• Coronavirus

    disinfectant dispenser
    © Universität Bielefeld

Current Updates

Calender week 43 / 2020

Update of 22.10.2020 for students - Bielefeld Coronavirus risk area: current information

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

Update of 22.10.2020 for teaching staff - Bielefeld Coronavirus risk area: current information on 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

Update of 22.10.2020 for employees - Bielefeld Coronavirus risk area: current information

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


Downloads

Regulations for university operation during the coronavirus pandemic at Bielefeld University

Organizational decision of 23.03.2020

Updated version of 31.08.020, valid from 01.09.2020

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:

  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 all public areas and in all areas in which the minimum distance cannot be maintained.
  2. Persons with respiratory symptoms (unless diagnosed medically as having another cause) 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)