While the UG is shutting down because of the threat the Omicron variant of the coronavirus poses, hundreds of students have to sit their exams on site this week. They don’t like that one bit.
‘We want to make sure the university complies with the international standards of social distancing and face masks’, says second-year student Belle. She’s one of the initiators of a letter that’s been making the rounds among UG students for the past two days.
The letter serves as a petition and has already been signed by more than 850 students. Their main concern is that while the Netherlands is on lockdown, they still have to sit on-site exams this week, sometimes with hundreds of other students in the room.
‘Because the UG said earlier that Covid is an “ordinary flu”, we’re worried that students with symptoms will come to the exams’, says Belle. Last year, students who missed exams due to Covid were granted an extra resit, but that policy was cancelled this year. ‘This could lead to a study delay for people who don’t pass their first exam’, she says.
Anja Hulshof, UG spokesperson, says it’s not all that bad. ‘It’s true that we said that Covid was an ordinary flu earlier this year’, she says. ‘But at the time, the infection rate was much lower.’ On top of that, the much more infectious Omicron variant wasn’t an issue yet.
‘Students who exhibit symptoms, or people whose roommates have Covid should not attend exams, and they should talk to their department. It’s not true that they forfeit their right to a resit because of Covid.’
As far as Belle and the other writers of the letter are concerned, all exams should be moved online. ‘At the start of block 2, things were so uncertain that many of our lecturers considered various scenarios’, she says. ‘Why can’t we move the exams online?’
Hulshof says it’s impossible to make that switch on the short term. ‘You can’t just turn a regular exam into an online exam. The lockdown was issued just a few days before these exams were scheduled and we don’t have the time to change them. We’re complying with government rules that allow us to administer on-site exams.’