The university is currently still in a ‘university operation during the coronavirus pandemic’. From 01.09.2020, it will gradually be opened up further while still complying with the measures and regulations in force to prevent infection chains. This organizational decree has been updated on the basis of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance of 12.08.2020 and the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Safety and Health Regulations (SARS-CoV-2 ASR) of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of 10.08.2020, and it summarizes the current measures.
All measures continue to pursue the goal of ensuring the health of technical and administrative staff, teachers, researchers, and students by interrupting the chains of infection.
In principle, and independently from the following contingency plan, the following still applies:
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the crisis team at Bielefeld University headed by the Chancellor has been planning and coordinating the implementation of additional infection control measures, checking their effectiveness, and coordinating them with different interest groups.
The Vice-rector for Education and Teaching and the Head of the Department of Education and Teaching are responsible for developing the measures for education and teaching and coordinating them with the deans of studies.
Heads of department are responsible for implementing these measures in their respective areas of responsibility and informing and instructing their staff accordingly. (see section III.5).
Staff, students, guests, and external companies are obliged to cooperate in complying with the behaviour-related measures.
The current version of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia dated 12 August 2020 in conjunction with the General Order of the Ministry of Labour, Health, and Social Affairs dated 15 July 2020 does not specify any further scope for carrying out courses, examinations, and other events at universities. For this reason, the regulations for the 2020 summer semester apply until further notice (see section 1).
Academic conferences and events (research, teaching, and self-administration) are possible in principle from 01.10.2020 as long as they take the spatial situation into account. These must comply with the provisions of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance NRW. Organizers must draw up a hygiene protection concept for the planned conferences and coordinate this well in advance with the AGUS staff unit and, if necessary, with the public health authorities. The organizer bears the risk of events having to be cancelled.
The organization of committee meetings is based on the guidelines for committee meetings and appointment committees.
For the organization of discussions and work meetings at the university, see below.
Summer semester 2020: Online semester
The summer semester 2020 is and will remain (almost exclusively) an online semester. Regulations for teaching in the summer semester have not been changed in this current organizational decree and will continue to apply in accordance with the organizational decree of 19 June: 2020.
Since July, a further digital solution has become available for conducting examinations. A Moodle examination platform has been set up as an examination system for written open book exams that can be accessed via the Lernraum [learning room]. It is also possible to conduct supervised written examinations in electronic form. Written exams can be handwritten or written on the Moodle exam platform that can be accessed via the Lernraum. The Safe Exam Browser must be used when working in the exam system. Supervision is done with Zoom. Further information can be found here.
Winter semester 2020/2021
As already announced, there will be no paradigm shift towards full onsite attendance in the winter semester 2020/2021. Instead, teaching will have to continue to be predominantly digital. However, conditions are to be created that allow as much onsite activity and interaction for staff and students as is responsible and organizationally feasible while complying with the hygiene rules to avoid risks. The key points for the winter semester, which have been developed and discussed in various committees with the participation of teachers, deans of studies, and student representatives, have already been announced to all faculties and teachers.
This has served as the basis for planning courses in the faculties for the winter semester. Accordingly, lectures and practical courses as well as written and oral examinations are also possible onsite during the winter semester subject to compliance with the hygiene protection plans. For the winter semester, room capacities have been increased and the number of participants allowed to attend courses has been adjusted in accordance with the key points and the general ordinance of the State of NRW. For the lecture halls and seminar rooms, appropriate room-related hygiene protection plans have been developed and made available. Further information on the winter semester 2020/2021 will be announced shortly.
Service units such as the Info Point, the Student Office, the Central Student Advisory Service (ZSB), the Advisory Service at the BITS, or the examination offices will be open to the public again to a moderate extent from 01.09.2020. They can also still be reached online or by telephone. Further details can be found on the respective websites.
Exceptions for oral and written examinations
Oral and written onsite examinations are permitted if it is ensured that no groups of people form at the entrance and exit and that all relevant safety regulations and hygiene rules are observed, including the minimum distance of 1.5 metres—also in passageways and corridors. For the requirements see below (point Requirements for exceptions).
Workstations for students
In the faculties, rooms with individual workstations that comply with hygiene requirements have been set up for students to enable them to take part in both the summer and winter semester. Contact persons are the respective faculty administrations.
