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  • Coronavirus

    Campus der Universität Bielefeld
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Regulations for University Operations at Bielefeld University during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Organizational decree dated 23 March 2020

Updated version dated 3 January 2022, in force from 10 January 2022

Bielefeld University continues to be operating in the mode of “University Pandemic Operations.” The regulations of this Organizational Decree have been updated in accordance with applicable legal provisions and apply to all employees in teaching and research, as well as technical services and administration who are in a position of employment by the university (pay-scale salaried employees, civil servants, auxiliary staff, instructors).

This Organizational Degree has been updated on the basis of the Infection Control Act of the federal government of Germany in the latest version from 22 November 2021, the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia from 17 August 2021 in its currently valid version from 30 December 2021; the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance from 6 September 2021 that has been in force since 10 September 2021; the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Protection Regulations dated 7 May 2021; the Coronavirus Ordinance on Travel Entry from 12 May 2021 in the consolidated version from 30 July 2021 and the first amended ordinance from 8 November 2021; the Ordinance governing Exemptions to COVID-19 Protection Measures in the version from 22 November 2021, and the Corona Testing and Quarantine Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia dated 8 April 2021 in its currently valid version from 1 January 2022. This Organizational Decree summarizes the current measures in place at Bielefeld University.

All measures continue to pursue the goal of effectively targeting and limiting the risk of infection, thus safeguarding the health of all members of the university community.

Contingency Plan (Organizational Decree) for Additional Temporary Measures to Protect against Infection from SARS-CoV-2

1.Organizational Aspects

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, the crisis team at Bielefeld University, headed by the Chancellor, has planned and coordinated the implementation of additional infection control measures, verifying their effectiveness, and working together with representatives of various university groups.

The Vice-Rector for Education and Teaching and the heads of the Department for University Study and Teaching have been responsible for the development of these measures for education and teaching, as well as coordination with the deans of studies.

Supervisors are responsible for implementing these measures in their respective areas of responsibility, as well as informing and instructing their staff in how to observe these measures accordingly (see Point 10.4).
Event organizers (including instructors teaching in person) are responsible for implementing these measures in their respective areas of responsibility, as well as informing and instructing their staff in how to observe these measures accordingly (see Point III.5).

Staff, students, guests, and external companies are required to comply with these measures.

2. General Principles

  • All those present on the university campus are required to behave in such a way so as not to expose themselves or others to an unreasonable risk of infection. Accordingly, the general rules of conduct governing social distancing, hygiene, and masks as well as the regulations of this Organizational Decree must be observed.
  • A minimum of 1.5 meters of social distancing must be maintained between all individuals when present indoors. Exceptions to maintaining social distancing only apply if other suitable protective measures are in place (e.g. appropriate structural partitions, wearing a mask, and at gatherings in which the “3G” rule is in force) (see Points 9 and 10 of this Organizational Decree).
  • As a general requirement, medical-grade masks (surgical masks at a minimum) must be worn in all university buildings. The requirement to wear a medical-grade mask exists for regardless of whether social distancing is maintained. It is also required to wear a mask at all in-person courses and examinations and at all student workstations (e.g. in the Main University Building, at the library, and in seminar rooms). All visitors to the library, including students, researchers, and external visitors, must also wear a medical-grade face mask. A mask must also be worn while performing work (at workplaces) indoors. Exceptions to the mask requirement include those who have a medical certificate from a doctor exempting them as well as for those who perform work indoors alone (e.g.in individual offices). Exceptions also exist for those participating in practical sports courses, laboratory activities, or music courses, as well as for instructors when teaching their courses or administering examinations, provided that social distancing of at least 1.5 meters is maintained. Other exceptions to the mask requirement can be found under Point 10.1.3 and Point 9 of this Organizational Decree.
  • Individuals with respiratory symptoms or fever (unless medically cleared as having another etiology) are, as a rule, not allowed on the university campus.
  • Restrictions governing access and attendance are in effect for all in-person courses, events, and committee meetings, as well as for the use of the library and all university services offered at Bielefeld University (e.g. computer lab workstations at BITS, the Info Point, and advising services from university service providers such as the examination offices, Student Advising and Counselling Office, and student offices): only those who are immunized (vaccinated or recovered) or tested are allowed to use these offerings in person (the so-called “3G” rule), and in some cases, the 2G rule (only vaccinated or recovered) is in force. In other cases, a negative test is also required in addition to proof of immunization (“2G Plus” rule). Admission to in-person courses, events, and services must be controlled. The specifics of this procedure are found under Point 9 (“Events”) and Point 9.2 (“Use of University Services”) of this Organizational Decree.
  • Effective immediately, all Bielefeld University staff members are subject to the statutory 3G regulation in the workplace. This means that all staff members working in university premises must be vaccinated, recovered, or have tested negative on that day. 3G status will be checked before entering university buildings (see Point 10.1.1).
  • Bielefeld University will offer two free Coronavirus rapid tests per week to all employees for personal use at home (see Point 4 of this Organizational Decree).
  • Those with proven immunization through vaccination or recovery have a very high degree of individual protection against SARS-CoV-2 infection or, in any event, very high protection against having a severe clinical case. Immunized individuals, however, can still become infected and transmit the virus; basic protective measures therefore still also apply in general to immunized individuals (masks, social distancing, hygiene).

3. Modalities for Work and Presence on Campus

3.1 Researchers

Starting on 1 July 2021, researchers have been allowed to work from Home Office or on site in the facilities of Bielefeld University. As far as their living situation allows for it, staff members should take the offer to work from Home Office. Exceptions exist for tasks in research and teaching requiring presence that must be performed on site. Supervisors are to define other tasks essential to operations. When work is performed in university premises, regulations governing protective measures and workplace design must be observed and the 3G rule must also be followed (see Point 10).

