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Coronavirus

Zwei Studentinnen mit Alltagsmaske an Arbeitsplätzen der Bibliothek

All Updates

Calender week 40 / 2021

Dear Instructors,

On September 29th, we informed you of the procedure for performing the required 3G check (to verify “vaccinated, recovered, or tested” status) before a course. Since then, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has released a new Coronavirus Protection Ordinance, which will initially in force until 30 October 2021. This new ordinance continues to call for “as comprehensive a check as possible” but it also gives institutions of higher learning the option of conducting “at least random checks” to verify 3G status.

Our concept for accessing university premises – as previously communicated – includes checking the sticker affixed to the Uni Card at central check points to lecture halls, larger seminar rooms, and building units with interconnected seminar rooms. This will remain in place as described. (Please see the additional guidance for this at the end of this email.)

For one specific situation, however, we want to implement this new regulation: instructors who have to perform the 3G check themselves (e.g. in individual classrooms with up to 35 seats) are to check all participants’ 3G status on their Uni Cards during the first session of their course. If all students have a red sticker, then you only must check the status of any new students who come to the following sessions. It may be possible to further relax the procedure for the 3G check throughout the semester, keeping in mind the occupancy of the seminar room (whether all seats are occupied or not); the composition of participants attending the course (having the same, stable cohort) and the 3G status of participants (having few participants who are only tested).

We know that some students and instructors are feeling apprehensive about returning to in-person teaching. We take your concerns seriously. Instructors should therefore perform the 3G check when in doubt and discuss the issue with students as needed.

One more important point:

In the first days of the semester, there will not be enough support staff for all the central check points. We therefore must ask that instructors take over the responsibility of performing the 3G check for individual seminar rooms. Please have a look beforehand to see if you course or room will be affected by this. An overview of the seminar rooms is available here (in German) The rooms marked in yellow will be checked with the central control staff; for the other rooms, the instructors are to perform the check themselves. We expect, however, that all central check points will be fully staffed over the course of the week.

We are also providing you with an overview of the rooms in which instructors, as a general rule, will have to perform the 3G check themselves, i.e. for which no central control points are provided (less than 35 seats): view pdf (in German).

For your reference, we have also compiled important information on the 3G check procedure in an online guide (in German).

 

We hope you have a great start to the new semester.

With kind regards,

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Colleagues,

On Monday, October 11th, 2021, Bielefeld University will be changing its Coronavirus rapid test offerings for staff members. These changes will be of particular relevance to those who are not vaccinated.

Here is an overview of the changes and regulations:

  1. Previously, staff members have been able to take advantage of free testing at the campus testing center via a special registration portal. This will no longer be available.
  2. Moving forward, Bielefeld University will only issue Coronavirus rapid tests for self-use at home. All employees will be offered two such tests per week.
  3. Orders for rapid tests should be pooled at the divisional level (faculties, deans, institutions, departments) and orders are to be submitted via email to christian.lyko@uni-bielefeld.de. Full orders can be picked up Monday through Friday from 10am – 2pm at the Information Point in the Main University Building. The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia has unfortunately only provided us with non-separable bulk packs of 20 tests to distribute to staff members. One pack therefore covers one person’s testing needs for 10 weeks. Please keep this in mind when placing your orders. Additional important information on storing and using rapid tests is available at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/intern/stabsstellen/agus/.
  4. The free public testing that has previously been available at the campus testing center will only be available for a fee starting on October 11th. Bielefeld University will only cover the costs for testing for staff members if the test is required for purposes connected to their employment.
  5. Those who attend courses held in person must be vaccinated, recovered, or tested (3G). This also applies to teaching staff (including technical staff in laboratories as well as service staff). For staff members who are not vaccinated or recovered, personal use of self-tests is not enough. Such staff members need proof of a negative test from an official testing center. For university staff members (including student workers) who are not vaccinated or recovered, Bielefeld University will cover the costs of testing. Non-staff adjunct instructors, however, must pay for testing themselves.
  6. If a Coronavirus rapid test is required for a business trip, training program, or another task connected to a staff member’s work, Bielefeld University will pay for the test.
  7. Those returning from travel who are not vaccinated must provide a negative test result upon returning to work on campus. In this case, Bielefeld University will also cover the cost of testing.
  8. For cases in which Bielefeld University covers the costs of rapid tests (as described above), the following procedure must be followed to obtain reimbursement: staff members must pay for the testing upfront at the test center and can then submit their receipts on a monthly basis at their dean's office, department, or institution. For business trips or trainings, these costs are to be submitted for an expense report.

Hopefully the much-feared 4th wave of the pandemic will not occur this fall, and we can continue moving forward on this path towards “normalization”. The Coronavirus pandemic, however, is not over. There are still seriously ill people lying in hospitals, some of whom are fighting for their lives.

It is therefore still very important that we adhere to the rules we all know by now (social distancing, wearing a mask, etc.) to ensure that we can safely interact with each other on the university campus. Being vaccinated, recovered, or tested makes everyone safer. Please take your responsibility seriously – we can all play our part to get through these challenging times.

Thank you very much for your understanding.

 

Best regards,
 

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calendar week 39 / 2021

Dear Students,

In accordance with the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance currently in force in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, institutions of higher learning are required to ensure that in-person courses and examinations are only attended by individuals who are fully vaccinated or recovered, or who can provide proof of a negative test result. This rule applies to both students and instructors when the incidence rate in Bielefeld or North Rhine-Westphalia is above 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In this scenario, a so-called “3G” check must be performed (3G stands for “geimpft, genesen, getestet” in German, i.e. “vaccinated, recovered, or tested”). Unfortunately, we must assume that the incidence rate in Bielefeld will not be below this threshold in the coming weeks. For the 3G check, participants must provide proof of immunity (vaccinated or recovered status) or a negative Coronavirus rapid test result to attend an event held in person. An official identification document (with photo) must also be presented.

In order to reduce the additional time and effort required of instructors to perform the 3G check during the upcoming Winter Semester, Bielefeld University will allocate special staff to carry out this check at entrances to lecture halls, large seminar rooms, and building units with multiple seminar rooms. For courses held in smaller seminar rooms with seating for up to 35 attendees, instructors (or other authorized individuals) will perform the 3G check themselves.

To ensure that the 3G check goes as quickly as possible, Bielefeld University has standardized the procedure as follows:

  1. You must verify your proof of immunity (vaccinated, recovered) in advance at the campus testing center in Building X. A special office has been set up there where students who are vaccinated will receive a special red sticker with a university seal on the back of their Uni Card (student ID). This sticker only needs to be obtained once and will be valid for as long as these regulations are in force (until the end of the semester, 31 March 2022, at the latest).
  2. Getting this sticker to verify your proof of immunity at the campus testing center is possible starting on the 4th of October. Please get this done as soon as possible. Otherwise, be prepared for long waiting times at the inspection office (“Kontrollstelle”). To register, bring proof of your vaccination (digital or paper form) or proof of recovery along with your Uni Card student ID. Opening times for inspection are Monday – Fridays from 7am – 3pm and Saturdays from 10am – 4pm. The Student Union will also use this sticker system to control admission to the cafeteria.
  3. Those who are not vaccinated (or those who do not want to disclose their immunity status) can get tested at the campus testing center and will receive a special green sticker with a university seal on their Uni Card student IDs if the test result is negative. This sticker has an expiration date and will only be accepted during a time period of up to 48 hours. This means that students who are not vaccinated or recovered (or decline to disclose their status) must regularly go to the campus testing center to get a new green sticker if they want to attend classes in person. Such students can get tested at any official testing center, but to get the green sticker, they will have to go to the campus testing center each time to have their test result verified. Please note that public testing will no longer be free – as the result of a political decision – starting on the 11th of October. People who have recovered but not been vaccinated also receive a green sticker with an expiry date.
  4. To enter a seminar room/lecture hall, all students are required to show their Uni Card with the sticker on it. Please be aware that in order to avoid unnecessary delays during the 3G check, only Uni Cards with stickers (red – vaccinated or recovered; green – recent negative test)  will be accepted. Even if you can show proof of vaccination, recovery or testing at the door, you will not be allowed to enter the room without the respective sticker on your Uni Card.
  5. Our goal is to speed up the process of the 3G check for entering classrooms with these standardized measures. That said, certain delays are to be expected and we therefore ask for you to plan accordingly and be prompt in arriving at your courses and exams.
  6. If there is a line at the entrance to your lecture hall or seminar room, we ask that you make sure to maintain social distancing to your fellow students. Wearing a medical-grade mask is mandatory here, as well as in all other areas of public traffic in university buildings.
  7. You may also use your Uni Card for public transportation or to pay in the university cafeteria. Do you have a problem with the sticker being visible? For those who are interested, the campus testing center will provide you with a free cover for your Uni Card card, which is transparent only on the front side (while stocks last). This will allow you to show your card in the train or use it to pay in the cafeteria without disclosing your immunity/testing status.

The planning team has considered many different possibilities for performing the 3G check. Unfortunately, a technical solution is not possible at this time due to the required verification of photo ID. One-time checks at the entrances to university buildings are also not feasible due to the size and structure of the Main University Building, along with personnel and organizational issues. The procedure that was decided upon is a pragmatic approach. If you are vaccinated, you only have to go through the effort of verifying your immunity status once.

The heads of institutions of higher learning in North Rhine-Westphalia remain in on-going discussions with responsible governmental ministries regarding the requirements for 3G checks for teaching and studying. We hope to be able to establish a less complicated procedure over the course of the semester.

One more thing: the university needs to hire people to help carry out central 3G checks. Are you interested in a mini job? More information is available at: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/uni/karriere/stellen-tech/Stellenausschreibung_3G-Kontrolle_Universitat_Bielefeld.pdf

Once again, we urge you to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others. Vaccination is what will allow us to safely return to in-person teaching and enable you to have contact with fellow students on campus. On the 28th, 29th and 30th of September, a mobile vaccination drive will be held on campus – consider taking advantage of this offer.

Bielefeld University will finally return to in-person teaching and studying this 2021/22 Winter Semester. More than 2,300 courses for some 25,000 students will once again be held in presence on campus. Despite the significant effort that has gone into planning a pragmatic procedure for the required 3G check, it may be the case that it does not go as smoothly as planned, especially at the start of the semester. We therefore ask for your patience and understanding.

We hope you all have a great start to this upcoming semester and we look forward to seeing you again on campus!

 

With kind regards,

 

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Instructors,

In accordance with the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance currently in force in North Rhine-Westphalia, institutions of higher learning are required to ensure that in-person courses and examinations are only attended by individuals who are fully vaccinated or recovered, or who can provide proof of a negative test result if the incidence rate is above 35 in Bielefeld or North Rhine-Westphalia. A so-called “3G” check must then be performed (3G stands for “geimpft, genesen, getestet” in German, i.e. “vaccinated, recovered, or tested”). Unfortunately, we must assume that the incidence rate in Bielefeld will not be below this threshold in the coming weeks.

For the 3G check, participants are required to provide proof of immunity (vaccinated/recovered), or a negative Coronavirus rapid test result, to attend an event held in person. An official identification document (with photo) must also be presented. This also applies to instructors.

Despite the significant efforts made by institutions of higher learning, special regulations (such as random checks for proof of immunity) have not yet been able to be arranged with responsible government ministries.

In order to reduce the additional time and effort required of instructors to perform the 3G check during the upcoming Winter Semester, Bielefeld University will allocate special staff to perform this check centrally – at entrances to lecture halls, large seminar rooms, and building units with multiple seminar rooms. For courses held in individual seminar rooms with seating for up to 35 attendees, instructors will have to perform the 3G check themselves. Instructors can also assign this responsibility to others (e.g. support staff). Exceptions to this rule (rooms with 35 seats) include seminar rooms for which access is regulated at a central checkpoint located at the entrance to a corridor, or at a main entrance area to multiple interconnected rooms. This includes the classrooms on the southern level of seminar rooms in the Main University Building (Towers T2, U2, and longitudinal constructions V2, U2, T2), as well as the lecture halls and seminar rooms in Building X (X-E0 and X-E1), Building Y, and all lecture halls in the Main University Building.

Instructors are required to present proof of their own immunity status (vaccinated/recovered) to the dean of their faculty just once. Otherwise, instructors have to present proof of a negative test result to their dean before each course.

To ensure that the 3G check goes as quickly as possible, Bielefeld University has standardized the procedure as follows:

  1. Both students and instructors must verify their proof of immunity before attending an in-person event at the campus testing center in Building X. A special inspection office (“Kontrollstelle”) has been set up there where students/instuctors who are vaccinated can receive a special red sticker with a university seal on the back of their Uni Card (student/employee ID card). This sticker only needs to be obtained once and will be valid for as long as these regulations are in force (until the end of the semester, 31 March 2022, at the latest). The Student Union will also use this sticker system to control admission to the cafeteria.
  2. Obtaining this one-time verification of immunity status will be possible starting on October 4th. We urge you to please get your proof of immunity verified as soon as possible. Students have also been instructed to do so.
  3. Those who are not vaccinated (or those who do not want to disclose their immunity status) are required to take an official Coronavirus rapid test. For those with a negative test result, the inspection office at the campus testing center will then provide a green sticker with a university seal on their Uni Cards. This sticker has an expiration date and will only be accepted for up to 48 hours. This means that students/instructors who are not vaccinated (or decline to disclose their status) must regularly get tested and obtain a new, valid green sticker from the campus testing center if they want to attend classes in person. People who have recovered but have not been vaccinated will also receive a green sticker with an expiration date.
  4. For instructors who are employed by Bielefeld University, the university will cover the costs of testing. Instructors will have to pay for the testing  in advance and then submit the bills to the dean’s office once a month for reimbursement. Adjunct instructors who are not vaccinated will have to pay for the costs of testing themselves.
  5. If you do not have a Uni Card, the sticker will be placed on the back of your personal identification document.  
  6. To attend an in-person course or examination, students/instructors are required to show their Uni Card/personal ID with the sticker on it at the door to the event.
  7. Unvaccinated instructors teaching smaller seminars where they will be performing the 3G check themselves have to show their Uni Card/ID with the respective sticker on it to the dean of studies before the course.
  8. To perform the 3G check, instructors only need to verify that the photo on the Uni Card matches the photo on that person’s official identification document, and that their Uni Card has a valid sticker (red, or green with valid date). Students who do not have a sticker on their Uni Card and instead attempt to gain entrance by showing their vaccination document are not allowed to attend the course in person.
  9. Our goal is to speed up the process of the 3G check with these standardized measures. That said, certain delays are to be expected and we therefore ask instructors to plan accordingly, especially during the first sessions.

The planning team has considered many different possibilities for performing this 3G check. Unfortunately, a technical solution is not possible at this time due to the required verification of photo identification. One-time checks at the entrances to university buildings are also not feasible due to the size and structure of the Main University Building, along with personnel and organizational issues. This procedure was determined to be a pragmatic approach.

That said, we are very aware that this will entail additional work for some instructors. We do hope, however, that the sticker system will help simplify the procedure.

The heads of institutions of higher learning in North Rhine-Westphalia remain in on-going discussions with responsible government ministries regarding the requirements for 3G checks for teaching and studying. We hope to be able to establish a less complicated procedure over the semester.

We appreciate your understanding, and we hope that you are looking forward to returning to in-person teaching despite the additional time and effort this may entail.

 

With kind regards,

 

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

 

Calendar week 36 / 2021

Dear Students,

On Tuesday, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia released a new Coronavirus Protection Ordinance, which will be in force starting tomorrow (Friday, August 19th) through the 17th of September. In light of the joint resolutions that emerged from the federal-state council last week, the new system is no longer based on incidence levels, but instead simply applies the “3G Rule” when the incidence rises to 35 and above (“3G” stands for “geimpft, genesen, getestet” in German – “vaccinated, recovered, tested” in English). In Bielefeld, the incidence is currently above this threshold. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance no longer has explicit rules for institutions of higher learning. It is therefore difficult at the moment to say what impact these new regulations will have on our teaching operations and examinations. We will have wait to see what additional information the federal state government might yet provide.

As of today, though, one thing is certain: for all university events, especially for exams and courses that will take place as of tomorrow, the “3G rule” (“vaccinated, recovered, or tested”) will apply. For you as a student, this means that you will have to bring documentation of your fully vaccinated status, recovery, or a negative test result to attend an in-person exam or course. Without proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test result, you will not be allowed to participate in the exam or course. During this check, your identity may also be verified. Therefore, please also bring proof of identity (ID card, student ID card or passport).

With this procedure in place, you no longer have to wear a mask during an exam or course while seated. All of the other measures from our university hygiene concept remain in force until further notice.

If you are fully vaccinated, we ask that you use the digital vaccination certificate. If you were vaccinated abroad, please note that vaccinations not authorized for use in the European Union are not recognized: such individuals are considered unvaccinated and would need to bring a negative test result. This includes for example the “Sputnik V” (Russian Federation) and “CoronaVac” (China), which are not currently authorized for use in the EU.

More time will be needed for this check-in procedure, so please plan on arriving early to your exam or course.

We appreciate your understanding that we are not yet able to say exactly how these new regulations will impact planning for the Winter Semester. We will notify you as soon as possible once we have more guidance.

In public areas, you must still continue to wear a mask and maintain 1.5 meters of social distancing.

We would like to take the opportunity to repeat our call to action: please get yourself vaccinated to protect yourself and others.
 

Regards,
 

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Instructors,

On Tuesday, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia released a new Coronavirus Protection Ordinance, which will be in force starting this Friday through the 17th of September. In light of the joint resolutions that emerged from the federal-state council last week, the new system is no longer based on incidence levels, but instead simply applies the “3G Rule” when the incidence rises to 35 and above (“3G” stands for “geimpft, genesen, getestet” in German – “vaccinated, recovered, tested” in English). In Bielefeld, the incidence is currently above this threshold. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance no longer has explicit rules for institutions of higher learning. It is therefore difficult at the moment to say what impact these new regulations will have on our teaching operations and examinations. We will have wait to see what additional information the federal state government might yet provide. We expect to incorporate these changes in a revised Organizational Decree sometime next week.

As of today, though, one thing is certain: for all university events, especially for exams and courses that take place as of this Friday, the “3G” rule (“vaccinated, recovered, or tested”) will apply. For you as examiners and instructors, this means that you will have to check the documentation provided from your students as to their fully vaccinated, recovered, or negative test status (tests may not be more than 48 hours old). Students who do not provide such documentation of their vaccinated, recovered, or tested status are not allowed to participate in examinations or courses. Proof of identity (e.g. ID card) only needs to be checked on a random basis. With this procedure in place, students do not have to wear a mask when seated during a course or exam. All of the other measures from our university hygiene concept remain in force until further notice.

To verify digital vaccination records, you can use the RKI's CovPassCheck app, which you can download for free on your smartphone. More information is available at https://digitaler-impfnachweis-app.apps.public.bfarm.de/covpasscheck-app. You of course can also check evidence of being vaccinated, recovered, or tested by simple visual inspection of documents.

Unfortunately, this new rule does entail additional work for you. Please consider the time needed for this check in your planning, and let your students know about it.

We appreciate your understanding that we are not yet say exactly how these new regulations will impact planning for the Winter Semester. We will notify you as soon as possible once we have more guidance.
 

Regards,

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear colleagues,

We hope that you have had, or perhaps are still having, a relaxing holiday and vacation time. A little time away from the everyday coronavirus-ridden (university) life is good for all of us. We are encouraged by the fact that vaccines are now widely available and that many employees and students have already taken advantage of the vaccination offer. We shall now return step by step to a normality that will probably differ from that before the coronavirus, but will finally bring us together again.

Based on what is now a broad immune protection of the population against Covid-19, politicians in Germany have taken far-reaching opening steps. This also gives us opportunities to readjust university operations. We have described the current regulations in a new organizational decree that is effective immediately. You can find it here: www.uni-bielefeld.de/corona-verfuegung.

Unfortunately, the English version will only be available next week.

We summarize, in shortened form, the most important rules here:

  • Taking into account the 3G rule, we are returning predominantly to onsite teaching. However, its implementation still has its limits in this winter semester due to the available spatial resources. We do not yet consider it justifiable to use the lecture halls and seminar rooms to the extent that we did before the pandemic. We intend to return to regular teaching in the summer semester of 2022. Teachers will receive more information in a separate email.
  • The university buildings are basically open again. Opening hours from the time before the coronavirus apply—also for the University library. Registration at the entrances is no longer necessary. Workstations for students are available again in the university hall and in some central and decentralized seminar rooms.
  • As before, academics can decide whether they want to work onsite or in a home environment. A roughly half-time presence onsite is envisaged for technical and administrative staff. As an important infection control measure, offices will, if possible, still be used by only one person at a time. If the presence of more than one person is operationally necessary, this is also possible as long as protective measures are observed.
  • Individual service and advice centres (e.g., the Infopunkt, the ZSB, the Student Office, or the examination offices) are once again available with personal service on campus.
  • Masks are still mandatory in the public circulation areas of the university buildings. At least a surgical mask must be worn. Exceptions to the mask requirement are described in the organizational decree. As before, social distancing must be maintained (1.5 metres).
  • The university continues to offer staff two coronavirus rapid tests per week free of charge. The current procedure (one rapid test per week in the campus test centre and one rapid test for self-administration at home) will be maintained up to the end of September. From October onwards—when tests will no longer be free of charge in the test centres—the plan is to hand out rapid tests to staff exclusively for self-administration at home. Testing via the test centre will then be possible only as a citizen’s test that staff will have to pay for themselves.
  • The new Coronavirus Protection Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia sets only one limit on events. When there is an incidence of 35 or more, organizers of indoor events must ensure, among other things, that participants are either vaccinated, have recovered, or can present a currently negative coronavirus test. Events at Bielefeld University include, for example, teaching and practical courses, examinations, excursions, committee meetings, conferences and congresses, cultural events, or receptions. They do not include working meetings within academia and administration such as service meetings, further training events, as well as appointment and recruitment procedures. As before, these are to be held digitally as a matter of priority. Please refer to the organizational decree for the specific regulations. For the control of 3G (especially for courses), the university is currently examining how it can be supported organizationally and/or technically.

At this point, another appeal: If there are no medical contraindications, then you should get vaccinated for your own protection and that of your fellow human beings. You can still do this, for example, at the vaccination centre of the city of Bielefeld until 18 September. Bielefeld University and the city of Bielefeld will also be providing a mobile vaccination service on campus on 28 and 30 September. Finally, you can also get vaccinated at any time by your family doctor.

We hope you feel confident with the new regulations, and that you will join us in looking forward to taking the next step towards normalcy and a return to campus.

Stay healthy.

 

With kind regards,
 

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calendar week 33 / 2021

Dear Students,

On Tuesday, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia released a new Coronavirus Protection Ordinance, which will be in force starting tomorrow (Friday, August 19th) through the 17th of September. In light of the joint resolutions that emerged from the federal-state council last week, the new system is no longer based on incidence levels, but instead simply applies the “3G Rule” when the incidence rises to 35 and above (“3G” stands for “geimpft, genesen, getestet” in German – “vaccinated, recovered, tested” in English). In Bielefeld, the incidence is currently above this threshold. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance no longer has explicit rules for institutions of higher learning. It is therefore difficult at the moment to say what impact these new regulations will have on our teaching operations and examinations. We will have wait to see what additional information the federal state government might yet provide.

As of today, though, one thing is certain: for all university events, especially for exams and courses that will take place as of tomorrow, the “3G rule” (“vaccinated, recovered, or tested”) will apply. For you as a student, this means that you will have to bring documentation of your fully vaccinated status, recovery, or a negative test result to attend an in-person exam or course. Without proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test result, you will not be allowed to participate in the exam or course. During this check, your identity may also be verified. Therefore, please also bring proof of identity (ID card, student ID card or passport).

With this procedure in place, you no longer have to wear a mask during an exam or course while seated. All of the other measures from our university hygiene concept remain in force until further notice.

If you are fully vaccinated, we ask that you use the digital vaccination certificate. If you were vaccinated abroad, please note that vaccinations not authorized for use in the European Union are not recognized: such individuals are considered unvaccinated and would need to bring a negative test result. This includes for example the “Sputnik V” (Russian Federation) and “CoronaVac” (China), which are not currently authorized for use in the EU.

More time will be needed for this check-in procedure, so please plan on arriving early to your exam or course.

We appreciate your understanding that we are not yet able to say exactly how these new regulations will impact planning for the Winter Semester. We will notify you as soon as possible once we have more guidance.

In public areas, you must still continue to wear a mask and maintain 1.5 meters of social distancing.

We would like to take the opportunity to repeat our call to action: please get yourself vaccinated to protect yourself and others.
 

Regards,
 

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Instructors,

On Tuesday, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia released a new Coronavirus Protection Ordinance, which will be in force starting this Friday through the 17th of September. In light of the joint resolutions that emerged from the federal-state council last week, the new system is no longer based on incidence levels, but instead simply applies the “3G Rule” when the incidence rises to 35 and above (“3G” stands for “geimpft, genesen, getestet” in German – “vaccinated, recovered, tested” in English). In Bielefeld, the incidence is currently above this threshold. The Coronavirus Protection Ordinance no longer has explicit rules for institutions of higher learning. It is therefore difficult at the moment to say what impact these new regulations will have on our teaching operations and examinations. We will have wait to see what additional information the federal state government might yet provide. We expect to incorporate these changes in a revised Organizational Decree sometime next week.

As of today, though, one thing is certain: for all university events, especially for exams and courses that take place as of this Friday, the “3G” rule (“vaccinated, recovered, or tested”) will apply. For you as examiners and instructors, this means that you will have to check the documentation provided from your students as to their fully vaccinated, recovered, or negative test status (tests may not be more than 48 hours old). Students who do not provide such documentation of their vaccinated, recovered, or tested status are not allowed to participate in examinations or courses. Proof of identity (e.g. ID card) only needs to be checked on a random basis. With this procedure in place, students do not have to wear a mask when seated during a course or exam. All of the other measures from our university hygiene concept remain in force until further notice.

To verify digital vaccination records, you can use the RKI's CovPassCheck app, which you can download for free on your smartphone. More information is available at https://digitaler-impfnachweis-app.apps.public.bfarm.de/covpasscheck-app. You of course can also check evidence of being vaccinated, recovered, or tested by simple visual inspection of documents.

Unfortunately, this new rule does entail additional work for you. Please consider the time needed for this check in your planning, and let your students know about it.

We appreciate your understanding that we are not yet say exactly how these new regulations will impact planning for the Winter Semester. We will notify you as soon as possible once we have more guidance.
 

Regards,

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Calender week 28 / 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Due to the easing of additional restrictions in the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia, we have also been able to modify our internal regulations and open things up a bit more. A new Organizational Decree detailing these changes has been published, which can be viewed online at: http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/corona-verfuegung The English version will be available by tomorrow (16.07.2021).

Here is an overview of the most important changes:

  • Due to the introduction of “Incidence Level 0” (average rate of infection of up to 10 cases per 100,000 residents over 7 days) in the regulations of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, additional easing of restrictions for conferences, courses, and events are possible. These re-openings are meant to take immediate effect – not starting on the 1st of September, as originally planned. Bielefeld is currently at an incidence level of 0.
  • Another important change from the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance is the requirement to take a Coronavirus test when returning to your university workplace after an absence of 5 days. As per this regulation, any absence from your workplace of 5 days or more (not due to Home Office or being out ill) requires you to undergo a rapid test before returning to work. This state-level regulation also includes cases in which employees, for example, took week of vacation but did not travel.