In addition, individual workstations (learning places) on the gallery/bridges in the main university building are available for students. There are conditions of use (hygiene rules) for the workstations that must be observed. Information on this is available here.
The library offers its services onsite for all users with a valid library card (UniCard or barcode card). Only the main library entrances D1 and U1 in the main university building and the specialized libraries in Building X are open. Visitor registration will take place. You will need to present your valid personal library card (UniCard or barcode card).
In the library, all persons must wear a mouth-and-nose covering in public spaces. In principle, a minimum distance of 1.50 m must be maintained between persons. A limited number of individual and PC workstations are available for the exclusive use of students at the university after making a compulsory (online) reservation. In addition, the use of specially marked PC workstations for short-term searches is possible without reservation. The group workstations (learning places and discussion rooms) may not be used. Lending and return of media are possible and should be done as far as possible via the self-service terminals. Interlibrary loan is possible.
Personal advice is available exclusively by telephone, email, chat, or video conference. For details and opening hours, the University Library provides information on its website.
The principle for technical and administrative staff is to achieve about one half of staffing onsite. The aim is to ensure that all employees return to work on campus for at least part of the time while simultaneously ensuring protection against infection.
Fifty per cent onsite attendance is the target. The actual staffing of the organizational units is geared to the specific requirements and circumstances (especially spatial conditions). A lower level of attendance may be practically necessary; in some areas, however, a higher level of attendance rate may be necessary to ensure operations or services. Existing teleworking agreements aiming for a lower level of onsite attendance are also being taken into account.
Onsite attendance should, if possible, follow a regular rotation of the staff groups present (e.g. in work teams or assigned groups). The number of people in a team should be reduced to the lowest level necessary. When organizing work teams or groups, the same persons should—as far as possible—be assigned to the same shifts or working groups to further reduce interpersonal contacts at work.
The precise organization and implementation of staffing from September onwards is the responsibility of the heads of departments. They are the ones who are best acquainted with the specific circumstances and needs in their departments and are able to negotiate practical solutions for all in cooperation with their staff. The heads of departments organize onsite presence and absence in such a way that longer personal contacts between staff members are avoided as far as possible. Measures to ensure this are, for example, teams that are as permanent as possible or physically separated.
Another important measure to prevent infection is that only one person should work in each office. This principle is to be implemented with priority in relation to the target of 50% onsite attendance. The workplace regulations must be observed (see below under section IV).
In the event of conflicts with family care responsibilities, staff members concerned can provisionally return to working completely in home office.
If, for example, staff members develop symptoms of a cold, they should continue to work (unless they are unfit for work anyway) exclusively from home and not at the university (cf. point 2. d. Introduction)
In agreement with the staff councils, the university already switched to trust-based working hours in March. This regulation will continue to apply up to and including 31.12.2020. Normally, staff compensate themselves for overtime and reduced working hours during this trust-based period. Anyone who, due to the current coronavirus situation or for other reasons (projects, seasonal peaks), is working more than can be compensated within this framework should consult their supervisor in advance. In such cases, staff should document the extra work so that they can compensate for it later.
Traceability of contact chains of infected persons is one of the key strategies to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Based on the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance NRW, the University is obliged to collect contact data for the purpose of traceability. Should an infected person have been at the university, there may be a short-term obligation to provide information to the public health authorities. In this case, contact persons must be identified and informed.
Since 31.08.2020 a digital recording system has been available in the main building and in Building X. Scanners that can be operated without contact are used to record data. Registration takes place at the open entrances to the main university building and Building X (see section III.7) by scanning UniCards. Other university buildings will gradually be equipped with scanners as needed. Until then, superiors are responsible for documenting the presence of staff and guests in these buildings on a daily basis. However, this documentation may not be used to check attendance and working hours. For staff, it is sufficient to note down the name and the time of entering the building.
Those who do not have a UniCard or do not wish to use must fill in an access form at the entrance 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. Please use your own pen when completing the form onsite.
Access to the university buildings is only possible after registration. This applies to everybody (staff, students, guests, employees of external companies, etc.). Those who do not register may not enter the university. Registration is therefore compulsory for staff.
By registering and entering the university buildings, you consent to the processing of your data as described above. The data protection declaration can be viewed here.
Persons who leave the building for a short time (e.g. for a break) must register again when they return—also 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 lodged 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 email 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 staff 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 section III.9). Opened emergency exits and side exits must be kept closed. 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.
Fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and disturbances to smell and taste can be particular signs of infection with the coronavirus.
Staff with corresponding symptoms are requested to leave the university campus immediately or to stay at home. Until their health status has been clarified medically, they are deemed to be unfit for work. As usual, superiors must be informed of the inability to work. Superiors will forward the information regarding the suspected case to the email address email@example.com
If a person living in your home falls ill and shows such symptoms, please contact your supervisor and clarify the further procedure (e.g. remaining in home office).
Affected persons should immediately contact a doctor or the public health authorities by telephone for clarification. If the suspected infection is confirmed, the staff member concerned is requested to either send the relevant information her- or himself to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org or ask the superior responsible to do so.
In the case of confirmed cases of infection, the university will (in addition to the information provided by the public health authorities) identify and inform those persons who are also at risk of infection through contact with the infected person. In order to prevent stigmatization of the persons concerned, the identity of the infected persons will be protected as far as possible.
All staff have access to occupational health care (as a provision or on request). They can obtain individual advice from the university medical service, including advice on special risks due to a prior illness, an individual disposition, possible risks of infection, concerns about the risk of infection, or psychological stress. Advice from the university medical service can also be given by telephone.
Particularly in the case of certain underlying diseases, there is—regardless of age—a generally increased risk of a serious disease course when infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19). For this group of people, special protection is necessary in general. Determining whether staff belong to this group cannot be generalized due to the variety of different potentially predisposing pre-existing conditions and their severity (e.g. already existing organ damage) as well as the multitude of other variables involved (e.g. age, gender, weight, specific behaviour, adequate drug/therapeutic treatment) and the individual ways in which these can be combined. This therefore requires an individual risk assessment in the sense of an (occupational) medical evaluation.
If, due to the severity or nature of the underlying illness, a (family) doctor's certification of belonging to the ‘particularly vulnerable group of persons (former designation/classification as high-risk group)’ is available, that person continues to be entitled to work exclusively in home office. If the authorization is waived at the request of the staff member who wants to work in the university buildings, an individual risk assessment must first be carried out by the university medical service and the AGUS staff unit and, if necessary, appropriate protective measures must be taken.
For employees who ‘possibly belong to the group of persons who are particularly in need of protection (formerly known as the risk group)’, it is in principle again possible and also planned for them to work part of the time in the university buildings.
First, a university medical examination is required in every case: an individual risk assessment is prepared for the workplace at the university in order to ensure onsite safety. If the university doctor's assessment continues to recommend working exclusively in home office, this is also possible.
Staff who are unsure whether they belong to the ‘particularly vulnerable group’ or to the ‘possibly particularly vulnerable group’ in line with the occupational health recommendations of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs can seek advice from the university medical service (also by telephone).
The approach to the ‘particularly vulnerable groups’ is based on the following:
The approach to the ‘potentially vulnerable groups’ is based on the following principles:
Staff looking after relatives in need of care for underlying illnesses in their homes can have the care of the chronically sick relative certified by a (general) medical practice. They can also continue to work entirely in home office.
The certificate must be forwarded to the Personnel and Organization Department with prior notification of the responsible superior (scan/photocopy is sufficient). The type of prior illness of the relative should not be indicated for reasons of data protection.
Staff who share a home with person(s) who may have a (possible) special need for protection can also continue to work fully in home office if they provide a medical certificate confirming the status of this person or persons.
The certificate must be forwarded to the Personnel and Organization Department with prior notification of the responsible superior (scan/photocopy is sufficient). The type of prior illness of the relative should not be indicated for reasons of data protection. Pregnancies lead automatically to an increased need for protection in the above-mentioned sense.
In view of the current circumstances, pregnant women cannot be employed on the campus grounds for occupational health reasons. Expectant mothers are still entitled to perform their work exclusively in home office.
This will be continued beyond 01.09.2020. In exceptional cases and at the request of expectant mothers, an individual risk assessment with the involvement of superiors, the AGUS staff unit and the university medical officer can be used to determine whether it is also possible to work on university premises. If it is established that there is no unjustifiable risk in accordance with the Maternity Protection Act at the individual workplace and in agreement with the Detmold district government, it is possible to work in the university buildings. Pregnant women are required to contact the AGUS staff unit before starting work in the university buildings.
Pregnant students are also prohibited from working on campus for occupational health reasons. In exceptional cases, an individual risk assessment can be drawn up in agreement with AGUS and an exception can be made.
