Frequently asked questionsInformation about the Coronavirus
2 June 2020
Heidelberg University prepares to open step by step
Degree-related activities start digitally – research possible with restrictions and protective measures
The following arrangements take account of the ordinance adopted by the State of Baden-Württemberg in the version valid from 2 June 2020.
The lecture period for the 2020 summer semester at Heidelberg University started on 20 April. Degree-related activities are taking place with digital methods. Absolutely essential events requiring personal attendance on campus, such as examinations and practical classes which need special laboratories or work areas, can be held from 4 May onwards, as long as the necessary requirements for them are fulfilled and the relevant approvals have been obtained. The Rectorate grants exceptional approvals for absolutely necessary on-campus examinations and courses. In every case, risk assessments and hygiene policies must be on hand, and the activities must be coordinated with the Occupational Safety Department, as appropriate. Experimental research at the university is being resumed gradually, on condition that the rules for distancing, good hygiene and occupational safety are strictly respected here, too, as in all areas of university activity.
The heads of the respective university institutions are responsible for all forms of on-campus operations with due regard for protective measures. Information about restricted on-campus operations has been published in the newsletter of the administration "Caroline" and sent to all dean's offices and heads of institutions and facilities.
University Rector Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel: “Carefully assessing the situation, we will gradually resume university operations as far as this is responsible and legally admissible, in the interest of our students, our researchers and staff members.“
The following overview lists the frequently asked questions on operations of Heidelberg University; they are being continually updated. Detailed information can be found on the webpages of the respective faculties and institutes, as well as the divisions and subject-related facilities.
Will the university remain operational and what arrangements are there?
*Update* From 20 April 2020, Heidelberg University has moved into a restricted form of on-campus activities, coordinated between the Rectorate and the Staff Council. Subject to the general legal framework relative to occupational safety and hygiene, collaboration requiring personal presence in the university buildings and grounds is limited to groups of, at most, ten people. In addition, in multistorey buildings, spacious rooms or large-scale laboratories and with strict observance of all protective measures – in particular, the distancing and hygiene rules – more than ten people, or several groups of up to ten, can to do their own work or research independently of others. As an accompanying measure, those responsible for the respective areas of the university will draw up coronavirus risk assessments. The need for work safety equipment will be estimated on the basis of these assessments. Besides on-campus work there will continue to be various working models.
Can committees meet in person?
*Update* Subject to all hygiene and occupational safety rules, committees tasked with maintaining university operations can meet on university premises. This concerns deans’ offices, faculty councils, examination boards and commissions, study programme commissions, doctoral and habilitation boards, appointment commissions and institute management bodies. The first physical meeting of such committees must be notified to the Rectorate in writing using the form “Notice of an on-campus meeting” and the chair of the respective body must confirm compliance with the general conditions.
What are the arrangements for work in a home office?
There are currently special arrangements at Heidelberg University for working at home. The decision on home office work is made directly, and as generously as possible, by the employees’ immediate supervisors. The latter only need to forward a form to the Human Resources Division. The University Computing Centre (IT-Support: tel. +49 6221 54-117) can assist with setting up IT infrastructure. Temporary home office work can be revoked at any time and can currently be arranged until 30 September 2020 at the latest. You can find detailed information on the website of the Human Resources Division.
How can I apply for extended emergency care for my child?
From 27 April 2020 employees in non-system-relevant occupations also have the opportunity of applying for emergency care for their children. The precondition is that both parents or guardians or the single parent have a job requiring physical presence outside their homes and cannot leave their work for childcare.
In order to apply for access to extended emergency childcare for employees, the head of the institute/facility where they work must fill out the form for necessary work unavailability and send it to the Human Resources Division. The Human Resources Division will then issue a confirmation of unavailability due to necessary work and send it to the employee. If a form is provided by the institution providing care, it may be attached to the internal form.
As of Monday 27 April 2020 the university KidsClub is offering emergency childcare until regular opening activities can be resumed; parents entitled to emergency childcare can also avail themselves of this option.
Are university buildings and facilities open to the public?
University buildings and facilities are open to members of the university and associates from contractually linked partner institutions, but – until further notice – they are not open to the general public. Contacts and individual appointments with the Rectorate, the university administration and infrastructural and central operating facilities are made via email and telephone. Museums, collections and the greenhouses at the Botanical Garden remain closed to the public. Sports facilities, the offices of student representative bodies, common rooms and PC pools are also still closed.
Can conferences, conventions and major university events take place?
