COVID-19/Email from Joël Mesot (2020-03-16)

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Dear ETH Members,

Today the Swiss Federal Government has declared a national state of emergency due to the coronavirus epidemic. New measures will enter into force starting today at midnight. The population is being called upon to minimise human contact. ETH Zurich is doing everything in its power and is therefore adapting its measures. Starting immediately and for the time being effective until the end of May, all research and administrative activities must be carried out with as little human contact as possible. This is in addition to the suspension of classroom teaching that is already in place. Concretely, this means that until further notice, all ETH members may only be present at ETH Zurich if their physical presence is absolutely necessary. Everyone else must work from home starting immediately.

Online lectures will continue to take place. Teaching staff will continue to have access to all facilities necessary for recording their lectures (lecture halls, studios, etc.). Our continued goal is for students to complete the semester as normal. Further information on the implementation of these measures will be provided shortly.

Most of all, this will greatly impact experimental research operations, which will basically have to be reduced to a minimum. The only exceptions are experiments and critical research infrastructure whose continued operation is indispensable. Non-experimental research must be conducted remotely. Further information will be provided shortly by Detlef Günther, Vice President of Research.

All line managers must define what constitutes the minimum staff required in their teams to maintain emergency operations at ETH. This should be done according to each unit’s mandatory emergency plan and must be defined by each organisational unit (departments, central administrative functions) by 19 March 2020.

Here I would like to assure you that the ETH network has sufficient bandwidth to accommodate several thousand employees working remotely at the same time. This only holds true, however, if not too many people transfer large volumes of data simultaneously. I ask you to please act responsibly in this regard.

I would like to re-emphasise what emergency operations mean for us for at least the next two and a half months. Lab-based research activity at ETH will be suspended, and services at ETH will be drastically reduced.

As I wrote last Friday, we are all currently facing an immense and unprecedented challenge. We will all need to get used to this new way of working together, which will be a learning experience. I ask you to support each other in the challenging times that lie ahead, and I also ask for your patience if not everything runs smoothly at first.

However, I am confident that we can successfully get through this situation together. The most important priority at the moment is for us to act consistently and decisively when it comes to your health, the health of those around you and the health of the general population. I have already seen that everyone throughout ETH Zurich is working with great dedication to overcome this crisis. For this I would like to offer my sincere thanks. Due to the current situation, we will only hold one employee town hall meeting, which we will move up to Wednesday, 18 March, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the latest. We will provide you with more detailed information tomorrow.

Stay healthy.

Joël Mesot

President of ETH Zurich