This testing requirement applies to all university employees (i.e. staff members in technical services and administration, academic staff, support staff, and civil servants, including professors), as defined in the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance. The test result must be submitted to your supervisor. More details on this procedure can be found in the Organizational Decree.

Responsible managers are your direct supervisors: for lecturers, this means the university instructors to whom you are assigned. For university instructors, the deans of study will assume this function. In cases for which there is no clear direct supervisor, test results can be submitted to the responsible office in the Department of Human Resources and Organization.

We hope you continue to have a relaxing vacation and holiday break.

Best regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Calendar week 27 / 2021

Dear Students,

The time has finally come: vaccinations are now available to students at the city of Bielefeld’s vaccination centre.

Starting today, approximately 400 vaccination appointments will be made available each day to the students of Bielefeld’s institutions of higher learning. Vaccination appointments can be scheduled immediately using the button “Sonderaktionen” [special campaigns] at www.asb-owl.de/impfzentrum. All other additional information is provided when you book the appointment.

We want to encourage you to take this opportunity to get vaccinated. This is an important step towards starting to return to more in-person teaching in the fall. Policymakers and the city of Bielefeld have implemented what Bielefeld University, together with other institutions of higher learning, have been demanding for their students: that students be provided with vaccines this summer.

With widespread vaccination, student life can return to campus on a fuller scale.

As always, stay healthy and well, and enjoy the summer holidays.

 

Best regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calendar week 25 / 2021

Dear Students,

We can all quite literally breathe a little easier again: incidence rates are dropping significantly. Many areas of society have started reopening, including universities.

Following discussions with student representatives and instructors, we have decided to bring the current Summer Semester to a close largely online. We already let you know about this decision in May. Some individual courses, however, can be held on campus again – in agreement between students and instructors. Some of you might already even be back on campus.

The examination period is now starting: tests and exams will be held in person or online. Your instructor will decide on which format the exam will take, and you will be notified accordingly. You are not entitled to be offered an exam in both formats. The university has again rented off-campus locations for administering exams. There are occupancy plans as well as health and safety concepts for the rooms and lecture halls used, as the following still applies: we want to maintain social distancing. As long as Bielefeld and North Rhine-Westphalia have an incidence level of 1 (maximum 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants), masks may be taken off when seated, provided that there is sufficient ventilation or air filtration (see below).

With the current incidence rates (under 35), there is no testing requirement for those participating in tests and exams. Please nevertheless continue to act in solidarity and protect your fellow students and teachers: get tested anyway. There is a public testing center on campus where you can get a free rapid test (https://uni-bi.testzentren-deutschland.de/). If the incidence rate in Bielefeld goes above 35 again, you will be required to present a negative test result (not older than 48 hours) or proof of vaccination or recovery. In this scenario, we advise you to get tested well in advance of your exam – if you get a false positive rapid test result, you will need time to correct it with a follow-up PCR test. In this situation (incidence rate > 35), students who do not present (negative) proof of Corona status will not be allowed to participate in on-site tests and examinations.

We wish you best of luck on your exams.

 

What are the plans for the upcoming 2021/2022 Winter Semester?

It goes without saying that we hope the fourth wave will not happen. But because a large portion of the population is not expected to be fully vaccinated by October, we will not quite be able to return to “normal” for the 2021/2022 Winter Semester. The goal remains to prevent infections and protect the health of students and instructors. We intend to offer as much instruction in person as possible: as a ballpark figure, each faculty should plan to offer at least 30 percent of their courses on campus. More is possible, but this depends on the capacities and planning of each faculty. In general, though, we will be returning to campus for in-person teaching as far as possible. Please consider this, especially if you are not currently living in Bielefeld or the surrounding area. It might make sense to start looking for local housing now.

In order to be able to ensure the greatest possible range of in-person offerings, prerequisites and framework conditions must be created:

  • Bielefeld University, together with other institutions of higher learning, have lobbied policymakers to offer students vaccinations this summer. The more students who are vaccinated, the safer the university will be. Federal and state politicians have acknowledged our demands, but a concrete decision has yet to be reached. If we are able to offer vaccines to students, we urge you to take advantage of this opportunity
  • Vaccination and testing are key components in ensuring safety for students, Instructors and staff on campus. Especially when significantly more people are on site again. Therefore, starting with the winter semester, we are striving for a regulation that makes entering the buildings dependent on proof of vaccination, a current negative test result (rapid antigen test) or proof of recovery. We will inform you as soon as possible.
  • As a rule, various teaching formats are possible for the Winter Semester: in person, online, or hybrid. For hybrid formats, it is possible for courses to take place simultaneously both on site and online. Depending on the concept, students participating online can join via Zoom or they can follow the event via livestream. In such situations, the groups should alternate. Formats are also possible in which smaller groups meet regularly on campus, but large-group sessions are held online. There are many different options. Your instructors will choose suitable formats to best serve the pedagogical aims of the course. To implement hybrid teaching, the university has invested a great deal into new technical infrastructure.
  • In-person teaching will be limited by the availability of rooms. In lecture halls this Winter Semester, only half of the seats will be available: every other seat should continue to remain empty to maintain social distancing. For seminar rooms, there are new occupancy plans with more seats. As a general rule, only those who have a seat can attend the course: sitting on the floor or in window sills is not allowed. The faculties are currently planning how the limited seating capacity will be distributed. You will be notified regarding this. We have a request: if you have gotten a seat in a lecture or seminar, please make good use of it. Other students may not have been so lucky as to get a seat.
  • You will continue to have to sign in to in-person courses held in lecture halls or seminar rooms using a QR code.
  • Lecture halls are to be continuously ventilated. Seminar rooms have been equipped with air filtration devices.
  • Since there will not be enough rooms to hold all courses in person (especially large lectures), we unfortunately will have to prioritize: priority will be given to courses for students who are at very the beginning of their studies, and have thus far been present very little on campus – and in some cases not at all. Practically oriented and smaller to medium-sized courses also have priority. Larger courses, especially big lectures, will have to be held largely via hybrid or online formats. We appreciate your understanding for this.
  • Switching between in-person and online courses will pose a particular challenge. We will probably not always be able to ensure with our scheduling that there is enough time between courses for students to return home (for online courses) or come to campus (for in-person courses). On-campus study stations are therefore of particular importance: we have currently opened many university work stations on campus (in the library, Uni Hall, etc.) and are setting up more spaces where students can work and/or take part in online courses. That said, there will probably not be enough on-campus study stations. We must therefore appeal to your solidarity: if you can work at home or study online, please do so. Leave on-campus work stations to your fellow students who do not have this possibility. Thank you very much!
  • Many of you have not yet seen much of our university– you haven’t been able to attend a barbeque or a party on campus, you haven’t been able to make use of the sports offerings, and you haven’t yet been to BITS or the university library. We hope that this Winter Semester you will have a good start in your in-person studies. To all our more experienced students, we ask the following: please help support your fellow students who have some catching up to do. Many faculties and student associations will be offering mentoring programs – these are not just available for you to use, but to get involved in by lending a helping hand. Thank you!
  • One last note: On July 1st at 11 a.m., Professor Birgit Lütje-Klose, the Vice Rector for Education and Teaching, Ines Meyer, the Head of the Department for Education and Teaching, and Dr. Jan Andres, Dean of Studies of the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies, as well as faculty representatives, will again be available to answer questions during a Livestream event. You can ask your questions by live-chat. The stream will be available for viewing here: http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/livestream-studierende

The planning and organization of teaching during the upcoming Winter Semester is extremely complex and requires a great deal of effort from everyone involved. Your instructors will have to adjust to a new situation again and work out the appropriate approach. Despite thorough planning and a high level of commitment, not everything will probably run smoothly at first. We kindly ask for your understanding, your patience, and your support.

On behalf of the Rectorate, the faculties, and our colleagues in technical services and administration, we are all looking forward to finally being able to see you back on campus more frequently this upcoming Winter Semester.
 

As always, stay healthy and well.

Enjoy the summer.
 

Best regards,

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Instructors,

We can all quite literally breathe a little easier again: incidence rates are dropping significantly. Many areas of society have started reopening, including universities.

The current 2021 Summer Semester at Bielefeld University will be brought to a close largely online. That said, we encourage you as instructors to hold individual courses or meetings in person even now, in coordination with your students.

For the upcoming examination period, the following applies: tests and exams can be held in person or online. Exams that have already been scheduled to be held in presence can be carried out without any further justification, provided that the applicable hygiene regulations and safety plan are observed. Since the city of Bielefeld and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia are at an incidence level of 1 (maximum 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants), holding examinations in person is permitted without students or instructors having to present a negative test result or undergo a supervised rapid-test. There is still, however, an expectation that students get themselves tested in advance of the exam for the safety of all those present. If the incidence rate of 1 is exceeded (maximum 35), in-person examinations are only allowed to be held with a negative test. Vaccinated individuals with respective proof of immunization do not need to get tested. In this scenario, students who have not tested negative, who are not vaccinated, or have not recovered from natural infection will not be allowed to take an in-person exam. As long as Bielefeld and North Rhine-Westphalia have an incidence level of 1 (maximum 35), masks may be taken off when seated, provided that there is adequete ventilation or air filtration. Let your students know about this.

You are probably now asking yourselves: what will teaching look like this 2021/2022 Winter Semester?

Many students expect the university to return to normal in the upcoming semester. However, we cannot and do not want to go that far yet.

It goes without saying that we hope the fourth wave will not happen. But because a large portion of the population is not expected to be fully vaccinated by October, we will not quite be able to return to “normal” for the 2021/2022 Winter Semester. The goal remains to prevent infections and protect the health of students and instructors. After in-depth discussions with the deans, deans of studies, and students, the Rectorate has released a new Key Issues paper for the Winter Semester. We intend to offer as much instruction in person as possible: as a ballpark figure, each faculty should plan to offer at least 30 percent of their courses on campus. More is possible, but this depends on the capacities and planning of each faculty. The Key Issues paper is available here: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/studium-und-lehre/Eckpunkte_Lehr-und-Prufungsbetrieb_WiSe-21-22.pdf

In order to be able to ensure the greatest possible range of in-person offerings, prerequisites and framework conditions must be created. The most important points are as follows:

  • Bielefeld University, together with other institutions of higher learning, have lobbied policymakers to offer students vaccinations this summer. The more students who are vaccinated, the safer the university will be. Federal and state politicians have acknowledged our demands, but a concrete decision has yet to be reached. Should we be able to offer vaccines to students, we urge all students to take advantage of this opportunity.
  • Vaccination and testing are key components in ensuring safety for students, Instructors and staff on campus. Especially when significantly more people are on site again. Therefore, starting with the winter semester, we are striving for a regulation that makes entering the buildings dependent on proof of vaccination, a current negative test result (rapid antigen test) or proof of recovery. We will inform you as soon as possible.
  • In general, various teaching formats are possible for the Winter Semester: in person, online, or hybrid. For hybrid formats, it is possible for courses to take place simultaneously both on site and online. Depending on the concept, students participating online can join via Zoom or they can follow the event via livestream. In such cases, the groups should alternate. Formats are also possible in which smaller groups meet regularly on campus, but full-group sessions take place online. There are many different options: instructors have to choose the formats that best fit the pedagogical requirements of their courses. To implement hybrid teaching, the university has invested a great deal into new technical infrastructure. More information on this is available in the Key Points paper. The following link contains detailed information, instructions, and tips on how to implement hybrid courses in these current circumstances at: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/lehre/digitale-lehre/digital-lehren/hybride-lehre/   
  • In-person teaching will be limited by the availability of rooms. In lecture halls this Winter Semester, only half of the seats will be available: every other seat should continue to remain empty to maintain social distancing. For seminar rooms, there are new occupancy plans with more seats (typically the regular occupancy numbers from before Corona). As a general rule, only those who have a seat can attend the course: sitting on the floor or in window sills is not allowed. The faculties are currently planning how the limited seating capacity of our university buildings will be distributed. We have told students that we expect, if they come to an in-person class, that they make good use of it, as space is at a premium.
  • When attending in-person courses held in lecture halls or seminar rooms, students and instructors will continue to sign in using a QR code.
  • Lecture halls must be continuously ventilated. Seminar rooms have been equipped with air filtration devices.
  • Since there will not be enough rooms to hold all courses in person (especially large lectures), we unfortunately will have to prioritize: priority will be given to courses for students who are at very the beginning of their studies, and have thus far been present very little on campus – and in some cases not at all. Practically oriented and smaller to medium-sized courses also have priority. Larger courses, especially big lectures, will have to be held largely via hybrid or online formats.
  • Switching between in-person and online courses will pose a particular challenge. We will probably not always be able to ensure with our scheduling that there is enough time between courses for students to return home (for online courses) or come to campus (for in-person courses). On-campus study stations are therefore of particular importance: we have currently opened many university work stations on campus (in the library, Uni Hall, etc.) and are setting up more spaces where students can work and/or take part in online courses. We ask that students consider very carefully whether they can work at home, thus keeping on-campus study areas free for fellow students who really need them.

We are very aware that the planning and organization of teaching during the upcoming Winter Semester is extremely complex and will require a great deal of effort from everyone involved. As instructors, you in particular have to adjust to a new situation again and figure out the appropriate approach. At the same time, this situation also presents the opportunity to test new hybrid formats and to incorporate digital experiences into classroom teaching.

Once again, this involves a great deal of effort. We are calling on you to offer your courses as hybrid or online formats wherever it is possible, and where it makes sense. Students expect this from us – justifiably so.

Despite thorough planning and a high level of commitment, not everything will probably run smoothly at first. Everyone – including the students – should have understanding for this. We are still in a challenging situation.

We are proud – and grateful – for the way you have responded to this challenging situation over the past months, always working in the interest of our students. Let’s continue working together to tackle what will hopefully be the final stage of this pandemic.

On behalf of the Rectorate, the faculties, and our colleagues in technical services and administration, we are all looking forward to finally being able to welcome students and instructors back to campus this upcoming Winter Semester.
 

As always, stay healthy and well.

Best regards,
 

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Professorin Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Calendar week 20 / 2021

Dear Students, dear Instructors,

As of today, the new Infection Protection Act of the federal government is now in force. With this law, postsecondary institutions are placed on equal footing with primary and secondary schools. Under a narrow interpretation of this act in which defined thresholds are reached, teaching and studying activities at our university would be impacted accordingly (e.g. impacting courses currently permitted to be held in person, such as laboratory practicals and sports classes, or use of the library). Institutions of higher learning are in close communication with the federal state government of North Rhine-Westphalia to determine what options remain for universities when it comes to their teaching operations and studying activities. The goal here is allow for the courses that are currently permitted to be held in person to continue.

Another difficulty here is that the rates of infection in Bielefeld have been fluctuating around the new threshold limits. The situation is therefore not clear at the moment.

The federal government of North Rhine-Westphalia has announced that provisions clarifying these issues for institutions of higher learning will be announced next week. We are therefore asking for your patience. We will let you know as soon as we have more information.

Until then, the current regulations will continue to apply. This also applies to upcoming examinations and the library.

Please note that students taking part in currently permitted in-person courses, e.g. natural science lab practicals, sports classes, will be required to undergo Coronavirus testing as a precondition of attendance starting next week. This also applies to students who are working in labs for their thesis research. Students for whom this applies will be provided more information on the new regulations directly by their instructors and faculties.

We thank you for your understanding.
 

Regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dear Instructors,

The desire for greater “normalcy” and a return to more presence-based teaching is palpable. Many of you have shared with us how much you miss the social contact and face-to-face interaction with students. We can understand this very well. Nevertheless, we will have to finish this current semester largely in digital form. It is our impression that you have been carrying out your work online in a conscientious and professional manner, one that is oriented in the service of your students. For this, we thank you again very much. Today, we would like to bring you up to date on the current situation and provide you with a sense of orientation, particularly surrounding the examination period.

For the 2021 Summer Semester, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has again made slight adjustments to framework regulations governing university operations as defined in the current versions of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance and the General Order governing teaching and examination procedures.

  • In general, the following still applies: during the 2021 Summer Semester, university courses will continue to be held largely online. Presence-based courses are possible on the basis of exception for those that require special facilities or equipment, or fall under other framework conditions. Examples include laboratory practicals, sports courses, and music courses.
  • What is new is that the General Order now explicitly allows for individual face-to-face courses to be held for “first-semester” students from the previous 2020/21 Winter Semester as well as for first-semester students in the current 2021 Summer Semester. Additionally, in-person courses can also be held for students who are about to finish their studies. The prerequisite here for in-person courses is that no suitable online formats are available. Taking into account these regulations and space constraints, instructors may offer presence-based course formats for these students – provided that this is agreed upon with seminar/course participants. A maximum of 50 course participants is allowed, and hygiene regulations must be observed in compliance with hygiene policies.
  • Students attending in-person courses permitted by exception must provide instructors with proof of a negative Coronavirus rapid test or a self-declaration that an appropriate rapid test was taken at home in order to attend these classes. For this, students can take free public Coronavirus tests at the campus testing center. Proof of immunization is considered equivalent to a negative test result (immunity is defined as recovery from previous infection attested by a positive Coronavirus test, or two weeks after receiving the second dose of the vaccine),
  • It is still possible to carry out research activities on campus for Bachelor’s/Master’s theses as part of laboratory working groups. Testing is also required for this.
  • Looking ahead to the examination period for the 2021 Summer Semester, the General Order now stipulates that examinations may be conducted in presence if they cannot be held otherwise (e.g. online) for legal or practical reasons. The regulation states that “Practical reasons for an in-person examination could arise from organizational issues, for example, if an examination cannot be otherwise held due to space or staffing constraints.”
  • For examinations, we are operating under the assumption that if the number of test-takers exceeds 150, organizational and/or staffing reasons may speak against conducting a digital closed-book examination, thus allowing an in-person examination to be held. In-person exams are also allowed in cases where postponement would result in unreasonable hardship for the student (e.g. considerable delay in their progress in their degree program). Bielefeld University has once again rented off-site rooms for in-person examinations in addition to the existing lecture halls and sports center. The availability of such sufficiently large rooms, however, is limited. We therefore request the following: if possible, please hold your oral and written exams in the 2021 Summer Semester as online exams using the previously established formats (open-book, closed-book). Many of you have already successfully used these formats in the past semesters. Information on holding exams online is available at http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/einrichtungen/zll/distance-teaching-learning//index.xml).
  • In order to hold an in-person examination, the above-mentioned prerequisites must be fulfilled and documented. Discuss this with your dean or dean of studies, and let your students know as soon as possible. If you have any questions, your colleagues at the Department for University Study and Teaching are available to help.
  • There is no requirement to present a negative Coronavirus test result to participate in examinations, as there is no legal basis for this in the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance. Nevertheless, we encourage all students to get tested at the campus testing center before taking an in-person exam. Ultimately, we are all responsible for a safe and healthy community. Instructors should also get tested – unless you are fully vaccinated or recovered. Since there is no required testing, test results do not need to be provided by students or controlled for by instructors before an in-person exam.
  • For permitted in-person examinations, the established sign-in and registration procedure (participant lists in eKVV) is to be used, i.e. with individually assigned seats and without a QR code.
  • Since the 17th of May, approximately 550 individual, computer, and video conferencing work stations have again been available at the University Library. Current opening hours are Monday–Friday from 9am – 4pm. Starting on the 7th of June, hours are planned to be extended to 8am – 8pm. To use library workstations, a current, negative Coronavirus rapid test result or proof of completed vaccination/recovery is required. Some faculties are also preparing faculty rooms to be used as student workstations. More information is available here: https://www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/ub/learn/space/corona.xml

At this point, you are probably also wondering what to expect for the 2021/22 Winter Semester. Unfortunately, we are not yet able to provide you with concrete information on this. We anticipate that progress in vaccinations and the convenient options for rapid testing will allow our campus to open up and significantly increase the amount of in-person teaching possible. This, however, depends on many factors that we cannot directly control. For this reason, we again ask for your patience. In the interest of our instructors and students, our goal is to provide you with a clear sense of direction and dependability in planning as soon as possible.

We will let you know of any changes and developments as they arise.

With kind regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Calendar week 16/2021

Dear Students, dear Instructors,

As of today, the new Infection Protection Act of the federal government is now in force. With this law, postsecondary institutions are placed on equal footing with primary and secondary schools. Under a narrow interpretation of this act in which defined thresholds are reached, teaching and studying activities at our university would be impacted accordingly (e.g. impacting courses currently permitted to be held in person, such as laboratory practicals and sports classes, or use of the library). Institutions of higher learning are in close communication with the federal state government of North Rhine-Westphalia to determine what options remain for universities when it comes to their teaching operations and studying activities. The goal here is allow for the courses that are currently permitted to be held in person to continue.

Another difficulty here is that the rates of infection in Bielefeld have been fluctuating around the new threshold limits. The situation is therefore not clear at the moment.

The federal government of North Rhine-Westphalia has announced that provisions clarifying these issues for institutions of higher learning will be announced next week. We are therefore asking for your patience. We will let you know as soon as we have more information.

Until then, the current regulations will continue to apply. This also applies to upcoming examinations and the library.

Please note that students taking part in currently permitted in-person courses, e.g. natural science lab practicals, sports classes, will be required to undergo Coronavirus testing as a precondition of attendance starting next week. This also applies to students who are working in labs for their thesis research. Students for whom this applies will be provided more information on the new regulations directly by their instructors and faculties.

We thank you for your understanding.
 

Regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dear Colleagues,

The third wave of the Coronavirus pandemic has hit Germany – and Bielefeld – extremely hard.

Bielefeld University must continue to do its part to finally break this wave. This is why we are returning once again to “reduced basic operations.”

Researchers are requested to work from Home Office whenever possible. For staff members in support services, at this time it is no longer possible to work on campus at your own request unless it is necessary for your work. The specifics of implementing these policies are determined by the responsible supervisors of their respective areas. These decisions will be based on the specific service requirements and attendant circumstances. In recent weeks, more and more colleagues have been coming to campus to work on site in their normal workplace.

Additional information on “reduced basic operations” is outlined below in this email.

Unfortunately, the Coronavirus pandemic continues to have an enormous impact on our professional and private lives, including Home Office, video conferences, and a lack of personal social contact. All the while, schools are closed and daycare hours are limited, resulting for some in a situation in which children have to stay at home. Providing care to family members also continues to entail significant challenges. We know that many of you are under tremendous strain. The work has become more time-consuming while at the same time the number of tasks has not gone down (quite the opposite, in fact: in some cases, there is even more to do). Working while simultaneously taking care of children or tending to relatives in need of care is a huge challenge.

Trust-based working hours in the areas of technical services and administration offers staff members the opportunity to flexibly schedule their work. That said, trust-based working hours is not the answer to all of the challenges outlined above. University management and supervisors are committed to helping make your work more flexible and convenient. As a public sector employer, however, the options are limited.

Our impression is that the vast majority of you are still working above and beyond your contractual working hours. Add to this the fact that the work itself has become far denser. Staff members in technical services, administration, and other university services do not currently have the option of logging this extra workload as overtime.

Many of us need to take a breather at this time, and we would like to give you the opportunity to do so.

We will therefore be giving you a day off on Ascension Day (May 14th). Since Thursday is a holiday, having the Friday “bridge day” off will extend the holiday weekend by two days. Accordingly, the university will be closed on May 14th.

For staff members in technical services, administration, and other university services, this additional day off is a blanket compensation to offset the extra workload not logged as overtime. We provided a similar arrangement last year during the Corpus Christi holiday weekend. In the work hours time tracking system, please enter “Sonstige Abwesenheit” ["Other absence] for Friday, May 14th. Your supervisors will authorize this entry. We are aware that there are areas in university services, administration, and technical services that cannot be completely closed on this day. In these cases, staff members who have to work on May 14th can take an alternate day off. Those of you who have already submitted a vacation request for May 14th can withdraw the request.

Researchers have called upon the Rectorate to also give them this day off. Teaching can be called off. The Rectorate expects acceptance and support for this from supervisors.

Use this time to relax and rejuvenate. Don’t check your emails, and don’t work on the things that have been “lying around.” Unplug.

We hope that this extra day off will give you the chance to rest up and catch your breath.

The university family service center will also be happy to assist you.

In this context, we would like to remind you of the university counseling services available to staff members and supervisors as well as health management staff. Please do not hesitate to take advantage of the many support services available to both individuals and teams. Feel free to get in touch with them.

At this point, one thing is clear: we are all significantly less resilient than we were at the beginning of the pandemic. This is why we should be making sure to look after ourselves and our families, but also our colleagues.

The new regulations governing “reduced basic operations” are described in the updated Organizational Decree, where you will also find details on the work situation for vaccinated staff members as well as the new testing offerings for both employees and students. A word about testing: unfortunately, the registration portal for the university has been delayed due to technical problems. We apologize for this. You can still use the testing center, and you can always register online for testing as a private citizen (https://uni-bi.testzentren-deutschland.de/).

The essential regulations of “reduced basic operations” now in force include the following:

  • For staff members in technical services and administration, on-site presence at the university is to be reduced to the necessary minimum. Staff members in technical services and administration are to work from Home Office as far as possible.
  • Work is only to be completed on-site if technical or official circumstances compellingly require presence (i.e. minimum staffing requirements for contingency plans).
  • All others are to work from Home Office; if this is not possible in individual cases, staff members shall be on call.
  • Details are to be determined by supervisors for their respective areas.
  • Working on site at the employee's own request (when not required for official business) is no longer allowed. This is not permitted during reduced basic operations.
  • Short-term presence on campus is permitted if needed for official business – for example, picking up mail or documents for working from Home Office.
  • During this time, mail must be picked up and outgoing mail deposited in the mailboxes in T7; parcels will be delivered on more limited schedules.
  • As a rule, researchers are also to work from Home Office. There are areas of the university for which this is not fully possible (e.g. research operations). On-campus presence at the university, however, is to be reduced to a minimum in these areas. Details are to be determined by supervisors and/or work group heads for their respective areas.
  • The library is only open for picking up or returning materials. Using work stations is not permitted.
  • Service units, such as the Information Point, the Central Student Advisory Service (ZSB), Student Office, and the examination offices are only available by telephone, email, or other electronic forms.
  • The university is closed to the public.

Please observe these rules with all due urgency. If you are able to work from home, please stay at home: reduce your presence at the university to an absolute minimum. This also applies to researchers.

The Organizational Decree shall apply in accordance with this email. The Organizational Decree will be updated accordingly in the coming days and posted to the university website.

Stay healthy and well.

 

Best regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calendar week 13/2021

Dear students,

The current situation requires drastic measures at our university, and these also apply particularly to the field of teaching. This affects you directly, and you quite understandably have many justified questions.

In recent days, we have informed you regularly about developments and provided information on study courses and teaching during the Corona crisis on our homepage at https://uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/studium-und-lehre/. However, much is still unresolved. As of today, the following applies: The state has postponed the start of the semester to April 20. Until then, attendance courses and written examinations have been cancelled and oral examinations can be held only in cases of hardship. The Ministry of Culture and Science, in consultation with the State Rectors’ Conferences, has now also decided to start the 2020 summer semester as a purely ‘online semester’. Your university aims to offer you a summer semester that is as full and adequate as possible starting April 20, 2020. Despite the lack of face-to-face teaching, you will be able to acquire credit points in the usual way throughout the semester. As far as possible, your lecturers will be converting their courses and examinations into digital formats. Internships, experiments, field trips, or visits to archives should be replaced by equivalent, contact-free arrangements if possible. Where this is not possible under the given conditions, courses will be postponed until the semester break or the following semester. It is not yet possible to say how far the situation may change during the course of the semester and allow us to recommence attendance courses. We shall immediately inform you and the lecturers about any changes.

