed programmes.

Organising parts of classes or exams and other student obligations that cannot be conducted remotely:

The necessary (unavoidable) gatherings at the University/constituent unit is to be organised to ensure the greatest possible degree of social distancing (physical separation), as well as enhanced hand and space hygiene.

Social distancing (physical separation):

A distance of at least 2 metres from other persons is to be maintained when entering or exiting the facilities of the University/constituent unit and while moving about the premises.

Any gathering (for conducting parts of classes and/or fulfilling student obligations) should be held in the largest and airiest available space, and must at all times be restricted to 10 people or fewer.

Gatherings at the University/constituent units are to be organised according to the following:
• activities are to be conducted in limited groups of students/university professors/staff (up to 10 people),
• student/university professor/staff member class schedule does not overlap, so the facilities can be appropriately aired and disinfected before the next student/teacher group enters,
• every student/university professor/staff group always conducts classes in the same designated facility,
• university professor/staff workplace must be removed far enough so that the students can maintain their 2 metres of personal space,
• library access will be organised by each constituent unit according to its size and workplace spread, and in accordance with the aforementioned recommendations.

Recommended measures for areas used by a student/professor group:
• area is to be regularly aired and disinfected, with special attention given to toilet hygiene and disinfecting,
• simultaneous group movement through common areas should be avoided or minimised by implementing a break in between classes, and keeping the time needed for area disinfecting in mind.

Entering and exiting the University/constituent units facilities:

All visits to the University/constituent unit facilities for events such as public forums, seminars, group meetings larger than 10 people, extracurricular activities, etc. are suspended until further notice.

It is advisable to organise shift work if possible.

The University/constituent unit should host the least possible number of students/university professors/staff at any one time, as well as encouraging working from home and barring entrance for employees that have not been designated to work.

Delivery for the University/constituent units is received by designated staff members, and entrance is permitted only to repairmen and other services in immediate demand, provided the prescribed epidemiological measures are respected.

Hand sanitiser must be made available at the entrance and several others easily accessible locations, accompanied with clear written instructions.

Tactile fomites such as door knobs, window handles, work surfaces, keyboards, consoles, kitchen and toilet faucets, flush buttons, remote controls, light switches, doorbells, elevator buttons, and other tactile surfaces used by a larger number of people need to be disinfected at the beginning and end of each shift, depending on the frequency in the relevant facilities. Avoid using air conditioning and ventilation devices.

Masks: Students/university professors/staff are recommended to wear masks or other mouth and nose coverings, especially in circumstances where there exists an increased risk of infection, and students/university professors/staff suffering from chronic illnesses. Frequent hand hygiene and disinfecting is preferable to wearing gloves.

Daily temperature taking and monitoring symptom development in University/constituent unit staff and students:

Every day upon entering and exiting the University/constituent unit, students/university professors/staff will have their temperature taken using infrared thermometers to help determine if they exhibit any symptoms or signs of the disease. Persons whose body temperature registers as 37.2 °C or over will have their temperature taken with a standard thermometer, whereupon prescribed epidemiological steps are taken based on the result.

A designated recordkeeping file is required to track the changes in body temperature and possible development of respiratory symptoms.

Students/university professors/staff are required to take their own temperature every time before they arrive at work, and to contact their supervisor and the designated family physician by phone in case of fever.

In case of fever and/or respiratory symptoms, employees are required to leave the workplace immediately, and contact their supervisor and their designated family physician.

In case of appearance of a possible carrier/possible source of infection, each student/university professor/staff member is required to inform their supervisor immediately.

Appropriate student/university professor/staff member behaviour:
• Touching the mouth, nose, eyes and face with the hands should be avoided.
• Regular and correct hand hygiene (washing and disinfecting).
• Adhering to the correct hand washing instructions:
• After washing with soap and water, hands should be dried with single-use paper towels, which should afterwards be discarded into a bin with a lid.
• When coughing and sneezing, the mouth and nose should be covered with an elbow or a paper tissue which should afterwards be discarded into a bin with a lid, and the hands washed.
• When coughing and sneezing, the face should be turned away from other people.
• Glasses, cups, other dishes and eating utensils should not be shared between people.
• Physical activities that intensively accelerate and intensify breathing, running and other forms of rapid movement, should be reduced as much as possible and accompanied by additional enhanced protection (increase the distance between persons to 2 metres or more, with recommendations to only engage in such physical activities outdoors).

Students who have been provided with aid from a personal assistant:

Constituent units of the University must provide remote studying for their special needs students, and the personal assistants aiding them must abide by all aforementioned regulations.

Final recommendations:

In case work is impossible to organise due to a greater number of employees in self-isolation, the deans of the University constituent units may coordinate with the University of Zagreb rector to reallocate employees from other constituent units to ensure the continued university classes.

The continued cooperation of all constituent units with the University of Zagreb administration is essential.

The deans of the University constituent units is required to assign each task to a person responsible for keeping record on the implementation of all aforementioned.

These recommendations do not preclude implementation of other recommendations as appropriate for the current and changing epidemiological situation, which involves keeping track of the University of Zagreb Crisis Headquarters and the Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.

Instructions for cleaning and disinfecting:

• No COVID-19 patients:

• Persons infected or suspected to be infected with COVID-19:

These recommendations concern those constituent units that have not suffered significant damage during the recent Zagreb earthquake, and whose scientific and research infrastructure is not temporarily or permanently out of commission.

Damir Boras, Ph. D.