FAQ About the Coronavirus

 

Blog: Coronavirus News

Please read our blog for all the latest coronavirus news and updates.

 

FAQs on my health and wellbeing

What are the possible signs of infection?

The incubation period for infection with the coronavirus is about ten days (1 to 14 days). Visitors, students, and others who have been in risk areas since January 1, 2020, should pay attention to the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • General malaise

How can I protect myself?

Good hand hygiene, covering your coughs and sneezes, and avoiding close contact with others can protect against respiratory diseases and are recommended preventative measures anyway in view of the current wave of influenza. Please abide by the following recommendations for good cough etiquette:

  • Keep a distance of at least two meters from other people when sneezing and coughing.
  • Sneeze and cough into a disposable tissue.
  • Always wash your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing, and coughing.
  • If you do not have a tissue to hand, you should keep the crook of your arm in front of your face when coughing and sneezing.

What can I do if I am affected by quarantine measures?

The quarantine measures mandated by the responsible authorities must be followed in any case.

What should I do if I have any symptoms?

It is hard to tell the coronavirus apart from other respiratory illnesses and influenza due to its unspecific symptoms.

If you notice you have one or more of the symptoms above within 14 days of leaving any of the risk areas, it is strongly recommended that you contact your family doctor by phone to discuss how to proceed.

Avoid all unnecessary contact with other people and, if possible, stay at home. You can contact the University Medical Center for advice via or by telephone at +49 241 80 94444. We can include an interpreter, if the need arises. Please refrain from unannounced visits to the University Medical Center.

How can I tell if I have been infected?

If you have symptoms and have been in a risk area or have had contact with a person with a confirmed coronavirus infection within the previous 14 days before the onset of the disease, you should get tested using PCR diagnostics.

Please make sure you contact a family doctor in advance to request this test. You can find local family doctors on the website of the Kassenärztliche Vereinigung Nordrhein. The University Medical Center will also be happy to help you get in contact with them.

Who is at risk of infection?

An infection should be suspected in all persons who show symptoms and who have been in the above named risk areas within the last 14 days before the onset of the illness or who show symptoms and have had contact with a person with a confirmed coronavirus infection within the previous 14 days. The Health Offices see an increased risk for so-called category one contact persons, i.e. persons who have been in contact with a person infected with the coronavirus for at least 15 minutes in closed rooms.

What do I have to do as a "contact person"?

RWTH employees with category 1 contact person status must get in touch with their respective superior before reporting to work at RWTH. Category one contact persons are individuals who have been in contact with a person infected with the coronavirus for at least 15 minutes in a closed room. For the duration of the incubation period, these employees must avail themselves of work-from-home arrangements. Please discuss the necessary technical matters (computer, VPN, etc.) with your respective superiors. The HR Department will also be happy to answer your questions.

Are occupational health check-ups still running as planned?

Due to the current situation, all occupational health check-ups have had to be postponed indefinitely. Only examinations and consultations that are essential for the functioning of various institutions are still being conducted. This includes pre-employment check-ups, check-ups for the renewal of driver's licenses, reintegration and rehabilitation check-ups, check-ups on the question of work capability as ordered by the employer, and telephone consultations. If you have already made an appointment, it will be canceled for the time being. Invitations for the new appointment will be sent out automatically.

I am worried about my mental health; I suffer from anxiety or depression. Who can I turn to?

If you have any questions about mental health topics, the experienced psychological counselling team at RWTH is available to all students. The counselling service is also available in English.

Further contact points for psychological counselling emergencies can be found here.

 

FAQs about my workplace

Is it possible to adopt preventive measures such as working from home even if I am not directly affected?

University employees have to work from home where possible. All employees living in the district of Heinsberg are to work from home. Please refer to our regularly updated Regulations and Effective Dates page to find out how long these regulations will be in place. This drastic measure has been taken in view of the Robert Koch Institute's assessment and after consultation with the staff councils. If it is not feasible for individual staff members to work from home, they will be released from work duties and given paid leave.

What do supervisors have to ensure at the workplace?

Members of staff should be spread out among the available rooms, as far as possible. Situations where several individuals are working in one room while other rooms are not being used is to be avoided. Each institution should prepare for staff shortages and ensure that key functions are appropriately taken care of. If experiments or similar activities are running and suspending or terminating them would result in a considerable loss, please take appropriate precautions to operate these to a minimum. Please also take this into account when planning new projects.

What can I do if I am affected by the closure of childcare facilities, pre-schools and schools?

If our employees have difficulties coming to work as normal due to closed childcare facilities, schools and other institutions, please get in touch with your superiors to agree on a solution.