No conferences, conventions, workshops etc. or any other public events may take place until lectures begin again. Even mainly internal university functions such as inaugural or farewell lectures may not take place. This also applies to Habilitation lectures. Meetings and discussions may only be carried out for unavoidable reasons subject to compliance with security and prevention measures. Otherwise they must be suspended or changed to digital formats.
Is there a central information service in the university administration?
Besides the familiar communication channels, the university administration has set up a Corona Service Portal for researchers and staff. It replies to questions and concerns in the context of the Corona challenges or refers them to the internal contact persons responsible.
Telephone availability on 06221 54 19191
Mon to Thurs 8am to 4pm
Friday 8am to 3pm
Student Affairs and Teaching
When will lectures begin?
The lecture period for the 2020 summer semester at Heidelberg University started on 20 April. Degree-related activities are taking place with digital methods. Absolutely essential events requiring personal attendance on campus, such as examinations and practical classes which need special laboratories or work areas, can be held from 4 May onwards, as long as the necessary requirements for them are fulfilled and the relevant approvals have been obtained. The Rectorate grants exceptional approvals for absolutely necessary on-campus examinations and courses. In every case, risk assessments and hygiene policies must be on hand, and the activities must be coordinated with the Occupational Safety Department, as appropriate. Information about restricted on-campus operations has been published in the newsletter of the administration "Caroline" and sent to all dean's offices and heads of institutions and facilities. In the last few weeks, the Rectorate, university administration, university computing centre, faculties and central facilities have been working at full speed, in the interest of students, researchers and staff, to lay the foundations for digital communication channels and the use of digital teaching formats. Further information is available on the study related pages.
Will seminars and lectures take place in the 2020 summer semester?
Digital teaching and learning methods are to be used wherever possible. Please check on the LSF pages, Moodle and the websites of the relevant teaching units for the latest news on whether, and in what way, the desired lecture, seminar or class will take place. If in doubt, contact the lecturer in charge.
Will examinations take place? When will remaining exams be scheduled?
Doctoral exams can take place in the smallest possible group (a maximum of ten people), with due regard for all protective regulations. On-campus examinations can be held from 4 May, as long as the relevant rules for protection against infection and occupational safety standards are observed. An application to this effect can be made using the form “Application for on-campus examinations and practice teaching sessions in the 2020 summer semester”. The Rectorate grants exceptional approvals on the above grounds and with due regard for occupational safety, the available risk assessment and the hygiene policy.
With regard to final oral exams in BA, MA and state examination programmes, it is – as of now – sufficient to report them using the form “Notification of final oral examination in the 2020 summer semester”. Through their signature, the person responsible for the examination declares that the details on the form will be respected, a risk assessment is available and the applicable regulations for infection protection will be implemented.
Can course-related internships be started or continued?
In view of the generally applicable safety and prevention measures, course-related compulsory internships are suspended and will be continued at a later date. In the case of course-related compulsory internships that do not take place at the university (e.g. industrial placements), whether they go ahead is up to the hosting organisation.
How will research activities continue?
Experimental research at the university is being gradually resumed. Subject to the general legal framework relative to occupational safety and hygiene, personal on-campus collaboration is limited to groups of at most ten people. In addition, in multistorey buildings, spacious rooms or large-scale laboratories and with strict observance of all protective measures – in particular, the distancing and hygiene rules – more than ten people, or several groups of up to ten, can to do their own work or research independently of others. Where and to what extent research can be conducted in compliance with these binding standards will be decided by the heads of the respective research groups and university institutions.
The following guidelines shall apply:
- A restricted resumption of experimental research may take place from 20 April 2020 subject to strict compliance with distancing rules and good hygiene practices.
- The number of employees in each particular laboratory area must be limited so as to allow them to stay 1.5 to 2 meters apart at all times. This will best be achieved by spreading the attendance over different time periods, so that only part of the staff is working in a laboratory at any given time. Distancing rules and hygiene practices must also be respected at all times in office areas.
- All employees are recommended to wear protection for their mouth and nose (a mask). This protection is not necessary if a person is alone in an office or work room, or is performing an activity for which wearing a mask would involve an increased risk.
- Meeting areas such as “coffee points”, common rooms etc. continue to be closed until further notice.
- The heads of the respective university institutions are responsible for consistently implementing the requirements to observe distancing rules and good hygiene practices.
How are funding agencies reacting to the current situation?
National and international funding agencies have taken various measures to react to the restrictions in research work as well as project management. The Research Division has compiled information on relevant announcements and extensions of deadlines, which is being continually updated.
