Coronavirus - FAQ

How is coronavirus currently spreading?

Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) continues to spread and has affected the entire European Union. Scientists estimate that in approximately 80% of cases infected patients will have mild symptoms or show no symptoms at all. The virus poses the largest threat to people over 70 or people with certain co-morbidities. Most critical cases are concentrated here.

The German federal government is currently coordinating a strategy of slowing the spread with local and regional health authorities in order to “flatten the curve”, or reduce the number of simultaneous infections. The goal of this strategy is to lessen the strain on health services and win valuable time for researchers to develop effective treatments and possibly a vaccine, as well as for hospitals to reorganise and bolster their ICU capacities.

The Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Germany’s centre for disease control, is monitoring the situation in Germany at all times. Currently, all states in Germany are reporting confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2. RKI is continuously analysing the situation, evaluating incoming reports and data, assessing the risk level for the public, and issuing recommendations to the public, lawmakers, researchers and medical personnel. Please refer to the following site for the latest information (in German): https://www.rki.de/DE/Home/homepage_node.html

How will Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences notify me of updates?

Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences has organised an internal coronavirus task force in order to observe the situation and react quickly to any new developments. This task force currently meets multiple times per week. It also coordinates with researchers and staff members from the faculties and other facilities as needed and is in constant contact with local health authorities. It is also part of a closely coordinated network of universities in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences continuously provides updates to its members via its homepage, mass emails and social networks. Please check these channels regularly (at least once a day) for new information.

A special email address was created for your questions: corona@hochschule-rhein-waal.de

General information

How can I protect myself from infection?

  • Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow, not your hands
  • Avoid shaking hands
  • Keep to a distance of approx. 1 meter from others

And as always: STRICTLY FOLLOW the latest instructions from health authorities and public officials at the county, state and national level.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus and when do they appear?

The incubation period for SARS-CoV-2 averages around 5-6 days, but symptoms can appear anywhere from one day after exposure to 14 days.

Please observe the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Feeling run down or worn out

What should I do if I was in close contact with a confirmed case?

If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, you should contact your local health authority immediately. Quarantine yourself at home and follow the instructions of the health authority. Do not visit any doctor without first contacting him or her by telephone.

Employees should also inform their line manager. Students should also inform their faculty.

What should I do if I think I have been exposed?

Please remain at home in self isolation and avoid contact with others as much as possible, even with family or flatmates. Avoid eating together and keep to separate rooms as much as possible. Ventilate thoroughly and often by fully opening your windows for a time.

Contact your GP or ring the emergency medical service between the hours of 20:00 and 8:00 at 116 117. You are strongly advised to not visit a doctor or hospital without first speaking on the phone with staff. This is critical to avoid further spread of the virus.

A tent for coronavirus tests has been set up in front of the St. Antonius Hospital in Kleve. The tent is for testing only, not treatment.

If your test returns positive, please contact HSRW. All employees of Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, who have been or are exposed to a particular risk and who have serious concerns that they may have been infected with the virus, can work in the home office if they give clearly understandable reasons or can make other arrangements in consultation with their supervisor. Students should also inform their faculty.

What should I do if I have tested positive for coronavirus?

Patients confirmed to have coronavirus via lab test must remain isolated at home as long as their symptoms remain mild. Severe cases must be treated in isolated areas of the hospital. Patients treated in hospital can only be discharged when later coronavirus tests return negative. Employees should inform their line manager if they are affected. Students should inform their faculty if they are affected.

The public health authority for Kleve county can be reached at 02821-85-311, Mondays to Fridays, from 8:00 a.m. to 11 a.m. (see also: https://www.kreis-kleve.de/de/fachbereich5/coronavirus/). The public health authority for Wesel county / Kamp-Lintfort can be reached at 02821-207-0 (see also: https://www.kreis-wesel.de/de/dienstleistungen/infektionskrankheiten-mel...)

What should people returning from high-risk areas do?

