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

Under what conditions is working from home permitted?

After June 1, 2020, working from home is to be encouraged where feasible, as long as employees can fulfill their essential job duties remotely and it helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. In order to achieve an appropriate solution that takes the interests of all involved into account, managers in the respective University institutions should consult with their employees. In principle, there are no objections against carrying out essential tasks on campus at RWTH as long as this does not involve any risk higher than that posed by engaging in normal everyday activities. Further Information

The IT Center has collected useful  instructions for and further information about working from home here.

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. For workplaces where the recommended safety distance of two meters cannot be maintained, the occupational health and safety department advises on the use of mouth and nose protection equipment, such as face masks.

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.

Managers must prepare and keep on file a risk assessment for their staff's workplaces on campus.

What can I do if I am affected by the limited hours offered by childcare facilities, pre-schools, and schools?

If our employees have difficulties coming to work as normal because childcare facilities, schools, and other institutions are only open limited hours, please get in touch with your superiors to find 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 limited services 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)

Can I obtain compensation for lost income due to only partially reopened schools and daycare centers?

If you are unable to go to work because childcare centers and schools are only open limited hours and you have lost earnings because you have to look after your child(ren), you can apply for compensation. The compensation scheme has been put in place to protect you against excessive loss of income.

Entitled to compensation are parents or guardians who have to stay at home because of only partially reopened schools and daycare facilities and who lose income as a result.

The terms and conditions are as follows:

  • The child(ren) is/are under twelve years old or in need of care due to a disability.
  • Remaining overtime and leave from 2019 must have been taken, and the entitlement to “undertime hours” (that is, working time owed) must be exhausted
  • You don’t have any entitlement to emergency care
  • There are no acceptable alternative care options available
  • “Situative mobile work” or working from home is not possible or reasonable
  • The salary compensation amounts to 67 percent of net income, but not more than 2,016 euros per month.
  • The payment is available for a maximum period of six weeks from the date of the first application.
  • There is no salary compensation for vacation periods during which schools and daycare centers would have closed anyway. They are therefore not counted towards the six-week period.

These regulations do not apply to civil servants.

You will be released from your work duties for the period of your childcare responsibilities as outlined above. The compensation for lost income will be paid out by the NRW Salaries and Pensions Office LBV. The LBV will also pay social security contributions, based on 80 percent of your regular salary.

For further information, please refer to the web pages of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and of the NRW Salaries and Pensions Office LBV and the Landschaftsverbands Rheinland LVR.

What do I have to do as a single parent to get a childcare placement for my child/children?

The state of NRW has extended its regulations for special childcare needs. As of now, single parents who are in gainful employment can also use the special care infrastructure for their children.

This requires a certificate from the employer confirming the existing employment relationship and stating the number of hours worked. The single parent needs to submit this together with a written request stating their situation to the respective childcare institution, who will then decide on their application or otherwise help with placement. Since there are no standard forms for the employer's certificate, it is recommended that parents clarify in advance with the respective childcare institution what information the certificate should contain. Some institutions may also provide their own forms for this purpose. The HR departments of RWTH Aachen University are happy to help issue the required certificate.

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.

What continuing education offerings are currently available?

Due to the coronavirus crisis, many continuing education events at RWTH cannot be held as in-person events. However, in order to enable all employees to benefit from educational offerings, many events are now available in digital formats. To make it easier for you to see which events are offered online, the events database can now be filtered according to the formats "Online," "In-person," and "Blended (Online & in-person)". If you have any questions about specific course offerings, please get in touch with the organizers of the course.

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 work meetings of two or more persons may currently only be held on the condition that they are absolutely necessary for operations and that remote meetings (even with restrictions) are not possible. A distance of two meters is to be kept between participants at all times and during all activities. If this is not possible, the activity may only be carried out under compensation measures previously agreed upon with the Staff Unit of Occupational and Radiation Protection.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

The University Sports Center has started offering a limited sports program. All classes in the program are subject to prior registration. Participants will have to register via single class bookings, which will be activated 24 hours before the start of the class. Further information

 

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?

In accordance with the legal requirements, new international students coming to RWTH from abroad are subject to a 14-day period of quarantine. Enrolment takes place online. New international students who want to enrol at RWTH are advised to contact Division 2.1 – Admission and Social Affairs by phone at +49 241 80 90674 or via email to .