A new epidemic law is currently being negotiated in the state parliament and will hopefully be passed shortly. This law will also authorize our Ministry of Science to take the necessary decisions in the current crisis situation. Universities and the Ministry have agreed that the standard length of study for currently enrolled students should be extended by one semester. We are waiting for a decision by the federal government on BAföG and child benefit entitlements. The universities of North Rhine-Westphalia have been advocating this strongly, and we assume that we shall soon receive corresponding decisions. To the best of our knowledge, the Ministry will also soon be issuing new regulations so that examinations can be carried out in a manner adapted to the present situation. You can be sure that we shall keep your legitimate concerns in mind during all this.

Your lecturers are planning to deliver their courses in distance learning formats for the coming summer semester, and they will offer alternative forms for taking examinations. They will do their best to offer you good courses during the time you are not allowed to attend face-to-face lectures so that you can continue to acquire the competencies you need to complete your studies successfully.

The lecturers all want to return to direct communication with you in the seminar room, laboratory, or lecture hall as soon as possible. They want to exchange ideas and discuss them with you directly. At the moment, however, they are having to turn to digital tools and develop other teaching concepts. We also ask for your understanding and patience here should anything not always work perfectly straight away. Your lecturers are highly committed, but they are also often breaking new ground.

We can assure you that everyone—in the faculties, in the administration, and also in the responsible Ministry—is working flat out to get the necessary regulations in place. Everyone is aware of how uncertain the situation is for you at the moment, and how much you are worried about how your studies will continue. As soon as the major decisions have been made, we shall be able to address your individual questions. The Rectorate wants to remain in close dialogue with you. Therefore, we are planning to set up a livestream at the beginning of the semester in order to answer frequent questions. We invite you to submit questions in advance. We shall be able to tell you shortly how and until when you can do this via the university's mailing list and social media channels.

Naturally, your contact persons in the faculties, in the Student Secretariat, and in the Central Student Advisory Office are available to advise you.


Please stay healthy.

With kind regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose

Rector Vice Rector for Studies and Teaching

Dear Instructors,

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to massively impact societal life and our ability to be together. Unfortunately, university operations are also still affected by this.

The 2021 Summer Semester will soon begin, but we will not be able to return to our usual ways of teaching and studying on campus: the upcoming semester will also be an online semester. In accordance with the Corona Protection Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia and the General Order governing teaching and examination procedures, only certain courses, such as lab practicals, sport practicals, and art courses are allowed to be held in person at this time. We had hoped for things to be different, and had created a collection of key points to facilitate teaching and examinations during the 2021 Summer Semester. Nevertheless, Zoom meetings will continue to be the rule. We do regret this. That said, Bielefeld University and its facilities, and above all our instructors, are well prepared for this third online semester thanks to the hard work you put in during the previous semesters. There were a few cases in which instructors experienced serious incidents in their online courses that had to be reported to the police. Concrete suggestions on how you can prevent disruptive incidents should you find yourself in such a situation can be found here:   https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/campus-support/zoom/moderieren/sicherheit-im-meeting/. If you experience a serious incident during your online course, please report it to the Department for University Study and Teaching.

Many of you are probably wondering whether the situation might change during the semester to allow for courses to be moved from online to in-person instruction. University deans and the deans of studies, instructors, and representatives from the student body in particular have urged us to be concrete and reliable in our planning. Switching from online to in-person instruction in the midst of the semester could cause problems for many students, some of whom might not be living in Bielefeld or for those whose work schedules will not allow them to attend in-person courses. Switching delivery on short notice from online to in-person teaching would also entail a great deal of extra didactic and organizational work for instructors.

If you have not already done so, we must now request that you reschedule any hybrid courses you may still be planning to now be held fully online (see above for exceptions). Please document and communicate your course scheduling to students via eKVV. This decision was not easy for us, as we know how important personal, direct exchange between instructors and students is. We do therefore consider it important (and reasonable) to be able to hold individual courses on site during the 2021 Summer Semester if the infection rate allows for it and if both instructors and students agree to it. The Corona Regulations for the 2021 Summer Semester from the Rectorate are available here: https://uni-bielefeld.de/themen/pruefungsrecht/coronavirus/Corona-Ordnung-SoSe-21.pdf.

Another pressing issue is the use of work stations for students at the university. Current state regulations essentially allow for these to be used again with certain limitations, but the city of Bielefeld now falls under the so-called “emergency brakes policy.” This means that student work stations are not available until further notice.

Unfortunately, we also have to restrict access to the university library again. Books and other materials must be reserved online and can then be picked up on site. More information is available here: https://www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/ub/coronavirus/.

One way to responsibly begin reopening despite the critical infection rates is to massively expand testing. Together with a specialist provider, the city of Bielefeld will be opening a community test center in the university cafeteria on our campus after the Easter holidays. We are encouraging our students and instructors, as residents of our city, to regularly get tested here, as well as at other test locations. Free testing is available once a week. In addition to this, Bielefeld University will also be providing Coronavirus self-tests to staff members at least once a week; self-tests can also be performed at the test center (more information soon to follow). For students who have to be present on campus for part of their studies, such as for laboratory work in the natural sciences or for sports courses, the university is also planning to provide Coronavirus self-tests, which can also be performed under professional guidance. The use of this self-testing option is voluntary but strongly recommended. Instructors will receive the necessary information on this from their faculty.

Despite these challenges, we hope that you have a rewarding lecture period. We will let you know of all additional measures and rules as they arise. Stay healthy and well, and be optimistic!

With best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Calendar week 10 / 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We now find ourselves in a phase of the Coronavirus pandemic in which we are all longing for more normalcy, but we are also concerned about a third wave due to increasing spread of virus mutations. The federal and state governments of Germany have introduced a process for cautious, step-by-step reopenings. In Bielefeld, the incidence rate is currently at a comparatively low level.

In light of these events, we have modified our Organizational Decree for University Operations. From Monday, 15 March 2021, the following key regulations apply (among others):

  • We still recommend that researchers work from home if possible. Upon request, however, it is generally possible to resume working on campus.
  • Staff members in technical services and administration are also to continue working from Home Office as far as possible. Working on site at the university can take place if presence is necessary for technical, official, or organizational work-related reasons. A new rule is that individuals who want to work on campus for their own reasons may now do so again.
  • Special regulations apply to the most vulnerable groups (risk groups/expectant mothers). Please reference the respective sections of the Organizational Decree for more information.
  • The following continues to apply: social distancing of 1.5 meters must still be maintained on campus. Face masks must generally be worn in university buildings. Exceptions to these rules are defined in the Organizational Decree. Wearing a higher-quality face mask (surgical mask or FFP2 mask) is required in cases when during work 1.5 meters of social distancing cannot be maintained. In addition to this, all visitors to the library are required to wear a medical-grade mask.
  • Surgical masks will be made available to staff members working on site. As needed, the affected divisions of the university can pool their mask orders and send them to Bielefeld University’s Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection Service Unit (AGUS) at arbeitssicherheit@uni-bielefeld.de. Distribution of masks to employees is decentralized and is to occur at the divisional level.
  • In general, only one person may work per office (for offices not larger than 20 square meters – i.e. a typical 2-person office).
  • Mail must continue to be picked up from T7 and outgoing mail should be deposited there as well. Package delivery will continue to take place in reduced frequency.
  • The library continues to remain open for lending and returning materials.  Pre-ordering materials is no longer necessary. Additional library services are extremely limited. Current information on library services, as well as opening times, are available at www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/ub/coronavirus. Preparations are now being made to provide work stations for student use – this service should be available again starting on April 1st.
  • Service units (Student Advising and Counselling (ZSB); the Information Point; Student Offices; Examination Offices) remain reachable by telephone, email, or via other electronic formats.
  • The university remains closed to the public and is only open for staff members, students, external contractors, and library users.

Additional regulations can be found in the current version of the Organizational Decree at www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus.

In addition to hygiene measures, Coronavirus rapid tests can also be used to keep the spread of the pandemic in check. With voluntary testing among citizens, policymakers have put such measures in place. Bielefeld University would like to contribute to these society-wide efforts to stem the spread of the virus with its concept for voluntary Coronavirus self-testing/rapid-testing on the university campus. That said, the legal framework is still to be determined and a supply of rapid tests must also be procured: we will inform you of further details as soon as we are able to finalize our planning.

We have been receiving some questions as to whether the occupational doctors at Bielefeld University will be providing vaccinations to staff members. We are also working on a concept for this (similar to provisioning flu shots). Currently, it is not possible to get a Corona vaccine from the university’s occupational physicians. For this to happen, the legal regulations for prioritizing groups must first be modified, and enough vaccines must also be available. It is not yet clear when this will be the case.

We understand that some of our staff members and students would like to see more reopenings, while others, however, are still concerned about falling ill. It is our hope that we have found a good path forward in this current phase of the pandemic with these new regulations for our university community.

 

Be healthy and well.
 

Kind regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

 

Calendar week 08 / 2021

Dear Students,

The lecture period of the 2020/21 Winter Semester came to an end in the middle of the lockdown. This is now the second semester we have gone through under the conditions of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of you will soon be taking your tests and exams, and we wish you all success with this. Unfortunately, the opportunities we have to “distance ourselves” from our digital university lives remain limited: travel is not permitted, and meeting with friends and family is only allowed in a very limited capacity. We hope that you are still able to enjoy the semester break despite these limitations.

We will not be able to return to our regular ways of teaching and studying in the coming semester. Though this news probably does not come as a surprise, we had hoped that the situation would be different.

Our current plans are again following a two-pronged approach: the 2021 Summer Semester will be a hybrid semester, meaning that courses will take place online wherever possible. In addition to digital offerings, we hope that presence-based components can be offered again at least in part. This is especially important for our new students in their first, second, or third semesters, who thus far have hardly been able to study on campus.

The current lockdown will be in force until March 7th. The established restrictions for university operations will also remain in force until then.

But there is an important change for you: effective immediately, you must wear a medical-grade mask when attending courses or examinations in person, as well as when using the library. Exceptions to the requirement to wear a mask continue to exist for laboratory work or practical sports courses.

The limited use the university library is a particularly sore spot. We know how urgently many of you need to access books, journals, and other materials for your exam preparations, final essays, or thesis work. Not everything is available digitally. Another urgent issue is the use of work stations in the library and other places at the university. After the legal regulations regarding this point were adjusted, the library, at least, was able to introduce changes last Thursday regarding how you can order materials. More information on this is available at https://www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/forms/ordering.php.

After the lockdown ends, we hope that it will be possible to make university work stations available again to a greater extent.

Getting to know your classmates, staying in touch, and studying together: the virus is forcing us all to reduce these social activities. And yet, social interaction is so incredibly important. The team from “Peer-Learning” has put together a collection of tips on how you can get in contact with other students. Have a look at what they’ve got to offer at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/peerlearning/studierende/. Here you will find, for example, the “study buddies exchange,” where you can connect with fellow students and study together, as well as tips for interesting online events such as the “Long Day of Procrastinated Assignments” on March 4th.

As of today, we unfortunately cannot provide you with a definitive outlook on the future. It is unclear how the pandemic will develop, what impact the virus mutations will have, and how vaccinations will progress. Protecting everyone’s health is the first priority. We must therefore remain patient. Hopefully, the vaccination program and the expanded capabilities of rapid testing will allow for our society to reopen – from which you too soon shall benefit.

We wish you all the best. Stay healthy and be well.

With kind regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Calendar week 04 / 2021

Dear Students,

The 2020/21 Winter Semester is drawing to a close and the examination period is fast upon us. And now, the federal and state governments have extended the Coronavirus lockdown. In the past few days, we have already provided you with information on the latest developments and the impact of these on exams: Presence-based exams will only be possible as exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Over the past few days, some of you have taken us up on the offer to get in touch at deinstudium@uni-bielefeld.de or via social media to share your concerns and general questions with us. Thanks so much for this. I can assure you that we are taking your concerns very seriously. This is why we are inviting you today to an information session: on Monday, 1 February 2021 we will be live-streaming a discussion with Professor Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Education and Teaching; Ines Meyer, Head of the Department of Education and Teaching, and myself. Representing the deans of studies will be Jan Andres, who is the dean of studies of the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies. During this session, we will address your concerns and provide you with answers on these general matters. You will also have the opportunity to ask us questions live. The Livestream will start at 12:45pm.

Topics will include questions, for instance, on the status of teaching and examinations. Go to www.uni-bielefeld.de/livestream-studierende  to launch the Livestream at the scheduled start time. Shortly before the Livestream begins, you will find a link where you can ask questions live during the session. We ask for your understanding if we cannot include every live question that gets submitted – we unfortunately won’t have enough time for this. Moreover, our moderators are not in the position to answer your individual questions. For this, your instructors, the deans of studies of your faculties, and the university service centers are available to help. Some faculties have scheduled their own informational sessions: an overview of these is available at www.uni-bielefeld.de/livestream-studierende .

For those of you who cannot attend this Livestream, a recording will be made available afterwards in the same location. The Livestream will be held in German with subtitles.

We hope that many of you will attend this event on 1 February 2021 at 12:45pm and we look forward to answering any questions you may have.
 

Best regards,

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer,

Rector

Dear Instructors,

 Due to the persistently high numbers of COVID-19 infections, the federal and state governments have agreed to extend the lockdown to help bring down the rates of infection. This, unfortunately, has an enormous impact on the exam period of the Winter Semester that is just now beginning: presence-based examinations are only allowed as exceptions on a case-by-case basis through 14 February 2021 (for the time being). We expect, however, that this situation will continue beyond the 14th of February. Many exams and thousands of students will be impacted by these restrictions. Our students are already feeling uncertain, and are worried about making progress in their degree programs or even about graduating.

As we communicated in our email from 19 January 2021, we want to do everything we can to ensure that our students continue to make progress in their degree programs and graduate, despite the difficult circumstances. As a university community, we see this as a shared responsibility. Accordingly, we want to help you with the switch to digital exam formats as best we can. We know that moving from in-person to digital exam formats entails a great deal of work for you. Help is available for this from university services, including eLearning/Media, the Centre for Teaching and Learning (ZLL), and the Department for University Study and Teaching (Dez. SL).

We recommend – if possible – using the so-called “Open Book” online exam format. If, however, you decide to offer a “Closed Book” online exam, you may be faced with the challenge of finding enough people to help proctor it.

We would like to come together as a university community to solve this problem. We are currently putting together a pool of volunteers to sign up to help proctor online exams. We’ve put out a call for this today via email. Many of you will have also received this email. We are hoping for broad support.

Exam proctors must have the necessary computer equipment and experience with Zoom. They will also receive a short training session beforehand.

If you have planned an online exam in February or March and need assistance from exam proctors, please let us know by sending an email to unibiunited@uni-bielefeld.de. Let us know the date of your exam, the start and end times, as well as the number of proctors you need. We will then refer available university staff members to you.

Important: Staff members will be trained to proctor in centrally organized training sessions, which will include an overview of the technical requirements needed, how the exams may be conducted, special requirements, and available resources. As an instructor, your task – and responsibility – is to explain your exam-specific needs and procedures directly with your volunteer proctors before the exam.

One more thing: Staff members are willing and ready to help, but they may not have the technical knowledge or experience. Please only rely on this pool of volunteer exam proctors as a last resort.

We know that switching to online exams on short notice entails a great deal of extra work for you, especially as this is in addition to the extra stressors the current lockdown is placing on both teaching and your private life. We therefore thank you for your dedication during this difficult time.

Stay healthy and well.
 

Sincerely yours,
 

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Colleagues,

Due to the persistently high numbers of COVID-19 infections, the federal and state governments have agreed to extend the lockdown to help bring down the rates of infection. This, unfortunately, has an enormous impact on the exam period of the Winter Semester that is just now beginning: presence-based examinations are only allowed as exceptions on a case-by-case basis through 14 February 2021 (for the time being). We expect, however, that this situation will continue beyond the 14th of February. Many exams and thousands of students will be impacted by these restrictions. Our students are already feeling uncertain, and are worried about making progress in their degree programs or even about graduating.

This is why we have requested instructors to switch the exams that had been planned to be held in person to digital formats. The university has made the technical infrastructure available for this. For the instructors involved, however, it will still be quite a feat to move their exams online.

In addition to switching over to digital exam formats, supervising exams is a considerable challenge for our instructors and faculties. Proctoring exams online requires significantly more staff than in presence, as one proctor is needed for every 25 students. In many cases, there will not be enough staff from the respective work unit, department, or faculty for this. Staffing issues are going to be especially critical in faculties that are holding many exams.

We would like to come together as a university community to solve this problem. We would like to ask for your help in order to both provide support to the instructors being impacted by this and to enable exams to be offered to as many students as possible. If you would consider proctoring a digital exam, we would really appreciate your support.

This request has been cleared with the deans of study. Supervisors from our faculties and institutes are also kindly requested to answer this call for assistance.

The only prerequisites for volunteering to proctor are having basic familiarity with Zoom, a stable Internet connection in Home Office, and the necessary IT equipment for this (laptop/computer with camera and microphone). You must also obtain approval from your supervisor, as they will need to assess whether you have the time to devote to a short training session, making arrangements with instructors, and completing the proctoring itself. We estimate a maximum of 7 hours for both preparation and proctoring, per exam.

After you have obtained approval, you can log on to the employees portal to select the days and time periods from 1 February – 31 March 2021 you’re available for proctoring. At the same time, we are also checking with instructors about their needs. If your availability lines up with an exam, your contact information will be forwarded to the respective instructor, who will then get in touch with you directly regarding further details.

During the entire period of proctoring, you will be able to get in touch with the individual responsible for the exam. You do not need any special knowledge. The instructor(s) will be available to answer any such questions during the exam.

There will also be a short training session (1 hour) for you beforehand to help you prepare and clarify any questions. This session will cover the process of administering an online exam, your responsibilities as an exam proctor, available resources, and how to handle unexpected situations. We are offering multiple training sessions on different dates.

General information on online exams can be found here. If you have any questions, please get in touch via email at e-pruefungen@uni-bielefeld.de.

Given these unusual circumstances, we all share a special responsibility towards our students and their progress in their degree programs. This is why we are hoping that you can get involved in this university-wide effort to help ensure that our students do not lose a semester.

We thank you very much for your dedication and cooperation during this challenging time for us all.

Stay healthy and well.
 

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Calendar week 03 / 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Since Tuesday, we have known that the lockdown will be extended until 14 February 2021. The decision to do so was made by Chancellor Merkel and the minister presidents of the federal states. Of especially great concern are the Coronavirus mutations, which are many times more contagious.

This is why we are also extending our “reduced basic operations” policy for the university. This will be in place, however, for one month longer than the lockdown – until 14 March 2021. This is due to the period of validity of the new federal Coronavirus Regulations for Occupational Health and Safety (see below).

As of today, we do not yet know whether there will be a change in the regulations currently governing studying and teaching. However, we are assuming that there will be no fundamental changes to this. We will let you know as soon as we have more information.

For workplace health and safety, the new federal Coronavirus Regulations for Occupational Health and Safety are now available (draft as of 21 January 2021). This governs issues of Home Office, as well as other topics. The ordinance does not fundamentally impact our university regulations, as the following rules are already in force: only those who have to work on site for operational reasons may be on campus. Everyone else is to be in Home Office.

The Coronavirus Regulations for Occupational Health and Safety also define what precautions must be observed when working on site for operational reasons. Generally speaking, we also comply with these requirements. Something new, however, is the use of face coverings. If a distance of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained while performing work, you are now required to wear a medical-grade face mask or an FFP2 mask. The university has ordered a large quantity of so-called “surgical masks”, and three masks will be made available each day to staff members who have to perform work on site. As needed, the affected divisions of the university can pool their mask orders and send them to Bielefeld University’s Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection service (AGUS) at arbeitssicherheit@uni-bielefeld.de. Distribution of masks to employees is decentralized and is to occur at the divisional level.

And now for our urgent request: wear these surgical masks or your own medical-grade masks if you come into close contact with colleagues on the job and cannot maintain social distancing of 1.5 meters. Community masks are no longer permitted in this context due to the new federal regulations. There is one more change: elevators in university buildings may only be used by one person at most, effective immediately.

The general regulations of “reduced basic operations,” which will be in effect at Bielefeld University through 14 March 2021, include the following:

  • For technical services and administration, presence at the university is to be limited to the necessary minimum. Staff in technical services and administration are to work from Home Office to the greatest extent possible.
  • Work is only to be completed on-site if the technical or official circumstances compellingly require presence (i.e. minimum staffing requirements for contingency plans).
  • All others are to work from Home Office. If this is not possible in individual cases, staff shall be on call.
  • Details are to be determined by supervisors for their respective areas.
  • Working on site at the employee's own request (when not required for official business) is no longer allowed. This is not permitted during reduced basic operations.
  • However, short-term presence on campus is permitted if needed for official business – for example, to pick up mail or documents for working from Home Office.
  • During this time, mail must be picked up and outgoing mail deposited in the mailboxes in T7; parcels will be delivered on more limited schedules.
  • As a rule, researchers must also work from Home Office. There are some areas in which this is not completely feasible (e.g. research operations). On-campus presence must be reduced, however, to a minimum. The details of this will be determined by the managers and/or work group heads for your respective area.
  • The library is only open for the purposes of checking out or returning materials. Library work stations are not available for use.
  • Service areas (e.g. Student Advising and Counselling, Information Center, and Examination Offices) can be reached by telephone, email, or other electronic means.
  • The university is closed to the public.

It is very important that you strictly follow these rules. If you can work from Home Office, then please stay at home. Reduce your presence on site at the university to an absolute minimum. This also applies for researchers.

We appreciate your understanding.

Stay healthy and be well.

 

Best regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Dear Students,

Today, Chancellor Merkel and the minister presidents of the federal states are meeting to discuss extending the lockdown beyond 31 January 2021 – and possibly also tightening it.

We are operating under the assumption that the regulations that are currently in place for institutions of higher learning in North Rhine-Westphalia will also be extended. This will have far-reaching consequences for the upcoming examination period in February. Only test and examinations qualifying for an exception are permitted to be held in presence.

Professor Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose has taken this moment as an opportunity to share a video message with you: https://youtu.be/Vy2pHZKBNm8

Your instructors are currently looking into whether and how their tests and exams can be converted to digital formats. You will be provided with information on this topic shortly – we appreciate your patience during this time.

Our goal is to keep exam cancellations to an absolute minimum.

We will certainly keep you updated on further developments and will contact you as soon as we receive more concrete information from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The lockdown comprises a psychological burden for many people. Many students are also suffering from social distancing and some even from loneliness. If you need help with these issues, please contact the office of Student Advising and Counselling (ZSB), which has put together a special webpage that provides resources and information on who you can contact for support:  https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/einrichtungen/zsb/corona/.

Stay healthy and well.
 

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Rector, Bielefeld University

Dear Instructors,

The current extended lockdown will be in force until at least 31 January 2021. We have already provided you with information on the impact of the lockdown on teaching and studying at the university.

Unfortunately, the number of infections is not declining to the extent as was hoped for, and politicians are already discussing an extension of these measures.

We therefore assume that presence-based examinations in February will still only be possible on a case-by-case basis. If this comes to pass, many exam schedules and thus thousands of students will be affected. Our students are already feeling uneasy and worried about their academic progress, or even their graduation.

Everyone – the Rectorate, the Faculties, and instructors alike – have a responsibility towards our students. You, the instructors, have done an outstanding job in the past months. The Rectorate has been proud to see how dedicated you have been, and how you managed to move your courses to distance learning in such a short period of time. You have adapted to the circumstances and designed new offerings that serve the interests of our students. These efforts were successful, as a survey from last semester attests. Our hygiene measures also proved to be effective during the past summer semester. We were optimistic that all presence-based examinations scheduled for this winter semester would be able to be held in person.

We are now being confronted with the next challenge: we must work together to prevent mass cancellation of exams without providing alternatives, as this would leave our students without their grades. Mass cancellations of exams would delay students’ progress towards their degrees and potentially cause problems for graduation or moving into a Master’s program.

There are plenty of options and formats for holding exams online. The eLearning/Media team has made digital platforms available to lecturers, and the Centre for Teaching and Learning (ZLL) is there to provide guidance in how to teach effectively using these platforms.

More information on this topic is available here:

Under the Coronavirus Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia, only a few cases will qualify for an exception for permission to hold an exam on campus; most exams will not be allowed to be held in person. There is little leeway here.

This is why we are now urgently calling on you to plan for an alternative, digital option if you have a presence-based examination scheduled in February. We recommend the “open-book” examination format. Bielefeld University, along with other universities, had good experience with this format during the summer semester. But “closed-book” formats are also possible: many exam modalities can be implemented well online using an “Safe-Exam-Browser” and exam proctoring via Zoom. Additionally, exams could be postponed into the semester break. As of today, however, we cannot say when the conditions will again allow for presence-based examinations, and whether sufficient space for examinations on campus will be available at that time.

We know that rescheduling at such short notice involves considerable effort. In addition to teaching, many of you also face the challenge of shouldering childcare responsibilities.

Staff from eLearning/Media and the ZLL are there to help with targeted guidance, training, and service. Special informational and training events can be offered to each university faculty on short notice. Beyond this, a webinar is also planned for January 26 at 10 am, where you can learn more about possible digital exam formats and see examples from last semester. Legal and didactic issues will also play a role. You will find the access data at the end of this mail.

Please get in touch early if you have any questions and also be patient if not all questions can be answered immediately. The teams of eLearning/Media and ZLL as well as from the SL department do everything possible.

Please accommodate your students as best as possible. Please understand that many students are facing a variety of problems in the current situation. Many students are suffering from social distancing, loneliness and isolation, and financial worries. Working from home is also not always optimal for distance learning, and work stations at the university are not currently available for use.

Given the situation, our common motto must be the following: give the student the benefit of the doubt.

If you are offering a digital exam, please advise your students to check out the sample digital exam provided by the eLearning/ Media team – and use it to prepare for the real exam. Experience has shown that a preparatory exam discussion with students has been very helpful – please schedule a meeting with your students in advance of the exam.

Exam proctoring for online “closed-book” exams requires more staff than would otherwise be needed in a lecture hall. We therefore want to set up a central pool of personnel and recruit administrative staff to help with online exam proctoring. Instructors can also sign up to help if there are not enough exam proctors available in their work group, department, or faculty. You will receive more information on this shortly.

We thank you for your understanding and continue to depend on your dedication.

Stay healthy and well.

 

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

 

Access data for the webinar on digital exams:

https://uni-bielefeld.zoom.us/j/95136403841?pwd=N2kxTk5hbTdxZDJvWE4yNWZPQ2dFUT09 

Meeting-ID: 951 3640 3841

Passwort: 464542

Schnelleinwahl mobil

+496971049922,,95136403841# Deutschland

+493056795800,,95136403841# Deutschland

Calendar week 02 / 2021

Dear Students,

Last Friday, we already provided you with information on the impact of the extended lockdown on teaching and studying at the university. The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia has now put the general principle – that teaching and examinations are to be held online – into concrete terms, and through 31 January 2021 there can only be a limited number of exceptions to this rule.

An exception to digital offerings is possible only if students will be put at a serious disadvantage by not being able to attend the course in person and if it cannot be postponed to a date after 31 January 2021. A serious disadvantage applies in cases that have to be conducted in person because they need to be held in a specific location, require special equipment, or have other special requirements (such as labs) and at the same time, postponing them would also lead to a considerable delay in students’ progress in their degree programs. In our interpretation, this includes a delay of at least one semester.