If you are travelling from a designated high-risk area, you should isolate yourself at home for at least 14 days as a precaution. Practice social distancing. See the following links for additional recommendations: https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/coronavirus.html and the RKIhttps://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Einreise_au...

What is considered a “high-risk area”?

The RKI regularly updates areas it considers to have a high-risk for coronavirus. Consult this page for the latest information: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebie...

Is travel currently affected?

The Federal Foreign Office currently advises against non-essential travel abroad. For current recommendations and advisories, see https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/ReiseUndSicherheit/covid-19/2296762 The Federal Ministry of Health advises against all travel at the moment, including travel to destinations in Germany. Refer to the following site for more information: https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/coronavirus.html

Who should quarantine themselves at home for 14 days?

Any person who was in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus must self-isolate at home for a period of at least 14 days. The RKI advises travellers from high-risk areas to also remain at home in isolation for at least 14 days and to practice social distancing. Link zum FAQ des RKI https://www.rki.de/SharedDocs/FAQ/NCOV2019/FAQ_Liste.html

Do I need to report a possible coronavirus infection?

Possible coronavirus infections must be reported by law, whether suspected exposure, confirmed exposure / onset of illness, or in cases of death possibly caused by coronavirus. Reports must be directed to the local health authority. If the infection occurred while working at HSRW or, for students, while visiting campus, you must also contact the accident insurance department of NRW (Unfallkasse).

Information about Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences

Is Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences currently operating?

To contribute to the efforts to slow down the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences and its facilities will be instituting emergency staffing measures from 19 March onwards. These measures will remain in place until 19 April 2020.

Emergency staffing measures will nevertheless ensure that all necessary infrastructure, laboratory operations and essential research test procedures continue to run smoothly. The time period until 19 March 2020 will be used to prepare each facility and staff unit for these measures.

Staff members are only permitted to remain on campus if their presence is essential for maintaining operations. At the same time, all university-related events or gatherings, whether external or internal, regardless of the number of participants or whether they occur indoors or outdoors, are hereby cancelled. Please continue to follow the recommended hygiene precautions of the Robert Koch Institute and World Health Organization.

All lectures, seminars, labs, internships, and examinations requiring you to be on campus are cancelled from Thursday, 19 March until 19 April 2020. All seminar and study rooms will be closed. We are taking steps to institute emergency staffing members in the faculties together with the deans’ offices as soon as possible.

The Department of Student Affairs (including Student Advisory Service, Student Services, Examination Services and Welcome Centre), University Sport and Music (including training and practice rooms), the IT Department (including the service desk) and the University Library will remain closed to visitors from Tuesday, 17 March 2020 until Sunday, 19 April 2020.

The University Library is closed until further notice. We are currently working on alternative arrangements for operations and will keep you informed. PC pools and the university’s help desk are also closed until further notice. We are currently working on alternative arrangements for operations and will keep you informed.

The Student Advisory Service, Examination Services and Welcome Centre are closed. We are currently working on alternative scheduling for operations and will keep you informed.

The Studierendenwerk Düsseldorf has closed the campus canteens in Kleve and Kamp-Lintfort until further notice.

Will exams take place?

Scheduled examinations will not take place. Solutions involving alternative examination formats are being worked on and will be announced soon by your Examination Board. Note that this restriction does not apply to examinations which do not require your presence on campus, e.g. take-home assignments, lab report and thesis papers. As before, these assignments, if sent by post, must be postmarked by the date of submission (sent ideally as a certified letter with notice of receipt). For examinations submitted by email, the time of receipt must be before the submission deadline. Thesis papers must be uploaded before the deadline in Sharepoint.

Can I still register as a new student?

All new student registration in person has been suspended until further notice. Prospective students can begin sending their registration documents (as well as any other required documents) as scans to studierendenservice@hochschule-rhein-waal.de.

Can I still deregister as a student?

Applications for deregistration can also be signed, scanned and sent to: studierendenservice@hochschule-rhein-waal.de.

Will summer semester 2020 lectures start on schedule?

