Austrian Universities Should Use Traffic Light System as Orientation

More+More+ ♦ Published: August 20, 2020; 10:02 ♦ (Vindobona)

Minister Faßmann presented a COVID-19 orientated traffic light system for universities to provide them with recommendations on how to react on rising Coronavirus cases. It is comparable to the system which will be implemented in schools.

Universities can autonomously decide on how to react on rising Coronavirus cases. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / [CC BY 2.0 (]

In October the Austrian universities are starting their winter term and therefore Minister Faßmann presented a COVID-19 orientated teaching guide in order to guarantee a safe learning for students. Together with universities and student unions, the ministry of education discussed the previous monhs and worked on solutions for the upcoming term.

In general, it is recommended to provide a mix of online and offline classes to be as flexible as possible. In Austria, universities are autonomous, and they do not have to stick to the recommendations of the government.

However, the ministry of education still provided the guide as an orientation to support the decision making of universities if the numbers of Corona cases are rising. The guide can be comparable to the traffic light system which was put in place for schools.

Green: offline classes can be provided if hygiene regulations and distance keeping are complied with. There are no restrictions concerning exams, usage of laboratories, offices and libraries.

Yellow: a mix of online and offline classes is recommended however teaching, research and the general operations can take place at the campus. It should be possible for members of the risk group and international students to take part in online classes.

Orange: a mix of online and offline classes is now highly recommended and online teaching should be the major part. Campus access for persons not related to the university should be restricted, hygiene measures for toilets and elevators should be put in place, laboratories must switch to shift operation and reading areas in libraries have to close.

Red: online classes have to be put in place and only critical areas can be offline if their stop would lead to a significant risk or financial burden for the university. Students and staff are not allowed to be on Campus anymore and libraries are fully closed.

The difficulty now is to define the numbers of Corona cases which will lead to a change in the colour of the traffic light. According to Faßmann it will be orientated towards the system of schools which are already starting in September.