The same requirements also apply for presence-based examinations.

We have requested instructors to consider whether critical cases meet the conditions for an exception. Instructors will soon contact affected course participants. It is possible that exam dates in February will already be rescheduled or conducted in an online format instead of in person. Your instructors will provide you with more information about this.

Although the workstations of the University Library are currently not available due to the lockdown restrictions, it is still possible to borrow and return materials. In order to check out library materials, they must be ordered in advance as per the Corona Protection Ordinance of NRW. You can order available materials online by submitting the library material request web form, which has been available on the library website since 13 January. More information on this is available at https://www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/ub/coronavirus/.

With our own Corona Ordinance, Bielefeld University has also adopted extensive regulations for studying and teaching. This provides faculty members with opportunities to accommodate you if you have problems (e.g., deadline extensions, withdrawal options, possibilities for compensation, disadvantage mitigation). If you are having any problems connected to the Corona pandemic and the extensive measures and restrictions arising from it, get in touch with your instructors or the deans of study of your faculty.

The extension of the lockdown comes as a psychological burden for many people. Many students are also suffering from social distancing and some even from loneliness. If you need help with this, please contact Student Advising and Counselling (ZSB). If you are no longer able to cope with the current academic situation, please contact your academic advisor in your faculty.

We urge you to take these concerns seriously. We also encourage you to take advantage of digital opportunities to socialize and stay it touch with friends, fellow students, and family.

Student Advising and Counselling (ZSB) has put together a special webpage that provides you with resources and information on who you can contact for support.

We know that many of you miss being at the university. Some you are dealing with sub-optimal conditions for working at home, such as weak Wifi or a less-than-ideal workstation. You might want to see a quick return to campus. At the same time, though, many of your fellow students are worried about getting infected and therefore do not want to be on campus at the moment. We take both sides very seriously and hope that our measures reflect this. We also ask for your understanding when we unfortunately have to communicate with you on very short notice. We, too, are ultimately bound to the decisions made in Berlin and Düsseldorf, and we must first evaluate the consequences of these on teaching and studying at the university. We, too, find it a stressful to not have the security of long-term planning.

At this point, however, we come to a positive piece of news: Similar to the past summer semester, this current winter semester will not count towards your standard period of study. This may also extend your entitlement to BAföG- funding.

We are especially interested in hearing what is impacting you during these challenging times. Tell us what’s on your mind by sending us an informal email to deinstudium@uni-bielefeld.de. Your feedback and advice can then be anonymized and incorporated into discussions and decisions by faculty and university management. However, please do not expect detailed answers to your individual questions in this email. For this, you will need to contact your instructors and/or points of contact.

Hopefully, this lockdown will ensure that the number of new infections will decline and the situation in the hospitals will improve so that university life can slowly resume again.

We wish you strength as you navigate these difficult times.

Stay healthy and well.

 

Regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Instructors,

In our email from last Friday, we already provided you with information on the impact of the lockdown for teaching and studying at Bielefeld University through the end of the month. Now with the latest General Ordinance available from the Ministry of Labor, Health & Social Affairs, this information can be put in more concrete terms as follows:

  • As a general rule, teaching and examinations will continue to be held exclusively online through 31 January 2021.
  •  Presence-based courses are only permitted on a case-by-case basis – and only if they cannot be held without serious disadvantages for students or cannot be postponed to another date after 31 January 2021. A serious disadvantage applies in particular to courses that must be conducted in person because they need to be held in specific locations, require special equipment, or have other special requirements (such as laboratory-based courses), and at the same time, postponing the course would lead to a considerable delay in students’ progress towards their degree. In our interpretation, a delay of even just one semester is sufficient cause here.
    In particular, laboratory practicals that cannot be carried out online and cannot be postponed are also permissible under these provisions. The above-mentioned conditions (i.e. proving a serious disadvantage) must be elaborated and documented.
    We therefore ask that you formulate an appropriate, short rationale explaining why you need an exception to hold your course in person. Send this to your dean of studies, who will then forward these requests together to the Department for University Study and Teaching (dezernat_sl@uni-bielefeld.de).
    The following guidance still applies: No more than 50 people may be in attendance and hygiene measures must be observed.
  • Presence-based examinations and preparatory activities for exams are only permissible if they cannot be postponed to a date after 31 January 2021 for legal or practical reasons; or if postponement is unreasonable for examinees. Presence-based examinations are therefore only allowed on a case-by-case basis for justifiable reasons, and only in agreement with the Department for University Study and Teaching.  Unacceptable cases include especially those that would significantly delay students’ progress in their degree programs. There is also currently a mask requirement for written exams in attendance.
  • Among the exceptions that count towards preparatory examination activities are, for example, laboratory practicals that have already been started for the purposes of a final thesis, especially if interrupting this work would result in a considerable delay in the student’s progress towards their degree or otherwise constitute an unreasonable hardship. An important point here is that the new federal state regulations no longer allow us to define student laboratory activities for thesis work as research activities, unlike in the past. These are now to be considered preparatory exam activities and are thus subject to the rules governing examinations described above. Again, a good cause justification must be provided, stating that postponement would constitute an undue hardship. Respective supervisors should submit these good cause justifications to their dean of studies.

Even if you do receive permission to teach or give your exams in person, please also remember to offer alternatives to students who, for Corona-related reasons, are unable to attend classes or take exams on campus.

Once again, please note: We are unfortunately unable to make any statements at this time regarding the examination phase starting in February. We therefore urge you to consider whether your examinations can also be held online. If the lockdown is extended into February, you may have to come up with alternative formats in a short period of time. We remain in constant communication with the deans of studies on this topic.

Stay healthy and well.

 

Best regards, 

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Calendar week 01 / 2021

Dear Students,

We wish you all the best for 2021 and hope that this new year is off to a good start for you. We are counting on an improvement in the rates of infection in the coming weeks, as we are all longing for greater “normalcy” and a return to the ways we are used to studying and working at the university.

For the time being, however, infection rates remain high and the situation in hospitals is worrying. This is why wide-ranging restrictions are still necessary. This is also why Chancellor Merkel and the minister presidents of the federal states ruled last Tuesday to extend the current lockdown for the entire country, which has been in place since mid-December, to 31 January 2021. The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia implemented this extension with its Corona Protection Ordinance of 7 January 2021. This also impacts teaching and examinations at institutions of higher learning.

Until 31 January 2021, the following applies:

In accordance with the Corona Protection Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia, teaching and examinations shall continue to be held online, as a general rule. This also applies to practical sport courses. However, the current Corona Protection Ordinance also allows for the possibility of holding, under certain conditions (severe disadvantage for students), at least a few courses that can no longer be postponed and can only be carried out in presence, such as individual laboratory practicals and in limited cases, presence-based examinations. Further details, including the courses for which this applies, will be specified in the General Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia on Monday, 11 January 2021. As soon as we have more information and clarity on which courses and examinations these exceptions will pertain to, we will let you know. Your instructors will also keep you updated on the latest information.

We understand that some of you are concerned about losing a semester. We want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening. You can also rest assured that we have done everything we can to make sure that our campus is as safe as possible.

In addition, the following still applies:

  • The library is only open for the purposes of checking out or returning materials. Library work stations are not available for use.
  • Service areas (e.g. Student Advising and Counselling, Information Center, and Examination Offices) can be reached by telephone, email, or other electronic means.
  • The university is closed to the public.

We thank you for your patience, and will be in touch with more information at the beginning of the week.

Stay healthy and well.
 

Best regards,
 

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector of Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Instructors,

We wish you all the best for 2021 and hope that this new year is off to a good start for you. We are counting on an improvement in the infection rates in the coming weeks, as we are all longing for greater “normalcy” and being able to return to the ways we are used to teaching and working at the university.

For the time being, however, infection rates remain high and the situation in hospitals is worrying. This is why wide-ranging restrictions are still necessary. This is also why Chancellor Merkel and the minister presidents of the federal states ruled last Tuesday to extend the current lockdown for the entire country, which has been in place since mid-December, to 31 January 2021. The federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia implemented this extension with its Corona Protection Ordinance of 7 January 2021. This also impacts teaching and examinations at institutions of higher learning.

Until 31 January 2021, the following applies:

In accordance with the Corona Protection Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia, teaching and examinations shall continue to be held online, as a general rule. However, the current Corona Protection Ordinance also allows for the possibility of holding, under certain conditions, at least a few courses that can no longer be postponed and can only be carried out in presence, such as individual laboratory practicals and in limited cases, presence-based examinations. According to § 6 Paragraph 1 of the Ordinance:

“Teaching and examination operations at universities and vocational healthcare schools are permitted in accordance with separate orders pursuant to Section 28 (1) of the Infection Protection Act. In this context, presence-based courses are only allowed if it is not possible to hold them without in-person attendance or if they cannot be postponed to a date after 31 January 2021 without seriously disadvantaging students or trainees. In-person examinations and preparation for examinations are only permissible if they cannot be postponed to a date after 31 January 2021 for legal or factual reasons; or if postponement is not reasonable for examinees. Practical training phases are only permissible in compliance with specifications for the relevant practical area."

Practical sport courses are also not allowed to be held through 31 January 2021. Further details, including the courses for which this applies, will be specified in the General Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia on Monday, 11 January 2021. As soon as we have more information and clarity on these issues, we will let you know. It can be assumed that laboratory practicals that cannot be moved online will be among the exceptions described above, so preparations for these continue. Until the end of January, individual examinations in presence will only be possible on a case-by-case basis (according to the above-mentioned specifications) and only in consultation with the Department for University study and teaching (Dezernat SL).

At this time, we unfortunately cannot make any statement regarding the examination period starting in February. We therefore urge you to thoroughly consider whether your examinations can also be completed online. We continue to remain in close contact with the deans of studies regarding this topic.

In addition, the following still applies:

  • The library is only open for the purposes of checking out or returning materials. Library work stations are not available.
  • Service areas (e.g. Student Advising and Counselling, Information Center, and Examination Offices) can be reached by telephone, email, or other electronic means.
  • The university is closed to the public.

We thank you for your patience, and will be in touch with more information at the beginning of the week.

Stay healthy and well.
 

Best regards,
 

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector of Education and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Colleagues,

We wish you all the best for 2021 and hope that this new year is off to a good start for you. We are counting on an improvement in the infection rates in the coming weeks, as we are all longing for greater “normalcy” and being able to return to the ways we are used to working at the university.

For the time being, however, infection rates remain high and the situation in hospitals is worrying. This is why wide-ranging restrictions are still necessary. This is also why Chancellor Merkel and the minister presidents of the federal states ruled last Tuesday to extend the current lockdown for the entire country, which has been in place since mid-December, to 31 January 2021. In North Rhine-Westphalia, this has been implemented with the Corona Protection Ordinance.

For these reasons, it also not possible for us to loosen our restrictions: Bielefeld University will remain in “reduced basic operations” until 31 January 2021.

So until then, the following continues to remain in force:

  • For technical services and administration, presence at the university is to be limited to the necessary minimum. Staff in technical services and administration are to work from Home Office to the greatest extent possible.
  • Work is only to be completed on-site if the technical or official circumstances compellingly require presence (i.e. minimum staffing requirements for contingency plans).
  • All others are to work from Home Office. If this is not possible in individual cases, staff shall be on call.
  • Details are to be determined by supervisors for their respective areas.
  • Working on site at the employee's own request (when not required for official business) is no longer allowed. This is not permitted during reduced basic operations.
  • However, short-term presence on campus is permitted if needed for official business – for example, to pick up mail or documents for working from Home Office.
  • During this time, mail must be picked up and outgoing mail deposited in the mailboxes in T7; parcels will be delivered on more limited schedules.
  • As a rule, researchers must also work from Home Office. There are some areas in which this is not completely feasible (e.g. research operations). On-campus presence must be reduced, however, to a minimum. The details of this will be determined by the managers and/or work group heads for your respective area.
  • The library is only open for the purposes of checking out or returning materials. Library work stations are not available for use.
  • Service areas (e.g. Student Advising and Counselling, Information Center, and Examination Offices) can be reached by telephone, email, or other electronic means.
  • The university is closed to the public.

In accordance with the Corona Protection Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia, teaching and examinations shall continue to be held online, as a general rule. However, the current Corona Protection Ordinance also allows for the possibility of holding, under certain conditions, at least a few courses that cannot be postponed any longer and can only be carried out in presence, such as individual laboratory practicals and in limited cases, presence-based examinations. Further details, including the courses for which this applies, will be specified in the General Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia on Monday, 11 January 2021. This information will then be promptly communicated to instructors and students.

We are aware of the fact that closures of daycare and schools is again placing an outsized burden on many of our colleagues. Staff members in technical services and administration should use the possibility of trust-based work to add flexibility to their schedules. We know, however, that this has its limits. If you are having problems, please do speak with your supervisors, who are requested to find solutions together with you. Instructors affected by this should contact the head of their work group or dean to discuss possible solutions together. This may include, for instance, scheduling issues or a temporary redistribution of tasks. Bielefeld University’s Family Services is also always available to you. General information is available here.

An important point: The federal government has announced that in 2021, children’s sickness benefits (Kinderkrankengeld) will be increased by 10 additional days per parent (20 additional days for single parents). Entitlement is also intended to apply for cases in which caring for the child at home becomes necessary because the school, day care, class, or group is closed due to the pandemic; compulsory in-school attendance has been suspended; or access to childcare services has been limited. Again, the university will post more detailed information on the Family Services webpages as soon as regulations are finalized. Additionally, the provision to receive up to 3 extra days of paid special leave on a case-by-case basis was also extended to January 31, 2021 – this applies in cases in which other options have already been exhausted. More information on these conditions can also be found on the Family Services pages. 

We have been receiving sporadic reports that colleagues are experiencing psychological distress as a result of imposed contact restrictions and working from Home Office. Bielefeld University counselling services are there to help.

In the Corona portal, you will find additional helpful information and tips on who to contact for assistance.

We hope that the current lockdown will bring about the necessary reduction in infection numbers, and that the vaccination campaign, which has already launched, will lead to the re-openings of public life we all desire.

For now, what is left to say is that we wish you all continued strength in the coming weeks. Stay healthy and be well.
 

Best regards,
 

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr. Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calenderweek 51 / 2020

Dear Instructors and Students,

On Sunday (13 December 2020), the federal and state governments agreed on a lockdown through the end of the year and into early 2021. Bielefeld University is following their lead, and we urge everyone to follow the government’s guiding principle of “Let’s Stay at Home.”

Today, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia also stipulated that presence-based teaching at institutions of higher learning may no longer take place from Wednesday, 16 December 20202 until Sunday, 10 January 2021, as part of the current Corona Protection Ordinance NRW. In-person exams are also generally not permitted.

The Rectorate has discussed this with the university deans. Based on the Corona Protection Ordinance, the following will apply starting today:

From 16 December 20202 – 10 January 2021, in-person teaching may not be held, including any laboratory internships, sports practices, or presence-based examinations. These must be postponed or, when possible, replaced with digital formats. Online teaching and online examinations will continue to take place. Student work stations at the university, including work areas in the library, will not be available for use starting from the 16th of December. The university library will be open from 16–23 December 2020 and again from 4–8 January 2021, but only for loans and returns absolutely needed in connection to examinations. The online offerings of the university library will remain accessible. The library, as well as other service centers such as Student Advising and Counselling (ZSB), the Information Center, and Examination Offices can be reached during regular business hours by telephone, email, or other digital means.

The university is closed to the public. As for what regulations will be in place starting on 11 January 2021, we will let you know as soon as we have this information.

We regret that we have to share this information with you at such short notice, and hope for your understanding.  We are very aware of our responsibility to all employees, students, and others in the university environment, and with these measures, we will do our part as an institution.

Stay healthy and be well.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Studies and Teaching

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear Colleagues,

At the Coronavirus summit this past Sunday, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the minister presidents of the federal states agreed to a nationwide lockdown in order to stem the spread of the Coronavirus.

As part of its latest Corona Protection Ordinance NRW on 15 December 2020, the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia has suspended in-person studying and teaching at institutions of higher learning from Wednesday, 16 December 20202 until Sunday, 10 January 2021.

We are aware of our responsibilities towards our students and colleagues as both an institution and employer. With this in mind, we would like to join in solidarity with the nationwide policy of “Let’s Stay at Home.” For all employees, the following regulations now apply:

The university will return to “reduced basic operations” – in cooperation with staff representatives – starting on 16 December 2020.

Specifically, for the period from 16 December 2020 – 10 January 2021, the following apply:

  • During this time, on-site presence of technical and administration services must be reduced to the necessary minimum. Staff members in these areas are to work from Home Office as far as possible.
  • On-site work can only take place if the technical or official circumstances require presence (i.e. minimum staffing requirements for contingency plans).
  • All others are to work in Home Office. If this is not possible in individual cases, staff members will be on call.
  • Details are to be determined by supervisors for their respective areas.
  • Working on site at the own employee's own request (when not required for official business) is no longer allowed. This is not permitted as part of reduced basic operations.
  • However, if required for official business, short-term presence on campus is permitted - for example, to check mail or to pick up documents for work in Home Office.
  • Mail must be picked up and outgoing mail deposited in the mailboxes in T7 during this time; parcels will be delivered on more limited schedules.
  • Researchers must also work from Home Office as a general rule. There are some areas in which this is not completely possible (e.g. research operations). On-campus presence must be reduced to a minimum. The details of this will be determined by the managers and/or work group heads for your respective area.
  • The library will also shut down operations by only offering essential library loans and returns needed in connection to exams. Workstations will not be available for use.
  • The university library as well as other service centers (e.g. Student Advising and Counselling, the Information Center, and Examination Offices) will only be available by telephone, email, or other digital means on regular business days outside of the upcoming holidays (24 December 2020 and 3 January 2021).
  • The university is closed to the public.

We would like to express our special thanks for your work this year at Bielefeld University under these difficult and unusual circumstances. We wish you and your family happy holidays.

Take care – stay healthy and be well.

Best regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr. Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calender week 48 / 2020

Dear colleagues,

On Wednesday evening, the heads of government of the Länder agreed with the Federal Chancellor to extend the partial lockdown. This also means that the university has to review its own measures.

We laid down extensive and appropriate measures at the beginning of the lockdown in October. These measures have proven their worth in running our university. Therefore, we are extending the current regulations initially until 15 January 2021.

The agreements between the Federal Government and the Länder stipulate that higher education institutions and universities should switch principally to digital teaching (with the particular exception of laboratory work, internships, phases of practical and artistic training, and examinations). Our current organizational decree does not exclude onsite courses in general. However, following our appeal of 22 October, we assume that hardly any courses will be held onsite that cannot also be conducted digitally. If this is not yet the case in individual courses, we ask all teachers to switch to digital now.

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia will implement the arrangements made on Wednesday for the organization of courses, practical training, and examinations at universities in the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance and, if necessary, in the General Order of the Ministry of Labour, Health, and Social Affairs. We cannot rule out the possibility that this may also have further consequences for us—going beyond the regulations regarding onsite teaching. We expect orders to be issued next week. Any necessary adjustments to our organizational decree will then be made on this basis.

At this point in time, we assume that changes will be necessary to one part of our organizational decree: that applying to those returning from travel outside of Germany. The State of North Rhine-Westphalia will have to adapt its entry regulations—especially with regard to the previous quarantine measures. We are waiting for the corresponding new regulations from the state.

In the last few days, it has become very clear how massively the so called second wave is hitting us all. Daily infection figures and the reports from hospitals are very concerning. Bielefeld has also now passed the threshold of 200 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, thus making it an ‘extreme hotspot’.

Therefore, we appeal to you once again: please maintain your social distance and observe the hygiene rules. If it is not essential for you to work onsite at the university, please switch to home office.

Despite the current concerns, we wish you all happiness for the Christmas season. Stay healthy.

With kind regards

Dr Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calender week 44 / 2020

Dear Students,

On Wednesday evening, the federal and state governments announced sweeping measures to contain the massive increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections here in Germany. Even though there are not currently new national or state regulations for universities, the Rectorate of Bielefeld University has once again revisited its plans for the Winter Semester, which just recently went into session. We remain confident that our hygiene and safety strategies are also suitable and sufficient for the current situation. In addition to this, our assessments indicate the expected number of students present on campus to be tenable. This opinion is also shared by the responsible authorities of the Bielefeld municipal government. We are therefore of the opinion that presence-based instruction will generally remain possible within the specified guidelines.

Some of you have signed up for courses in this current Winter Semester that are taught in person. You might been looking forward to learning together on site, and having the opportunity to interact in-person with your instructors and fellow students. However, in light of the current situation, and following the urgent calls to reduce social contact from Chancellor Angela Markel and the Minister Presidents of the federal states, we have recommended that instructors largely replace in-person teaching with digital offerings. Where appropriate, instructors could return to on-site teaching at a later date, if organizationally feasible. We are also asking for your understanding during this time, as some instructors may now in fact be rescheduling their courses on short notice. We regret this as much as you do. But each course held online is a contribution towards reducing direct contact. And, during this past Summer Semester, we already gained a good deal of experience with online formats, and we can now continue to build upon this. Student work stations, such as those in the University Library and the University Hall, remain available until further notice. The University Library will actually even be extending its opening hours starting next week.

Presence-based offerings from the university sports services, however, will not be able to be held, at least through the end of November. The Uni-Fit gym and swimming pool will also remain closed (with the exception of educational courses).

If you have signed up for a course that you no longer can or want to attend, then please make sure to cancel your registration with the respective instructor or deregister in eKVV. This is especially important for presence-based courses, as only a limited number of spaces are available due to current restrictions: by deregistering, you will enable another person to take your place.

During the times when you are present on campus, we again urge you to maintain social distancing, wear a face mask, observe hygiene rules, and register at work stations and in classrooms.

Important: you are not allowed on campus if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for it. If you have a positive COVID-19 test result and have previously attended an in-person course at the university, you must immediately inform your instructor and send an email notifying the university of your positive test result to coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de. In the event of a positive test, you may only re-enter the campus after 14 days and only if you are symptom-free for two days.

If the situation continues to worsen, or if we are confronted with the fact that people on campus are getting infected despite our hygiene and safety measures, we will of course revisit our planning and revise it at short notice if needed.

We thank you for your understanding.

Stay healthy and well, and we hope you have a good start to this Winter Semester despite the restrictions.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dear Instructors,

On Wednesday evening, the federal and state governments announced sweeping measures to contain the massive increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections here in Germany. Even though there are not currently new national or state regulations for universities, the Rectorate of Bielefeld University has once again revisited its plans for the Winter Semester, which just recently went into session. We remain confident that our hygiene and safety strategies are also suitable and sufficient for the current situation. In addition to this, our assessments indicate the expected number of students present on campus to be tenable. This opinion is also shared by the responsible authorities of the Bielefeld municipal government. We are therefore of the opinion that presence-based instruction will generally remain possible within the specified guidelines.

In light of the current situation, however, and with regard to the urgent calls to reduce social contact from Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Minister Presidents of the federal states, we are recommending that you switch from in-person teaching to digital instruction. If need be, you could return to presence-based instruction in the scheduled classrooms at a later date, if this is organizationally feasible. Every in-person course moved online helps to reduce contact. Many of you have already done this. We expect that those who have decided to continue offering on-site teaching in the current circumstances have good reasons to do so, or that the alternative online formats simply are not possible without jeopardizing teaching and learning objectives.

Student work stations, such as those in the University Library and the University Hall, remain available until further notice. The University Library will actually even be extending its opening hours starting next week.

Another important point: next week a new Organizational Degree will be issued that will bring together all of the current regulations in place at Bielefeld University. In connection to this, we will also provide you with guidance on how to handle having a student in a presence-based course who tests positive for COVID-19.

If the situation continues to worsen, or if we are confronted with the fact that people on campus are getting infected despite our hygiene and safety measures, we will of course revisit our planning and revise it at short notice if needed.

We thank you for your understanding.

Stay healthy and well.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dear Colleagues,

On Wednesday evening, the federal and state governments announced sweeping measures to contain the massive increase in the number of new COVID-19 infections here in Germany. Even though there are not currently new governmental regulations for universities, the Rectorate of Bielefeld University has once again revisited its plans for the Winter Semester, which just recently went into session.

We remain confident that our hygiene and safety strategies for teaching, studying, research, and work are suitable and sufficient for the current situation. This opinion is also shared by the responsible authorities of the Bielefeld municipal government. The decisions from last week thus remain in place. Presence-based instruction will generally remain possible within the specified guidelines. Work stations for students, such as those located in the University Library and the University Hall, will too remain available. We also want to ensure that necessary research activities can take place on site.

The message from Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Minister Presidents of the federal states was clear: wherever possible, employers should allow their employees to work from Home Office. This is something we already successfully put into place for the university earlier this year. The situation now, however, is different: we do not again want to cut back on the studying, teaching, and research offerings on campus. This is why we have decided that employees in university support services who are absolutely necessary to maintain current teaching and research operations will not move to Home Office. The decision regarding which employees this pertains to will be defined by the supervisors in the areas involved. For everyone else, we recommend that you work from Home Office through the end of November. We know that many of you would like to continue doing your work on the university campus, and we also consider this to be viable, in principle. Excluded from working on campus, however, are individuals at an increased risk for complications from COVID-19 as well as those who are pregnant.

Important: you are not allowed on campus if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive for it. If you have a positive COVID-19 test result, you must immediately inform your supervisor and send an email notifying the university of your positive test result to coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de. In the event of a positive test, you may only re-enter the campus after 14 days and only if you are symptom-free for two days.

Presence-based offerings from the university sports services will not be able to be held, at least through the end of November. The Uni-Fit gym and swimming pool will also remain closed (with the exception of educational courses).

Business trips should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

For the time being, no events outside of the teaching and examination schedule may take place until November 30. This also applies to scientific conferences and similar events in attendance.

In the coming weeks, a new Organizational Decree will be issued that brings together the current regulations in place at Bielefeld University.

An important note for supervisors: currently, there are more and more restrictions being put in place at daycare centers and at schools. As a result, some staff members are once again being confronted with care responsibilities. We kindly ask you to consider these challenges for parents when scheduling work and approach the situation with understanding. Trust-based working hours offers a great degree of flexibility, and we ask that you take advantage of this. If you have any questions, please get in touch with the human resources department.

If the situation continues to worsen, or if we are confronted with the fact that people on campus are getting infected despite our hygiene and safety measures, we will of course revisit our planning and revise it at short notice if needed.

During the times when you are present on campus, we again urge you to maintain social distancing, wear a face mask and observe hygiene rules.

We thank you for your understanding.

Stay healthy and well.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Calender week 43 / 2020

Dear Students,

In the past week, Bielefeld has crossed the threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants and is now a Coronavirus risk area. Stricter rules are now in force throughout the entire city. Please have a look at the information from Bielefeld’s municipal government on the situation at www.bielefeld.com.

At present, these municipal regulations do not directly impact Bielefeld University’s planning and operations. That said, we have taken this worrisome development as an opportunity to reevaluate our strategy for the upcoming lecture period of the 2020/2021 Winter Semester, which will begin shortly.

It is our goal – and our responsibility – to enable you to study within the constraints of the Coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, however, we must ensure the safety and health of our students and staff.

After great deliberation, we have come to the decision that, for the time being, our planning for the 2020/2021 Winter Semester will not change. The rationale behind this decision is the fact that our planning for presence on campus has been cautious from the very beginning. The hygiene and safety measures that were developed for in-person instruction as well as presence-based examinations have already proven to be effective in the past weeks, and these also meet the demands of the current situation. We are not aware of a single case in which someone was infected on the university campus or while attending a course/examination. Your instructors have made good preparations and have developed viable concepts for digital teaching as well as for hybrid instruction over the last months. Accordingly, the information that was communicated to you last week remains in force (please see https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/alle-mitteilungen/).