As part of ongoing efforts to stop the continued spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the NRW Ministry of Science and Education decided to delay the start of the summer semester lecture period until 20 April 2020. Accordingly, the lecture period will now end on 17 July 2020. This rule applies to all research universities, universities of applied sciences and universities of fine arts in North Rhine-Westphalia.

We have been working on emergency contingency plans for some time now to ensure a possible delay is implemented smoothly. An immediate consequence of this decision is that all courses scheduled for before the lecture period (workshops or block seminars, for example) are cancelled. More information on the possible effects of this decision on examinations, internships, semesters abroad etc. will follow as soon as possible.

Students and staff will be informed regularly of any new developments or new precautions.

Will extracurricular events still take place?

The Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs decreed on 13 March 2020 that all public and private gatherings of people, regardless of the number of participants, must be cancelled until further notice. Extracurricular activities at Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences are thus also cancelled until further notice.

Will I continue to receive federal student aid (BAföG)?

The Federal Ministry for Research and Education (BMFB) has dictated to the German states and their financial assistance offices, which are responsible for disbursing federal student aid funds (BAföG), that payments must continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, students in Germany receiving BAföG will continue to receive their financial assistance even if their school, university or training organisation is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, as responsible state offices have been officially instructed to continue disbursing financial aid by the German federal government.

Official information from the BMBF is available in German here and here for reference.

What about student exchanges?

The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) is monitoring the situation. Students who have already started a stay abroad with the Erasmus+ program may cancel their stay at their own request. Students who are via Erasmus in the affected regions and cancel, will still receive Erasmus funding for the days spent abroad even if the required minimum duration is not met.

The International Center will support you with the planning of a later stay or postponement of the semester or internship abroad.

I had to prematurely end my semester / internship abroad. Will that affect my scholarship?

PROMOS scholarships do not need to be repaid. 

Erasmus students who were forced to end their stays abroad prematurely will receive scholarship funds for the period of time they spent abroad (even if this was less than the required minimum length of stay).

Students who were on an exchange at a partner university – and are still enrolled in online courses offered by that institution – will continue to receive their Erasmus scholarship even if they have returned to Germany.

What will happen with my semester abroad nomination for winter semester 2020-21?

Students approved for a semester abroad will still be nominated to our partner universities for an exchange in winter semester. Partner universities will contact each student after their individual nomination. 

Can I still do a language course?

Many different practice exercises are available for German in Moodle. Contact Mr. Brett Ellis (brett.ellis@hochschule-rhein-waal.de) if you are interested in them. Similar practice exercises for English will be rolled out soon. The International Center is currently planning online language courses exclusively for HSRW students using Moodle and the Webex tool from Cisco. More information will be published soon. We will also inform you of how and when to register. 

Can I still apply for a Deutschlandstipendium?

Currently, the application process and deadlines remain unchanged. The selection committee will decide how to deal with potential delays in the study progress of current scholarship recipients. We will explore all possibilities to find a fair and favourable solution for students.

Advising

The Central Student Advisory and the Welcome Centre are still available to students and prospective students. If you are dealing with uncertainty, questions and anxiety in these trying times, please contact our staff. We are here to speak with you online or by phone.

The tutors of the Welcome Centre are also continuously providing helpful tips from a student’s perspective, which can be very valuable in the current coronavirus situation.

For counselling on academic and degree specific questions (e.g. your study progress) get in touch with the Study Guides of the Faculties.

Contact Central Student Advisory

Phone: +49 2821 80673 360 Email: study@hochschule-rhein-waal.de (auch zur Vereinbarung von Onlineberatungsterminen)

Contact Welcome Centre

Email: welcome-centre@hochschule-rhein-waal.de Facebook: Welcome Centre

Contact Study Guides

Technology and Bionics: elena.buksmann@hochschule-rhein-waal.de
Life Sciences: lena.voelkel@hochschule-rhein-waal.de
Society and Economics: ejikeme-anthony.efonemchi@hochschule-rhein-waal.de
Communication and Environment: elena.buksmann@hochschule-rhein-waal.de

Are employees exempt from work or service obligations during emergency operations?

