- Test Strategy
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TU Dortmund University attracted special media attention from the Federal Press Conference at the start of the semester: On Friday, 9 April, Professor Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), mentioned TU Dortmund University there as a model project in which a testing strategy aims to safeguard all essential in-person classes. Two German broadcasting companies – ZDF and WDR (both TV and radio) – as well as the news agency Associated Press promptly arranged to visit the campus. Pictures from the testing center were broadcast in the evening news at the start of the semester on 12 April.
President Manfred Bayer made it clear why TU Dortmund University decided early on to develop a testing strategy for the summer semester: “It’s important that students do not lose a further semester through cancelled practical classes. At the same time, we need to protect the campus, which already displays a low infection rate, from the spread of the virus.” This was not just a matter of coordinated testing, he continued, but also of responding proactively in the event of infections: “We must be in a position to follow up contacts quickly and, if there is any doubt, from time to time send students from a whole course into voluntary quarantine. Of course, social distancing and hygiene rules continue to apply,” he said.
TU Dortmund University as model for No Covid strategy
The No Covid initiative has shown repeatedly in a number of publications how a pandemic can be fought effectively by means of a combination of testing, contact tracing and hygiene rules. Co-founder Matthias Schneider, Professor of Medical and Biological Physics at TU Dortmund University, explained why TU Dortmund University has a model character from the perspective of No Covid. “To have a chance of coming out of this crisis, we must act locally, quickly and proactively,” he stressed. “An intelligent testing strategy is essential. At TU Dortmund University, we want to offer students and staff a combination of PCR and self-tests: one to three times a week, depending on the number of days they are present on campus. We also offer students and staff advice and support should they have to self-isolate.”
Resumption of laboratory classes
The Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Biology already started testing this week. The faculty’s laboratory classes are among those in-person courses allowed by way of exception in line with current rules. “Practical classes in the framework of chemistry studies can only take place in the lab and with the equipment on site; there is no equivalent online substitute,” explains Dr. Sebastian Zühlke. The faculty’s Deputy Covid-19 Response Officer had already taken part in the first trial run for testing on campus in March with a group of 14 students as well as supervisors. “In the process, we tried out both PCR as well as antigen tests. Testing is really quick and easy, so everyone can join in,” he says.
Support for students and staff
Testing is voluntary. Unlike in schools, no mandatory testing is currently foreseen for universities in North Rhine-Westphalia. To put people’s minds at rest about testing, TU Dortmund University wants to support its students and staff as well as it can in the event of a positive test result. Where possible, self-tests should be conducted beforehand at home, accompanied by video monitoring. In this way, supervisors can ensure that the test is performed correctly, document a positive result, and advise on the next steps. Under certain circumstances, a sample for the PCR test can be collected by TU Dortmund University’s transport service so that the result can be checked. Guidelines for contact tracing are currently being compiled, and there will also be advisory services for people in quarantine. Students and staff are requested to help self-isolating fellow students and colleagues with their shopping in the case that above all new arrivals do not yet have a local social network. In addition, the Psychological Student Advisory Service offers daily consultation hours for people in quarantine.
TU Dortmund University is transparent in its communications regarding infections on campus: It reports the number of tests and the number of positive cases each week on its website. In the pilot phase, around 300 tests have been carried out so far, none of which were positive. For the summer semester, a demand of over 100,000 tests between April and August can be expected. As the first large delivery of self-tests is expected in the first week of the lecture period, testing can increase step by step from the following week onwards. The faculties and institutions as well as central administration will inform their members promptly about times and dates. All students and staff who need to be present on campus for classes, research work or administrative tasks can be tested.
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Location & approach
The campus of TU Dortmund University is located close to interstate junction Dortmund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dortmund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is “Dortmund-Eichlinghofen” (closer to South Campus), and from B 1 / A 40 “Dortmund-Dorstfeld” (closer to North Campus). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dortmund.
To get from North Campus to South Campus by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at North Campus and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.
TU Dortmund University has its own train station (“Dortmund Universität”). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dortmund main station (“Dortmund Hauptbahnhof”) and Düsseldorf main station via the “Düsseldorf Airport Train Station” (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.
You can also take the bus or subway train from Dortmund city to the university: From Dortmund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station “Stadtgarten”, usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At “Stadtgarten” you switch trains and get on line U42 towards “Hombruch”. Look out for the Station “An der Palmweide”. From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dortmund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dortmund main station to the stop “Dortmund Kampstraße”. From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop “Dortmund Wittener Straße”. Switch to bus line 447 and get off at “Dortmund Universität S”.
The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.
The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dortmund University. There are two stations on North Campus. One (“Dortmund Universität S”) is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dortmund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the “Technologiepark” and (via South Campus) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at North Campus and offers a direct connection to South Campus every five minutes.
The facilities of TU Dortmund University are spread over two campuses, the larger Campus North and the smaller Campus South. Additionally, some areas of the university are located in the adjacent “Technologiepark”.