On 6 May, the state of NRW announced a relaxation of the regulations which would allow the Ruhr West University to once again operate in a - strongly restricted - presence. However, the HRW Board has decided to continue the digital semester and to keep the university closed.
It is hardly imaginable that lecture halls and seminar rooms for face-to-face events could be made available at short notice. Special demands are placed on the presence of the university in terms of hygiene protection and room capacity. It will not be possible to switch from online to presence teaching at short notice. Within a very short time, teachers and service units were able to offer digital and e-learning formats and students and teachers reported that this worked quite well.
Since 18 March 2020, HRW has been in "minimal operation" so that an effective contribution can be made to contain the corona pandemic. The necessary infrastructure for the operation of administration, teaching and research can be maintained; the buildings will nevertheless remain closed to students and the public.
The information will be prepared for HRW staff, students and lecturers.
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
The working group is working on a pandemic plan, which will be presented promptly and made available for download here.
Tomorrow, Thursday, 12.3.2020, the NRW Ministry of Culture and Science will announce which regulations can be made at the start of the semester under these circumstances.
The aim of HRW is to minimise the risk for employees and students and still maintain the university's operations. Due to the current situation, the university management has decided to extend the current home office regulations. Individual regulations must be agreed with the respective supervisor and documented!
Groups of persons who, according to current knowledge, have a higher risk of a serious illness, please contact their superiors or the Personnel Service in confidence.
The executive committee is aware that there may be restrictions in the service.
Operations on HRW campus are currently not affected by the outbreak of the coronavirus. However, there are consequences for HRW members and guests resulting from the recommendations that currently apply to travelers to and from risk areas. In the following questions and answers, HRW provides its members with detailed information. In addition, it is explained how to protect yourself from infections and what to do in case of a suspected infection. Senior staff can find out what action they can take to protect against infection and to prepare for a pandemic.
The situation is very dynamic. In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) continuously monitors the situation. As of 28 February, the RKI assesses the risk to the population in Germany as "low to moderate". Please inform yourself there about the current status here.
Persons who have been in contact with an infected person must maintain a 14-day quarantine in coordination with the health authorities. According to the recommendations of the RKI, travelers who have stayed in designated risk areas should avoid contact with other people for up to 14 days after returning home. FAQ provided by RKI
Employees and students who have had contact with infected persons or have recently been in risk areas should avoid entering the campus for up to 14 days. Guests who want to enter from risk areas should postpone or cancel their stay. Further information can be found below.
HRW is monitoring the situation and, if necessary, informs all members via the homepage and/or via e-mail. Please check these communication channels regularly (currently daily if possible), even when you are at home. The university has a pandemic plan which includes various scenarios.
The Federal Foreign Office issues daily updated information on travel. On the one hand, there are "travel warnings" and on the other hand, travel to designated risk areas is not recommended ("travel advice"). You can find the information here.
Several countries have published entry restrictions. These apply in particular to people who have stayed in a risk area in the past two weeks. In addition, there are controls and delays in air traffic. You can find up-to-date information here.
HRW refers to the travel warnings and advice of the Federal Foreign Office. Trips to risk areas should be postponed. Anyone planning a trip should check the information of the Federal Foreign Office regularly. In several countries conferences and fairs have been cancelled. For trips to risk areas that have already been booked, the Personnel Service at HRW provides advice. Please contact Katharina Gapp, Head of Personnel Service (phone: +49 208 882 54 231 or mobile: +49 175 7971274).
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is monitoring the situation. Students who have started a stay abroad in high-risk areas through the Erasmus+ program can break off and leave at their own request. Costs incurred by the home trip as well as those costs that already incurred for the stay are fully reimbursable as "force majeure". Students who have planned a stay in a risk area can withdraw from it at their own request. Information on Erasmus+ and other mobility programs is available from the International Office of HRW.