The following rule continues to apply: only one person is allowed per office space unless more than one person is necessary for work purposes. In this case, it is especially important that regulations governing protective measures and workplace design be observed (see Point 10, e.g. social distancing, wearing a medical-grade mask, hygienic partitions, etc.).

3.2 Support Services (Technical Services and Administration)

Staff in technical services and administration should work from Home Office whenever operationally feasible. Staff members are requested to accept this offer to work from Home Office as long as their circumstances at home enable them to do so. If a staff member has personal reasons for why they would prefer working on site, this must be discussed with their superior(s).

In-person presence is required as a general rule for work in research and teaching, as well as tasks necessary for operations that must be performed on site. Operationally essential tasks are defined as such by supervisors.

When work is carried out in university buildings, regulations governing protective measures and workplace design must be observed and the 3G rule must also be followed (see Point 10).

The goal of having approximately half of the staff in technical services and administration back to working on campus since 1 September 2021 has been suspended for the time being.

As far as possible, on-site staffing should be implemented in regular rotations of staffing groups (e.g. in work or occupancy teams). When organizing work or occupancy teams, the same persons should be assigned to joint shifts or work groups whenever possible in order to further reduce the degree of internal contact. Should the supervising managers be aware of the immunization status of their staff, this can be taken into account when making organizational staffing decisions.

Personal contact between individual work groups involved in operations and modifications to shift assignments should be kept to the minimum necessary for maintaining operations.

The exact organization and implementation of staffing is up to supervisors, who best know the specific circumstances and needs of their departments and can work with staff members to find viable solutions for all. These decisions are to be based on specific service requirements and attendant circumstances.

The following rule continues to apply: only one person is allowed per office space unless more than one person is necessary for work purposes. In this case, it is especially important that regulations governing protective measures and workplace design be observed (see Point 10, e.g. social distancing, wearing a medical-grade mask, hygienic partitions, etc.).

Should conflicts with family caregiving responsibilities arise, staff members in question can temporarily be allowed to return to working from Home Office.

Working hours were already changed to trust-based work hours in March 2020 in agreement with staff representatives. This policy will continue to be in force through 23 April 2022. With trust-based working hours, the staff member typically compensates of their own accord for times when they work less and times when they work more. Anyone who is doing more work than can be compensated for within this arrangement, whether due to the current Coronavirus situation or for other reasons (projects, seasonal peaks), must discuss this with their supervisor in advance. In such cases, staff members must document the extra time worked and can then offset it later.

4. Coronavirus Rapid Tests for Staff Members

In its capacity as an employer, Bielefeld University will continue to offer two free Coronavirus rapid tests per week to all staff members. Staff members are defined as all individuals employed by the university (i.e. salaried workers, civil servants, support staff).

The university only issues Coronavirus rapid tests for personal use at home. Orders for rapid tests are to be pooled at the divisional level (faculties, deans of study, institutions, departments) and sent to christian.lyko@uni-bielefeld.de. The full order can then be picked up at the Info Point in the Main University Hall from Monday–Friday, 10am –2pm. Important information on proper storage and use of self-tests is available at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/agus/.

Staff members who are not immunized (vaccinated or recovered) have to provide a negative test result no more than 24 hours old and certified from an official testing center whenever entering university premises. Rapid tests taken for personal use are not allowed to be used to access university buildings (see Point 10.1.1).

5. What to Do with Suspected and Confirmed Cases of COVID-19

Fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and disturbances to smell and taste can be signs of COVID-19 infection.

Staff with such symptoms are requested to leave the university campus immediately or to stay at home. They should continue working from home and not from university facilities (unless they are unable to work due to illness). Until their health status has been cleared by a medical professional, such staff members are deemed to be unfit for work.  Staff members must inform their supervisors as usual if they are unable to work. Supervisors are to forward information regarding suspected cases to the email address coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de.

Affected persons should immediately contact a doctor for consultation by telephone. If the suspected infection is confirmed, the staff member in question must either send the relevant information themselves to the email address coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de, or ask their responsible supervisor to do so.

In the event of a positive test result (Coronavirus rapid test), employees are required, in accordance with §13 of the Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine Ordinance, to submit to a PCR test (confirmatory test) immediately at a testing center or at a doctor’s office. Before obtaining this PCR test, the staff member in question is also required to inform the testing center beforehand of their positive rapid test result. A PCR test can be performed at the campus testing center. Until receiving a negative result on a confirmatory PCR test, all social contact is to be reduced to the absolute minimum. Accessing university buildings during this time is not allowed.

Staff members must immediately notify their supervisor if they have a positive result on a Coronavirus rapid test. If this positive result is then confirmed by PCR testing (see Point 5.3), staff members must also inform their respective supervisor and send an email reporting their test result to coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de.

In case of a confirmed, positive case of COVID-19 (PCR test), the following guidelines are especially important in order to be able to perform contact tracing: Guidelines for contact tracing for staff member are available at: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/intern/stabsstellen/agus/2021-09-03_handlungsleitfaden_Mitarbeitende_final.pdf.

In accordance with § 15 of the Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia, individuals who test positive are required to immediately inform all persons (private and work-related contacts) with whom they have been in close personal contact either in the four days prior to the test, before the appearance of symptoms, or since the test was performed. This includes those persons with whom there had been contact for a period of more than 10 minutes and at a distance of less than 1.5 meters in which both parties were either not wearing a face mask or had been together for a longer period of time in a poorly ventilated or unventilated room. Public health authorities then determine the next course of action.

Staff members who have tested positive are to inform their supervisor in a timely manner. Their supervisor will then arrange the next course of action.

