• Coronavirus

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Current Updates

Calendar week 30 / 2020

Update of 23.07.2020 for students: Thanks for a challenging semester, looking ahead

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

Update of 16.7.2020 for teaching staff: Key Points for the Planning of the Upcoming Winter Semester

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, 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

Update of 03.07.2020 for students: Workspaces Now Available at University for Students

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

Update of 01.07.2020 for students: Lockdown lifted in Warendorf district, extended until 7 July in Gütersloh district

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.

Update of 01.07.2020 for staff: Lockdown lifted in Warendorf district, extended until 7 July in Gütersloh district

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.


Downloads

Operation regulations at Bielefeld University during the coronavirus Pandemic

Organizational decision of 23.03.2020

Updated version of 18.06.2020, valid from 19.06.2020

Since 23.03.2020, Bielefeld University has been operating in reduced basic mode due to the coronavirus pandemic. This has resulted in extensive restrictions to university operations. In view of the current state of the pandemic and the further general easing of social restrictions, the university is switching from this reduced basic operation mode to ‘university operation during the coronavirus pandemic’. This will allow the university to continue to operate on a reasonable level while still maintaining the existing measures and regulations to prevent chains of infection.  

This decree once again summarizes the existing regulations (measures concept) and supplements these with the occupational safety standards of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. 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:

  1. In principle, a minimum distance of 1.5 m must be maintained between persons. In the university buildings, a mouth-and-nose covering must be worn in the public corridors, pathways, stairs, lifts, and stairways as well as in all areas in which the minimum distance cannot be maintained.
  2. Persons with respiratory symptoms (unless otherwise diagnosed medically) or fever are principally not allowed to stay on the university campus.

Complete organizational decision

 


Additional information

General information and links

Tips for hygiene
Interview with Prof. Dr. med. Claudia Hornberg

What do we know about the coronavirus and how to avoid transmissions?

Interview with Prof. Dr. med. Claudia Hornberg, Professor of Environment and Health and founding dean of the Medical Faculty OWL

Prof. Dr. med. Claudia Hornberg
Prof. Dr. med. Claudia Hornberg

Ms Hornberg, what’s so special about the coronavirus and how dangerous is an infection?

Coronaviruses were first identified in the mid-1960s and can infect not only humans but also various animals such as birds and mammals. It is assumed that the precursors of the novel coronavirus come from animals in the wild.

The current illnesses are caused by a new type of corona virus, with the official name "SARS-CoV-2". The respiratory disease it causes is called COVID-19.

As with other respiratory pathogens, an infection with the novel coronavirus can lead to symptoms such as coughing, a runny nose, a sore throat, and fever—just like a common cold. In patients with pre-existing conditions, the virus can take a more serious course with, for example, breathing difficulties or pneumonia. Up to now, most of the patients who have died were already suffering from chronic diseases. Currently, the proportion of deaths in which the virus has been confirmed by laboratory tests is about two percent. However, this only includes data on patients who have been treated in hospital.

How is the virus transmitted?

As far as we currently know, the coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. The main transmission route is droplet infection. This can be directly person to person via the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract or also indirectly via the hands that are then brought into contact with the mucous membranes of the mouth and nose or the lining of the eyes.  Transmission is also possible if only mild or unspecific signs of disease are present. Novel coronaviruses have also been found in stool samples of some infected individuals. However, we do not yet know conclusively whether it can also be transmitted this way.

How can you personally protect yourself against an infection?

In terms of preventive health protection, it is important to adhere to the same hygiene measures that also protect against influenza (flu) infection. These are as follows:  

  • Do not shake hands
  • Regularly carry out good hand hygiene (wash your hands thoroughly with sufficient water and soap several times a day)
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands
  • Observe the coughing and sneezing etiquette (e.g. cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm, use disposable handkerchiefs)
  • if possible, keep at least 1-2 meters away from anybody who is coughing and/or sneezing.

What should people do if they are worried that they have been infected?

First of all, they need a medical examination to determine whether the suspicion of coronavirus is justified. This requires the presence of at least one of the following two constellations:

  • Acute symptoms (fever, cough, a runny nose, a sore throat, and/or infection-related breathing difficulties) or unspecific general symptoms AND contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
  • Acute symptoms (fever, cough, a runny nose, a sore throat, and/or infection-related breathing difficulties) AND having been in a risk area (www.rki.de/covid-19-risikogebiete and www.rki.de/covid-19-fallzahlen) within the last 14 days before the start of the illness.

If you suspect that you might have caught the disease, contact a doctor by telephone. Tell the doctor that you suspect that you have become infected with the new coronavirus (and, if appropriate, where you have travelled home from) and discuss what you should do next by telephone before going to a doctor's practice.

Why is there a quarantine recommendation for people who have been in risk areas or who have had clearly documented contact with sick people?

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) estimates that people who have been in a coronavirus risk area or have had contact with a COVID-19 infected person in the previous 14 days are potentially infected or sick. Persons who have stayed in a risk area designated by the RKI should - even if they have no signs of illness— avoid unnecessary contact with other persons.

The aim of quarantine measures is to interrupt chains of infection and to slow down the spread of the virus as much as possible. This should provide time to find out more about the virus and treatment options, identify risk groups, prepare protective measures, and maintain treatment capacity in the clinics.

Additional links with general information

Hotline city of Bielefeld

(Supplement dated 09.03.2020)

0521 51-2000: The hotline of the city of Bielefeld can be reached under this number from Friday, 6 March, for all questions concerning the corona virus. From Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., municipal employees* will provide general information and advice on prevention. Outside service hours, the service point of the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung (Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians) is available at 116117. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Hotline Evangelisches Klinikum Bethel

(Supplement dated 03.03.2020)

Concerned citizens should please follow the nationally established structures and contact their family doctor or the public health department by telephone. A "telephone hotline" has also been set up at Evangelisches Klinikum Bethel (EvKB) for justified suspicions: Tel. 0521 772-77777. It is attainable from 8 to 16 o'clock.

Source: Evangelisches Klinikum Bethel (in German)