One new measure that has been implemented, effective immediately, is the requirement to wear a face mask when attending in-person courses and examinations. An exception exists for those who are exempted for medical reasons (with a doctor’s note), as well as for those participating in practical sport courses, laboratory work, music instruction, etc., or while working at student workstations. We will let you know when the face mask rule is no longer necessary. In the lecture halls, air is circulated through the ventilation system. In the seminar rooms, however, instructors are required to open the windows and doors every 20 minutes to facilitate regular air circulation.

In light of these current developments, it may be the case that your instructors might have to change the presence-based components of their teaching offerings again – by moving them online, cancelling on-site meetings, or reducing the number of in-person interactions. Changes might also have to be made in order to accommodate the special circumstances of instructors and/or students. We kindly ask for your understanding with this.

When you are present on campus, we are calling upon you to observe the hygiene measures: maintain social distancing, wear a face mask, and register at your workstation, lecture hall, or seminar room. We would also like to remind you that you are not allowed to eat or drink at student workstations, in the University Hall, or in public spaces of university buildings (with the exception of the cafeteria).

If the situation in Bielefeld worsens, or if we are confronted with the fact that people on campus are getting infected despite our hygiene and safety measures, we will of course revisit our plans and change them at short notice if need be.

We thank you for your understanding. Only with your cooperation can we ensure that Bielefeld University will be able to continue providing its (albeit limited) teaching offerings and study programs. And it is also only with your cooperation that we can prevent having to return to full online instruction.

Stay healthy and well.

 

Regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Education and Teaching

Dear Instructors,

In the past week, Bielefeld has crossed the threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants and is now a Coronavirus risk area. Stricter rules are now in force throughout the entire city. Please have a look at the information from Bielefeld’s municipal government on the situation at www.bielefeld.com.

At present, these municipal regulations do not directly impact Bielefeld University’s planning and operations. That said, we have taken this worrisome development as an opportunity to reevaluate our strategy.

It is our goal – and our responsibility – to enable students to successfully complete their studies within the constraints of the Coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, however, we must ensure the safety and health of our students and staff.

After great deliberation, we have come to the conclusion that, for the time being, our planning for the 2020/2021 Winter Semester will not change. The rationale behind this decision is the fact that our planning for presence on campus has been cautious from the very beginning. The hygiene and safety measures that were developed for in-person instruction as well as presence-based examinations have already proven to be effective in the past weeks, and these also meet the demands of the current situation. We are not aware of a single case in which someone was infected on the university campus or while attending a course/examination. Together we have made good preparations and we have all worked to develop viable concepts for digital teaching as well as for hybrid instruction formats in the past months. Accordingly, the information that was communicated to you last week remains in force (please see https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/alle-mitteilungen/). In addition to social distancing, a new measure has been introduced: effective immediately, face masks must also be worn in lecture halls and seminar rooms. An exception applies for those who are exempted for medical reasons (with a doctor’s note), as well as for those participating in practical sport courses, laboratory work, music instruction, etc. As an instructor, you are exempt from the face mask requirement while teaching, but you are required to make sure your students are in compliance. We will let you know when the face mask rule is no longer necessary.

In the lecture halls, air is circulated through the ventilation system. In the seminar rooms, however, you have to open the windows every 20 minutes for a period of 5 minutes to ensure air circulation.

Despite these effective and comprehensive hygiene and safety measures, we understand that you and/or your students may not feel comfortable being present on campus due to the recent rise in local infections. If this is the case, please consider whether you can move your planned presence-based course offerings online in the coming days and weeks. Another idea would be to reduce the number of in-person courses held.

If the plans we have made cannot be carried out after all, a great deal of flexibility will again be requested of you. Making new plans on short notice entails, unfortunately, additional work for you. But we trust in your commitment, your competence, and your creativity. Our students deserve to have access to a challenging range of courses during this time as well – just as you provided to them during the summer semester. We have dealt well with the situation thus far, despite all of the challenges. It is essential that we continue to pay extra attention to the new students in their first and second semesters, not just now, but also in the future. We thank you very much for your engagement and your willingness to facilitate social interaction with your students in addition to teaching course content and providing them with excellent support – whether in person or digitally.

 

If the situation in the city continues to worsen, or if we are confronted with the fact that people on campus are getting infected despite our hygiene and safety measures, we will of course revisit our plans and change them at short notice if need be.

 

We thank you for your understanding.

 

Stay healthy and well.

Regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Education and Teaching

Dear Staff Members and Colleagues,

In the past week, Bielefeld has crossed the threshold of 50 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants and is now a Coronavirus risk area. Stricter rules are now in force throughout the entire city. Please have a look at the information from Bielefeld’s municipal government on the situation at www.bielefeld.com.

At present, these municipal regulations do not directly impact Bielefeld University’s planning and operations. That said, we have taken this worrisome development as an opportunity to reevaluate our strategy.

It is our goal – and our responsibility – to enable students to successfully complete their studies and allow researchers to continue their research activities within the constraints of the Coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, however, we must ensure the safety and health of our students as well as all of our staff.

After great deliberation, we have come to the decision that, for the time being, our planning for the 2020/2021 Winter Semester will not change. The semester will take place as a hybrid semester with both online and presence-based offerings. Instructors have the possibility of moving their presence-based offerings planned for the coming weeks online, or reducing the number of in-person meetings. Until further notice, a face mask must now be worn while attending courses, with few exceptions.

Do these current developments change anything for you and your work on campus?

We have created very comprehensive hygiene measures and safety regulations for working at the university. And these have proven to be effective. We are not aware of a single case in which someone was infected from being on campus. This is why we are not making any substantial changes to our policies at the moment. It is not required to work exclusively from home again.

The following continues to apply: researchers are allowed to work from home or on-site in university facilities. If you are working in university facilities, workplace design regulations must also be observed.

To date, the general goal has been to allow approximately half of all staff members in service and administration to be present on site. In some individual areas, however, flexible models should be developed that will increasingly allow for home office work, provided that this does not conflict with the provisioning of services for research, teaching, and studying. As was the case previously, on-site presence will be continue to be essential in certain areas.

The decision of how to distribute the workforce between home office and on-site presence is made by supervisors in consultation with their employees. We ask that supervisors pay special attention to (high-)risk groups during this planning. Current measures to protect against infection and regulations governing workplace organization are to be observed.

Due to the rise in infections in many places, the following guidance still applies: business travel and training events should only be attended in person if absolutely necessary. Please consult with your supervisor on this.

If the situation in Bielefeld worsens, or if we are confronted with the fact that people on campus are getting infected despite our hygiene and safety measures, we will of course revisit our plans and change them at short notice if need be.

We are calling on you again to observe the hygiene measures in place: maintain social distancing, wear a face mask, air out rooms, and register at building entrances. We would also like to remind you that you are not allowed to eat or drink in the University Hall, or in public spaces of university buildings (with the exception of the cafeteria). Please avoid in-person contact with colleagues unless it is necessary for business purposes.

We thank you for your understanding.

Stay healthy and well.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Calender week 42 / 2020

Dear Students,

We hope that you had a relaxing and enjoyable semester break despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020/2021 Winter Semester will soon begin, and it is our hope that you will approach this new semester with confidence. We would like to welcome all students to Bielefeld University, especially our new students. We wish you all the best as you embark your studies.

As has been true since the beginning of the pandemic, there is still a great deal of uncertainty for our university community, especially given the recent rise in COVID-19 infections. At the same time, however, we now know more about the Coronavirus and based on this knowledge, we can now begin selectively reopening parts of the university.

In just a few days, the lecture period will begin. However, as has already been communicated, there will not be a full return to presence-based instruction. Most teaching must still take place online. This is especially true for large classes of over 50 people. That said, our goal is to enable as much on-site presence and interaction as is responsible and organizationally feasible for both students and staff. In addition to full online teaching, mixed formats that combine on-site presence and online instruction are also possible, especially for smaller and medium-sized classes. It is especially important that introductory events for first-semester students be held on-site, in person (these might also be open to second-semester students). Practice-oriented courses can also be held in-person (including lab courses, art workshops, and other practice-based courses such as teaching and research seminars for Master’s students, in-depth methodological courses for Bachelor’s students, hands-on material-based courses, debate seminars, and, as applicable, preparatory and accompanying seminars for students doing internship semesters). University faculties and responsible administrative units have been hard at work– and will continue their efforts – to plan and organize these hybrid teaching offerings. The courses offered this Winter Semester can be found in the eKVV, which also includes information about whether the course will be offered in person or online. You can also get more information from each of your instructors.

Today we would like to provide you with information about with the current rules and regulations for the 2020/2021 Winter Semester. First things first: the lecture period begins on October 26th, and first-semester students start on November 2nd.  The lecture period ends on February 12th, 2021.

Essential information and rules for this semester are outlined below:

  • Building access is still restricted. Three entrances to the Main University Building (main entrance C01, south-UMV and West P0) are open, as well as one entrance in Building X (the side entrance by the security station). What’s new is that starting on the first day of the lecture period (October 26th), students and guest auditors no longer need to sign in at the building entrances. We have changed the registration process so that you register in the places where you will be staying for longer periods of time, such as in seminar rooms, lecture halls, study areas, the library, the cafeteria, or other public gathering areas. To register, you will need to scan a QR-Code using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The necessary equipment for this in the various learning and recreational settings of the university buildings is currently being put into place. The library and the cafeteria have their own registration procedures.
  • As a general rule, a face mask must continue to be worn while on the university campus. Places where wearing a face mask is not required will be indicated accordingly.
  • Those with respiratory symptoms or fever are not allowed on university campus (unless the cause of these symptoms has otherwise been cleared by a doctor).
  • Students or individuals returning from risk areas (as defined by the Robert Koch Institute) or areas for which a Corona-related travel advisory has been issued by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany are not allowed on campus for the two weeks following their return. An exception to this rule exists if you can provide a negative Coronavirus test within 5 days of your return.
  • For lectures, seminars, and other practice-based courses offered in presence, the number of seats in lecture halls and seminar rooms has been significantly reduced in order to maintain social distancing. Hygiene measures must be followed: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus/sicherheitskonzepte. When registering, students have to provide their name and seat location, which is information that will allow health authorities to perform contact tracing in case of an infection. For this reason, please do not rearrange or move tables and chairs in seminar rooms! It is important to understand that registration is not about taking attendance. To register, a QR code is scanned at the entrance to the lecture hall or at the seats themselves using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The person organizing the course or event will take care of registration for participants who do not have a smartphone, or for external guests. More information is available at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/anwesenheit.
  • As a general rule, oral and written examinations for the 2020/2021 Winter Semester can be completed online or in presence, provided that there is sufficient capacity in the testing room for social distancing and that hygiene measures are observed. The faculties and instructors will determine the type of testing and make this information available to students in an appropriate manner. External rooms will also be rented for the examination period at the end of the Winter Semester (February – April) to increase capacity. More information on this will be provided at a later date.
  • Research for Bachelor’s/Master’s theses or other research projects in laboratory working groups can be conducted on site.
  • Due to limited room capacities, it might be the case that some students will not get a spot in presence-based courses or examinations. If you are registered but cannot attend the course in person, please contact your instructor or unregister in eKvv so as to allow other students to take your place.
  • Students who cannot attend courses in person due to pre-existing medical conditions are to be offered alternative formats for both their courses and exams. If this applies to you, please get in touch with your instructor to make arrangements.
  • Service centers, such as the Infodesk (Infopunkt), Student Advising and Counselling (ZSB), the International Office (IO), the Bielefeld IT Service Center (BITS), and the various faculty examination offices have reopened to a certain extent. Instructors are also allowed to offer their office hours in person. Please contact your instructor or service center and make an appointment (in most cases you can do this digitally using the appointment function in ekvv). No appointment is needed at the Infodesk. You can also always contact the service centers online or by phone. More information can be found on the service centers’ websites.
  • On October 1st, the University Library significantly increased the number of available workspaces. In addition to this, library opening hours were also extended. More information is available at https://blog.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/?p=10991. For the beginning of the Winter Semester, opening hours are currently being prepared to be extended to 8pm (Monday–Friday). Weekend opening hours are also being planned, probably beginning from December 1st.
  • Student workspaces (study stations) are again available for studying and working on campus,  especially on the bridges and in the gallery of the University Hall, as well as in a few seminar rooms and the library. The faculties also have each set up dedicated rooms for studying and working. Please contact your instructors or the dean of studies with questions. Please do not move or rearrange the tables and chairs. You must register to use the workspaces in the library and in the faculties. An overview of all learning venues at the university is available here: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/lernorte/.
  • Many faculties have developed a Peer-Mentoring Program (under the motto “students helping students”) to provide support to first-semester students. Information about this program is made available during introductory events for first-semester students and on the faculty homepages. Please contact your faculty if you’re interested.
  • Students and doctoral researchers with family responsibilities in particular have been severely impacted by the pandemic. This is why Bielefeld University is providing (doctoral)students who have children with referrals for babysitting and financial assistance for the 2020/2021 Winter Semester. If this applies to you and you need support, please see https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/verwaltung/dezernat-p-o/familie/babysittingportal/index.xml for more information.
  • Social contact with fellow students is an essential part of your studies. This is currently a challenge, but we want to encourage you to keep on being creative. Contact your departmental student representative committee or another group at the university and get to know (new) people. Or, take advantage of the wide range university sports offerings. First-semester students (but not only) can find tips and information on getting involved on the main page of the “Start your Studies” website (www.uni-bielefeld.de/studienstart). You can also follow us on social media to get regular updates and exciting news from all around the university, as well as network with fellow students.

Despite these selective reopenings, the situation at the university remains a challenge. Depending on how the pandemic develops, it cannot be ruled out that changes to these policies might have to be made. The government of North Rhine-Westphalia might also issue new regulations that could impact our operations.

We want to emphasize this important point: The goal behind all of our planning has been to enable you to study within the constraints of Corona pandemic. At the same time, we must ensure the safety and health of our students and staff. And we, together, have to do everything in our power to stop the spread of the virus. Only if everyone follows the rules will we be able to continue opening up the university. This applies, in particular, to wearing a face mask, observing social distancing, regularly disinfecting your hands, and accurately registering when on campus. We are calling upon you to do your part. The progress we collectively make as a university community must not be jeopardized by the behavior of individuals.

We thank you very much for your cooperation.

Despite all these challenges, we wish you successful and productive semester ahead. We will keep you updated on all further measures and regulations. Stay healthy and well, and be optimistic!

With warm regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancelleor

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dear Instructors,

The 2020/2021 Winter Semester will soon begin, and this semester too will be significantly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. We hope and trust that you will nevertheless approach this new semester with confidence. It is thanks to your deep commitment, your creativity, and your dedication that many formats and solutions were already created during the Summer Semester, and can be used going forward. In the last Organizational Decree from September 1st, all employees were already informed of the current regulations governing general service operations (www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus).

Today we would like to update you about the current regulations regarding teaching and examinations for the 2020/2021 Winter Semester.
As you already know, there will not be a full return to presence-based university operations during the 2020/2021 Winter Semester. Teaching must continue to take place largely online. This is especially true for large classes of over 50 people. That said, our goal is to enable as much on-site presence and interaction as is responsible and organizationally feasible for both students and staff. The university faculties and responsible administrative units have been hard at work– and will continue their efforts – to plan and organize these hybrid learning offerings based on the guiding principles that were already sent to you (www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/studium-und-lehre/2020-07-15_Eckpunkte-Lehr-und-Prufungsbetrieb-WiSe.pdf).

The following rules and regulations are currently in place:

  • As always, scheduled educational courses for the Winter Semester must be submitted and posted to eKVV, Bielefeld University’s online course catalogue. There you must also indicate whether the course will be held in presence, online, or as a combination of both. Posting all courses to eKVV (including those held in internal faculty rooms) is particularly important this semester because contact tracing can only be ensured for listed courses. If you have questions, please get in touch with your eKVV contact person.
  • In special cases, scheduled courses can be postponed to the semester break. It is also possible to hold courses on Saturday.
  • For lectures, seminars, and other practice-based courses offered in presence, the number of seats in lecture halls and seminar rooms has been significantly reduced in order to maintain social distancing. Hygiene measures must be followed: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus/sicherheitskonzepte. Please remind students that tables and chairs cannot be moved, and please make sure to watch out for this yourself.
  • Students have to register at each individual course by providing their name and seat. This will enable health authorities to perform contact tracking if necessary. Instructors must also register, but do not need to indicate a seat. A pre-requisite for registration is that the course is listed in eKVV. To register, a QR code is scanned at the entrance to the lecture hall or at the seats themselves using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The person organizing the course or event will take care of registration for participants who do not have a smartphone, or for external guests. More information is available at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/anwesenheit.
  • For online courses, the online formats and tools that were developed and introduced during the Summer Semester can be used. More information on these tools is available here. Support for didactic issues is available here.
  • Research for Bachelor’s/Master’s theses or other research projects in laboratory working groups can once again be conducted on site.
  • As a general rule, oral and written examinations for the 2020/2021 Winter Semester can be completed online or in presence, provided that there is sufficient capacity in the testing room for social distancing and that hygiene measures are observed. For written examinations to be completed in presence, the plan is to continue the enrollment and registration procedure for written exams that was already established during the Summer Semester (participant lists in eKVV), i.e. with individually assigned places and without a QR code. For the examination period at the end of the 2020/2021 Winter Semester (February–April), external rooms will also be rented. More information on this will be provided at a later date. For online exams, the online formats that have already been developed are available, namely for open-book and closed-book formats in the exam Moodle, using Zoom and a computer lock (safe exam browser) as needed.
  • Students who cannot attend courses/exams in person due to relevant pre-existing health conditions are to be offered alternatives formats, such as streaming, distance learning, or digital exams.
  • Students can continue to submit their assignments for course credit by email or via “Lernraum”. For theses, an email with a digital file of the final thesis (which matches the printed version) must be sent to the responsible examination office as well as to the examiners.
  • Service centers, such as the Infodesk (Infopunkt), Student Advising and Counselling (ZSB), the International Office (IO), the Bielefeld IT Service Center (BITS), and the various faculty examination offices have reopened to a certain extent. You can also always contact the service centers online or by phone. More information can be found on the service centers’ websites. In addition to digital formats, instructors can also offer in-person office hours. In the interest of ensuring traceability if an infection should occur, please have your students make an appointment in advance – ideally using the appointment function in eKVV.
  • On October 1st, the University Library significantly increased the number of available workspaces. In addition to this, library opening hours were also extended. More information is available at https://blog.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/?p=10991. For the beginning of the Winter Semester, opening hours are currently being prepared to be extended to 8pm (Monday–Friday). Weekend opening hours are also being planned, probably beginning from December 1st.
  • Student workspaces (study stations) are again available for studying and working on campus, especially on the bridges and in the gallery of the University Hall, as well as in a few seminar rooms and the library. The faculties also have each set up dedicated rooms for studying and working. An overview of all learning venues at the university is available here: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/lernorte/
  • Students, doctoral researchers, and instructors with family responsibilities in particular have been severely impacted by the pandemic. This is why Bielefeld University is providing referrals for babysitting during the 2020/2021 Winter Semester. If this applies to you and you need support, please see https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/babysitting. Financial support is available for instructors with a high teaching load and family responsibilities, as well as early career researchers with family duties. Funding has been made available by the respective faculties and Rectorate to relieve this burden, upon request, by hiring support staff or receiving supplementary teaching assignments.

Depending on how the pandemic develops, it cannot be ruled out that adjustments to these policies might have to be made. The government of North Rhine-Westphalia might also issue new regulations that could impact our operations.

We want to emphasize this important point: The goal behind all of our planning has been to enable our community to study and teach within the constraints of Corona pandemic. At the same time, we must ensure the safety and health of our students and staff. And we, together, have to do everything in our power to stop the spread of the virus. Only if everyone follows the rules will we be able to continue opening up the university. This applies, in particular, to wearing a face mask, observing social distancing, regularly disinfecting your hands, and accurately registering when on campus. Please remind your students to do their part. The social aspect of student life continues to be severely limited. Encourage your students to take advantage of the offerings from departmental student representative committees, or to meet up with fellow classmates in their private time to the extent that this is possible. In the portal for first-semester students, there is a link titled that provides a list of opportunities for getting to know others (www.uni-bielefeld.de/start-ins-studium).

Despite these challenges, we wish you a successful semester and thank you again for your cooperation and commitment. We can all be proud of how our university community has responded to provide effective teaching during these difficult times, thus ensuring that thousands of students can carry on with their studies.

We will keep you updated on all further measures and regulations.

The regulations currently in place are available here: www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus 

Stay healthy and well, and be optimistic!

With warm regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching

Dear Colleagues and Staff Members,

Our work together remains dominated by a high degree of uncertainty, especially given the rising number of COVID-19 cases. At the same time, however, we now know more about the Coronavirus and based on this knowledge, we can now begin selectively reopening parts of the university. The experience we have gained will also make it possible to make adjustments to our policies.

One of these such changes is now the registration procedure when entering the university. What’s new is that starting on the first day of the lecture period (October 26th), students and guest auditors no longer need to sign in at the building entrances. We have changed the registration process so that you register in the places where you will be staying for longer periods of time, such as in seminar rooms, lecture halls, study areas, the library, the cafeteria, or other public gathering areas. To register, you will need to scan a QR-Code using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. The necessary equipment for this in the various learning and recreational settings of the university buildings is currently being put into place. The library and the cafeteria have their own registration procedures. If an infected student is present on the university campus, this registration policy will enable the health authorities to perform much more precise contact tracing.

For you, nothing will change for the time being. Staff members must continue to register when coming to campus, but only once a day. In addition to the scanners for the UniCard, there are now QR codes at the entrances, which can also be used for registration. For the rare cases in which an individual does not have a UniCard or a smartphone, access sheets are also available, and these can be submitted in the letterboxes provided. Until further notice, only three entrances are open in the Main University Building (main entrance C01, south-UMV, and West P0) as well as one entrance at Building X (side entrance by the security station).

The other buildings will now also be equipped with scanners and/or QR codes, thus eliminating the need for daily decentralized recording of presence by supervisors in all areas. A note for management staff: if an infection occurs, the public health department will perform contact tracing and may also contact the supervisor(s) of the infected individual. Depending on the circumstances, supervisors should then be able to determine at short notice who from their area was on site and, for example, took part in ordered official meetings, assemblies and events. The health authorities will need the names and telephone numbers of coworkers.

Guests and employees from external companies no longer need to register at the entrance areas. It is now the responsibility of the host and/or contractor to record their guests’ presence on campus by documenting their contact information (name, telephone number, email address, and time/date present). We recommend that you put this contact information in your calendar so that you can quickly reference it if needed.

A bit of background is in order here: Bielefeld University is responsible for documenting the presence of individuals in its facilities. The University must therefore be able to provide information on short notice to public health authorities about who was present or nearby at the same time as the infected person. These individuals may need to be informed of or contacted regarding this potential exposure. Contact among employees is more manageable than contact among students, and can usually be traced back to the individual. The registration procedure for entering university buildings is necessary in the event that the university or sub-areas within the university  becomes a hot spot  and there is an increased and simultaneous occurrence of cases of infection. Although we consider this unlikely, if this did occur, we would have to quickly be able to provide the health authorities with information about who has been in which buildings during a certain time frame.

Important: Staff members are required to register. By registering and entering university buildings, you consent to the processing of your data. The registration procedure has been verified in accordance with data protection laws. The data privacy policy and building access form can be downloaded here at www.uni-bielefeld.de/registrierung-corona. More specific information on contact tracking will be available in the next organisational decree.

The goal behind all of our efforts is to facilitate research, teaching, studying, and working within the constraints of the Coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, we must ensure the safety and health of our students and staff. And we, together, have to do everything in our power to stop the spread of the virus. Only if everyone follows the rules will we be able to continue opening up the university. This applies, in particular, to wearing a face mask, observing social distancing, regularly disinfecting your hands, and accurately registering when on campus. We are asking you to do your part. We are calling upon all members of the university community to do their part. The progress we make together cannot be jeopardized by the behavior of individuals.

We thank you very much for your cooperation.

Despite all these challenges, we wish you successful start to the semester ahead. We will keep you updated on all further measures and regulations. Stay healthy and well, and be optimistic!

The regulations currently in place are available here: www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus.

Stay healthy and well.

Best regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calendar week 36 / 2020

Dear colleagues and members of staff,

We hope you have had a relaxing and pleasant summer break. Social interaction is still subject to a high degree of uncertainty, especially in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. At the same time, however, our understanding of coronavirus is improving and we can use this as a basis for selectively easing restrictions—also at our university. We have taken this into account with an updated organizational decision which will be valid as of today.

As already announced, there will be no return to full presence in teaching in the winter semester 2020/2021. Teaching will have to continue in a predominantly digital format. However, as much on-site presence and interaction should be made possible as is responsible and organizationally feasible for staff and students. At present, the faculties and responsible administrative units are planning teaching activities for the coming semester according to specific criteria with great commitment. It is a challenging task for all involved.

Starting in September, service units on site will at times be open to students. The infopunkt [information centre], Studierendensekretariat [Student Office], Central Student Advisory Service (ZSB), support desk in the BITS, and the examination offices will again, to a limited extent, be open to the public. They can also still be reached online or by telephone. The university library is also expanding its services. For example, a limited number of bookable workstations will be available for students, and external users can again borrow media. Further details can be found on the respective websites.

Regular contact with colleagues, a familiar working environment, and a functioning workplace are required to be able to work effectively. This is also reflects the preference of a large number of our staff. Others, for various reasons, have to keep their risk of infection as low as possible and therefore want to avoid their university workplace and the commute to work this entails. We wish to accommodate both sides and have therefore adopted the following guidelines until further notice:

  • Up to now, academics were to work from home—if their activity allowed it. This policy is being repealed. The following now applies: those who wish to work at the university may do so again. However, the rules of distance and hygiene must then be observed.
  • The goal for the staff in technology and administration is for everyone to work on campus again, at least from time to time. In this context, the desired goal is to have half of the workforce present. The actual staffing of the organizational units is based on the respective departmental requirements and accompanying circumstances (especially the space available). Superiors are requested to make appropriate plans.

Some members of staff in the library, the departments P/O [Personnel and Organization], FM [Facility Management], F [Financial Services], and SL [Learning and Teaching], as well as the Office of Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection (AGUS), and in the laboratories/workshops have had to work on site in past months because their work could only be done at the university. Their presence was necessary to keep the university running. Another topic we would like to mention is invigilation during examinations and tests. We know that this has been difficult for one or the other and that there have also been concerns. On behalf of the university, we wish to thank these colleagues for their cooperation and dedication.

Further changes to the organizational decision concern, among other things, the holding of academic conferences and events, dealing with groups of people who are particularly in need of protection, holding work meetings (if necessary with external guests) as well as official travel and return.

According to the decision of the federal and state governments, a two-week quarantine period is required when returning from risk areas. This can only be ended by a negative test after five days. During this time the work is done from the home office. If it is not possible to perform work from home, the supervisor must first check whether the employee concerned can be temporarily assigned another suitable task. Therefore do not travel to the defined risk areas.

