The rector of Masaryk University (MU), Martin Bareš, has written a letter to the South Moravian Regional Public Health Office (KHS JMK), calling upon it to revoke an emergency measure banning in-person classes at universities declared on 22 September. According to the university’s lawyers, the KHS JMK does not have the legal authority to issue such a blanket regulation, which is therefore in violation of the law.
“If the KHS JMK does not take into account our objections, we will have to take legal action to have this measure rescinded. I believe, however, that this entire issue can be resolved without turning to the courts”, wrote Rector Bareš in his letter to the director of the KHS JMK.
The KHS JMK ordered the closing of universities in the region based the Public Health Protection Act, which, according to MU’s lawyers, clearly defines the conditions under which such comprehensive measures can be put in place. “Pursuant to the law, only individuals suspected of being infected can be banned or restricted from being in contact with others. Therefore, prohibitions can be put in place only on specific persons suspected of having contracted COVID-19. Blanket closures of schools are not permitted by the act”, explains Radim Polčák, MU vice-rector for legal and policy affairs.
In his letter to the KHS JMK the rector emphasised that Masaryk University has adopted an array of well-thought-out preventative measures to minimise the risk of infection and at the same time ensure that students can enjoy their right to education. “This is why the Masaryk University crisis board met practically throughout the summer and tried to devise a responsible compromise solution that would take into account both protecting the health of the academic community and the general public and the need to provide our students with an education of the highest quality possible”, Rector Bareš wrote in his letter to the director of the KHS JMK.
Classes at Masaryk University are set to begin on 5 October; on 21 September the decision was made for most classes to go online. First-year students, however, were supposed to be allowed to attend in-person classes in small groups so that they could experience academic life firsthand. In addition, MU also planned on permitting laboratory classes and small seminars that are part of practical and clinical courses for older students.
Since the beginning of September, a traffic-light system has also been in place at the university. Based on the nationwide coronavirus alert level, this system establishes recommended measures for MU’s facilities and institutes, including restricting access to buildings, allowing employees to work from home, and introducing stricter hygiene measures.
The full letter (in Czech) can be read HERE.