After receiving a positive test result, staff members may not enter university premises for at least 14 days (from the date of diagnosis) – regardless of any existing quarantine order issued by the public health authorities. Only after 14 days have passed and the staff member has been symptom free for at least 2 days may the staff member return to the university (exceptions exist for cases in which the public health authorities extend the length of the quarantine requirement).

For those with verifiable immunity from full vaccination who have a positive PCR test result, quarantine may be ended after a period of 5 days by taking another PCR test and receiving a negative result on it, provided that, based on the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute, early termination of quarantine resulting from negative test results can be justified and the individual is symptom free. The public health authorities are responsible for quarantine orders. University premises may only be entered again after quarantine has been completed.

If a person living in a staff member’s household falls ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (suspected case), the staff member in question must contact their supervisor to clarify the next course of action (e.g. remaining in Home Office).

Staff members who live in a household with a person who has tested positive of COVID-19 (confirmed case) are required under § 16 Para. 1 of the Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia to self-quarantine immediately after the household member’s positive test result is known and to inform the appropriate health authorities.

This does not apply to individuals who had no contact with the person who tested positive since the time of the test or had no contact with the person who tested positive in the last ten days prior to obtaining the positive test result and who themselves do not show any symptoms of illness. The Quarantine Ordinance of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia in the current respective version must be observed (https://www.mags.nrw/coronavirus-rechtlicheregelungen-nrw). The requirement to quarantine also does not apply to individuals who have proof of immunization either by full vaccination or documented recovery. If, however, symptoms of illness occur within 10 days, such individuals must immediately quarantine and arrange for prompt testing (§16 Para. 1a of the Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine Ordinance).

The same rules as described above also apply to students with suspected cases of COVID-19 (symptoms of illness, positive rapid test result) and confirmed cases (PCR test), including self-isolation, confirmatory testing, PCR testing, and the requirement to quarantine. Students must immediately inform their instructors of their positive result on a Coronavirus rapid test. If this positive rapid test result is then confirmed by PCR testing, students must also notify their instructors and send an email to coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de. If students who test positive for COVID-19 have attended in-person courses, course participants will be notified (see Point 6.2). For positive cases confirmed by PCR testing, it is especially important to observe the following procedure to facilitate contact tracing: “Guidelines for Contact Tracing among Students” “Guidelines for Contact Tracing among Students”.

6. Contact Tracing

As stipulated § 15 of the Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia, individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 are required to inform all those with whom they have had contact in private or professional settings during the past two–four days prior to taking the test or since the appearance of symptoms, or if close personal contact took place since having taking the test (see also Point 5.3). In order to comply with these requirements in the context of the workplace, the following rules are to be observed:

  • It is the staff member’s own responsibility to document mandatory business gatherings (such as work meetings with colleagues) that will be longer than 10 minutes and where minimum social distancing will not be maintained, and which were not organized by supervisors (e.g. in Outlook calendar).
  • If guests are invited to official business appointments such as work meetings, the organizer must personally keep a record of attendees’ contact information (e.g. in Outlook calendar).
  • If external companies are contracted and deployed on site and there is a possibility of having personal contact with them (longer than 10 minutes), those responsible must also keep a record of these contacts.

Only the email address and telephone number of these contacts are documented. This contact information is to be kept for a maximum of 14 days, after which it is to be deleted.

In order to comply with the requirements as outlined in § 15 of the Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine Ordinance of North Rhine-Westphalia (see Point 6.1), contact information from participants is to be collected on a voluntary basis and with consent.

In the case of a positive test, those who may have been exposed during the course or event will be notified. (https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/intern/stabsstellen/agus/2021-12-01_handlungsleitfaden_Studierende_final.pdf).

7. Preventative Occupational Medicine and Guidelines for Dealing with Risk Groups

All staff members have access to occupational health care (as a provision or upon request). Staff members can obtain individual advice from university medical services, including information on special risks due to a prior illness, their individual health status, possible risks of infection, concerns about the risk of infection, or psychological stress. Consultations from university medical services can also be given by telephone.

Given the progress in vaccination among staff members, blanket regulations for (high-)risk groups will be eliminated. Instead, individual risk assessments will be made on a case-by-case basis. The regulations included under Points 3.1 and 3.2 in the currently applicable version therefore apply to all staff members.

Automatic permission to work exclusively from Home Office, or an automatic/blanket exemption based on membership in a (high) risk group therefore no longer exists.

Staff members belonging to risk groups should contact university medical services in advance to discuss their individual situation. Within the framework of an occupational health check, university medical services will assess whether working on site at the university would be possible on the basis of individual risk characteristics before the staff members returns to working on campus, and will arrange for an individual risk assessment to be carried out (by telephone or in person). Alternatively, university medical services may adjust an existing risk assessment in cooperation with the AGUS staff unit and managers. Information on individual risk characteristics is not disclosed to the employer. The AGUS staff unit can provide more information on this procedure. Only once a risk assessment has been completed, confirming that it is possible for the staff member to resume working on campus, will the staff member in question be able to return to working on university premises.

Given the progress in vaccination among staff members and their family members, blanket regulations for staff living with chronically ill relatives requiring care or family with risk factors will be eliminated. Instead, individual risk assessments will be made on a case-by-case basis. The regulations included under Points 3.1 and 3.2 in the currently applicable version therefore apply to all staff members.

Automatic permission to work exclusively from Home Office, or an automatic/blanket exemption based on membership in this group therefore no longer exists.