More staff will be here from September onwards and more students at the start of the semester, then the question of food provision will also become increasingly important. We are talking to the Studierendenwerk about this. The Studierendenwerk currently has a snack service in the cafeterias (building X, main building) and a takeaway service in the canteen. The plan is also to partially reopen the dining halls during September, subject to the approval of the health authorities. However, it is currently not clear whether there will be enough seating for everyone. Many would like to eat outside the office—also together with colleagues. But please note that you are not allowed to eat in the university hall or in public corridors, pathways, stairs, lifts, and stairways. Weather permitting, please find places outside the buildings or, after consulting with your superiors, use meeting rooms or large offices in your working areas. You must, however, observe the rules of distance. We trust you will understand the reasons for this.

Please remember to keep a distance of 1.5 m and to wear a mouth-and-nose covering in the building. Hopefully, we will then be able to prevent infections in the university.

The updated organizational decision can be found here.

Stay safe and healthy.

Best regards,

Professor Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Dr Stephan Becker, chancellor

Calendar week 35 / 2020

Dear students,

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Bielefeld University has developed sophisticated hygiene concepts for its restricted operation mode and coordinated these with the local health authority. Our aim is to prevent people at the university from becoming infected. In addition to protecting against infection, the central strategy for containing the coronavirus pandemic remains having the ability to trace contact chains of infected persons. The university is obliged by law to record everybody who is present in the university buildings. It must be able to provide information to the local health authority—at short notice—about everybody who was at the university at the same time as an infected person. These persons may need to be informed or contacted.

Handwritten registration at the entrance is time-consuming and should not be expected of students and employees. Moreover, in future, we also want to avoid as far as possible the extensive keeping of attendance lists by superiors in the individual areas of the university. The aim is to comply with the legal requirements at a low threshold. Therefore, in a first step, we shall be introducing a digital registration system for the main building and Building X. However, when doing this, we shall pay explicit attention to ensuring the protection of personal data.

Starting on 31. August, Bielefeld University will use scanners that can be operated free of contact. Registration will take place at the open entrances of the main building (main entrance C01, South UV, and West P0) and Building X (side entrance next to the security control centre) by scanning your UniCard. Other university buildings will gradually be equipped with scanners as needed. Until then, superiors are responsible for documenting the presence of employees and guests in these buildings on a daily basis. However, this documentation may not be used to check attendance and working hours. Please take a pragmatic approach here. For employees, it is sufficient to note down their names and the time they enter the buildings.

Those who do not have a UniCard, have forgotten it, or do not wish to use it must go to the entrance of the main building or Building X and fill in an access form with the relevant contact details (name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, time of entry) or hand in an appropriately completed access form. Access forms can be downloaded here. www.uni-bielefeld.de/registrierung-corona. Please use your own pen when completing the form onsite.

It is important to note that the university is obliged by the Corona Protection Ordinance of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to collect data for tracing purposes. Therefore, access is possible only after registration. This applies to everybody (employees, students, guests, employees of external companies, etc.) Those who do not register cannot enter the university. By registering and entering the university buildings, you agree to the processing of data as described above. The privacy policy can be found here: www.uni-bielefeld.de/registrierung-corona

Persons who leave the building for a short time (e.g. for a break) must register again when they return—even those who do not have a UniCard. It is not necessary to ‘check out’ when leaving the building.

The scanner records only the ID number stored on the UniCard. This number is stored on the device with a time stamp and transferred once a day to a password-protected directory. If there is no request for tracking, the data will be deleted after four weeks. The same applies to the access forms. It may only become necessary to link the registered ID numbers with contact details (name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address) of the relevant persons if a case of coronavirus occurs in one of the university buildings. These data will then be processed by only a very small circle of authorized persons and solely for the purpose of tracking.

In principle, the university buildings may be entered only through the officially opened entrances (see above). Opened emergency exits and side exits must be kept closed. The currently valid opening hours are: Monday to Friday from 6.45 to 20.00.

Sometimes you may have to wait to register — especially when trams arrive. Please be patient and keep your distance. Furthermore, it is compulsory to wear a mouth-and-nose covering in all public areas of the university.

The procedure described here is being used exclusively to track Covid-19 contacts. It is therefore limited in time and will end at the latest when the university returns to normal operation. The data processing procedure has been checked for data protection conformity. The staff councils have given their approval.

An additional procedure will be established in the winter semester for registering students onsite in courses and examinations. The previous procedure for collecting data in seminar rooms and at the learning locations will be retained independently of this. The same applies to the use of workstations in the library.

Information on the UniCard and how you can order it easily can be found here: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/unicard . Please use this service.

We would like to emphasize once again: We are obliged by law to register. The chosen procedure requires comparatively little effort on your part while simultaneously complying with data protection regulations. We hope that we can rely on your cooperation with this procedure. Alternative procedures would be more complicated for you, especially for superiors, who would then continue to be responsible for keeping attendance lists.

We hope for your understanding.

With kind regards

Dr Stephan Becker                                       Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Chancellor                                                     Rector

Dear employees,

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Bielefeld University has developed sophisticated hygiene concepts for its restricted operation mode and coordinated these with the local health authority. Our aim is to prevent people at the university from becoming infected. In addition to protecting against infection, the central strategy for containing the coronavirus pandemic remains having the ability to trace contact chains of infected persons. The university is obliged by law to record everybody who is present in the university buildings. It must be able to provide information to the local health authority—at short notice—about everybody who was at the university at the same time as an infected person. These persons may need to be informed or contacted.

Handwritten registration at the entrance is time-consuming and should not be expected of students and employees. Moreover, in future, we also want to avoid as far as possible the extensive keeping of attendance lists by superiors in the individual areas of the university. The aim is to comply with the legal requirements at a low threshold. Therefore, in a first step, we shall be introducing a digital registration system for the main building and Building X. However, when doing this, we shall pay explicit attention to ensuring the protection of personal data.

Starting on 31. August, Bielefeld University will use scanners that can be operated free of contact. Registration will take place at the open entrances of the main building (main entrance C01, South UV, and West P0) and Building X (side entrance next to the security control centre) by scanning your UniCard. Other university buildings will gradually be equipped with scanners as needed. Until then, superiors are responsible for documenting the presence of employees and guests in these buildings on a daily basis. However, this documentation may not be used to check attendance and working hours. Please take a pragmatic approach here. For employees, it is sufficient to note down their names and the time they enter the buildings.

Those who do not have a UniCard, have forgotten it, or do not wish to use it must go to the entrance of the main building or Building X and fill in an access form with the relevant contact details (name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, time of entry) or hand in an appropriately completed access form. Access forms can be downloaded here: www.uni-bielefeld.de/registrierung-corona. Please use your own pen when completing the form onsite.

It is important to note that the university is obliged by the Corona Protection Ordinance of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to collect data for tracing purposes. Therefore, access is possible only after registration. This applies to everybody (employees, students, guests, employees of external companies, etc.) Those who do not register cannot enter the university. Registration is therefore mandatory for employees. By registering and entering the university buildings, you agree to the processing of data as described above. The privacy policy can be found here: www.uni-bielefeld.de/registrierung-corona.

Persons who leave the building for a short time (e.g. for a break) must register again when they return—even those who do not have a UniCard. It is not necessary to ‘check out’ when leaving the building.

The scanner records only the ID number stored on the UniCard. This number is stored on the device with a time stamp and transferred once a day to a password-protected directory. If there is no request for tracking, the data will be deleted after four weeks. The same applies to the access forms and the documentation by superiors. It may only become necessary to link the registered ID numbers with contact details (name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address) of the relevant persons if a case of coronavirus occurs in one of the university buildings. These data will then be processed by only a very small circle of authorized persons and solely for the purpose of tracking. It is important for employees to note that there is no recording of working time or attendance control—neither via electronic scanning nor via registration with an access form.

In principle, the university buildings may be entered only through the officially opened entrances (see above). Opened emergency exits and side exits must be kept closed. The currently valid opening hours are: Monday to Friday from 6.45 to 20.00.

Sometimes you may have to wait to register—especially when trams arrive. Please be patient and keep your distance. Furthermore, it is compulsory to wear a mouth-and-nose covering in all public areas of the university.

The procedure described here is being used exclusively to track Covid-19 contacts. It is therefore limited in time and will end at the latest when the university returns to normal operation. The data processing procedure has been checked for data protection conformity. The staff councils have given their approval.

An additional procedure will be established in the winter semester for registering students onsite in courses and examinations. The previous procedure for collecting data in seminar rooms and at the learning locations will be retained independently of this. The same applies to the use of workstations in the library.

Information on the UniCard and how you can order it easily can be found here: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/unicard/. Please use this service.

We would like to emphasize once again: We are obliged by law to register. The chosen procedure requires comparatively little effort on your part while simultaneously complying with data protection regulations. We hope that we can rely on your cooperation with this procedure. Alternative procedures would be more complicated for you, especially for superiors, who would then continue to be responsible for keeping attendance lists.

We hope for your understanding.

With kind regards

Dr Stephan Becker                                       Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Chancellor                                                     Rector

Calendar week 30 / 2020

Dear Students,

An unusual and challenging semester is now behind us. We want to thank you once again for your understanding and willingness to participate in the new (online) learning formats. These joint efforts on the part of both you and your instructors have paid off: despite all the difficulties, a majority of the courses were able to be held and examinations could be taken. And all this was possible from a starting point of virtually no preparation.

We know that this was a very stressful time for everyone and that some restrictions were felt to be very burdensome. Some issues became clear with the results of the student survey: extensive screen time, learning to use new tools, time management and self-organization, and workload were the keywords that kept coming up. Our Peer Learning Team has compiled some helpful tips for these issues, and it is therefore worth having a look at these websites on a regular basis.

In the student survey, many of you expressed that the biggest problem is the lack of contact with your fellow students. Discussions are extremely important – not only on subject-specific content, but also sharing perspectives and opinions. In normal circumstances, this communication takes place casually, whether over a meal in the cafeteria or a coffee in the Uni-Halle, or walking together on the way to class. These days, however, programs of study are taking place largely online. We want to encourage you not to neglect this interaction: it is, after all, also a central part of your studies. Use the chat function and other digital means to communicate among yourselves. Meet “in real life” to follow lectures together or work on assignments in small groups. Organize game nights. Make use of the university’s sport offerings. Talk about the things that are on your mind. Look out for each other.

Preparations for the winter semester have been underway for some time now. The experience gained from the past months has been incorporated into this planning. As of today, however, we are not quite yet able answer all questions to full satisfaction. There is still much that will become clear in the coming weeks.

One thing is for certain: courses for students who are already enrolled begin on 26 October 2020 and will end on 12 February 2021. For first semester students and students in state-examination degree programs, studies start on 2 November 2020. Some student work spaces are again available in the university, and the university library and central services are gradually expanding their opening hours and offerings.

That said, there will be no paradigm shift to full on-campus presence. Teaching will remain largely digital. We want, however, to facilitate as much presence and interaction as possible – responsibly, and in observance of the necessary hygiene rules. In concrete terms, this means that courses will also mostly take place online during the winter semester. This is especially true for large lectures of 50 people or more. In addition to online lectures, so-called “mixed” formats are also possible for small or medium-sized lectures, which combine classroom presence and online elements. Parts of the course conducted on-site will also be streamed or made available asynchronously for those who cannot attend in person. It is important that introductory events for first-semester students be offered in presence on campus. Instructors can also register to teach practically oriented courses as presence-based (e.g. practical labs, hands-on courses, debate-based seminars, or orientation and/or accompanying seminars for internship semesters). The limitations of this planning will be determined by room capacities, as significantly fewer people can now be allowed per room. Extensive preparations are currently being taken to address this issue in order to make optimal use of existing space capacities in consideration of hygiene concepts and directives.

As a basis for helping you plan your teaching during the Corona pandemic, a position paper was created in order to provide the faculties with a unified framework. This paper is available here (only in German): https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/studium-und-lehre/.

The situation will be particularly challenging for first-semester students, and this is where we need your help. At the moment, we are still working together with AStA, student representatives, and the university faculties on how we can give the first-semester students a good start to their studies. One thing we know for sure: we will need many tutors and volunteer mentors who will make themselves available for individual or smaller groups of first-semester students. If you want to get involved in this, you can already get in touch with us at the following email address: mentoring-studienstart@uni-bielefeld.de.

And now a word about the online exams currently taking place, for which there have been some questions and doubts: We can assure you that we have carefully and responsibly assessed the tools provided. For the examinations that have yet to be completed, we wish you success.

Underlying all of this is a common goal: we want to prevent infections. Hygienic measures will continue to remain in place. Please remember to keep 1.5 meters distance from others and to wear a face mask when inside buildings. It is only if we all stick to the rules that will we be able – step by step – to make our university once again the kind of interactive place we all miss. 
   

We wish you a wonderful semester break, and look forward to working with you in the winter semester.

Stay healthy and well!

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rektor

Prof.‘in Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Education and Teaching

Calendar week 29/2020

Dear Colleagues,

An unusual, challenging, and demanding lecture period this summer semester is now coming to a close. We would like to thank you all for tremendous cooperation and perseverance. Despite all of the difficulties, it was your commitment, creativity, and willingness to implement entirely new teaching and learning formats that allowed students to be able to take almost all of their courses and to successfully complete their academic work and examinations.

Please find attached to this email the key points for the planning of the upcoming winter semester (in German), which have been developed and discussed in various committees with the participation of instructors, the deans of studies, and student representatives (LeKo, Senate, deans of studies, and the “Winter semester” work group), as well as additional information for first semester courses. Attached you will also find a list of measures to help alleviate the work entailed for the planning and carrying out your courses.

With these documents, we are also responding to reports from various parties that members of this university community are experiencing significant overload. The reasons for this are as varied as the measures must be to alleviate it. Those, for instance, who are taking up teaching responsibilities for the first time while also working towards their own education are facing different challenges than those who have supervisory responsibility for many colleagues.

We are taking the concerns from these various groups of instructors very seriously and want to work together with you to help alleviate the strain in the coming semester. The Corona pandemic will not soon be over and will be with us for some time to come – surely much longer than most of us had imagined in the beginning. For a whole host of colleagues, this involves personal pressures such as childcare (with limited childcare options), sick relatives to be cared for, or their own worries and health problems. During this time, we are largely performing our professional tasks via digital means – whether it be research, teaching or committee work. This digital communication entails a great deal of screen time and the feeling of being reachable around the clock, both of which can also be very challenging.

The strategy chosen by many our highly committed instructors, but also administrative staff and students, has been to work at the limits of what is possible in order to ensure that university operations have continued to run smoothly. Continuing to manage all upcoming tasks to at least the same level, if not even above and beyond, obviously also leads to (self-)overloading on a large scale.

Some of the reasons for this oft-perceived overload have been identified in both instructor and student evaluations of the summer semester. For the instructors, the following reasons for a significantly higher perceived workload were identified (and these reasons also correspond with those mentioned by students):

  • Lack of direct contact with others can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
  • Digital teaching is more difficult and demanding due to the substantial amount of screen time.
  • Learning how to use digital tools requires time and a great deal of organizational input.
  • Making arrangements with teachers/students requires more time and the level of supervision also increases because ad-hoc discussions are not really possible.
  • Instructors create additional materials, tasks, and activities for students in order to compensate for the lack of presence time, all of which requires more work.
  • In many cases, students have (significantly) more written assignments, which in turn have to be responded to and graded by instructors.
  • The extra work perceived by students and the sometimes many frequent deadlines seem much more demanding than in presence-based classroom teaching, thus generating additional emotional stress in the course.
  • The reduced quality of interaction with students is a particular burden for instructors (i.e. the issue of “black tiles” where participants turn off their video in online meetings).

The university leadership is very aware of the stresses placed on everyone during this time and is doing its utmost, within the given legal framework, to support instructors and students and to improve the overall conditions. In recognition of the challenges to be overcome, substantial funds for technical equipment and assistance in the form of support staff and tutorials were allocated to university faculties. In addition to this, possibilities for splitting required courses at the expense of electives in the teaching portfolio or employing additional instructors were introduced.

Support from the Centre for Teaching and Learning (Zentrum für Lehren und Lernen, ZLL), E-Learning/Media (BITS), the Department for University Teaching and Studying (Dezernat SL), Occupational Health and Safety (AGUS), and Facility Management (Raumvergabe) has been expanded where possible. Advisory services and further training offerings have been in high demand – and the same goes for the specifically created online instructions (i.e. for digital tools and exams). 

Nevertheless, the additional burden on instructors – as well as on staff in the various administrative departments of the university (including the rectorate) – cannot be denied. This is why it is so important under these circumstances that each individual instructor pay special attention to himself/herself and also to his/her own staff and colleagues. Acknowledging one's own efforts and those of others; recognizing difficult situations (e.g. due to personal crises or illness); and responding to counter clear cases of overload, as well as working together and supporting each other are very important strategies to ensure that each and every one of us get safely through this crisis. This can only happen at the level of the faculties and in the working groups in which instructors know and interact with each other personally. It is possible, for example, to make targeted use of additional support staff or additional teaching assignments (e.g. allocating these to external persons or colleagues with no/low teaching load) in order to have smaller courses with reduced supervision and grading work. Special attention should be paid to the unique challenges faced by female colleagues with disabilities, single parents, and those caring for several children or relatives, especially if public care services are not available or limited. To help relieve the burden on the aforementioned group of workers with family responsibilities, additional funds will be made available in the winter semester so these colleagues can apply for an additional support staff or a compensatory teaching assignment.

We wish you a relaxing and restorative semester break.

Stay healthy and optimistic!
 

With warm regards,
 

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Prof. Dr. Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Education and Teaching

Prof. Dr. Martin Egelhaaf, Vice-rector for Research and Research Transfer

Prof. Dr. Reinhold Decker, Vice-rector for Information Infrastructure and Business Relations

Prof. Dr. Angelika Epple, Vice-rector for International Affairs and Diversity

Prof. Dr. Marie Kaiser, Vice-rector for Personnel Development and Gender Equality

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Calendar week 27/2020

Dear Students,

Those of you who are having trouble studying at home – whether because of a weak Internet connection or no Internet access at all, or are facing other challenges – will now be able to work at individual workspaces at the university starting on July 6th. These workspaces are located in the Main University Building (Hauptgebäude), where in the Gallery (floors 1 and 2) of the University Hall (Unihalle), a total of 236 work spaces have been reconfigured to allow for 1.5 meters of distancing from neighbors, thus making them suitable for use. The same also applies for workspaces in 5 seminar rooms in the Main University Building and Building X, including:

UHG T2-213, with 12 workspaces

UHG T2-227, with 16 workspaces

UHG U2-223, with 12 workspaces

X-E0-222, with 16 workspaces

X-E1-201, with 16 workspaces

You do not have to register in advance to use the workspaces. Each workspace, however, does have a list where you just have to write your student identification number and the time present – this will facilitate contact tracing should an infection occur. Those who do not wish to sign in on the list are not allowed to use the workspaces. We also ask that you leave the area if the number of available workspaces are all occupied. As we previously shared with you, a room for students to work in was already set up in each of the university faculties. For this, please get in touch with your respective faculty.

Please also remember that a face mask must be worn while at the university. All information (usage regulations for student workspaces, data protection policy, and example sign-in sheet) can be accessed online at uni-bielefeld.de/arbeitsplaetze-studium.

Stay healthy and be well.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Rector

Dear students,

the lockdown for the Warendorf district ended yesterday, for the Gütersloh district it will be extended for another week, until 7 July 2020. This was announced yesterday by the Minister President at a press conference.

What does this mean for those employees and students of our university who live in the two districts? We continue to request that they follow the appeal of the state government. People from the Warendorf district will also be able to re-enter the university. Persons from the district of Gütersloh are asked, unless it is absolutely necessary, not to re-enter the university until the lockdown is lifted, unless they can show a negative corona test.

Furthermore, the information we provided in the e-mail of 25 July 2020, now applies exclusively to the Gütersloh district. This applies, e.g. in the current examination period: For students, we consider for example permitted courses in attendance (e.g. laboratory internships), examinations and work for final examinations in laboratories as necessary.

The entire communication of the university management of the past weeks can be found here.

With kind regards

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Rector

This mail was translated with deepl for time reasons.

Dear employees,

the lockdown for the Warendorf district ended yesterday, for the Gütersloh district it will be extended for another week, until 7 July 2020. This was announced yesterday by the Minister President at a press conference.

What does this mean for those employees and students of our university who live in the two districts? We continue to request that they follow the appeal of the state government. People from the Warendorf district will also be able to re-enter the university. Persons from the district of Gütersloh are asked, unless it is absolutely necessary, not to re-enter the university until the lockdown is lifted, unless they can show a negative corona test.

Furthermore, the information we provided in the e-mail of 25 July 2020, now applies exclusively to the Gütersloh district. This applies, e.g. in the current examination period: For students, we consider for example permitted courses in attendance (e.g. laboratory internships), examinations and work for final examinations in laboratories as necessary.

The entire communication of the university management of the past weeks can be found here.

With kind regards

Dr. Stephan Becker
Chancellor
 

This mail was translated with deepl for time reasons.

Calendar week 26/2020

Dear students,

In the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf a lockdown has been in effect again since this week. This news understandably leads to the question of whether this will have consequences for students at our university who live in these two Districts. Mayor Pit Clausen has currently ruled out a lockdown for Bielefeld as well as special measures for people from the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf.

We are also currently ruling out basic restrictions for students from both districts.

However, we ask you to follow the appeal of the state government and, if possible, not to leave the districts. Persons from the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf should therefore not enter the university at this time, unless it is absolutely necessary. As necessary we consider for example permitted courses in attendance (e.g. laboratory internships), examinations and work for final examinations in laboratories.

Basically, we would like to point out once again that a distance of 1.5 m must be maintained and a mouth-and-nose cover must be worn in the university building.

We are in exchange with the city of Bielefeld. Should the situation change, further measures for the university are not excluded.

With kind regards

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Rector

This mail was translated with deepl for time reasons.

Dear employees,

In the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf a lockdown has been in effect again since this week. This news understandably leads to the question of whether this will have consequences for students and employees at our university who live in these two Districts. Mayor Pit Clausen has currently ruled out a lockdown for Bielefeld as well as special measures for people from the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf.

We are also currently ruling out basic restrictions for employees and students from both districts.

However, we ask you to follow the appeal of the state government and, if possible, not to leave the districts. Persons from the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf should therefore not enter the university at this time, unless it is absolutely necessary.

Scientists decide themselves - if necessary in consultation with their supervisors - whether attendance at the university is necessary.

For technical and administrative staff, the principle of working from home still applies. Only in cases in which the employees must necessarily be on site or express the explicit wish to be allowed to work at the university, exceptions apply. For persons from the districts of Gütersloh and Warendorf who work on site at their own request, this exception should no longer be granted until the end of the lockdown. For colleagues who are necessary on site, supervisors are asked to find solutions, if necessary, to minimize their presence on campus.

For students, we consider for example permitted courses in attendance (e.g. laboratory internships), examinations and work for final examinations in laboratories as necessary.

Basically, we would like to point out once again that a distance of 1.5 m must be maintained and a mouth-and-nose cover must be worn in the university building.

We are in exchange with the city of Bielefeld. Should the situation change, further measures for the university are not excluded.

With kind regards

Dr. Stephan Becker
Chancellor
 

This mail was translated with deepl for time reasons.

Calendar week 25/2020

Dear Students,

In recent weeks, politicians have begun easing the restrictions put in place for the Coronavirus pandemic. On June 15th, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia also granted some leeway to institutions of higher learning. We know that many members of our university community yearn for more “normalcy.” The situation, however, remains precarious, as evidenced by the “Tönnies” case, where an outbreak recently sickened over 700 workers at a meat-packing plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück.

The Rectorate has been very busy assessing these opportunities for Bielefeld University. The latest regulations can be found in the current Organizational Decree.

The most important thing here is that we stick to our basic approach. Our goal is to continue to prevent the spread of the virus. The health of our students and colleagues is paramount, as is our societal responsibility. We are not yet able to responsibly manage large groups of people in our buildings due to the particular physical constraints of university facilities. For this reason, university courses will take place via ‘distance learning’ (to the extent possible) and all other in-person events are not permitted through September 15th. Exceptions for teaching and examinations are possible; these are to be conducted following the hygiene guidelines that also remain in force. Public access to service facilities is not permitted. A face mask must continue to be worn in public areas within university buildings. Social distancing rules also still apply. Technicians and administrators will continue to work from home until August 31st on the basis of trust-based working hours.

In addition, we will be gradually re-opening the university library: from July 1st   there will be extended hours of operation, and from August 1st students will be able to use some of the library workspaces. Starting on September 1st, people who are not members of Bielefeld University will be able to enter the library. The new Organizational Decree also removes the fundamental distinction between risk groups. Special regulations apply with immediate effect to anyone who is medically certified as having a health risk, as well as for individuals who care for family members.

Please take the time to read the new Organizational Decree, which is available here: https://uni-bielefeld.de/corona-verfuegung (The Organizational Decree in english language will be handed in later and will be available on the website)

Please note that these regulations are subject to change should the situation deteriorate with increased transmission of the Coronavirus.

We know that many of you – instructors and students – would like to see more things reopening. We are currently holding intensive discussions with university faculties and committees on how to organize teaching and learning for the Winter Semester 2020/21. Our goal is to have a mixed semester, with both online offerings as well as on-campus presence. By the beginning of July, our aim is to have determined just what this kind of mixed semester will be, which course formats it will affect, and under which conditions courses and events will be able to be held. We kindly ask for your patience while we resolve these matters.

We would like to thank you once again for your support and understanding. Only if we work together will we be successful in getting through these challenging times.

We hope you all enjoy the upcoming summer holiday and can take time to relax and rejuvenate.
 

Best regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker                                                 

Chancellor                                                                

Dear Colleagues,

In recent weeks, politicians have begun easing the restrictions put in place for the Coronavirus pandemic. On June 15th, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia also granted some leeway to institutions of higher learning. We know that many members of our university community yearn for more “normalcy.” The situation, however, remains precarious, as evidenced by the “Tönnies” case, where an outbreak recently sickened over 700 workers at a meat-packing plant in Rheda-Wiedenbrück.

The Rectorate has been very busy assessing these opportunities for Bielefeld University. The latest regulations can be found in the current Organizational Decree.

The most important thing here is that we stick to our basic approach. Our goal is to continue to prevent the spread of the virus. The health of our students and colleagues is paramount, as is our societal responsibility. We are not yet able to responsibly manage large groups of people in our buildings due to the particular physical constraints of university facilities. For this reason, university courses will take place via ‘distance learning’ (to the extent possible) and all other in-person events are not permitted through September 15th. Exceptions for teaching and examinations are possible; these are to be conducted following the hygiene guidelines that also remain in force. Until further notice, employees should continue to work in ‘home office’ (to the extent possible). Public access to service facilities is not permitted. A face mask must continue to be worn in public areas within university buildings. Social distancing rules also still apply. Technicians and administrators will continue to work from home until August 31st on the basis of trust-based working hours.

There are also changes regarding business travel: university-related travel is now again possible for researchers as well as technicians and administrators. General authorizations granted for individual travel have now been reinstated. This, however, does not extend to countries for which the Federal Foreign Office of Germany has issued a travel warning. Nevertheless, we urge members of our university community to reduce travel to the necessary minimum. It is also now possible to participate in external training courses, provided that hygienic measures have been instituted.

In addition, we will be gradually re-opening the university library: from July 1st   there will be extended hours of operation, and from August 1st students will be able to use some of the library workspaces. Starting on September 1st, people who are not members of Bielefeld University will be able to enter the library. The new Organizational Decree also removes the fundamental distinction between risk groups. Special regulations apply with immediate effect to anyone who is medically certified as having a health risk, as well as for individuals who care for family members.

