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Rector MU: Due to slow vaccination, I am afraid autumn semester won’t be normal either

Rector Martin Bareš, due to the government’s unambitious vaccination plan, is concerned that it will not be possible to return to normal – even for this year’s autumn semester.

Martin Bareš, Rector of Masaryk University, supports fast vaccination of the Czech population in order to allow students of all ages to return back to their schools. Masaryk University also actively promotes online teaching and provides for all related students’ needs by leveraging its expertise in IT and the qualities of its information system. Microsoft Teams is now used by over 33,000 MU students and employees.

 “Our objective is to make sure that face-to-face classes can resume in all study programmes in the autumn semester 2021/2022, with the possible exception of lectures with high attendance,” says MU Rector Martin Bareš.

In this year’s spring semester, MU will continue with online teaching, potentially with some combination of online and face-to-face classes if the situation improves. Admission proceedings at MU in April 2021 (the student aptitude tests or “TSPs”) will be conducted fully online.

 “University students will soon have spent a year without proper face-to-face classes, which is devastating for many fields. We must speed up the vaccination process or we will suffer adverse effects across all levels of the education system – primary, secondary and tertiary,” says Martin Bareš. He is concerned that with the current attitudes shown by some members of the public and the very unambitious vaccination strategy, it will not be possible to return to normal even for this year’s autumn semester.

Masaryk University will thus continue focusing on improving the quality of online teaching. While in spring of 2020, the university switched to online teaching quite abruptly, synchronous online teaching according to the timetable is now a standard procedure on MU faculties. The meetings of university and faculty bodies, scientific conferences, and events for applicants (Prvákoviny – First-Year Student Meet and Open Days) and the public (Researchers’ Night) have successfully moved online. University of the Third Age courses also continue online.

To speed up the vaccination process, Masaryk University has offered its logistical support and human resources from the MU Volunteer Centre. MU is currently discussing potential forms of assistance with Brno city authorities and the South Moravian Region. Brno has an advantage compared to other cities thanks to its extensive network of outpatient physicians.

 “No one doubts that physicians, social care workers and the elderly should be the first to receive the vaccine. However, primary and secondary school teachers and university lecturers must follow immediately thereafter, otherwise the education system will start to collapse,” adds Bareš. Parents are not equipped to substitute for teachers in the long term.