Staff members providing care to relatives with underlying illnesses or those requiring care in their households, and those who with live such persons who (possibly) have a special need for protection (and are medically certified as such), may only continue to work completely from Home Office under the following conditions:

  • Vaccination of the relative in need of care and/or member of the household with risk factors is officially documented as being medically counter-indicated, and;
  • The staff member in question also cannot be vaccinated and has official documentation of this being medically counter-indicated, and;
  • An individual risk assessment of the workplace with the involvement of AGUS, university medical services, and responsible managers is performed and concludes that the staff member should not work on-site.

If such staff members wish to continue working completely from Home Office, they must inform their supervisors and provide them with a rationale, after which the next course of action will be determined.

Staff members and students with a severe disability (without relevant underlying illnesses) can, in principle, also work on site on university premises. If there are any questions regarding this, medical advice should be sought. Representation from severely disabled persons is to be included.

In the mode of “University Operations during the Coronavirus Pandemic,” pregnant women remain entitled to work from Home Office. For the time being, there is a ban on working on campus for pregnant women. If presence is required for work purposes and/or the expectant mother wants to return to working on campus, an individual risk assessment can be carried out at the agreement of the pregnant woman and with the involvement of supervisors, the AGUS staff unit, and a university medical officer to determine whether this is possible. If the individual risk assessment establishes that there is no unjustifiable risk at the individual workplace in accordance with the Maternity Protection Act and with the agreement of the Detmold district government, it would be possible for the pregnant woman to work on site at the university. Pregnant women are required to contact the AGUS staff unit before starting work on university premises.

Conclusive findings on whether and how long mRNA or vector-based vaccines provide sufficient immunity against SARS-CoV-2 are not yet available given the current state of scientific understanding and data. In this context, and in order to exclude an unjustifiable risk according to the Maternity Protection Act, the protective measures mentioned above are also to be carried out for preventative reasons for pregnant and breastfeeding women who have already been vaccinated. This also applies for pregnant and breastfeeding women who have already recovered from COVID-19 infection.

Due to the reasons outlined above, pregnant students may attend relevant in-person courses only if an individual risk assessment is performed (https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/einrichtungen/agus/studierende/2021-09-09_Erganzende-GBU_Schwangere_v07.pdf). The individual risk assessment is to be performed with the involvement of the AGUS staff unit, the university medical service, and responsible public authorities (Detmold district government). Provided that the risk assessment concludes there is no unjustifiable risk, pregnant students may attend in-person courses and events.

8. Returning from Business Travel, Trainings, and Vacation

The following principle has been in effect since 1 July 2021: The necessity of work-related travel should be critically reviewed before it is undertaken, particularly when it involves travel to risk areas or virus-variant areas. Work-related travel should only take place to the extent necessary, and wherever possible, digital alternatives such as telephone or video conferences should be used instead. Attendance at external training courses should be treated in the same way. Business trips to regions with high rates of infection (including those within Germany) at the time the travel begins must be limited to the absolute minimum necessary to fulfill work obligations.

Business travel to high-incidence, high-risk, or virus-variant areas is generally not possible. In special cases, a request may be made to the Department of Human Resources, and upon approval, special permission may be granted by the Rector.

All generally issued official travel approvals are again valid under the above-mentioned conditions. If work-related travel or training courses are attended in person, appropriate protective measures must be taken: this includes travelling by private car rather than by public transport if possible, maintaining sufficient distance from others at the external location, etc. 

Internal university training events, which fall under the organizational responsibility of the Department of Human Resources (Staff Development) should in general continue to take place digitally.

Training events that are the organizational responsibility of e.g., departments/individuals, should in general be held online. If a work-related training event needs to be held in person, only immunized and tested individuals (3G) may take place. Non-immunized participants are required to present a valid negative test result from an official testing center. Event organizers are responsible for the implementation of protective measures for the training program and must inform participants of these. Preventative hygiene measures, especially wearing a medical-grade mask (surgical mask at a minimum) are required regardless of whether social distancing is maintained.

Those returning from an area that has been declared a high-incidence, virus-variant, and/or other special risk area by the Robert Koch Institute, or those returning from other areas for which a travel advisory has been issued by the Foreign Office, generally must quarantine for a period of 10 days (14 days for virus-variant areas) after their return, as stipulated in §4 the Coronavirus Ordinance on Travel Entry.

Such returning travelers are to work from Home Office. If it is not possible to work from home, the supervisor must first check whether the staff member in question can be temporarily assigned other suitable tasks.

With the exception of travelers returning from virus-variant areas, quarantine is not required for recovered, vaccinated or tested persons who can present proof of their recovered status, vaccination status, or a negative test result. (The test must have taken place no earlier than 5 days after their return.)

Please also refer to the current regulations of the Federal Ministry of Health regarding entry to Germany: https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/coronavirus-infos-reisende/einreise-sms.html

9. Events, Courses, Gatherings, and Meetings

9.1 Events

Events are defined in the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia from 30 December 2021 in its currently valid version from 27 November 2021 and this Organizational Decree as an organized activity with a specific objective or purpose, limited in time and place, in which a group of people attends said activity as participants or visitors under the responsibility of an organizer.

In-person events at Bielefeld University include the following:

  • Teaching and practical courses, exams, field trips
  • Committee meetings (e.g., faculty meetings, professor appointment committees)
  • Conferences and conventions; academic events
  • Cultural events (e.g., the Night of Sounds), receptions, and inaugurations
  • Readings at the library

In academics and administration, work meetings are not considered events, including, for instance, service meetings, training events, and recruitment activities (see Point 9.2).

Courses and events are generally allowed to be held in person in accordance with the rules defined in Point 9.1.2.