RWTH is determined to contribute to ensuring that all employees who are faced with the challenge of meeting care responsibilities during regular working hours due to the closure of the above-mentioned facilities are enabled to meet this challenge.

However, in this certainly exceptional situation, it is not only RWTH that is responsible for finding a solution, but also our employees, their partners, and possibly also their partners’ employers. Sensible, fair solutions can be found quickly if all parties involved contribute their share. The HR Department is not able to propose a generally applicable solution, since a fair solution must always be based on the situation of the individual employee and their respective university institution. For this reason, a specific solution can only be found between the respective superior in the university institution and the employee.

The HR department is happy to advise all employees and anyone with staff responsibility on acceptable solutions. We would therefore like to give a few general recommendations at this point, which hopefully contribute to ensuring that individual solutions can be found quickly.

Wherever possible, employees are asked to work from home (“situative mobile work”). Here, part-time solutions are possible. Depending on the age of your children, for example, the children may be able to be at home on their own until noon, so that you can work for four hours at your workplace at RWTH and work from home for the rest of the day. If working from home is not possible due to the requirements of your job role and childcare responsibilities require you to stay at home, the burden of the situation shall be equally borne by the employee and the employer. In this case, the employee should check whether he or she is able to distribute the weekly working hours on fewer than five working days – due to the extraordinary situation, employees are allowed to work for up to ten hours per day.

An example may serve to illustrate possible solutions. If in a care situation lasting three weeks, the partner is able to take on one week of care responsibilities, a solution for the remaining two weeks must be found. The employee has to bear a part of the burden, e.g. by reducing overtime hours, taking vacation days, making up for lost working hours at a later time, or taking unpaid leave. RWTH is willing, depending on the individual situation, to grant up to three days of paid release from work to contribute to a solution that is acceptable to all. If these three days turn out to be insufficient, in individual cases, a longer period of paid leave is possible, if this is required for a sensible, fair solution. These cases are to be arranged in consultation with the HR department. Our staff are advised to go to great lengths to find a solution.

Under special circumstances, for example in case of single parents with very young children or a comparably difficult situations, a fair, more comprehensive solution is to be found in agreement with the HR department.
In general, decisions on work arrangements can be made at the divisional or departmental level without involving the HR department. Only if the employee is to be released from his or her work responsibilities – either paid or unpaid – in agreement with his or her superior, a formless application (keyword: “childcare”) is to be submitted to the HR department. The employee does not have to submit any further documents. The aim is always to find a solution tailored to the individual care situation at hand.

Overview of possible solutions:

  • Redistribution of working hours/day
  • Situative mobile work: working from home (full-time or part-time).
  • Reducing accumulated overtime hours, taking vacation days
  • Making up for lost working hours at a later time
  • Release from work (pair or unpaid)

Are there any restrictions for cross-border commuters?

In neighboring countries, the population’s freedom of movement has been restricted. These regulations might require RWTH employees  to get a so-called commuter certificate from their employer, i.e. RWTH. Employees can request such a certificate by emailing their designated HR administrator. The certificate is then immediately sent by scan.

Are there any restrictions in place for people from the district of Heinsberg?

Although the district of Heinsberg is not strictly classified as a risk area by the Robert Koch Institute, employees from the district of Heinsberg are encouraged to work from home as far as possible in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible for all RWTH members due to the large number of infections in the Heinsberg area. If working from home is not possible, other solutions can be discussed with the Human Resources Department.

Do employees who do not work from home need commuter certificates?

It cannot be ruled out that the government of North-Rhine Westphalia will soon put in place regulations that restrict the freedom of movement of the population.

We at RWTH expect that there will be no restrictions for individuals on their way to work. However, if such measures will come into effect, we expect that they will be monitored, and that RWTH employees who are not working from home will need an official commuter certificate.

If necessary, commuter certificates are to be issued by the respective university institutions. A commuter certificate template is available from the forms database on the RWTH intranet:

Form for academic staff including student and graduate assistants (de)

Form for technical and administrative employees (de)

Are there any policies and regulations for holding events?

No in-person events may be held at RWTH until further notice. However, we expressly encourage events to be conducted in an online format instead. In-person meetings of more than two individuals are to be avoided. Any form of telephone or digital communication is preferable to an in-person meeting. During meetings, a distance of two meters is to be kept between participants.

Can meetings still be held as usual?

In-person meetings are to be avoided as far as possible. Any form of telephone or digital communication is preferable to an in-person meeting. During meetings, a sufficient distance (of two meters, if possible) is to be kept between participants.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

In order to contain the spread of the virus as far as possible, all university sports offerings will be temporarily  discontinued. Please refer to our regularly updated Regulations and Effective Dates page to find out how long these regulations will be in place.

