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President's Messages

11.10.2021 - 2021-2022 Fall Semester

Dear students,

We have already completed the first two weeks of our academic year that we started on Monday, September 27, 2021. We are very happy to see our campus so colorful and lively for the first time, after a very long period of silence.

Despite the pandemic conditions, we are doing everything we possibly can to secure the best teaching and research environment at our University, where all our students staying in the dormitories, and 92% of our staff members (in academic and administrative positions) are fully vaccinated. At this point, I would like to emphasize once again that we are taking the most prudent approaches in line with the instructions issued by the Ministry of Health, YÖK and other regulatory bodies. As it was announced previously, students and staff members in addition to visitors of our University are required to be fully vaccinated, or alternatively, present their negative PCR test results twice a week to be able to enter our campus. The health of our students, faculty members and all our staff members matters to us more than anything.

Courses in all our classrooms continue with a seating arrangement that enables social distancing, and these courses are simultaneously accessible online to our students on and out of the campus. The very few technical problems detected during the first two weeks were quickly solved by our IT unit, which keeps an eye on smooth functioning of our systems. The fact that we can provide smooth access to all courses although classroom seating capacities have been reduced by at least 50% is the result of the fact that we comprehensively did our preparations for conditions of comprehensive hybrid education for more than a year, in terms of technical hardware and infrastructure and processes. We urge you to respect the current seating arrangements in all the classrooms and amphitheaters meticulously. I would like to remind you that the ventilation system of all our classrooms has been set to a mode facilitating fresh air intake all the time, and that HEPA filters in our ventilation system are replaced at certain intervals.

We periodically apply rapid antigen tests to all our students who stay in the dormitories and are fully vaccinated, to monitor their health continuously. As a result of the antigen tests carried out so far, only 3 students have tested positive, and these 3 students have been placed to rooms in the quarantine building allocated to positive cases. Our Health Center continuously monitors the situation of these students, and we are happy to know that they only show mild symptoms of the disease. Roommates of these students have also been tested, and although all of them have tested negative, they have stayed in their rooms for 5 days as an isolation measure.

In case our students and staff members who stay on or out of our campus have a positive COVID test result, they are immediately called and asked who they have recently contacted on the campus for contact tracing purposes. Any person contacted by a COVID-positive person takes a rapid antigen test.

We all know that vaccination makes it possible to mitigate the spread of the pandemic and fully vaccinated people who are infected have much less severe symptoms than unvaccinated people. However, I would like to underline that although our target is to have the highest possible rate of vaccination among our students and staff members, we are well aware that being fully vaccinated does not mean that we are 100% protected, as we can observe in similar situations in other countries. As long as the pandemic conditions continue, and the number of cases in the society remains relatively high, we must continue to respect mask wearing and social distancing rules everywhere on our campus.

Outbreaks occurring on university campuses abroad with even higher vaccination rates than ours, right after the beginning of their academic year, should be a warning to us:

https://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2021/08/duke-university-covid-cases-guidelines-mask-vaccine-online-classes-fwoc-outdoors-indoors-300-cases

https://theexpose.uk/2021/10/01/harvard-business-school-shuts-down-after-massive-covid-19-outbreak-despite-almost-all-students-being-fully-vaccinated/

Naturally, we aim to continue our campus activities and face-to-face teaching without interruptions during the whole academic year. However, for this to happen, ALL OF US must carefully respect mask wearing and social distancing rules on our campus and warn those who do not respect the rules in a polite and friendly way. I would like to highlight that we cannot have any complacency just because we are vaccinated.

Although our students are respecting the seating arrangements in our classrooms and amphitheaters to a great extent during the first two weeks, we have observed that they sit in crowded groups especially in social areas and cafés, and tend to forget social distancing rules in indoor spaces from time to time. I kindly request you to keep your masks on and keep social distance everywhere on our campus for the good health of all of us and for the continuation of our on-campus education. I understand it well; all of you just want to enjoy being together after such a long time, but we have to be careful and continue to obey the rules for some more time.

Likewise, it is very important that our students who stay in the dormitories to respect the scheduling for the periodic rapid antigen test (free-of-charge) done by the Health Center.

Please remember that all our students were enrolled to the dormitories by agreeing that they shall obey health measures on the campus. I must remind you that if instructions of the Health Center are not respected, there will be sanctions.

Dear students,

We are setting an example for other universities in our country with the health measures we meticulously apply on our campus, and our hybrid education model that we implemented thanks to our technical infrastructure, which no other university in Turkey can match. We are determined to continue our campus education without interruptions and with the superior quality that will make all of us proud in such a challenging period. Your contribution and engagement will be very valuable to make this happen…

I wish you all a successful academic year!

Yusuf Leblebici

Your President

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