Restricted Access/Testing Requirements

As defined in §4 of the Coronavirus Protection Ordinance, courses/events held indoors may only be attended by, visited by, or held by immunized or tested individuals (3G rule) or in some cases only immunized (vaccinated/recovered) individuals (2G rule). In other cases, only immunized individuals with an additional negative test (2G Plus rule) are allowed.

Immunized individuals are those who are fully vaccinated and/or recovered from prior infection (according to the regulations in § 1 Para. 3, § 2 No. 1–5, § 3 and § 7 of the Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine Ordinance and the Ordinance governing Exemptions to COVID-19 Protection Measures of North Rhine-Westphalia from 8 May 2021). Tested individuals are those who have an official negative test result performed within 24 hours (antigen rapid test) or 48 hours (PCR test) from a recognized laboratory in accordance with the Coronavirus Testing and Quarantine Ordinance.

An exception to this exists for events in which singing together will take place: in this case, the test result can be no older than 6 hours. Coronavirus self-tests, such as those taken at home, do not qualify as proof of testing. Should a positive test result be received when taking a Coronavirus self-test, however, applicable regulations must be observed (i.e., immediately contacting a doctor and taking a confirmatory PCR test). At (educational) courses/events, the testing requirement in force can be satisfied by taking a self-test under supervision of the event organizer (as has previously been practiced in the natural sciences/internships).

The following courses, events, and offerings are only allowed to be attended in person by immunized individuals (only vaccinated/recovered status – 2G rule):

  • Exhibitions, readings, cultural events, concerts, performances, receptions and other similar events.
  • Sporting events (university sport offerings) held outside.
  • Participants in vocational sports activities held outside (for example, required courses for a university degree program). Participants who are not vaccinated or recovered (2G) may submit a PCR test as a temporary substitution for immunization in the interim.

Non-immunized staff members, volunteers, and other similar persons working at 2G courses/events who have contact with participants or with each other must present a negative rapid test (exception: sporting events, which require a PCR test as an interim measure) and wear a medical-grade mask during the entire course/event. Staff members who cannot wear a mask to perform their work correctly (e.g. professional musicians playing wind instruments) can submit a PCR test to substitute for immunity as an interim measure.

The following courses/events are only allowed to be attended by immunized individuals who have an additional negative test (2G Plus rule):

  • Sporting events (university sport) held indoors.
  • Vocational sports activities held indoors (for example, required courses for a university degree program).
  • Singing together (e.g. as part of a choir) if not wearing a mask.

The 3G rule applies to all other courses and events (e.g. academic courses).

Admission Checks for Courses/Event

Proof of immunization or testing must be checked upon admission to an event by the individuals responsible for organizing the event or their designees. During this check, the event organizers should randomly spot check attendees’ identification documents to verify identity. Individuals who do not provide proof of their identity during this check are not allowed to attend the event.


For events that take place over several consecutive days (such as an internship), or for small seminars/tutorials with a fixed group of participants, performing this check once for proof of vaccination/recovery (2G) before the start of the event is sufficient. Those presenting a negative test result, however, must be re-checked every 48 hours.

In order to reduce the additional time and effort required of course/event organizers (e.g., instructors), 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 (centralized check). For courses held in smaller seminar rooms with seating for up to 35 attendees, instructors (or their designees) will perform this check themselves (link to overview of classrooms where instructors/event organizers will have to carry out the check themselves).

To ensure that the check described above goes as quickly and smoothly as possible, Bielefeld University has standardized the procedure as follows:

  • Proof of immunity (vaccinated, recovered) must be verified in advance at the campus testing center in Building X, where a special registration office has been available for this since 4 October 2021.
  • Individuals who are vaccinated or recovered (who also have at least one dose of the vaccine) receive a special red sticker with a university seal on the back of their Uni Card, student ID, or on a copy of these documents, or on a copy of their personal identification card. This will be valid for as long as these regulations are in force – until the end of the semester, 31 March 2022, at the latest.
  • Those who are not vaccinated (or those who do not want to disclose their immunity status) have to take an official Coronavirus rapid test at the test center. If the result is negative, they will then get a green sticker with a university seal for their Uni Card. This sticker has an expiration date and will only be accepted during a time period of up to 24 hours for negative test results (or max. 6 months for those with official documentation of recovery status). These individuals have to get tested regularly at the test center and obtain a new valid sticker if they want to attend in-person courses and events.
  • Course/event participants must show their Uni Card (or a copy of their identification document) with a valid sticker at the entrance to the event. In order to avoid unnecessary delays during this check, only ID cards with this sticker will be accepted. During the transitional period in the first two weeks at the start of the semester and during examinations, certificates of vaccination, recovery, or negative testing will also be accepted (without the university sticker). Secondary students must provide their school ID.
  • Course instructors/event organizers who are not vaccinated and who do not pass through a central checkpoint to access their course/event have to provide proof of their testing status (Uni Card or a copy of their personal identification document with the green sticker affixed to it) by submitting their proof of status to the dean’s office before the course/event.

Instructors who have to perform the 2G, 2G Plus, or 3G check themselves (e.g., in individual classrooms with up to 35 seats) are to check all participants’ status on their Uni Cards during the first session of their course. If all students have a red sticker, it is sufficient to only check the status of any new students who come to the following sessions. It may be possible to further relax the 3G check procedure 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). For more information on how to perform these checks, a set of guidelines for instructors and their designees has been created (Guidelines from 25 November 2021).