Please take the time to read the new Organizational Decree, which is available here. (The Organizational Decree in english language will be handed in later and will be available on the website)

Please note that these regulations are subject to change should the situation deteriorate with increased transmission of the Coronavirus.

We know that many of you – especially our instructors and students – would like to see more things reopening. We are currently holding intensive discussions with university faculties and committees on how to organize teaching and learning for the Winter Semester 2020/21. Our goal is to have a mixed semester, with both online offerings as well as on-campus presence. By the beginning of July, our aim is to have determined just what this kind of mixed semester will be, which course formats it will affect, and under which conditions courses and events will be able to be held. We kindly ask for your patience while we resolve these matters.

We would like to thank you once again for your support and understanding. Only if we work together will we be successful in getting through these challenging times.

We hope you all enjoy the upcoming summer holiday and can take time to relax and rejuvenate.

 

Best regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker                                                                    

Chancellor         

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Rector

Calendar week 22/2020

Dear students,

The coronavirus pandemic continues to severely restrict normal teaching and studying routines despite the initial easing of restrictions. Developments are still dynamic, requiring constant adjustments from the university. In addition, we are still faced with the challenge of ensuring that the current online semester is carried out in the best possible way. We are very aware of how much the special situation has affected you both privately and in your studies. Please rest assured, we are working hard to improve conditions for you—always within the framework of the current hygiene and safety regulations. The 2020/21 winter semester will certainly also not be an onsite semester as we were used to having before the pandemic. We assume that teaching will continue to take place predominantly in the form of online and ‘distance learning’ courses. Whether and to what extent onsite courses will then become possible, however, is currently completely open.

In the past few days, the Rectorate, the administration, and those responsible in the faculties have initiated further concrete measures and regulations. Today, as announced, we want to inform you about how things stand at present, especially with regard to carrying out teaching courses and examinations.

The following regulations and measures are particularly important for you as a student:

Lecture periods

  • The lecture period of the current semester will end regularly on 17 July 2020.
  • The lecture period of the winter semester 2020/21 will begin on 26 October. First semester students will start on November 2.  February 12, 2021 has been set as the end of the lecture period.

Teaching and examinations in the current summer semester

  • Until 30 September 2020, courses will be held exclusively online or in the form of ‘distance learning’. Oral examinations and written examinations for up to 25 persons can also be held digitally with the Zoom video conference system. Further digital solutions for larger examination cohorts are currently being examined. Your teachers will inform you accordingly with regard to courses and examinations if they have not already done so.
  • The only exception is practical courses that require special laboratory and work rooms and cannot be replaced by digital formats. These are above all laboratory internships, practical sports events, or artistic coaching. It goes without saying that all hygiene and infection prevention measures must be observed. Hygiene protection concepts have been and are being developed for this purpose with the respective departments and coordinated with the local health authority.

According to the regulations of the NRW State Ministry of Labour, Health, and Social Affairs, oral and written examinations that are not possible online may also be held onsite. Therefore, binding hygiene protection concepts have also been drawn up in coordination with the local health authority for holding oral and written examinations in person. Examinations with up to 5 persons can be held in central and also in decentralized seminar rooms of the faculties and institutions. Examinations with significantly more than 5 persons (medium examination format) can be held in designated lecture halls and centrally managed seminar rooms. A comprehensive hygiene protection concept for large examination formats is currently being developed with the local health authority. The university canteen [Mensa], the Lokschuppen concert hall, the sports hall, and the Stadthalle city concert hall are to be used for this purpose. Your teachers will keep you informed in a timely manner.

  • Work on Bachelor's/Master's degrees and research in laboratory teams is still possible.
  • On May 12, 2020, on the basis of the Corona Epidemic Higher Education Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Rectorate issued the regulations for coping with the challenges posed by the coronavirus epidemic in study, teaching, and examinations. These were developed in consultation with the faculties in order to create legal bases—especially for the conversion to online formats. The Corona Order can be found here.
  • A ‘small’ student survey is currently being carried out to assess first experiences with the current online semester along with direct needs in this semester. Please complete the survey; your feedback is important. The regular general student survey will take place as usual at the beginning of the 2020/21 winter semester. This will also address experiences with the previous online semester.

Further Information

  • The individual standard period of study has been extended by one semester for all students enrolled in the 2020 summer semester. At Bielefeld University, this also applies to students on leave of absence.
  • In cases of exceptional hardship, students will be allowed to work at individual student workplaces in faculty rooms. If in need, please contact your teachers or the deans of studies. Registration is mandatory. Further possibilities of offering you workstations on campus are still being examined.
  • The library will continue to operate with limited opening hours only for lending and short catalogue searches. Interlibrary loans are possible. Important: Student workstations in the reading rooms are still not available.
  • For single-parent students taking their final exams, the Studierendensekretariat [Student Office] can issue a certificate for emergency care in childcare facilities. Here you can find more detailed information on the requirements.
  • For students in financial difficulties (e.g. due to loss of job, etc.) the Federal Minister of Education has launched a bridging aid in the form of an initially interest-free loan from the KfW Bank - see www.kfw.de/studienkredit-coronahilfe. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has made emergency aid funds available to the student unions. These emergency aid funds are allocated as non-repayable support to students in particularly acute need in line with the funds’ usual regulations. Unfortunately, a starting date for applications has yet to be announced. To obtain support with living costs in these difficult times, you can also turn to the Social Fund of the AStA.

We now have a much better overview of the consequences we need to draw for university operations in the face of the pandemic. Nonetheless, much still remains to be done. We thank you very much for your patience and your openness towards the new online formats. Despite all the challenges, we wish you a good lecture period in this special semester. We shall inform you about all further measures and regulations in a timely manner.

Stay healthy!

 

With best regards

 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Studies and Teaching

Dear teachers,

The coronavirus pandemic continues to severely restrict normal teaching routines despite the initial easing of restrictions. Developments are still dynamic, requiring constant adjustments from the university. In addition, we—and above all you as teachers—still face the challenge of organizing and carrying out the current online semester in the best possible way for all concerned. At the same time, we have to start planning for the coming winter semester 2020/21—even though we have yet to receive any decisions or clear signals from the state government.

In the past few days, the Rectorate, the administration, and those responsible in the faculties have initiated further concrete measures and regulations. Today, as announced, we want to inform you about how things stand at present, especially with regard to carrying out teaching courses and examinations.

Lecture periods

  • The lecture period for the summer semester 2020 began on April 20, 2020 and will end on July 17, 2020.
  • The State Ministry of Culture and Science has responded to the request of the universities and agreed to postpone the start of the lecture period for the winter semester 2020/2021 until November 2 for all first semester students and until October 26 for all other students. The end of the lecture period has been set at 12 February 2021.

Teaching and examinations in the current summer semester

  • The summer semester remains (almost exclusively) an online semester. Until 30 September 2020, courses will be held exclusively online or in the form of ‘distance learning’. Oral examinations and written examinations for up to 25 persons can also be held digitally with the Zoom video conference system. Further digital solutions for larger examination cohorts are currently being examined.
  • The only exception is practical courses that require special laboratory and work rooms and cannot be replaced by digital formats. These are above all laboratory internships, practical sports events, or artistic coaching. It goes without saying that all hygiene and infection prevention measures must be observed. Hygiene protection concepts have been and are being developed for this purpose with the respective departments and coordinated with the local health authority.
  • According to the regulations of the NRW State Ministry of Labour, Health, and Social Affairs, oral and written examinations that are not possible online may also be held onsite. Therefore, binding hygiene protection concepts have also been drawn up in coordination with the local health authority for holding oral and written examinations in person. Examinations with up to 5 persons can be held in central and also in decentralized seminar rooms of the faculties and institutions. Examinations with significantly more than 5 persons (medium examination format) can be held in designated lecture halls and centrally managed seminar rooms.
  • In order to use centrally administered classrooms, you must register via the central room allocation system. Please contact your Dean of Studies or ekvv representative. Registrations will be collected and coordinated there before being forwarded to the central room allocation office.

A comprehensive hygiene protection concept for large examination formats is currently being developed with the local health authority. The university canteen [Mensa], the Lokschuppen concert hall, the sports hall, and the Stadthalle city concert hall are to be used for this purpose. Further information will follow.

  • Work on Bachelor's/Master's degrees and research in laboratory teams are to be permitted in accordance with the regulations for research work. However, this will also require a supplementary risk assessment from the laboratory managers.
  • On May 12, 2020, on the basis of the Corona Epidemic Higher Education Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Rectorate issued the attached regulations for coping with the challenges posed by the coronavirus epidemic in study, teaching, and examinations. These were developed in consultation with the faculties in order to create legal bases—especially for the conversion to online formats. They also contain regulations on examination procedures and on applications/enrolment, flexibilizations of regulations on the transition from Bachelor to Master, and regulations on the necessary requirements for attending follow-up modules or courses. Further details can be found in the regulations
  • A ‘small’ student survey is currently being carried out to assess students’ first experiences in the current online semester along with their direct needs. The regular general student survey will take place as usual at the beginning of the 2020/21 winter semester. This will also address experiences with the previous online semester.
  • A ‘small’ teacher survey is currently being prepared in order to gather information on initial experiences and needs in the current semester. A large survey and in-depth interviews are planned at the end of the semester in order to look back on the experiences gained and draw conclusions for future semesters and digital teaching as a whole.

Teaching and examinations in the winter semester 2020/21

  • The winter semester 2020/21 will also not take the form of the onsite semesters we were used to before the pandemic. Teachers can therefore plan and offer the digital course and examination formats already planned and implemented for the current semester along with other courses in the coming semester in this form. Exceptions and regulations for carrying out onsite courses in the winter semester, especially for students in their first semester, will cooperatively developed.

Employment law information for teachers

  • All forms of ‘distance learning’ continue to be possible: teachers can use mixed forms of online, text work, zoom small groups, and self-study. To reduce group sizes, courses can be duplicated and credited separately in accordance with the Teaching Responsibilities Ordinance (LVV). The crediting of teaching formats is, moreover, currently analogous to that for classroom teaching otherwise provided to the same extent.
  • To support digital teaching formats, it is possible to increase the number of working hours of already employed assistant staff at short notice or to hire new assistant staff. For these short-term requirements, the usual period of four weeks to the 1st or 15th of a month does not apply. Please contact the administrative management of your faculties and institutions to obtain advice and support if you wish to hire or increase the number of staff.
  • For teachers whose fixed-term employment contracts run between 1 March and 30 September 2020, the maximum fixed-term contract period is being extended by six months (in line with WissZeitVG). The principal 6-year period before or after a doctorate is then being changed to a qualification period of 6.5 years.

Specific information for students to know

  • The individual standard period of study has been extended by one semester for all students enrolled in the 2020 summer semester. At Bielefeld University, this also applies to students on leave of absence. For all students studying ‘Rechtswissenschaft mit Abschluss erste Prüfung’ [law with a first examination], the 2020 summer semester will also not be taken into account when calculating the Freiversuchsfrist [free attempt period].
  • In cases of exceptional hardship, students will be allowed to work at individual student workplaces in faculty rooms. If in need, please contact your teachers or the deans of studies. Registration is mandatory. Further possibilities are still being examined.
  • The library will continue to operate with limited opening hours only for lending and short catalogue searches. Interlibrary loans are possible. Student workstations in the reading rooms are still not available.
  • For single-parent students taking their final exams, the Studierendensekretariat [Student Office] can issue a certificate for emergency care in childcare facilities. Here you can find more detailed information on the requirements.
  • For students in financial difficulties (e.g. due to loss of job, etc.) the Federal Minister of Education has launched a bridging aid in the form of an initially interest-free loan from the KfW Bank—see www.kfw.de/studienkredit-coronahilfe. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has made emergency aid funds available to the student unions. These emergency aid funds are allocated as non-repayable support to students in particularly acute need in line with the funds’ usual regulations. Unfortunately, a starting date for applications has yet to be announced. If students ask you for advice, you can also refer them to the Social Fund of the AStA.

We now have a much better overview of the consequences we need to draw for university operations in the face of the pandemic. Nonetheless, much still remains to be done. We thank you very much for your commitment, but we do ask you to continue to be patient.

 Despite all the challenges, we wish you a continued good lecture period in this special semester and we shall inform you about all further measures and regulations in a timely manner.

Stay healthy!

 

With best regards

 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Studies and Teaching

 

Calendar week 18/2020

Dear Students,

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to impose significant limitations on us, even as politicians have now decided to ease the first restrictions. The situation continues to evolve, requiring us at the university to continuously modify our response. We also face the challenge of finding solutions for the current summer semester (which has been moved online and began on April 20) in order to allow you to complete your studies this semester in the best way possible.

In the past weeks, we have become acquainted with the model of “reduced basic operations,” which went into effect with the Organisationsverfügung (Organizational Decree) on March 23. Since that time, we have revised existing university regulations based on the provisions of the Coronaschutzverordnung (Corona Protection Ordinance), the Corona-Epidemie-Hochschulverordnung (Corona Epidemic University Ordinance), and the  Allgemeinverfügung zur Durchführung von Lehr-und Praxisveranstaltungen sowie Prüfungen an den Hochschulen (General Ordinance for Conducting Teaching and Testing at Institutions of Higher Learning) of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the SARS-CoV-2-Arbeitsschutzstandard (SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Safety Standards) from the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. These regulations can be found at www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus.

Here is a short overview of the most important regulations pertaining to you:

  • University buildings remain closed to the public until further notice. The campus, however, is accessible to individuals whose presence is covered under the regulations for reduced basic operations, including permitted teaching and examination activities, as well as for students and researchers picking up or returning books to the library. This also applies to those who must be present on site to perform contractual obligations for the university, such as construction workers or suppliers.
  • On campus, a minimum of 1,5 meters distance between individuals must be strictly maintained. In areas of public traffic within university buildings (hallways, central university hall, staircases, restrooms, etc.), a protective mask covering your nose and mouth must be worn. This also applies for the public area of the library. Forming groups of more than two people should continue to be avoided.
  • Individuals with respiratory symptoms, fever, or loss of sense of smell or taste are not allowed on university premises (unless these symptoms have been otherwise cleared by a doctor).      
  • In-person events and gatherings continue to be prohibited. Courses and examinations are to be offered in distance learning formats to the greatest extent possible. Exceptions are possible for courses that cannot be held digitally (because they, for example, have to be done in certain settings, such as practical lab courses), and for parts of examinations – provided that safety provisions and hygiene regulations are upheld. Exceptions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Bielefeld University’s Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection Service (AGUS) as well as the Health Department of the City of Bielefeld and then approved by the chancellor of Bielefeld University.
  • The University Library remains open in reduced basic operation mode. Student work areas are not accessible.

The Organizational Decree also contains supplemental, updated regulations in full detail, including those relating to teaching and examination activities, travel, risk groups, and what to do in the event of infection.

Even as we continue to make progress in organizing university operations in the midst of this pandemic, we are fully aware that there are still a great many questions that remain unanswered – and new questions that arise on a daily basis. We therefore continue to ask for your patience and understanding. The Rectorate is working together with expert authorities and deans, along with the deans of studies and managers to find optimal answers to these questions as quickly as possible. We will continue to keep you informed – promptly and transparently – of new developments.

Please follow these regulations and act with due responsibility during this difficult time.

Take care, and stay healthy.

 

Regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Dear ladies and gentlemen, Dear colleagues,

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to impose significant limitations on us, even as politicians have now decided to ease the first restrictions. The situation continues to evolve, requiring us at the university to continuously modify our response. We also face the challenge of finding solutions for the current summer semester (which has been moved online and began on April 20) in order to allow you to complete your studies this semester in the best way possible. The same goes for you and your departments: regulations must be regularly reviewed and updated.

In the past weeks, we have become acquainted with the model of “reduced basic operations,” which went into effect with the Organisationsverfügung (Organizational Decree) on March 23. Since that time, we have revised existing university regulations based on the provisions of the Coronaschutzverordnung (Corona Protection Ordinance), the Corona-Epidemie-Hochschulverordnung (Corona Epidemic University Ordinance), and the  Allgemeinverfügung zur Durchführung von Lehr-und Praxisveranstaltungen sowie Prüfungen an den Hochschulen (General Ordinance for Conducting Teaching and Testing at Institutions of Higher Learning) of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the SARS-CoV-2-Arbeitsschutzstandard (SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Safety Standards) from the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. These regulations can be found at www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus.

Here is a short overview of the most important regulations pertaining to you:

  • University buildings remain closed to the public until further notice. The campus, however, is accessible to individuals whose presence is covered under the regulations for reduced basic operations, including permitted teaching and examination activities, as well as for students and researchers picking up or returning books to the library. This also applies to those who must be present on site to perform contractual obligations for the university, such as construction workers or suppliers.
  • On campus, a minimum of 1,5 meters distance between individuals must be strictly maintained. In areas of public traffic within university buildings (hallways, central university hall, staircases, restrooms, etc.), a protective mask covering your nose and mouth must be worn. This also applies for the public area of the library. Forming groups of more than two people should continue to be avoided.
  • Individuals with respiratory symptoms, fever, or loss of sense of smell or taste are not allowed on university premises (unless these symptoms have been otherwise cleared by a doctor).     
  • In-person events and gatherings continue to be prohibited. Courses and examinations are to be offered in distance learning formats to the greatest extent possible. Exceptions are possible for courses that cannot be held digitally (because they, for example, have to be done in certain settings, such as practical lab courses), and for parts of examinations – provided that safety provisions and hygiene regulations are upheld. Exceptions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Bielefeld University’s Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection Service (AGUS) as well as the Health Department of the City of Bielefeld and then approved by the chancellor of Bielefeld University. Committee meetings must be held online. Work meetings/conferences should be done digitally or by telephone.
  • The University Library remains open in reduced basic operation mode.
  • In general, researchers should work from home. There are workplaces, however, for which home office is not fully possible (e.g. labs). Presence on site should still be reduced to a minimum, and regulations pertaining to workplace design must be observed.
  • Technicians and administrators are to work from home to the extent possible until further notice. Update: on a case-by-case basis, employees may arrange with their supervisor to work at their normal university workplace if this is desired due to particularities of the employee’s home situation. The responsible supervisor must then organize on-site presence of staff members so that prolonged periods of personal contact among employees are kept to an absolute minimum.
  • The move to trust-based, flexible working hours has been extended through August 31, 2020.   

The Organizational Decree also contains supplemental, updated regulations in full detail, including information on risk groups, on what to do in case of infection, travel, workplace design, and dealing with meetings/conferences.

Even as we continue to make progress in organizing university operations in the midst of this pandemic, we are fully aware that there are still a great many questions that remain unanswered – and new questions that arise on a daily basis. We therefore continue to ask for your patience and understanding. The Rectorate is working together with expert authorities and deans, along with the deans of studies and managers to find optimal answers to these questions as quickly as possible. We will continue to keep you informed – promptly and transparently – of new developments.

Please follow these regulations and act with due responsibility during this difficult time. We will continue to rely on you all to help us meet the many challenges of this pandemic with creative solutions.

Take care, and stay healthy.

 

Regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calendar week 16/2020

Dear students,

The corona epidemic poses considerable challenges for society as a whole and also for the university. As you know, Bielefeld University has been in reduced basic operation mode since 23 March 2020 and is closed to the public. Researchers, teachers, and administrative staff are not working on campus unless it is absolutely necessary. Courses, starting next Monday, April 20, will also (initially) not be taught on site, but in forms of ‘distance learning’. Therefore, neither teachers nor students should come to the university at the beginning of the semester.

The university management is very aware that many members of the university—not only you as students but also the teaching and administrative staff—are severely affected by the pandemic. Many are currently experiencing great anxiety and are worried not only about their own health and that of their relatives but also about the further planning of their academic qualifications, research, and teaching. In some cases, they are facing difficult working conditions at home—for example when they need to look after children or care for relatives. All members of the university are making every effort to offer students and teachers the highest level of support (e.g. digital tools) even under these difficult conditions.

From the very beginning, the Rectorate has aimed to provide you with transparent and timely information. We continue to work on creating as much clarity and structure as possible. Nonetheless, please bear in mind that we are all operating in an unprecedented situation: changes are developing very quickly and—not least because of changing legal conditions—new adjustments are always necessary. In particular, we have to comply with the new legal requirements of the state and federal government. On April 7, the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia announced that the 2020 summer semester will initially begin as an ‘online semester’ from April 20. Your teachers will be able to offer many courses and examinations online and they will inform you accordingly. In addition, other forms of ‘distance learning’ can also be implemented. Hence, in addition to the online formats mentioned, these can include text work, independent research in the sense of ‘problem-based learning’, telephone conferences in working groups, and so forth.

The Ministry has announced that it will issue further regulations on the organization of courses and examinations during the course of next week.

In the ‘Ordinance on the management of the challenges posed to higher education by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 crisis (Corona Epidemic University Ordinance)’, which came into force this week, regulations have been introduced that affect higher education directly. The following briefly summarized keywords are intended to give you a quick overview of the regulations currently agreed upon at Bielefeld University.

Teaching during the summer semester

  • The beginning of the teaching period of the summer semester has been moved to April 20, 2020 without any extension going beyond the end of the summer semester.
  • Lectures and seminars will initially take place exclusively online or in ‘distance learning’.
  • On-site events should be resumed as soon as safely possible; perhaps later in the semester, but perhaps not until winter or later.
  • The start of the winter semester 2020/21 has been postponed to November 1, 2020 for newly enrolled students; for all other students, the latest available information is that it will probably start on October 26, 2020, with a corresponding extension of the semester into February 2021.

The following regulations are particularly important for you as a student:

  • The individual standard period of study will be extended by one semester for all students enrolled in the summer semester 2020.
  • The German Rectors’ Conference [Hochschulrektorenkonferenz] and the State Rectors’ Conferences are trying to negotiate an appropriate regulation with the federal government for BAföG, child benefits, and health insurance.
  • Our aim is for courses to take place as far as possible. However, this cannot be guaranteed in all cases. In the electronic lecture schedule commentary (ekvv), teachers should indicate whether the respective course (a) is taking place as planned, (b) is taking place in a modified form, or (c) has had to be cancelled. Credit points and study achievements can be acquired in full during all conducted courses listed in the ekvv.
  • Internships and other courses that cannot function without direct contact as well as examination formats that cannot be done digitally may be postponed until the teaching-free period after the end of the summer semester or even to the winter semester.
  • The university management is committed to providing financial support to students in difficulties (e.g. due to job loss, etc.). The Federal Minister of Education has also announced additional unbureaucratic financial aid for students who are without work or income due to the Corona crisis and are not entitled to BAföG. The current plan is to make interest-free loans as a bridging aid. The AStA Social Fund is also able to offer support with living costs in these difficult times.
  • Students in difficulties who lack the necessary equipment to participate in online courses have the exceptional opportunity of borrowing tablets from the BITS IT services (unfortunately, there is currently a short-term lack of laptops on the market). Because the available number is limited, this is only possible in exceptional cases. Students in such difficulties should contact their teachers or their respective dean of studies who will then contact BITS.
  • For students who are unable to work at home due to domestic stress, we are trying to find individual solutions in cases of hardship. Depending on the regulations in force at the time, we shall try to provide rooms with Internet access at the university. If in need, please contact the teachers in your faculty. However, because possibilities are very limited due to the Corona regulations, this can only apply in emergencies.

Finally, one general remark: We are aware that you are currently receiving a large number of e-mails with advice and information from various members of the Rectorate. This is due to the current situation and unfortunately cannot be prevented for content-related and organizational reasons. We hope you will understand this.

Despite all the challenges, we wish you a good start to the summer semester in this exceptional time. We shall inform you promptly about all further measures and regulations.

Please be patient with yourself and others and stay healthy!

 

With best regards,

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sager
Rector

Dr Stephan Becker
Chancellor

Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose
Vice-rector for Education and Teaching

Dear teachers,

The corona epidemic poses considerable challenges for society as a whole and also for the university. As you know, Bielefeld University has been in reduced basic operation mode since 23 March 2020 and is closed to the public. Researchers, teachers, and administrative staff are not working on campus unless it is absolutely necessary. Courses, starting next Monday, April 20, will also (initially) not be taught on site, but in forms of ‘distance learning’. Neither teachers nor students should come to the university.

The university management is very aware that many members of the university—not only teachers but also students and administrative staff—are severely affected by the pandemic. Many are currently experiencing great anxiety and are worried not only about their own health and that of their relatives but also about the further planning of their academic qualifications, research, and teaching. In some cases, they are facing difficult working conditions at home—for example when they need to look after children or care for relatives. All members of the university are making every effort to offer teachers students and the highest level of support (e.g. digital tools) even under these difficult conditions.

From the very beginning, the Rectorate has aimed to provide you with transparent and timely information. We continue to work on creating as much clarity and structure as possible. Nonetheless, please bear in mind that we are all operating in an unprecedented situation: changes are developing very quickly and—not least because of changing legal conditions—new adjustments are always necessary. In particular, we have to comply with the new legal requirements of the state and federal government. On April 7, the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia announced that the 2020 summer semester will initially begin as an ‘online semester’ from April 20. In addition, other forms of ‘distance learning’ can also be implemented. Hence, in addition to the online formats mentioned, these can include text work, independent research in the sense of ‘problem-based learning’, telephone conferences in working groups, and so forth.

The Ministry has announced that it will issue further regulations on the organization of courses and examinations during the course of next week. The ‘Ordinance on the management of the challenges posed to higher education by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 crisis (Corona Epidemic University Ordinance)’, which came into force on 17 April, has introduced regulations that affect higher education directly. The following briefly summarized keywords should give you a quick overview of the regulations currently agreed upon at Bielefeld University.

Teaching during the summer semester

  • The teaching period of the summer semester will begin on April 20, 2020 without any extension going beyond the end of the summer semester.
  • Lectures and seminars will initially take place exclusively online or in ‘distance learning’.
  • On-site events should be resumed as soon as safely possible; perhaps later in the semester, but perhaps not until winter or later.
  • The start of the winter semester 2020/21 has been set as November 1, 2020 for newly enrolled students. According to the latest available information from the KMK, it will probably be October 26, 2020 for all other students with a corresponding extension of the semester into February 2021.

Teaching staff

  • The framework for the delivery of courses is the state regulation to deliver teaching in online/distance learning formats during the summer semester (and possibly also for the following winter semester).
  • Our aim is for courses to take place as far as possible. However, this cannot be guaranteed in all cases. The electronic lecture schedule commentary (ekvv) should be used to indicate whether the respective course (a) is taking place, (b) is being modified, or (c) has had to be cancelled.
  • All forms of ‘distance learning’ are possible: teachers can use mixed forms of online, text work, zoom small groups, and self-study. They should inform students registered for their courses by circular e-mail and by correspondingly informative commentaries in the ekvv on how and where the learning group will meet for the first time (e.g. with a link to a zoom meeting or a Panopto livestream) together with where the information and documents for the course can be found (e.g. in the learning room or LernraumPlus).
  • The scope of compulsory teaching is given by the Ordinance on Compulsory Teaching. The increased workload resulting from the switch to digital teaching formats - especially for teachers with high teaching loads - can be countered by dividing and offering larger learning groups in parallel.
  • Temporary lecturers or assistants can be used as required to support or supplement teaching (especially for teachers with a high teaching load >12 SWS). Funds for additional auxiliary staff will be available.  
  • The maximum length of employment for research assistants according to WissZeitVG (6 years) is being increased by half a year.
  • All lecturer and assistant contracts will be made as planned. For temporary lecturers (only), the additional work involved in converting to a digital format can be taken into account at the discretion of the faculty - if necessary, by allocating additional course hours.
  • In exceptional cases, lecturers who do not have access to WLAN at home can use a room at the university to carry out their teaching digitally - subject to both individual agreement and availability.