 

FAQS about my studies

How does the current situation affect my studies?

In consultation with student representatives, the university management has decided on measures to contain the spread of the virus as far as possible. The General Students' Committee AStA answers questions on how the current situation affects your studies (exams, classes, etc.): Coronavirus FAQ

What should students who have to enroll at RWTH for the first time do?

We recommend that students who are new to RWTH and come from the affected regions avoid contact with others as much as possible during the incubation period and are therefore only to enroll online. For further information, new students should contact Division 2.1 – International Office at +49 241 80 90674 or by .

Are there any policies and regulations for holding events?

No in-person events may be held at RWTH until further notice. However, we expressly encourage events to be conducted in an online format instead. In-person meetings are to be avoided as far as possible. Any form of telephone or digital communication is preferable to an in-person meeting. During meetings, a sufficient distance (of two meters, if possible) is to be kept between participants.

Can meetings still be held as usual?

In-person meetings are to be avoided as far as possible. Any form of telephone or digital communication is preferable to an in-person meeting. During meetings, a sufficient distance (of two meters, if possible) is to be kept between participants.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

In order to contain the spread of the virus as far as possible, all university sports offerings will be temporarily  discontinued. Please refer to our regularly updated Regulations and Effective Dates page to find out how long these regulations will be in place.

I am an international student and have questions about the organization of my studies or stay abroad.

If you missed the virtual Welcome Week for international students, you can find all video presentations, FAQs, and further information on the Latecomer website. For all other questions, please contact the Info Service Center of the International Office.

 

What networking opportunities are available to international students?

If you are looking for ideas for digital leisure activities, follow the International Office on Facebook and Instagram, where they regularly post tips and new online offers. The Facebook group RWTH Welcomes Internationals is another great networking opportunity.

 

Where can international students who need support due to the current situation get information on individual topics?

If you have any questions regarding your studies or your stay here, please contact the Info Service Center of the International Office. The advisory team will be happy to assist you in clarifying your questions.

 

 

FAQS about teaching and research

What support do lecturers have in order to adjust to the situation?

The Center for Teaching and Learning Services, CLS for short, offers central video recordings and other forms of support, so that teaching can continue despite the restrictions related to the Coronavirus. The CLS website offers detailed information on distance and online teaching.

Are there any policies and regulations for holding events?

No in-person events may be held at RWTH until further notice. However, we expressly encourage events to be conducted in an online format instead. In-person meetings are to be avoided as far as possible. Any form of telephone or digital communication is preferable to an in-person meeting. During meetings, a sufficient distance (of two meters, if possible) is to be kept between participants.

Can meetings still be held as usual?

In-person meetings of two or more individuals are only permitted to take place if they are absolutely necessary to maintain the current operations of the University and if it is not possible to use digital means of communication instead. A minimum distance of 2 meters between individuals must be maintained during all activities. If this is not possible, the activity may only be carried out under application of compensation measures previously agreed with Occupational Safety staff unit.  

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

In order to contain the spread of the virus as far as possible, all university sports offerings will be temporarily  discontinued from Saturday, March 14. For further information, please visit the University Sports website.

What does this situation mean for my third-party funded research project?

RWTH will communicate any information and news regarding the current restrictions in the university’s official business and the associated possible delays in the implementation of projects funded by third parties to the project managers as soon as possible. For time-sensitive questions, project managers are also welcome to contact the Management of Third Party Funds team via .

What are the consequences for academic staff in qualification positions?

If the current restrictions in RWTH Aachen University's service operations could have an impact on academic qualifications, the supervisors should be contacted promptly so that necessary measures can be agreed upon at short notice. RWTH will make every effort to ensure that there are no avoidable delays.

Who can international researchers and doctoral candidates contact if they have questions about the organization of their research stay or doctoral studies?

The International Office's Welcome Center is available for all general questions concerning the organization of the stay of international researchers or doctoral candidates.

 

Are there virtual networking opportunities for international researchers, doctoral candidates, or their partners?

The Welcome Center of the International Office provides up-to-date information on online services for international researchers. The closed Facebook group Welcome Center RWTH offers a good networking opportunity for international researchers. The closed Facebook group Aachen International Spouses is aimed at the partners of international researchers who have joined them in Aachen.

 

 

 

FAQs on RWTH's services

How can I use the central IT services when working from home?

The IT Center has summarized all the relevant instructions and further information.

Are there any restrictions to the service offerings provided by RWTH's central administration?

Due to limited staff availability, the Waste Management Service Center (SCA) in Mathieustraße has to offer a reduced service. Only the following measures can guarantee waste disposal for time-critical issues at RWTH at present:

  1.     The SCA is not staffed on Monday and Friday.
  2.     The SCA is staffed from 7:30am to 1pm Tuesday through Thursday.
  3.     During this time, waste can only be accepted if the disposal has been arranged by telephone beforehand.
  4.     During normal office hours, SCA staff can be reached by telephone and email.

The SCA will remain closed from April 14 to 17, 2020.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

In order to contain the spread of the virus as far as possible, all university sports offerings will be temporarily  discontinued from Saturday, March 14. For further information, please visit the University Sports website.

Is it still possible for companies from the Heinsberg district to work in and on RWTH buildings?

Yes, because companies based in Heinsberg are not considered the same as Heinsberg employees. Service providers that work for RWTH must also comply with the prescribed measures to keep the risk of infection as low as possible. In any case, all external companies must certainly observe the hygiene and conduct rules.

 

FAQs on travel

Which regions are currently considered risk areas?

Risk areas are those areas where ongoing community transmission can be suspected.

The Robert Koch Institute uses various indicators to determine this, including the following:

  • Morbidity rate
  • The dynamics of daily reported case numbers
  • Measures taken, such as quarantine of entire cities or areas
  • Exported cases to other countries/regions

The situation is reassessed every day, and risk areas are redefined if necessary.

The Rectorate urgently recommends that university members refrain from traveling to the above-mentioned risk areas at present. Cooperation partners in risk areas should be contacted via other means of communication, such as telephone, video, or web conferences. In addition to possibly risking infection, travelers must currently expect considerable travel restrictions within, and to, any of the risk areas.

What do I need to consider when traveling to or returning from risk areas?

You may no longer travel to any risk areas. Travel on university business to any of the international risk areas defined by the Robert Koch Institute will no longer be approved. Already approved trips are to be canceled.

Pursuant to para. 1(1) CoronaSchVo, the Ordinance on Protection Against Infection With Coronavirus, there is a 14-day ban on entry to universities for individuals returning from risk areas. This prohibition of entry also applies to staff of external contractors.

University members who have been tested positive (not suspected cases) must be reported to the University Medical Center immediately.

Is the district of Heinsberg a classified risk area?

No, despite the large number of known infections, the Robert Koch Institute does not classify the district of Heinsberg as a risk area. However, it does point out that there is special risk in the district, which is why RWTH has taken additional measures (see FAQs About My Workplace.)

What rules apply to other business trips?

As a general rule, business trips should now only be made in exceptional circumstances. There are many options of alternative forms of communication available, such as video and telephone conferences. Other talks, such as advising or counseling sessions, can also be held by telephone or email. Please make use of these forms of communication and avoid business trips if possible. Division 8.3 - Travel Management and Benefits Office will be happy to assist you with any futher questions you may have.

What should I do if I need testing and a face mask to travel to my home country?

Please understand that RWTH is not able to provide face masks or issue virus testing for travel purposes. Please do not visit the emergency department of Uniklinik RWTH Aachen. They are not allowed to hand out sanitation items and do not issue testing for travel purposes. We recommend you contact your home country's consulate or embassy to clarify their requirements.

 

What if I have further questions or queries?

Who can I contact if I have any questions?

RWTH has set up a hotline for urgent questions by staff and students: .

Please note that our hotline staff are not in a position to provide any medical advice – we recommend that you contact the medical on-call service by phone at 116 117 or the local Health Office (Gesundheitsamt).

For citizens of the city of Aachen and the StädteRegion Aachen, an additional coronavirus hotline has been set up in addition to the 115 number. It is only to be used for general information on the subject as well – not for personal medical advice. This hotline can be reached by calling +49 241 510051. This hotline is also available on weekends between 7am and 9pm.

The NRW Ministry of Health has also set up a hotline for questions on the coronavirus at +49 211 9119 1001.

The authorities expressly request that the emergency numbers 110 and 112 are not used unless there is an actual emergency.

It is important that you closely follow the latest information provided by the German Federal Foreign Office, the Robert Koch Institute, and the German Federal Centre for Health Education, BZgA for short. The BZgA also provides information on protecting yourself from the coronavirus.

The Rectorate is monitoring the situation carefully in order to initiate further appropriate measures in case of acute need.

The website of the Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration offers links to documents in various languages, including English and Turkish, on its coronavirus (de) information web page. Furthermore, it recommends the Handbook Germany website which provides comprehensive information on the coronavirus in several languages.

What are the effective dates?

Find updates on all Regulations and Effective Dates here.