Hygiene Rules/Additional Protective Measures

  • All courses/events are to be offered with assigned seating or assigned standing areas for participants.
  • In the waiting area (before admission to the event), medical-grade masks (at least a surgical mask) must be worn in public areas and while seated at the assigned seat or standing area. This applies regardless of whether social distancing of 1.5 meters is maintained.
  • Minimum social distancing of 1.5 meters can only be exceeded when seated or standing in the assigned area.
  • Before the event, the organizer must verify whether there is enough mechanical or natural ventilation in the room. Mechanical ventilation is in place in the main lecture halls; the centrally managed seminar rooms usually have window ventilation and mobile air purifiers with HEPA filters (see Point 10.1.2, “Ventilation”).  
  • If singing together (e.g. in a choir) without wearing masks is planned as part of the event, participants must be immunized and also provide a negative test (2G Plus rule).
  • Contact information is collected on a voluntary basis and with consent (see Point 6.2).

If events with more than 100 people are planned to be held indoors without assigned seating, a hygiene concept must be submitted to the public health authorities prior to the event. This hygiene concept must also include a description on how admission to the event will be checked for 3G/2G status.

When conducting committee meetings in person, the regulations under Point 9.1 apply. In addition to this, committee meetings must comply with the guidelines for conducting internal university committee meetings, voting, and professorship appointment procedures during the Coronavirus pandemic available at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/verwaltung/dezernat-sl/wahlen/_doks/2021-10-01_Handlungsleitfaden_Gremiensitzungen_und_Wahlen.pdf.

9.2 Use of University Services

University (service) offerings for students include, for example, advising from university service units such as examination offices, Student Advising and Counselling (ZSB), computer labs, the Information Point, and BITS. Only students who are immunized (vaccinated/recovered) or have a negative test (3G) are allowed to avail themselves of these services in person. Documents verifying 3G status must be checked before accessing these facilities/services (see “Admission Checks” above).

9.3 Service Meetings, Work-Related Meetings, Hiring Procedures, Company Outings

Service Meetings, Work-Related Meetings

Contact among colleagues for the purposes of performing work is allowed, provided that hygiene rules are observed (see Point 10).  If an official meeting is held in person (e.g., short work meetings), the number of persons must be reduced to the necessary level and hygiene requirements must be observed (e.g., ventilation, selecting a room of suitable size, wearing masks, social distancing). Applicable internal regulations governing room occupancies and hygiene rules (see Point 10) are to be followed. Supervisory staff must decide whether the official meeting should take place in presence, in digital form, or by telephone as a hybrid event.

 

Hiring procedures should continue to be held largely in digital form. This can also be carried out in person starting at a certain stage in the hiring process, provided that the 3G rule (vaccinated, recovered, tested) is followed. The number of people present is to be kept at the necessary minimum (attendance should be as low as possible).

Company outings and celebrations related to work are not to take place until further notice.

10. Protective Measures, Workplace Design, Hygiene, and Providing Instruction in these Regulations

10.1 Protective Measures (Social Distancing, Ventilation, Face Masks)

As stipulated in the Infection Control Act from 22 November 2021, Bielefeld University, in its capacity as an employer, is required to implement the 3G rule in the workplace. As of November 24th, 2021, employers must therefore ensure that all staff members who enter workplaces are vaccinated, recovered, or have tested negative on that day. To implement these new regulations, Bielefeld University issued official service directives.

The most important rules are outlined below:

For vaccinated or recovered staff members, the following applies:

When entering university premises for the first time, proof of immunization (vaccination or recovered status) must be provided by the staff member to their responsible supervisor. This only has to be submitted once, e.g. as a screenshot, photo, or via Zoom. It is not necessary to check the status of vaccinated or recovered staff members on a daily basis.

For staff members who are not vaccinated or recovered, and for those who do not wish to disclose their status, the following applies:

  • A negative test result must be provided whenever entering university premises. The test result must be fewer than 24 hours old and must be issued from an official testing center or verified with an identification document (ID card or Uni card). The negative test result must be presented to responsible personnel either at the main entrance (C01) to the Main University Building. This means that staff members who are presenting negative test results are only allowed to use this entrance to enter campus. Personal information (first and last name, departmental affiliation, date of test) is recorded at the checkpoint. Staff members who work at other university facilities are still required to present proof of testing at the designated checkpoint in the Main University Building. The previous checkpoint in Building X will be decommissioned as of 10 January 2022.
  • In addition to presenting proof of testing at the main entrances to the Main University Building and Building X, these staff members must also send a digital copy of proof of testing to their responsible supervisor at the beginning of the workday, e.g. by email, as a screenshot or photo, or via Zoom. This can be submitted from their work computer.
  • In general, non-immunized staff members are not permitted to work on site during the weekend. If it is necessary to work during the weekend due to business-related reasons, non-immunized staff members must make appropriate arrangements with their supervisor to ensure that they still provide a negative test result before entering university premises.

3G compliance can be checked by authorities at any time and without advance notice. During a 3G check, staff members are required to immediately provide proof of vaccination or recovery, or a valid negative test result. Staff members must therefore always carry their proof of status on them while present on campus, or have it available in a secure location at their workstation.

More information on this process, data protection, and the consequences of non-compliance are outlined in the university’s official service directives from 24 November 2021 in the updated version from 4 January 2022. This is available at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/intern/stabsstellen/agus/2021-11-24_Dienstanweisung-Mitarbeitende_3G_englisch.pdf.

For information on secure handling of 3G data, please see https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/intern/stabsstellen/agus/2021-12-02_Sichere_Handhabung_3G_Informationen.pdf.

As a rule, adequate social distancing of at least 1.5 meters between colleagues must be maintained in all work areas, including those open to the public, as well as in indoor spaces where customers or visitors are present, in break rooms, in public areas, and in the library. Social distancing must be maintained even for periods of short personal contact. Social distancing may only be exceeded if other appropriate protective measures are in place, e.g. at events where 3G status (vaccinated, recovered, or tested) is verified; if physical partitions have been installed; or if masks are worn – provided that only fully immunized individuals are working in an office/workstation and they do not have any contact with non-immunized individuals (see Point 9, “Events”, and Point 10.2, “Workplace Design”).