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 work meetings of two or more persons may currently only be held on the condition that they are absolutely necessary for operations and that remote meetings (even with restrictions) are not possible. A distance of two meters is to be kept between participants at all times and during all activities. If this is not possible, the activity may only be carried out under compensation measures previously agreed upon with the Staff Unit of Occupational and Radiation Protection.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

The University Sports Center has started offering a limited sports program. All classes in the program are subject to prior registration. Participants will have to register via single class bookings, which will be activated 24 hours before the start of the class. Further information

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 work meetings of two or more persons may currently only be held on the condition that they are absolutely necessary for operations and that remote meetings (even with restrictions) are not possible. A distance of two meters is to be kept between participants at all times and during all activities. If this is not possible, the activity may only be carried out under compensation measures previously agreed upon with the Staff Unit of Occupational and Radiation Protection.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

The University Sports Center has started offering a limited sports program. All classes in the program are subject to prior registration. Participants will have to register via single class bookings, which will be activated 24 hours before the start of the class. Further information

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.

Welche Weiterbildungsmöglichkeiten stehen mir zur Verfügung?

Aufgrund der derzeitigen Situation können viele Weiterbildungsveranstaltungen an der RWTH nicht wie ursprünglich geplant als Präsenzformat stattfinden. Damit alle Beschäftigten sich jedoch auch in diesen Zeiten weiterbilden können, wurden viele geplante Veranstaltungen nun auf digitale Formate umgestellt. Um den Überblick zu erleichtern, kann in der Veranstaltungsdatenbank nun nach den Veranstaltungsformaten „Online“, „Präsenz“ und „Blended (Online+Präsenz)“ gefiltert werden. Bei detaillierten Rückfragen zu den entsprechenden Angeboten stehen die jeweilig genannten Kontaktpersonen zur Verfügung.

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 12noon and from 1 to 3pm Tuesday through Thursday. During this time, waste can only be accepted if the disposal has been arranged by telephone beforehand.

During normal office hours, SCA staff can be reached by telephone and email.

Does the current situation have an impact on University sports?

The University Sports Center has started offering a limited sports program. All classes in the program are subject to prior registration. Participants will have to register via single class bookings, which will be activated 24 hours before the start of the class. Further information

 

FAQs on travel

Which regions are currently considered risk areas?

Due to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, the Robert Koch Institute is no longer providing information on specific risk areas (de).

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

In accordance with the legal requirements, travelers from abroad must undergo a 14-day quarantine if they have been abroad for more than 72 hours. This does not apply to individuals who

  • have stayed in an EU member country or in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, the UK, or Northern Ireland, unless the number of new infections in the respective country rises above a threshold of 50 per 100,000 people within the last seven days (according to the estimates of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control). Please note that quarantine requirements may be imposed when travelling abroad on university business. For this reason, travelers are advised to check the RKI website regularly before embarking on and during a business trip.

or

  • have stayed in a country which, according to the RKI, does not require any coronavirus-related protective measures

This regulation also applies to business trips. Any business trips which, according to the above regulation, would result in a quarantine period must be reported, and the responsible university institution must ensure that the resulting quarantine regulations are observed. If any quarantine obligation arises during the business trip, this must be reported subsequently.

In principle, the possibility of using alternative forms of communication, such as video and telephone conferences, should be checked before approving international travel. In addition to a possible risk of infection, many states have imposed entry restrictions and/or restrictions on public life and mobility. Travellers should consult the Federal Foreign Office’s travel advice for up-to-date information on entry requirement currently in place. Under the given circumstances, until further notice, it is strongly recommended to book flights exclusively through RWTH Aachen University’s travel agencies.

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 has to be taken into account when entering the country from a current risk area to take up employment at RWTH, e.g. as a researcher?

The date of employment of individuals from a risk area who come to RWTH to take up work is to be chosen in such a way that the 14-day domestic quarantine, which is normally to be observed after entry, is guaranteed. The quarantine period can be shortened if the candidate presents a medical certificate – issued no more than 48 hours prior to arrival – which confirms that there are no indications of infection with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Regardless of the negative test result and the decision of the public health department regarding quarantine, the employment starting date is to be chose in such a way that the appointee will not enter RWTH premises before one week after arrival.

 

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.