All employees still have a duty to work, unless they are on vacation or off duty, e.g. taking paid time off. Employees who are able and willing to work, but who cannot only perform their work from home or only to a limited extent, are released from their work obligations temporarily. Civil servants retain their entitlement to remuneration during the period of exemption; employees will also continue to receive their wages. The supervisors in the faculties, departments, staff units and central facilities are currently organising activities in their teams in such a way that tasks can be performed through teleworking and home office. Thus, we strive to maintain services as much as possible. The President and the Chancellor have agreed with the staff councils that individual agreements that go explicitly beyond normal telework regulations can be made.

What are the working hours during emergency operations?

In consultation with the staff council, the chancellor decided to adjust the official working hours for non-academic employees who are required to clock in and out. These employees may work between 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (or 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. for civil servants).

How is my working time recorded if I am required to clock in and out?

If you are able to telework, you can clock in and out as usual via the hotkeys in the time clock software Infoniqa TIME WebClient. If you have a teleworking agreement with HSRW, you must clock in our out using the descriptors “Telearbeit Beginn” and “Telearbeit Ende”. The personnel department assumes that, in most areas and cases, there will be no bookings which go beyond the daily regular working hours set by the Chancellor. For all other employees who do not have the opportunity to work from home due to the nature of their work, do not clock in at all. This will generate error messages in the system. Over the next few weeks we will find a solution that involves correcting these error messages and removing them from your account. As this affects a large number of cases, we ask for your patience if this cleanup does not occur soon.

Which leave arrangements apply during emergency operations?

Holiday leave regulations apply as during normal operations. If the situation allows, we ask all employees, in consultation with their supervisors, to use the opportunity to take off any leave remaining from the previous calendar year or reduce any accumulated overtime as much as possible. However, in areas that are currently under particular pressure (e.g. IT), this explicitly does not apply.

Can I enter the university despite emergency operations?

The presence of employees is only permitted insofar as their presence is necessary to maintain emergency operations. A list of people deemed “essential personnel” has been left with Campus Security.

Will employees who have been quarantined nevertheless receive pay?

Generally speaking, yes, although the specifics will vary case by case. For example, employees who are actually ill with the coronavirus will receive their pay according to § 3 EntgFZG for up to six weeks; if they are ill for longer than six weeks, they will then receive benefits according to SGB V from their health insurance company.

Employees who are quarantined by public health services, but who are not ill, will receive compensation for loss of earnings for six weeks on a net salary basis from their employer in accordance with § 56 of the Protection Against Infection Act. Employees who are not quarantined by public health services, but who are also not permitted to enter campus due as they are non-essential personnel, will receive their full pay, unless their quarantine was the result of travelling to a high-risk area defined by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) despite published warnings. In this case, in order to avoid unpaid leave, employees must take vacation or other paid time off.

Will interviews take place during emergency operations?

In agreement between the supervisors and the recruiting department, interviews can be held (with the consent of the staff council and the equal opportunities officer) via video conference systems if this appears necessary and useful.

How is business travel handled during emergency operations?

Until further notice, business travel is hereby suspended. Members of Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences and other persons who traveled to the University from designated high-risk areas in the last 14 days or who have had contact with a person suffering from the coronavirus and who show flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, breathing difficulties) should contact their family doctor. Please inform your doctor in advance by telephone about your symptoms and the intention of your visit. We strongly advise that people returning from abroad self-isolate as much as possible for a period of 14 days (incubation period for coronavirus).

What rules are in place for the remuneration of sessional lecturers?

Please contact your faculty to find a solution regarding your sessional lecturer contract. The faculties have been informed of their room for discretion.

What rules are in place for student assistants and apprentices/trainees?

Student assistants and apprentices/trainees can work from home to the extent possible. If their job activities are not suitable for teleworking or home office, they are released from their job duties temporarily.

Please contact your supervisors, your trainers or the training management team for more information.