In addition to the requirement to comply with minimum social distancing requirements in university buildings, there is also a general requirement to wear a medical-grade face mask (so-called surgical mask). Wearing a medical-grade mask is also required when going to the library (e.g. students/researchers/external visitors). The requirement to wear a medical mask is also in force for all in-person courses/events (the exception here is for teaching staff including instructors, who may remove their mask while teaching if 1.5 meters of social distancing is safely maintained). Masks also must be worn by all participants during in-person examinations, as well as at all student workplaces (e.g. in the University Hall, in the library, in seminar rooms). Exceptions to the mask mandate exist for individuals who have a medical certificate from a doctor exempting them, as well as during practical sports courses, laboratory activities, and music classes. An exception also exists for staff members performing their work alone in an indoor workplace. Wearing a medical-grade mask is also required in other areas with visitors/customers (e.g. at service units).

Non-immunized staff members, volunteers, and other similar persons working at 2G courses/events who have contact with participants or with each other must present a negative rapid test result and wear a medical-grade mask during the entire course/event. Staff members who cannot wear a mask to perform their work correctly (e.g. professional musicians playing wind instruments) can submit a PCR test to substitute for immunity as an interim measure.

Masks can be removed indoors under the following conditions:

  • If working alone when performing work in indoors in offices or at other workplaces.
  • In laboratories if wearing a mask poses an additional hazard (e.g. chemical transfer).
  • Those who have a doctor’s certificate exempting them from wearing a mask.
  • During sporting activities if removing the mask is necessary for playing the sport. This also applies for other activities that cannot be performed while wearing a mask, such as playing a wind instrument.
  • When singing together, provided that only immunized individuals take part and all provide an additional negative test (2G Plus rule). In thise case, the test must be a PCR Test or an antigen test taken no longer than 6 hours ago.

Required FFP2/FFP3 Masks (Personal Protective Equipment)

Filtering half masks (FFP2 /FFP3) must be provided to and worn by staff members while performing their work when they come into direct contact with another person who cannot wear a mask for medical or other significant reasons. An FFP2 mask must also be provided and worn during activities that are likely to involve an increased risk of increased aerosol emission (e.g. very loud talking during activities in noisy areas). When using FFP2 masks, specifications for personal protective equipment (PPE) must be observed. This includes, in particular, the length of time for wearing an FFP2 mask and regulations regarding multiple use. Employees must be instructed in the correct use of FFP2 masks before they are distributed. Sample instructions for using FFP2 masks are available on the AGUS website (www.uni-bielefeld.de/agus). Staff members who use FFP2 masks must be offered occupational health care (preventive care).

Exceptions to the Mask Requirement with a Medical Certificate

If for medical reasons a staff member cannot wear a mask (medical mask, FFP2 mask) or can only wear it for a very short period of time and submits a medical certificate attesting to these medical reasons, their workplace setup must be adjusted by the supervisor in such a way that these colleagues are adequately protected. For instance, supervisors must determine whether contact with others can be ruled out, or, in the case of contact with other staff members, whether they can wear a higher-grade FFP2 mask (for self-protection and the protection of others). It should also be considered whether non-immunized individuals have provided a negative test result.  With regard to the scientific findings that are now available (as of January 2021, in the Explanation of the Corona Protection Ordinance) on the lack of efficacy of community masks and face visors with regard to droplet and, above all, aerosol transmission, face visors can no longer be considered equivalent mask substitutes at this time.

Where applicable, staff members who have a medical certificate attesting that they cannot wear a mask can work permanently from Home Office if adequate protection cannot be assured on site.

Mask Violations

If face masks (medical-grade masks, FFP2 masks) are not worn in accordance with these instructions, this constitutes a violation of the University's operating regulations, and thus a violation of employment contract obligations and/or official work duties. Those who do not comply with the requirement to wear a mask shall be excluded by the responsible authorities from university offerings, facilities, and services.

Orders for Masks

Orders for medical-grade masks and FFP2 masks are to be pooled by the various divisions of the university (i.e. faculty, department, institution) and placed by email by sending the order to arbeitssicherheit@uni-bielefeld.de. Distribution of masks to employees is to take place at the divisional level.

As a general rule, minimum social distancing of 1.5 meters must be maintained even when wearing a mask.

Ventilating rooms is a particularly important protective measure due to the possible presence of virus-containing aerosols. For this reason, rooms must be regularly ventilated by their users. Ventilation reduces the number of fine droplets that may contain pathogens present in the air. The minimum standard for the period of time between ventilation is as follows: every 40 minutes at a minimum for offices, and every 20 minutes at a minimum for meeting rooms. The length of ventilation (with all doors and windows open) should be at least 10 minutes in summer, 5 minutes in autumn/spring, and 3 minutes in winter (when the temperature is below 6°C). Increased ventilation can also further reduce the concentration of possible virus-laden aerosols present in the air. The beneficial effects of ventilation can be enhanced by increasing the above-mentioned frequencies and extending the length of each ventilation.

Offices must be ventilated regularly at the beginning and end of the workday. Meeting rooms must also be ventilated before being used.

In rooms that have mobile air purifiers (with HEPA 13/HEPA 14 filters), the same regulations for room ventilation still apply. Air purifying devices serve only to support natural room ventilation. Please report defective or non-functioning air purifying devices in seminar rooms to the Central Control Room (-7777).