Students

  • The individual standard period of study will be extended by one semester for all students enrolled in SS 2020.
  • The German Rectors’ Conference [Hochschulrektorenkonferenz] and the State Rectors’ Conferences are trying to negotiate an appropriate regulation with the federal government for BAföG, child benefits, and health insurance.
  • Within the scope of the courses carried out, credit points and study achievements can be acquired with full crediting.
  • Internships and the like as well as exam formats that cannot be carried out digitally may be postponed until the teaching-free period after the end of the summer semester or even to the winter semester.
  • Deadlines and set times for individual work (term papers, reports, final papers) should be adjusted (as decentrally as possible).
  • The university management is committed to providing financial support to students in difficulties (e.g. due to job loss, etc.). The Federal Minister of Education has also announced additional unbureaucratic financial aid for students who are without work or income due to the Corona crisis and are not entitled to BAföG. The current plan is to make interest-free loans as a bridging aid. The AStA Social Fund is also able to offer support with living costs in these difficult times.
  • Students in difficulties who lack the necessary equipment to participate in online courses have the exceptional opportunity of borrowing tablets from the BITS IT services (unfortunately, there is currently a short-term lack of laptops on the market). Because the available number is limited, this is only possible in exceptional cases. Students in such difficulties should contact their teachers or their respective dean of studies who will then contact BITS.
  • For students who are unable to work at home due to domestic stress, we are trying to find individual solutions in cases of hardship. Depending on the regulations in force at the time, we shall try to provide rooms with Internet access at the university.

Finally, one general remark: We are aware that you are currently receiving a large number of e-mails with advice and information from various members of the Rectorate. This is due to the current situation and unfortunately cannot be prevented for content-related and organizational reasons. We hope you will understand this.

Despite all the challenges, we wish you a good start to the summer semester in this exceptional time. We shall inform you promptly about all further measures and regulations.

Please be patient with yourself and others and stay healthy!

 

With best regards,

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sager
Rector

Dr Stephan Becker
Chancellor

Calendar week 15/2020

Dear students,

The current situation requires drastic measures at our university, and these also apply particularly to the field of teaching. This affects you directly, and you quite understandably have many justified questions.

In recent days, we have informed you regularly about developments and provided information on study courses and teaching during the Corona crisis on our homepage at https://uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/studium-und-lehre/. However, much is still unresolved. As of today, the following applies: The state has postponed the start of the semester to April 20. Until then, attendance courses and written examinations have been cancelled and oral examinations can be held only in cases of hardship. The Ministry of Culture and Science, in consultation with the State Rectors’ Conferences, has now also decided to start the 2020 summer semester as a purely ‘online semester’. Your university aims to offer you a summer semester that is as full and adequate as possible starting April 20, 2020. Despite the lack of face-to-face teaching, you will be able to acquire credit points in the usual way throughout the semester. As far as possible, your lecturers will be converting their courses and examinations into digital formats. Internships, experiments, field trips, or visits to archives should be replaced by equivalent, contact-free arrangements if possible. Where this is not possible under the given conditions, courses will be postponed until the semester break or the following semester. It is not yet possible to say how far the situation may change during the course of the semester and allow us to recommence attendance courses. We shall immediately inform you and the lecturers about any changes.

A new epidemic law is currently being negotiated in the state parliament and will hopefully be passed shortly. This law will also authorize our Ministry of Science to take the necessary decisions in the current crisis situation. Universities and the Ministry have agreed that the standard length of study for currently enrolled students should be extended by one semester. We are waiting for a decision by the federal government on BAföG and child benefit entitlements. The universities of North Rhine-Westphalia have been advocating this strongly, and we assume that we shall soon receive corresponding decisions. To the best of our knowledge, the Ministry will also soon be issuing new regulations so that examinations can be carried out in a manner adapted to the present situation. You can be sure that we shall keep your legitimate concerns in mind during all this.

Your lecturers are planning to deliver their courses in distance learning formats for the coming summer semester, and they will offer alternative forms for taking examinations. They will do their best to offer you good courses during the time you are not allowed to attend face-to-face lectures so that you can continue to acquire the competencies you need to complete your studies successfully.

The lecturers all want to return to direct communication with you in the seminar room, laboratory, or lecture hall as soon as possible. They want to exchange ideas and discuss them with you directly. At the moment, however, they are having to turn to digital tools and develop other teaching concepts. We also ask for your understanding and patience here should anything not always work perfectly straight away. Your lecturers are highly committed, but they are also often breaking new ground.

We can assure you that everyone—in the faculties, in the administration, and also in the responsible Ministry—is working flat out to get the necessary regulations in place. Everyone is aware of how uncertain the situation is for you at the moment, and how much you are worried about how your studies will continue. As soon as the major decisions have been made, we shall be able to address your individual questions. The Rectorate wants to remain in close dialogue with you. Therefore, we are planning to set up a livestream at the beginning of the semester in order to answer frequent questions. We invite you to submit questions in advance. We shall be able to tell you shortly how and until when you can do this via the university's mailing list and social media channels.

Naturally, your contact persons in the faculties, in the Student Secretariat, and in the Central Student Advisory Office are available to advise you.


Please stay healthy.

With kind regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose

Rector Vice Rector for Studies and Teaching

Dear Teachers,

The current situation requires drastic measures at our university. This also applies particularly to the field of teaching and thus to one of our core tasks. In recent days, we have informed you regularly about developments and provided information on study courses and teaching during the Corona crisis on our homepage at https://uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/studium-und-lehre/. However, much is still unresolved. As of today, the following applies: The state has postponed the start of the semester to April 20. Until then, attendance courses and written examinations have been cancelled and oral examinations can be held only in cases of hardship. The Ministry of Culture and Science, in consultation with the State Rectors’ Conferences, has now also decided to start the 2020 summer semester as a purely ‘online semester’.  It is not yet possible to say how far the situation may change during the semester and allow us to recommence attendance courses. Therefore, our common goal must be to offer students as full a summer semester as possible from 20 April 2020—a semester during which they will continue to be taught the competencies they need to successfully complete their studies. Despite the lack of face-to-face teaching during the semester, students should be able to acquire credit points on a regular basis.

At the same time, the standard study course length is to be extended by one semester for currently enrolled students. The same applies to BAföG and child benefit entitlements. The State Rectors’ Conference has advocated for this strongly, and we assume that we shall soon receive a corresponding decision from the state and the federal government. To the best of our knowledge, the Ministry will also soon be issuing new regulations so that examinations can be carried out in a manner adapted to the situation.

Because the summer semester will be online, all courses must be planned in distance learning formats, and alternative performance formats have to be developed for examinations. We therefore ask you most sincerely to convert your courses to digital formats. Even if this cannot always be realized in full, our efforts should be directed towards replacing internships, experiments, field trips, or visits to the archives with equivalent, contact-free arrangements wherever possible. Where this is not possible under the given conditions, courses must be postponed to the semester break or the following semester. We shall inform you immediately as soon as they can take place again at the university.

Extensive information on the wide range of possibilities and advisory services is available here: www.uni-bielefeld.de/einrichtungen/zll/distance-teaching-and-lea-2/index.xml and https://www.uni-​bielefeld.de/elearningmedien.

We are aware that this change will pose considerable challenges for you—both organizationally and didactically—and we would like to thank you expressly for your commitment to providing our students with good seminars and courses even during this time when they are unable to attend in person. Many of you are already using the possibilities of e-learning and distance learning and see new opportunities in these formats.

Of course, we all want to return to direct communication with our students in the seminar room, laboratory, or lecture hall as soon as possible. We want to exchange ideas and discuss with them directly. Nonetheless, digital tools can basically complement established teaching formats. We now need to try them out and see what forms they can take. Let us take this opportunity to develop new digital teaching formats in the coming semester and test them systematically. You will all gain individual experience with these tools, and we would like you to tell us about them so that we can gather these experiences together. Give us feedback—what was offered, what went well, which hurdles had to be overcome, where did you come up against (technical) limits? In this sense, we can use the coming weeks as an investment in the future.

You will all also be wondering what impact the changed conditions will have on the fulfilment of your teaching responsibilities. This issue is also being discussed with the state. We assume that there will be no change with regard to the fulfilment of teaching responsibilities if a course that is normally offered face to face is now implemented digitally. Whether or not the same amount of contact time is offered digitally should not be an important issue. Instead, alongside livestream services such as Zoom chats or Panopto recordings, it is also possible for students to use different work formats either individually or in small groups. These can be text work or videos with tasks, group work on set questions, Padlets that students create together, quizzes, and so forth. What is important is that the measures contribute to acquiring the competencies specified in the module. If, on the other hand, no courses are offered, the teaching responsibilities have also not been met. These will then have to be made up at a later time.

At this point, we also wish to point out that the planned awarding of temporary lectureships [Lehraufträge] will continue as before along with employment contracts with student and research assistants—even if it is foreseeable that the work will not be performable in the usual way during the summer semester. If temporary lectureships cannot be provided digitally, we ask the faculties to examine whether they can commission other services that would help teaching to run smoothly. As a university, we see ourselves as having a responsibility towards these colleagues and students, and this also applies to the agreed scope of teaching assignments and employment contracts.

We would like to thank you very much for the commitment and creativity you have already shown in the past weeks. If we continue in this way, we shall be able to emerge from the Corona crisis even stronger than before.

Please stay healthy.

 

With kind regards

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer      Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose

Rector                                           Vice Rector for Studies and Teaching

Calendar week 13/2020

Dear Students,

We are faced with an extreme situation that none of us have ever experienced before. It is a strain on all of us, and it also requires drastic measures for our university. We cannot rely on existing contingency plans or draw on experience for this. It means that we are constantly having to evaluate the situation for the university and make decisions under changing conditions.

On the one hand, we assume responsibility for society as a whole and take the most far-reaching measures possible to try and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. On the other hand, we see it as our mission to ensure that the university can continue to operate to the necessary extent—especially as this crisis will most likely continue for quite some time.

Important information for you: The state government has postponed the start of the semester, cancelled attendance courses and examinations until 19 April 2020, and is allowing oral examinations only in cases of hardship. As far as possible, teachers are converting their courses into a digital format so that they can continue to impart the competencies you need to complete your studies successfully. The same applies for alternative exam formats. We assume that it will not be possible for you to attend the university in person during the summer semester. However, credit points will be given as far possible for alternative study courses and exams. We shall continue to press the authorities to extend the entitlement to student grants (BAföG-Berechtigung) by one semester. The administrations of all universities and universities of applied sciences are striving actively to achieve such solutions.

We have already been responding to the crisis systematically since the end of January and have successively modified and scaled back our operations. If possible, we want to avoid closing the university completely, because this would greatly jeopardize the success of work by students and academics as well as many projects.

We believe that we have found a good way to deal with the current situation. Academics should not work on campus unless absolutely necessary. The standard workplace for staff in the service units is the home office. Where operationally necessary or technical requirements are lacking, they still work at the university, but then in individual offices.

Unfortunately, no workplaces are available for you at the university in the current situation.

The library has switched to a reduced basic service restricted to staff and students of Bielefeld University. It is only possible to borrow media that are indispensable for individual research activities or for studies provided these are not available in electronic form. Personal advice will only be provided electronically (by email, chat, or telephone). The reading areas are also closed.

All service units of the university can now be reached only by email or telephone. I ask for your understanding when all your concerns cannot be dealt with as quickly as usual. Nonetheless, contracts for student assistants and tutors will continue to be processed and issued.

The Studierendenwerk has closed the university canteen (Mensa) and the cafeterias.

We are now also closing the university buildings to the public. The main entrance to the main building and the entrance to building X at the security control centre are open. Only persons who still have to work on site or need to borrow media from the library may enter the university.

I am very much aware that the current situation is very difficult for you. You may also even be facing financial difficulties through losing your job—whether in gastronomy or trade. I am sure you have a great number of questions: What will happen with my studies? How will the situation affect my grant (BAföG) or my scholarship? What about my exams? Unfortunately, many of your questions simply cannot be answered at present. In a number of cases, we are waiting for decisions by the national or state government. However, I can assure you that with regard to anything we can regulate ourselves, we shall do everything in our power to be exceptionally fair. Nonetheless, I must ask you to be patient. We shall keep you informed about all developments.

Our goal is to carry on offering courses during this time so that the semester is not completely lost, even though we cannot work with you directly in seminars and lectures. We are already experiencing how teachers are using the opportunities provided by e-learning and how many of them also see that it offers new possibilities. Nonetheless, it cannot and will not be a complete replacement for direct teaching in lectures, seminars, and the like. In the coming semester, we shall only be able to offer you very restricted courses.

I am also aware that many of you are being very committed during this time. For example, you are organizing neighbourhood help schemes or engaging in other social activities. I find this very impressive, and it also makes me proud of you.

We hope that despite the distance and the reduction in personal contacts, we shall move closer together and that our university will be even stronger when we survive the crisis.

Thank you very much for your understanding.

The current regulations for reduced operations can be found here.

May you and your families stay healthy.

Yours sincerely,

 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Rector

Dear ladies and gentlemen, Dear colleagues,

We are faced with an extreme situation that none of us have ever experienced before. It is a strain on all of us, and it also requires drastic measures for our university. We cannot rely on existing contingency plans or experience for this. It means that we are constantly having to evaluate the situation for the university and make decisions under changing conditions.

On the one hand, we assume responsibility for society as a whole and take the most far-reaching measures possible to try and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. On the other hand, we see it as our mission to ensure that the university can continue to operate to the necessary extent—especially as this crisis will most likely continue for quite some time.

We have already been responding to the crisis systematically since the end of January and have successively modified and scaled back our operations. If possible, we want to avoid closing the university completely, because this would jeopardize the success of academic work and projects on a very large scale. If we are to defend this approach under the given circumstances, we require far-reaching regulations along with the continued cooperation of all of you.

We believe that we have found a good way to deal with the current situation. Academics should not work on campus unless absolutely necessary. The standard workplace for staff in the service units is the home office. Where operationally necessary or technical requirements are lacking, they still work at the university, but then in individual offices. We have switched to trust-based working hours here. This allows employees to organize their working hours flexibly and, for example, arrange childcare better. We would like to thank the many colleagues who are constructively supporting this change and have succeeded in implementing it in such a very short time. Meetings and committee sessions will be held via video conference. If, in exceptional cases, this is not possible, the distance and hygiene rules applicable to each contact situation must be observed.

However, there are also areas in which working from home is only partially possible. Here, domain-specific solutions are being found while minimizing social contacts. This applies particularly to professors and heads of research groups. They are responsible for their own domains and it is essential for them to adapt their working conditions to the circumstances.

If you are still working at the university, please minimize social contacts. Please only meet with a maximum of one person and then keep the minimum distance of 1.5 meters.

The library has switched to a reduced basic service restricted to employees and students of Bielefeld University. It is possible to borrow media that are indispensable for individual research activities or for studies provided these are not available in electronic form. Personal advice will only be provided electronically (by email, chat, or telephone).

The Studierendenwerk has discontinued all canteen and refreshment services. All service units of the university can now be reached only by email or telephone.

We are now also closing the university buildings to the public. The main entrance to the main building and the entrance to building X at the security control centre are open. Only persons who still have to work on site or need to borrow media from the library may enter the university.

In the current situation, we must not forget that our core task is teaching. The state government has postponed the start of the semester, cancelled attendance courses and examinations, and is allowing oral examinations only in cases of hardship. Our common goal must be to carry on teaching our students during this time so that the semester is not completely lost, even though we are prevented from working with them directly in seminars and lectures. We are already experiencing how teachers are using the opportunities provided by e-learning and how many of them also see that it offers new possibilities. Nonetheless, it cannot and will not be a complete replacement for direct teaching in lectures, seminars, and the like. We can only offer our students a very limited range of courses in the coming semester. We would like to thank all those who—both here and in many other places—are trying to solve problems and are committed to our tasks.

Some of our students are facing financial difficulties through losing their jobs—whether in gastronomy or trade. They have many questions. Unfortunately, we cannot answer all of these at the moment.

We are aware that many of you are having to cope with challenging situations in your personal environment. For example, many are worried about elderly or distant relatives with whom direct contact is currently not possible. For those of us who live alone, the restrictions designed to maximally limit contact have particularly serious consequences—this also applies to many of our international colleagues. Caring for children and relatives in need of care are also tasks that have to be rebalanced every day and are often not easy to master. We know that all these situations are additional challenges and require a lot of patience and strength from you.

We would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for the great commitment you have shown in overcoming this crisis.

We also appeal to you to please act responsibly in these difficult times and find creative solutions.

We hope that despite the distance and the reduction in personal contacts, we shall move closer together and that our university will be even stronger when we survive the crisis.

The current regulations for reduced operations can be found here.

May you and your families stay healthy and overcome this crisis together.

Yours sincerely,

 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer                                        Dr Stephan Becker

Rector                                                                                   Chancellor

Calendar week 12/2020

Hardship provisions for examinations

On 17 March, the university responded to a decree issued by the state government by announcing a general cancellation of all examinations and tests both written and oral. After consultation with the NRW Ministry of Science, the universities have succeeded in making hardship clauses possible. Therefore, this announcement further specifies the regulations of 17 March for oral examinations.

As a hardship provision, oral examinations may be held at the university under the following conditions:

  • The examination is the final examination or one of the last parts of an examination that leads or will lead directly to the completion of a degree in the current examination period (e.g. final examination in a Master's programme, oral examination for a doctoral degree, last examination before the transition to “Referendariat”). Hence, it is an examination that enables the examinee to access the next career level without delay.
  • Both the examiners and those to be examined must expressly agree to carry out the examination.
  • The size of the examination room must allow a minimum distance of about 2 metres between all participants and its ventilation must meet the general standard. Hygiene instructions must be followed.

In the event that it is not possible to hold an oral examination in the above-mentioned manner, there is the alternative option of arranging an oral examination via video conference/video telephony. In every case, the examinee must be clearly identified (e.g. by showing a valid official identification). In addition, the examinee must make a legally binding declaration that no unauthorized aids are available during the oral examination via video conference/video telephony and that no other persons are present in the same location as the examinee.

Students to whom this may apply are requested to contact the responsible offices in their faculties.

 

Reduced opening hours of the Bielefeld University Library

The Bielefeld University Library has the following opening hours from Friday, 20 March 2020 until further notice:
Monday to Friday: 10.00 to 16.00 hrs
Saturday & Sunday: closed

Only the main library entrances D1 and U1 in the main university building and the departmental libraries in building X are open.
The Central Lending Desk will be closed from Monday, 23 March 2020.

The aim is to ensure a necessary supply of literature.
Important: Only books that are not available electronically can be borrowed.
Users should check whether it is really necessary to visit the library. A large number of e-books, online journals and databases are available online.
https://www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/english/

Dear Students and Staff,

We find ourselves in a situation in which we have to take the most far-reaching measures possible to reduce the risk of transmission and protect society as a whole. Against this background and after our latest assessment of the situation, we want to update our email of 13 March 2020 and inform you about the following measures with regard to teaching and studies:

By postponing the start of lectures to 20 April 2020, we have already cancelled all teaching activities involving the physical presence of lecturers and students until 19 April 2020. This covers all courses, exercises, tutorials, seminars, practical laboratory courses, and any other type of event. In principle, virtual e-learning formats without any physical presence can be applied; lecturers should inform their students accordingly. Whether practical work within the framework of Bachelor's and Master's theses can continue to take place while still observing the currently applicable hygiene regulations should be coordinated in the individual work fields. Examination papers such as term papers, final theses, and so forth can still be submitted. Students should submit their theses by email or via the submission folder in the virtual learning area [Lernraum]. Should the examination regulations provide for the submission of a printed version, this regulation is no longer valid. In the case of final papers, an e-mail with the final paper, which corresponds fully with the printed version, must be sent to the responsible examination office as well as to the examiners.

Important: According to a further decree issued by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia dated 16 March 2020, all examinations and oral tests up to 19 April 2020 will be cancelled and postponed to a later date. Bielefeld University is making every effort to set up secure conditions for also carrying out examinations in electronic form.

Furthermore, we ask for your understanding that from now on and until further notice personal visits to the service units (e.g. Student Secretariat, Examination Office, Infopoint, Central Student Advisory Service, International Office, etc.) are no longer possible. Your questions and concerns can be dealt with only by e-mail or telephone.

We shall continue to inform you promptly about all further measures after assessing the current situation.

Please stay healthy!

With kind regards

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer                              Dr Stephan Becker
Rector                                                                       Chancellor

Dear Academics, Dear Colleagues

In light of the continuing spread of the coronavirus, we want to give you some further information.

First of all: We find ourselves in a predicament: on the one hand, we have to take as far-reaching measures as possible to reduce the risk of transmission from the point of view of society as a whole; on the other hand, we must ensure that the university can continue to function as well as possible.

Bielefeld University is made up of the people who engage in research, teach, study, and work here. It is therefore important to provide all our employees with the greatest possible degree of care and protection.

We need to pay particular attention to caring for those particularly vulnerable persons for whom infection with the disease would be an incalculable life risk. This is why we have already taken appropriate measures last week to protect high-risk groups and pregnant women.

For all researchers who do not fall into the above-mentioned groups, we ask all workplaces to check how far academics can carry out their tasks from home and then to please coordinate their assessments with the deans of their faculties. Physical presence at the university should be restricted as far as possible.

We also ask you to refrain from official trips—that is, not to attend conferences and congresses at the present time. Should this result in cancellation costs, individual solutions will have to be found.

If you have any further questions or problems, please contact the Department for Personnel and Organisation.

Please stay healthy!

Best regards

Prof. Dr-Ing Gerhard Sagerer                               Dr Stephan Becker
Rector                                                                       Chancellor

Calendar week 11/2020

in view of the dynamic development in the spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Culture and Science NRW, in agreement with the universities and universities of applied sciences, has decided to postpone the start of lectures for the 2020 summer semester until April 20. The end of the lecture period will still be 17 July.

We are all aware that we are dealing with a very serious situation. We must all make sacrifices to protect the weakest members of our society.

Therefore, Bielefeld University is taking further measures. Our underlying mission here is to do everything possible to prevent the coronavirus from spreading while simultaneously continuing research, teaching, and studies as best we can.

The measures are as follows:

  • All current lectures and seminars (or also preliminary courses) requiring the physical presence of lecturers and students will be cancelled up to and including April 19. Lecturers are requested to conduct their courses with digital instruments (some learning) if possible.
  • During the next two weeks, all exams will be cancelled and postponed to a later date. The university will examine how far electronic aids can be used for examinations. Further regulations concerning examinations will be announced shortly.
  • All public events at the university will be cancelled until 30 April.
  • All university sports events will be cancelled for the time being. The UniFit, sports hall, and swimming pool will be closed.
  • University Library: Books can still be borrowed, but the reading rooms are closed. Users should use the extensive electronic services. You can find current information about the library here.
  • All PC pools will be closed.
  • Students and prospective students are asked to refrain from visiting the service units in person until further notice and to use e-mail and telephone for their questions and advice. We ask for your understanding when services cannot be provided in the usual form.
  • However, the Studierendenwerk starts making special plans for its services next week. It will be announcing these plans separately.

Further measures for staff and scientists are:

  • All conferences and congresses planned at Bielefeld University for the summer semester are cancelled. This also applies to third-party events. This does not apply to academic working group meetings involving the participation of external academics who travel to Bielefeld University for this purpose. In this case, however, it is necessary to check whether it would be possible for guests to participate via video conference. Those responsible should carry out a risk assessment in accordance with the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). They can also obtain advice from the Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Protection Department (AGUS; contact: coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de).
  • The chairpersons at all internal working sessions, meetings and committee meetings should check whether the meeting is necessary. If this is the case, premises should be chosen that allow the widest possible seating distance (at least 1 metre) between participants.
  • In view of the fact that schools will be closed from Monday (16 March), the following rule applies: the university must ensure that it can function and that it can carry on functioning over a longer period. We are aware of the special problem that school closure raises for parents. Employees who are unable to organize childcare for their children (younger than 12 years or with impairments making them dependent on assistance) within the flexi-time framework (from 6.45 to 20.00) should contact their superiors. If possible, home office should then be made available to them. If home office is not possible, they should first use up any holidays or flexi-time credit at their disposal. The university will examine how far it may be possible for employees with care responsibilities to take a paid leave of absence of up to 10 days. However, it is still necessary to place this on a legal basis—the university will be addressing this in the next few days. Nonetheless, one thing is important: children are not allowed to come to the university.

In addition, all previously announced rules and measures will continue to apply and be updated regularly.

Studies, teaching, and general university services not affected / Two university employees stay at home as a precaution

Because of the dynamic development in the spread of the coronavirus, the Rectorate has adopted further precautionary measures.

As a precautionary measure and to prevent a possible spread of the disease, all public events of the university will be cancelled by 30 April. This regulation applies to events that are open to people who are not studying or working at the university (e.g. public lectures). For example, the ‘Kinder-Uni’ [Children's University], which was to take place on 13, 20, and 27 March, is being cancelled.
(Amendment of 13.03.): This regulation also applies to all events organised by external organisers on university premises and events involving schoolchildren.

Courses and other events belonging to regular studies and the everyday running of the university are not affected by this regulation (workshops, exams, etc.).

For academic event formats, also those including external guests (e.g. conferences, congresses), the organisers should carry out a formal risk assessment in each individual case together with the ‘Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection’ (AGUS) staff unit, and decide whether the event should take place (contact: coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de).

In principle, official trips that are not urgently required should be cancelled. Employees should also question whether it is currently necessary to invite external persons who have to travel to Bielefeld to attend meetings or whether such invitations could possibly be postponed until a later date. In case of doubt, please consult your supervisor.

Apart from these measures, the Rectorate currently sees no reason to restrict regular work-related communication (meetings, sessions, etc.).

Through these regulations and recommendations, the rectorate’s mission is to do everything possible to prevent any spread of the coronavirus while simultaneously imposing as few restrictions as possible on research, teaching, and studies.

A reassessment - based on the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute - has also been carried out for risk countries. The university management has removed Japan from the list of countries to which special regulations for returnees and regulations concerning employment and studies apply.

Since Saturday, the first two confirmed infections with the coronavirus have been reported in Bielefeld. The Bielefeld authorities have researched contacts of the two infected persons and also asked these persons to stay at home as a precautionary measure. Among these people are also two employees of the university. To prevent rumours: the two had no direct contact with the infected person, currently show no symptoms and are not classified as suspected cases. The authorities are acting here purely as a precautionary measure in order to exclude risks of further spread as far as possible.

A team headed by the chancellor will continue to assess the situation on a daily basis.

Initial announcement

In December 2019, respiratory diseases caused by a previously unknown virus (coronavirus) first appeared in China.

Due to the increasing number of persons affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international health emergency on 30 January, 2020.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the current threat to the health of people living in Germany is high (as of 17.03.2020). Further cases, infection chains and outbreaks must be expected in Germany. However, this situation may change quickly as new information emerges. Further transmissions and chains of infection in Germany are possible, although the public health services are doing everything in their power to detect single infections as early as they can and thereby to stop the further spread of the virus as far as possible.

On 31 January, the Rectorate of Bielefeld University issued first recommendations and directives that were updated on 27 February, 9 March, 13 March and 17 March.

On 26 February – in response to first cases in NRW and a worsening international situation – the Chancellor Dr Stephan Becker set up a team to review the situation at the university. The team will now meet regularly and is composed of representatives of the different organizational units and functions of the university. The Chancellor is coordinating closely with the Rectorate and in communication with the responsible authorities.


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