The RKI recommends that returnees from risk areas stay at home for fourteen days and avoid contact with other people. This applies to employees, students and guests of HRW. Should staff members from your area be affected, the Health Authority at the place of stay must be informed in order to instruct appropriate measures. The Office of Occupational Safety, Environmental and Health Protection will help you to make contact. For its employees HRW waives the submission of a medical/sickness certificate for up to three days while the cases are being clarified. This rule is generally applied for any sick leave at the university and shall here take into account that the people concerned are in a situation of extraordinary psychological stress due to their unclear health status. Thereafter, individual solutions will be agreed upon. Students who experience difficulties with the course of their studies as a result should contact the student advisory service, the central examination office or their head of degree programme. Solutions will be found together.
According to the recommendations of the RKI, persons entering from designated risk areas should stay at home for 14 days and avoid contact with other people. The International Office is in direct personal contact with all international students who come from designated risk areas and are expected on campus. Those concerned are requested to wait until later to begin their stay at the university. Furthermore, at airports people from risk areas are now being informed and have to fill out exit cards.
For the time being, no guests arriving from one of the risk areas concerned should be received on campus. This applies regardless of their national origin. HRW members expecting visitors from such regions are asked to contact the guests and cancel their stay. This is necessary out of a duty of care towards all HRW members. The International Office (see above) is responsible for communication with international students.
To prevent the spread of infectious diseases, advise your team on appropriate respiratory and hand hygiene (see below). As usual, make sure that employees who are unable to work recover at home and do not appear sick at work.
If cases are reported in the immediate area, talk to the staff members at risk to find a suitable solution for them. In order to reduce the risk of infection at the workplace, it may be possible to check whether public office hours can be reduced, whether recreational leave can be granted or whether existing home office regulations can be used.
According to the recommendations of the RKI, persons entering from designated risk areas should stay at home for 14 days and avoid contact with other people. Should staff members from your area be affected, the Health Authority at the place of stay must be informed in order to instruct appropriate measures. The Office of Occupational Safety, Environmental and Health Protection will help you to make contact. For its employees HRW waives the submission of a medical/sickness certificate for up to three days while the cases are being clarified. This rule is generally applied for any sick leave at the university and shall here take into account that the people concerned are in a situation of extraordinary psychological stress due to their unclear health status. Thereafter, individual solutions will be agreed upon.
To reduce the risk of infection in places frequented by the public, the following measures can be considered: A discretion zone can be set up at workplaces. In order to reduce attendance at public office hours, processes can - where possible - also be offered in electronic form. Registration procedures can be used to avoid crowded waiting areas.
Identify key elements in work processes and ensure substitution rules in these areas so that the absence of a person due to illness does not jeopardize or affect the functioning of the entire organizational unit.
HRW informs its members on given occasions via the homepage and/or e-mail. Please make your staff members aware of this. If necessary, please ask for alternative means of communication and maintain appropriate contact lists if necessary.
Ensure good personal hygiene, especially regular and thorough hand washing (at least 30 seconds). Airing the room several times a day reduces the number of viruses in the room and increases the humidity, which is good for the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose. It is advisable to develop other protective habits: for example, it helps to press elevator buttons with the knuckle of the hand instead of the fingertip.
Keep your distance to your counterpart. Agree to refrain from shaking hands for the time being. Avoid crowded waiting areas.
Pay attention to the coughing and sneezing etiquette: turn away from those present, do not cough in your hand, but cover your mouth and nose and cough into the crook of your arm if possible. Dispose of used tissues quickly.
Like other respiratory pathogens, an infection with the novel coronavirus can lead to symptoms such as cough, colds, sore throat and fever; some sufferers also suffer from diarrhea. In some cases, the virus appears to be associated with a more severe course, leading to respiratory problems and pneumonia.
If you suspect that you have been infected with the virus, please contact your family doctor or, in the hours between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., the emergency service of the public health insurance service at 116 117. It is recommended not to seek further medical care (family doctor's practice, hospital) without making an appointment in advance by telephone in order to prevent a possible spread of the virus.
Possible infections with the coronavirus must be reported according to the Infection Protection Act, namely suspected, infected/diseased and fatal cases. The responsible public health authority is notified. If an infection can be proven to have occurred at the workplace or during a student's visit to university, the Unfallkasse NRW must also be notified.