COVID-19: the spring semester begins online, working from home is still the norm
Institutional Communication Service
On Monday, February 22, 2021, teaching activities for the spring semester will resume – in online mode, until further notice. All existing protective provisions, summarised below, remain in place until further notice.
The generalised requirement for universities to provide distance learning, as decided by the Federal Council, remains unchanged. The teaching activities of the spring semester will therefore begin online, in a blended synchronous-asynchronous mode, with a maximum of 50% of teaching hours in synchronous mode.
Students can find on the iCorsi platform all specific indications for each course.
USI will constantly monitor the evolution of the situation and will continue to act along these lines:
- Online classes when, and as much as, necessary; resuming classes on campuses if, when and insofar possible.
- Blended approaches, similar to those adopted in the autumn semester, allowing for seamless transitions from full online to partial attendance, if possible, and vice versa from partial attendance to full online, if required.
- The Faculties define specific arrangements. The public authorities may grant exceptions for specific learning situations, with limited numbers of students or of particular relevance within individual study programs.
- Those who, for valid reasons, are unable to participate in synchronous online activities or on-campus classes (if, and when, permitted) will in any case be given the adequate means and opportunity to complete the semester.
This approach follows the four principles that have led USI throughout the pandemic: protect the safety of the academic community; seek solutions that guarantee continuity to the institution, contribute to holding up the sense of community; ensure the academic offer even in such a difficult and volatile context; comply with the decisions of the competent public authorities.
Work from home
According to the federal provisions, "employers must provide for telecommuting in cases where, given the type of activity, this is possible and feasible without incurring in excessive hardship".
For USI, telecommuting (or working from home, WFM) shall therefore be considered as the norm and employees must in principle perform their activities remotely.
Given that many of the University's activities can be performed online, the recommendation is that staff and the academic body engage in telecommuting as much as possible. It is, however, up to the individual managers (both in the administrative and academic domains) to define with their staff the specific ways of applying this provision: the goal is in fact - at the same time - not to interrupt or unduly compromise the very quality of the activities. Those responsible for staff who, for particular reasons, perform part of the work in attendance on site, must be prepared to justify the reasons for this and ensure that the protective measures are respected.
Although physical meetings remain formally possible for a limited number of participants, they are strongly discouraged. Meetings of the Faculty Councils, the Academic Senate and the University Council must therefore be held online.
The organisation of online events may continue, with a maximum of 5 speakers in the same space and all the protective measures provided for.
The requirement to wear a face mask also applies in offices if more than one person is present, as the increased distance between workstations in the same room is no longer sufficient. In addition, wearing face masks remains mandatory:
- in all common indoor areas (classrooms, corridors, bathrooms, etc.), at all times;
- in all outdoor spaces (including balconies and terraces), if the minimum distance of 1.5 m between people cannot be guaranteed.
The study rooms provided on the campuses (www.usi.ch/protection-provisions, section "Students") remain open for self-study, subject to these principles:
- wearing face masks even when seated;
- keeping the required safety distances;
- respecting the maximum number of people per room;
- workgroups with more than five people are prohibited.
The reading rooms in the USI libraries reopen beginning March 1. For information: