Fequently asked questionsInformation about the Coronavirus
1 April 2020
Heidelberg University Takes Precautions against the Further Spread of the Coronavirus
Expansion of partial closing of the university, degree-related activities suspended for now until 19 April 2020
In order to protect all its members, as well as to contain the coronavirus infections, Heidelberg University has adopted a set of wide-ranging measures. Besides the suspension of degree-related activities and the closure of the University Library along with all institute and departmental libraries, initially through to 19 April 2020, the decisions relate, in particular, to an expansion of the partial closing of the university.
University Rector Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel underlined that the procedure was intended to give all concerned a sense of certainty in their actions. “There is no cause for panic and, while carefully assessing the situation, we will keep the university operational as far as this is responsible and legally admissible, particularly in the interests of our students, researchers and staff. For everyone’s safety, however, we are going to gradually reduce the on-site activity of university employees even more.”
The following overview lists the safety and prevention measures taken by Heidelberg University; they are being continually updated. Detailed information can be found on the webpages of the respective divisions, institutes and facilities.
Student Affairs and Teaching
When will lectures begin?
At Baden-Württemberg universities the lecture period for the 2020 summer semester will start on 20 April 2020 at the earliest. Until then, the Rectorate, university administration, faculties and central facilities will work at full speed, in the interest of students, researchers and staff, to take advantage of digital communication channels wherever possible and expand the use of digital teaching methods.
Will other events be held?
All degree-related activities requiring attendance on campus have been completely suspended through to 19 April 2020. That applies to lectures and classes for students as well as preparatory and introductory courses, but also to other events, such as in-service training for teachers and staff, and university sports programmes. Digital teaching and learning methods are to be used in future, wherever this is possible and useful. The Service Portal for students has moved its advisory and information services to email and telephone.
Will examinations be held?
All on-campus examinations have likewise been cancelled, with the exception of examinations for doctoral candidates. We are determined to avoid hardship for those concerned and to ensure the academic progress of the students. The Rectorate has therefore decided that all remaining examinations will be held in the first week of the regular lecture period in the summer semester (at the earliest from 20 April 2020). Flexible solutions will be developed in order to implement this. Doctoral examinations should only take place in the smallest possible group.
Can course-related internships be started or continued?
In view of the generally applicable safety and prevention measures, which particularly provide for a restricting of social contacts, course-related, compulsory internships can be suspended and continued at a later date.
Will the university remain operational and what arrangements are there?
After a partial closure has already been implemented for central and decentralised areas of the university, as of 24 March 2020, only those employees who are absolutely essential to secure operations and prevent damage will be allowed to be physically present in the university facilities. These are the university members who ensure functioning leadership and communication channels, and maintain technical and research infrastructures. This measure will apply initially through to 19 April. A letter from the Kanzler of 23 March gives information on restricted access and authorisations to enter university buildings, as well as on the granting of temporary permission for employees to work from home or take a leave of absence. The persons responsible for the respective institutions will determine, for their area, the form and extent of work that is appropriate. The Human Resources Division gives information on the relevant arrangements.
Will research activities still continue?
No regular research activities can take place due to the current restrictions on access. Exceptions here are all research projects related to the coronavirus; they will be continued to their full extent. The maintenance of the research infrastructure remains guaranteed.
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 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.
Are university buildings and facilities still open to the public?
University buildings and facilities are not open to the public until further notice. Contacts and individual appointments with the Rectorate, the university administration and infrastructural and central operating facilities will be made via email and telephone. This also applies to members of the university. Museums, collections and institutions like the University Archive or the greenhouses at the Botanical Garden are closed to the public. The offices of student representative bodies, common rooms and PC pools are likewise closed.
Can the University Library still be used?
The reference areas of the University Library in the Old Town and its branch Im Neuenheimer Feld are closed. All institute and departmental libraries are also closed. The University Library has put information on its website about the digital library and enhanced services.
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. 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 has to be done when returning from a risk area and who is a suspicious case?
All members of the university returning from risk areas as defined by the Robert Koch Institute must observe a two-week self-imposed quarantine. During this time they should observe their state of health and, if they detect any symptoms that could point to COVID-19, make contact immediately with the district health authority by telephone. In every case, the questions of whether there are grounds for suspicion – also given possible contact with an infected person in Germany – 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.
Recommendations for behaviour
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.