Requirements and regulations for the 2020 summer semester
In mid-March 2020, the federal states, in consultation with the federal government and universities, imposed or recommended numerous requirements and regulations aimed at preventing the further spread of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in order to support the nationwide measures taken against the current coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). The fundamental measure was to immediately suspend ongoing lectures or postpone upcoming lectures in the form of face-to-face teaching in the 2020 summer semester until at least after Easter (i.e. until 20/4/2020 in most federal states; until 4/5/2020 in Saarland, Saxony and Thuringia); later on, face-to-face teaching was suspended for the whole summer semester and replaced by digital, online formats.
On 2/4/2020, the federal states agreed on the following key points at a meeting of the leaders of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder (KMK):
- The dates of the 2020 summer semester will not be postponed.
- The lecture timetables for the 2020 summer semester can be arranged flexibly.
- Deadlines for the application and admission procedure for undergraduate degree programmes will be adjusted for the 2020/2021 winter semester.
- Lectures at universities and universities of applied sciences are to begin uniformly on 1/11/2020 in the 2020/2021 winter semester.
Moreover, it was agreed on that the 2020 summer semester would “be an unusual semester, but it will not be lost”. The objective was to create the necessary framework conditions for universities so that teaching and research can run as smoothly as possible in the 2020 summer semester. (more)
On 15/4/2020, the Prime Ministers of the Federal States, together with the Federal Chancellor and members of the federal government, decided on the initial easing of the previously applicable contact restrictions. The following was agreed for the universities:
- “In university teaching, practice-oriented events requiring special laboratories or working areas at universities can be resumed in compliance with special hygiene and protective measures, in addition to the organisation of examinations. Libraries and archives may be opened subject to requirements to maintain hygiene, manage access and prevent queues.”
- Major events played a significant role in the spread of the infection, “which is why they remain prohibited until at least 31 August 2020”.
- The following was also noted: “In addition to vaccine development, research will make other important contributions towards overcoming the pandemic. With the support of the research institutions at the federal and state level, a SARS-CoV-2 database is being created to document and analyse hospital treatments. In conjunction with studies on various medications, this will help to identify the best strategies for preventing and treating serious cases of the disease.”
For the period ahead, the principle guiding the actions of the federal and state governments is to protect everyone in Germany from infection as far as possible. “This is why infection prevention and hygiene measures are a priority everywhere and particularly in places where contact is necessary, such as in certain work environments.” (more)
Therefore, it was agreed on that lectures at German universities will predominantly be held in a digital, online format in the 2020 summer semester until further notice. The lecture period could be extended into August; the summer semester was stated to end on 30 September, as usual.
Following the easing of pandemic-related contact restrictions initiated by the federal and state governments at the beginning of May 2020, regulations for examinations and lectures requiring the physical attendance of participants were drawn up at the federal state level or within the framework of university autonomy. They could take place in accordance with the special hygiene requirements and infection prevention guidelines; universities developed suitable concepts for this. Nevertheless, lectures and most seminar in class teaching continued to be held digitally during the entire summer semester.