Whether official travel is necessary should be reviewed critically before undertaking it. Official travel should only be made to the extent necessary, and—where possible—technical alternatives such as telephone or video conferences should be used instead. Attendance of external training courses should be treated in the same way.
Official travel is now possible to countries or regions for which no travel warning has been issued by the Federal Foreign Office at the start of the trip and that have not been classified as risk areas. (Classification as a risk area is carried out by the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Foreign Office, and the Federal Ministry of the Interior and is published by the Robert Koch Institute [RKI].)
Official travel to regions (including those within Germany) with high infection rates at the time of travel are to be limited to what is absolutely necessary to fulfil the work task.
All generally issued official travel approvals are again valid with the above-mentioned restriction.
If official travel or training courses are attended in person, the appropriate protective measures must be taken—for example, if possible, travel to and from the training course by private car rather than by public transport, maintain sufficient distance from other persons at the place of work, and so forth.
Internal university continuing education courses should, in principle, be conducted digitally (Zoom). They may only be carried out onsite if the type of further training cannot be performed digitally. In this case, all hygiene rules must be observed.
Persons returning from risk areas (as specified by the RKI) and areas for which there are coronavirus-related travel warnings have to comply with the following regulations and measures based on the current resolutions of the NRW state government from 27.08.
For the safety of all persons present in the university buildings, they may not enter the campus for a period of 14 days and they have to remain in quarantine in their homes and comply with the quarantine regulations.
During this time, work is done in home office. If it is not possible to work at home, the supervisor must first check whether the employee concerned can be temporarily assigned another suitable task.
Due to the incubation period, infections in the last few days of the holiday or during the return journey will only be detected after 5–7 days. Therefore, persons may only re-enter the university premises if a second coronavirus test is carried out independently approx. 5–7 days after returning and this is also negative. Staff who have spent time in risk areas are hereby given binding instructions to inform their superiors accordingly so that the aforementioned precautionary measures can be taken.
People returning to Germany or NRW from other areas are advised to take one or more voluntary coronavirus tests in their own interest. If there is any reason to fear that infection may have been possible during the trip, this should be discussed with the supervisor, and an appropriate arrangement should be made regarding the place of work. Home office should be made possible readily in these constellations in order to protect colleagues onsite.
Official meetings and events with internal and/or external persons should generally be held in digital form or by telephone.
If an official meeting is held in person (e.g. for short work meetings), the number of persons must be reduced to the minimum necessary and the hygiene regulations must be observed (e.g. ventilation of rooms, appropriate size of rooms, if necessary, mouth-and-nose covering).
At official events (by invitation and in event format) with external guests, the number of persons must be limited as far as possible and hygiene regulations must be observed. In the case of official events with up to 20 persons, the event must be evaluated in advance by the inviters/organisers (https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/einrichtungen/agus/). For events with 20 persons or more up to a maximum of 50 persons, a hygiene protection concept must be drawn up and agreed in advance with the AGUS staff unit.
Buildings are open to staff and students who are covered by the regulations on university operations during the coronavirus pandemic described here, including the permitted teaching and examination activities. Access is also permitted for persons who need to be present at the university for operational reasons, who are present for agreed reasons (e.g. by university-related invitation), or are library users.
The entrances to the main university building (main entrance C01, South UV and West P0) and Building X (side entrance at the security control centre) are open. The university buildings may be entered only through these officially open entrances. Opened emergency exits and side exits must be kept closed.
If additional areas have to be accessible for events, these are defined as exceptions via the hygiene protection concepts. The university will remain closed to the general public.
A sufficient distance of at least 1.5 metres to colleagues must be maintained. This distance must be maintained even for shorter personal contacts. Staff are requested to continue not to gather in groups.
The basic rule is that offices with an area of up to about 20 square metres (the size of a typical office) should be used by only one person. Individual cases can deviate from this as long as the distance of 1.5 metres between persons is retained (also in corridors and the like), sufficient ventilation is planned, and the further hygiene measures are maintained.
This regulation for exceptions in office use must be agreed in advance with the AGUS staff unit. AGUS will provide advice and determine whether the safety measures and hygiene rules can be maintained.
Furthermore, colleagues’ offices may be entered only upon request and with an appropriate mouth-and-nose covering.