Can the University Library be used again?
The University Library in the Old Town and its Im Neuenheimer Feld branch are gradually opening their service areas. The information centres have been accessible since 28 April, along with the lending and open stacks areas. It is again possible to order books and collect them at the library. Since 4 May the reference areas of the University Library in the Old Town and the Im Neuenheimer Feld branch have been open to members of the university and associates from contractually linked partner institutions, with limited opening hours and subject to conditions and restrictions.
In addition, since 11 May the following three large libraries have opened with restricted operations and a strongly reduced number of workplaces: the Bergheim Campus (economics and social sciences) library, the Law faculty library and the CATS (Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies) library. Further institute and departmental libraries will gradually follow.
All digital offerings of the University Library continue to be available as usual. The enhanced digital offerings are being maintained in order to limit library visits only to those that are strictly necessary. The document delivery service HEDD (Heidelberg Electronic Document Delivery) is also still on offer for students of Heidelberg University. The same applies to ordering books from the holdings of the University Library for members of the university with postal delivery to their homes. Many publishing houses are supporting Heidelberg University during the coronavirus pandemic by activating additional or so far unlicensed content.
The University Library gives information about conditions for entering the buildings and the digital library with enhanced services.
Can the University Archive be used again?
*Update* As of Tuesday 2 June 2020, the reading room of the University Archive can be used again, with restrictions. At most three people can work in the reading room, by appointment only. The University Archive websites give information about access conditions and opening hours.
Are the student refectories (Mensas) open again?
Two of the refectories run by the Heidelberg student services organisation (Studierendenwerk) have been open again since 18 May. The Zeughaus Mensa in the Marstallhof and the central refectory on the Im Neuenheimer Feld campus are open Mondays to Fridays from 11am to 2pm, subject to the strict observance of all protective measures – in particular, social distancing and hygiene rules.
Which services are available for digital collaboration and teaching?
The University Computing Centre has compiled the currently available digital services on a website and more are to be added as fast as possible.
Are business trips and times of study abroad as part of a degree course still possible?
There will be no travel authorisations for business trips abroad until further notice; any approvals that have already been granted are revoked. The Rectorate urges all employees to restrict business trips within Germany to the absolute minimum. Students planning course-related study abroad are urgently requested not to travel at present. The Federal Foreign Office has issued a worldwide travel warning for non-essential, touristic trips abroad. No trips abroad are possible until further notice in the context of university exchange and scholarship programmes. The contact here is the International Relations Division.
What procedure needs to be followed when returning from abroad?
Based on standard criteria applicable nationwide, everyone returning after a stay of several days abroad is required to go straight into domestic quarantine for a binding period of 14 days. Immediately on arrival, persons entering Baden-Württemberg by land, sea or air from another country outside Germany are obliged to make their way directly to their homes or another suitable accommodation and to self-isolate there continuously for a period of 14 days; this also applies to persons who have first entered another state of the Federal Republic of Germany. Furthermore, they are obliged, without delay, to contact the health authority responsible for them and to report their entry.
Cases of suspicion and recommendations for behaviour
What is to be done in a case of suspected infection with the coronavirus?
The questions of whether there are grounds for suspicion and testing for coronavirus infection is required must be clarified with the Rhine-Neckar District Health Authority. Everyone is urgently recommended not to go to a doctor’s office or emergency room without a prior arrangement. By dialling 06221 522-1881 people can obtain answers and advice on issues like symptoms and incubation time, or on how to protect themselves from infection. The telephone hotline is available daily from 7.30am to 7pm. Contact via email is possible at impfen @ rhein-neckar-kreis.de. After 9pm adults should ring the new infection emergency room on 06221 56-8626. The emergency room of the Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine is responsible for questions concerning children and young people. It can be reached by calling 06221 56-4823.
What can every individual do?
All members of Heidelberg University are required to follow the hygiene rules as issued, for example, by the Federal Centre for Health Education for educational institutions. By way of precautionary health protection, please be careful to observe the rules for good hand hygiene and coughing and sneezing etiquette, and keep your distance to other people. Rooms must be aired appropriately. Follow the guidelines for social distancing adopted by the Federal and State Governments.
Heidelberg University is constantly issuing information about its plans and actions. Members of the university are asked to check this webpage and their email account regularly in order to keep up to date.
The student services organisations (Studierendenwerke) and university hospitals announce the measures they have adopted themselves on their own websites.