10.2 Workplace Design

The following rule continues to apply: only one person is allowed per office space unless more than one person is necessary for work purposes. Exceptions are possible on a case-by-case basis provided that social distancing of at least 1.5 meters is maintained between staff (also in areas of public traffic) or a suitable physical partition is installed (e.g., Plexiglas) and sufficient ventilation is in place. In addition to this, a medical-grade mask (surgical mask at a minimum) must be worn whenever sharing an office or workspace with others.

Offices may also only be entered by colleagues upon request and with an appropriate medical mask (if social distancing of 1.5 m cannot be maintained).

Furthermore, if offices are used by more than one person, it is strongly recommended that staff members undergo a Coronavirus rapid test every workday. Coronavirus rapid tests can be performed at home before the start of work; for this purpose, the university provides rapid tests to employees. Orders for rapid tests should be pooled at the divisional level (i.e., faculty, department, facility) and sent to this email address: christian.lyko@uni-bielefeld.de (see Point 4).

In public-facing work areas, social distancing of 1.5 meters between individual work areas and between work areas and visitors is to be maintained (also in areas of public traffic). This regulation applies regardless of staff members’ immunization status.  If social distancing of 1.5 meters cannot be maintained, a suitable physical partition must be installed (e.g., Plexiglas partition).

For laboratory work (laboratory workstations with technical ventilation, fume hoods, weighing chambers, large equipment, etc.), general and customary laboratory hygiene regulations must be observed. Social distancing of 1.5 meters from colleagues must also be maintained. Laboratory workstations must be set up accordingly (e.g., no shared use of laboratory work benches). For cases in which supervisors know the immunization status of their staff members, this information can be taken into account when scheduling work (such as placing immunized lab workers together in one room). See also Point 10.2.1.

The same regulations governing workplace design also apply to students who are working in laboratories or are conducting laboratory-based research for their Bachelor’s/Master’s theses.

Compliance with the social distancing rules must be observed in the break rooms and areas, tea kitchens, and cooking facilities as well as in other social rooms by changing the arrangement of furniture or minimizing seating in these respective areas. Where applicable, break times should be staggered. Before entering and using these rooms, users must wash their hands. Fully vaccinated or recovered individuals do not have to be considered with regard to occupancy rate (hygiene rules, including social distancing, mask wearing, and ventilation do not apply). Hygiene rules must be followed if not all present are fully vaccinated or recovered, or if their immune status is not known.

Student workstations (for studying) located in in the gallery/bridges in the hall of the Main University Building have been open again for use since 1 September 2021. Masks must be worn in areas of public traffic and at all workstations. Registration (see Point 6, “Registration”) is not required.

Additional student workstations in seminar rooms are available based on the respective capacities of faculties and institutes. Masks must be worn at all workstations (regardless of whether social distancing is maintained).

For library workstations, see Point 11, “Service Units, Including the Library”.

More information on student workstations is available at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/studium/studierende/start-ins-studium/lernorte/.

10.3 Hygiene

Tools and work equipment (also IT devices, telephone receivers, table tops, etc.) are to be used by just one individual wherever possible. Where this is not possible, regular cleaning (with a commercial household cleaning agent) is to be performed by the user, especially before handing the equipment over to others. If physical portioning is used for hygienic purposes, staff members are to clean both sides of the partitioning with commercial-grade cleaning agent every workday.

Personal protective equipment (e.g. FFP2 masks) are only for individual use. (Reusable) masks must be taken home after work (and not left in the open on your desk). This does not apply to special areas, such as genetic engineering facilities. Liquid soap, towel dispensers, and disinfectants are available for handwashing.

10.4 Official Instruction, Notification, and Review of Measures

Management is legally obligated by the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Protection Regulations to provide regular instructions to their employees, and to document this instruction. Staff working from Home Office must also receive such instructions. Instructions should include in particular the regulations of the Organizational Decree; (Coronavirus) transmission risks and modes of transmission, protective measures, measures for groups in need of special protection (e.g. high-risk and risk groups), as well as how to correctly wear and remove face masks. Instructions should be provided in digital form wherever possible.

Sample instructions based on the content mentioned above are available at https://www.uni- bielefeld.de/agus.

The effectiveness of these measures in the workplace and the impact of the measures on protecting staff health, as well as the occurrence of, for instance, hygiene failures, must be monitored by supervisors and adjusted as necessary.

Event organizers are responsible for the implementation of protective measures for the event they are organizing and must notify participants of the measures to be observed. Recommended hygiene measures for events are available at https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus/sicherheitskonzepte.

11. Service Units, Including the Library

Library

The university library is open, with some restrictions. Only the main library entrances D1 and U1 in the main university building and the specialist libraries in Building X are open. Regular opening hours are in effect. The library is only open to immunized visitors (vaccinated or recovered) and those with a valid negative test result less than 24 hours old (3G rule). 3G status is checked at the entrance to the library. In order to be able to carry out the 3G check as quickly and easily as possible, the procedure for admission checks to courses/events described under point 9.1.2 is used (red/green sticker on Uni Card or a copy of it, or a copy of your ID card with this sticker).

All visitors to the library are required to wear a medical-grade mask in areas of public traffic. Minimum social distancing can be exceeded in public areas (but not at workstations) when wearing a mask. Masks must also be worn at set workstations or seats, regardless of whether social distancing is maintained.

Library workstations still need to be reserved and are only available to university students.

Other library regulations are provided directly by the university library and are available at: https://www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/ub/coronavirus/
 

Other Service Units

Service units, such as the Information Point, the Student Office, the Central Student Advisory Service (ZSB), the Advisory Service at BITS, and the examination offices are currently only available by telephone, email, or other electronic forms. Starting on 1 September 2021, these services will also be available in-person to a limited extent. Further details can be found on the respective websites of these university service units.

 

Contact

Email: coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de

Bielefeld University

The Chancellor


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