UNU-MERIT is closely monitoring the situation with regard to the COVID-19 outbreak, and will re-evaluate its policy on a daily basis. Directives and recommendations from central and local authorities in the Netherlands, as well as from the UN(U) will be followed immediately. Currently, this means that we have implemented the following measures.
First, all teaching at Master’s and PhD level will be conducted online instead of in-class. This will involve some disruption of normal teaching schedules, but our staff members are working hard to keep disruptions to a minimum. In parallel, the UNU-MERIT building has been closed to students, in order to prevent large group gatherings that could facilitate the spread of the virus.
Second, all staff members have been encouraged to work from home — especially if they feel that coming to the office, including commuting, would pose a risk. UNU-MERIT’s IT infrastructure is well-prepared for distant access to data and other resources, so by and large research work will continue.
Third, UNU-MERIT has adopted a strict travel policy, under which all requested trips are carefully evaluated. Only travel to low-risk areas that is absolutely essential will be authorised.
Fourth, no events have been scheduled for March and April 2020. Some of the planned events, including PhD defences, will be conducted online.
Finally, UNU-MERIT calls upon its stakeholders to maintain a united front against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 — and to support those affected by it, either by direct infection or any indirect consequences.