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COVID-19: Message from your Vice-Dean

More information on website of the Charles University (update March 13, 2020).

Dear International Students,

Understandably, the current situation comes as a big blow, and you are wondering what to do – as are your parents. For some, the pressing question is whether to STAY, or LEAVE. While I can not answer this for you, as everybody’s situation is unique, below is some information (current as of March 12 and subject to change at a short notice – this is the way now) that could help you with your decisions and plans.

First, rest assured that in accordance to Rector’s missive “to do everything possible to enable all students to fulfil their academic obligations by the end of this school year”. Yes, we DO want to stay in business and it is also in OUR interest to move you to the next year (or graduate), but extra efforts will be needed – on both sides.

So what WE are doing, or planning to do:

1. To deliver as much education as possible electronically and on distance. While some methods are well-established (e.g. lecture slides, videos, recordings, image libraries) and we are updating and expanding these, right now, there are some less usual ones – so expect essays to write, video conferences, presentations (online), home assignments and more. It is rather new to some of us – it is a big and sudden shift from our preferred method of frontal education, so please be patient. Take it one course at a time – some are rather easily amenable to these methods, some much less so.

2. When practical component is absolutely indispensable (e.g. dissection course in Anatomy), we are prepared to shorten and/or intensify these as soon as the student presence at the University ban is lifted and deliver equal amount to ALL students in the respective years.

3. For the clinical education, please watch out for the updates, as we are assessing the situation in the hospitals that changes continuously. We expect to know a bit more early next week.

What could YOU do:

1. Do NOT consider the current situation as a God-sent vacation and do NOT cease to study. Please note that the book loans department of the library is still operational, and in addition to the electronic resources, use the old-fashioned thick textbooks – they contain a LOT of logically organized information. I am talking from personal experience there – and it is a great exercise for mind concentration!

2. Please note that as of now, you can (and are strongly advised to do so) pass all the exams you could (e.g. leftovers from the winter semester, or those after rotations you have already completed). DO IT AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE – it won’t get any easier later down the road!

3. Communicate with your teachers about the updated requirements of the particular courses (information will be released and communicated to you as soon as the respective institutes agree on them). I suspect that while some will have to be completed later due to indispensable practical component, some could be done continuously NOW – so do not delay, do your assignments and CONTINUE TO STUDY. Use also the possibility of consultations using the preferred method of your particular teacher (e-mail, phone, video, etc.) for matters you do not grasp or are unsure of. Starting to prepare the final exam questions (by hand-written notes from different resources, drawings, from textbook through course materials to online videos etc.) is a good way to stay in the contact with each subject.

4. Come to the exams WELL PREPARED – saves your time, as well as ours. While the majority of you understand this, from our experience and statistics, there IS some room for improvement. Do NOT expect leniency when it comes to theoretical knowledge of things clearly mentioned in lectures or textbooks. And DO come once your register – the number of terms is FINITE, and you DO want to complete your obligations…. See above.

5. Last, do not book any big summer vacation right now, if studies are indeed your priority.

Now to the STAY or LEAVE question. We do not know for how long this extraordinary situation will last – the absolute minimum is 2 weeks, but 1 month is far more likely, and even 2 months are not impossible. It is up to you to decide – most of the activities suggested above could be done from your home here as well as from your country of origin. However, the travel itself is risky and changes without notice – you can get stuck on the way, the flights can get cancelled… and it might be difficult (in some cases) to get back quickly once we get back to normal business. I view this as a personal decision that should be made based on each individual’s situation, in agreement with the family. Should you need any additional information, feel free to contact me – but I do not have a crystal ball either and predicting future is always a risky business.

Let’s stay strong, focus on the heart of the matter (i.e. becoming the best doctors you can), and not let that slimy piece or RNA turn your life upside down. It is affecting all of us and all aspects of our lives, so above all – do not panic.

All the best,

David Sedmera


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