For laboratory work (laboratory workstations with technical ventilation, fume hoods, weighing chambers, large equipment, etc.), the general and customary laboratory hygiene regulations must be observed. A distance of 1.5 meters from colleagues must also be maintained here. Laboratory workstations must be set up accordingly (e.g., no shared use of laboratory benches).
Compliance with the distancing rules must be ensured in the break rooms and areas, tea kitchens, and cooking facilities as well as in other social rooms by changing the arrangement of or minimizing seating in the respective areas. If necessary, break times should be staggered. Before entering and using these rooms, users must practice hand hygiene.
Ventilation in the rooms used is particularly important due to possible virus-contaminated aerosols. For this reason, rooms must be regularly ventilated by their users. Ventilation reduces the number of fine droplets containing pathogens that may be present in the air. The minimum standard for ventilation is as follows: length of time between ventilations: 60 minutes at the latest in offices; 20 minutes in meeting rooms. Duration of intensive ventilation (doors and windows open simultaneously): in summer: 10 minutes, in spring/autumn: 5 minutes, in winter (outside temperature < 6°C) 3 minutes. In addition, increased ventilation can further reduce the concentration of possible virus-laden aerosols present in the air. It is particularly recommended to enhance ventilation by increasing the above-mentioned frequencies and extending the ventilation times.
Offices must be ventilated regularly when work starts and finishes. Meeting rooms must also be ventilated before being used.
In public areas, the minimum distance of 1.5 m must also be maintained. In areas where the above measures of work organization are not possible, alternative protective measures must be taken. To develop alternative protective measures, please contact the AGUS staff unit directly (email@example.com). If partition walls (hygienic protective walls) are used, these must be cleaned from both sides with a standard cleaning agent every working day.
Tools and work equipment (also e.g. IT devices, telephone receivers, table tops) are to be used only individually wherever possible. Where this is not possible, regular cleaning (commercial household cleaner) is to be performed by the user, especially before handing over to other persons. Otherwise, suitable protective gloves must be used when working with tools, provided that this does not cause additional hazards (e.g. getting caught up in rotating parts). In this context, limits on the time worn and the individual disposition of staff members (e.g. allergies) must also be taken into account.
The wearing of mouth-and-nose covering is obligatory when using public areas on the university campus (including stairways, doors, university hall, corridors, public areas of the library) and in areas where a sufficient distance is unlikely to be maintained, as well as in areas where experience has shown that people congregate (washrooms and toilets, tool and material dispensers, changing rooms, etc.). This obligation also applies to areas in which a separate protective hygiene concept has determined that it is necessary to wear a mouth-and-nose covering.
If mouth-and-nose coverings are not worn in accordance with these instructions, this constitutes a breach of an instruction and thus a violation of the obligations under the employment contract or official duties.
If, for medical reasons, a staff member is unable to wear a mouth-and-nose covering, or is only able to wear it for a very short period of time and has a medical certificate to this effect, the supervisor must adapt the work situation in such a way that other staff are adequately protected. For example, it should be checked whether the staff member can wear a face visor instead and whether contact with colleagues can be excluded. If necessary, the staff member should work permanently in home office with a ‘mask certificate’ if adequate protection cannot be achieved onsite.
If, for medical reasons, employees cannot wear a mouth-and-nose covering or face visor when interacting directly with another person on duty, a filtering half-mask (FFP2 /FFP3) must be worn. The AGUS staff unit should be consulted on this.
As a general rule, the safety distance of 1.5 metres should be maintained even when using a mouth-and-nose covering.
Personal protective equipment and mouth-and-nose coverings are exclusively for individual use! The (reusable) mouth-and-nose covering must be taken home after work (and not left in the open at the workplace). This does not apply to special areas such as genetic engineering facilities. Liquid soap, towel dispensers, and disinfectants are available for cleaning hands.
Heads of department are required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the SARS-CoV-2 ASR to instruct their employees regularly and to document this. Staff must also be instructed when in home office. The contents of instruction particularly include the regulations in the organizational decree, (coronavirus) transmission risks and possibilities, protective measures, measures for groups of persons in need of special protection (e.g. high risk, risk groups), and the correct wearing and removal of mouth-and-nose coverings. Instruction should be provided in digital form as far as possible.
The effectiveness of the measures in the work areas or the consequences of the measures for protecting the health of staff, the occurrence of e.g. hygiene errors, must be monitored by superiors and adjusted if necessary.