Coronavirus: info and guidelines

(01-04-2020) There is currently an outbreak of corona virus worldwide. On this page you will find up-to-date information for all Ghent University students and staff.

Important: all students and staff members that are involved will receive customized advice from the relevant authorities within the university and will continue to receive it.


In addition, the university is committed to keeping everyone regularly informed of its recommendations; the generic information on this webpage is intended for this.

The university is closely following up on this situation. Keep an eye on this web page since this information will be adapted whenever necessary. The measures that Ghent University is taking will be taken in the context of the current corona problem. 

Last update: Wednesday, April 1,, 2020, 2.30 pm.

Lessons and exams

Ghent University does not discontinue its educational activities, but chooses to switch to alternative educational formats as much as possible.

This means that all lessons and practicals are organized at a distance and are replaced by alternative (digital) teaching and learning activities. Educational activities that cannot be organized at a distance are suspended. 

In other words, students are no longer allowed access to Ghent University buildings, even when they are accompanied by a Ghent University staff member. The only exceptions to this rule are students who, as part of their education, take care of humans, animals, plants and cultures of micro-organisms.

UPDATE - March 20, 2020
Today, the university board has decided to extend the change to online / distance learning until the end of the semester. After the Easter break, all planned educational activities within the remaining weeks of the second semester will be organized exclusively via distance learning.

In all decision-making, extensions in time of the study duration, movement of courses in the curriculum of students, changes in course content, ... were avoided as much as possible.

Within the bounds of what is practically feasible, evaluations that include permanent evaluation will be retained.

Further information will be updated soon (read this information in Dutch

Lecturers-in-charge decide on alternative teaching activities themselves. They get support to realize this in the short term:

All lecturers in charge of course units for which educational activities were scheduled during the upcoming three weeks, will inform their students of these alternative measures via Ufora.

Exams and evaluations

  • The adapted academic calendar for the second semester of 2019-2020 is based on the assumption that on-campus examinations will be possible from 1 June. A completely new exam schedule will be worked out, guaranteeing social distancing in all exam situations.
  • More information

Teleworking

We emphasize that telework is the norm for all staff members and all activities. Only a few exceptions are permitted:

  • Activities that are essential with regard to safety and biosafety
  • Activities that are essential with regard to the protection of and care for humans, animals, plants and cultures of micro-organisms 
  • Streaming or recording classes (in designated classrooms, by appointment), to the extent it is impossible to do this from home
  • Crucial experiments which require a physical presence on the Ghent University premises
  • The first assessment of doctoral theses by the relevant examination committee (the so-called 'internal defense').

Moreover, the above activities can only take place on condition that the principle of social distancing (i.e. keeping away from each other, minimally 1.5 meters) can be applied with absolute strictness. This is of the utmost importance and no exceptions are permitted. It is up to the supervisors and persons in charge to assess the feasibility of social distancing, in the strictest sense of the word, and of the observance of all relevant guidelines. 

  • The regulations regarding scientific research and the access to research laboratories can be found below (question 'what about scientific research?').
  • Given the exceptional circumstances, some pragmatics is required. Telework does not exclude day care for your own children. Anyone who is teleworking is responsible for the specific planning and organization of the agreed work.

Charter and registration

  • Telework days need to be registered in the HR-calendar (Apollo) or in “MyApps” (SAP Fiori - desktop or smartphone).
  • To be able to do this, a telework charter is needed, also in these exceptional circumstances. After all, from a legal perspective, a charter offers the best guarantees, both for every employee and for Ghent University. The organisation of telework always requires consultation and clear agreements between the supervisor and the employee (and the team).
  • For employees who do not yet have a telework charter, we ask the supervisor and the employee to sign a charter. Preparing a telework charter is an administrative light process.
  • If you wish to limit the charter in time to this special situation, you can place the following example sentence in the input field: "This telework charter was drawn up in light of the measures that Ghent University took to introduce maximum telework for all its employees and thus help to slow down the further spread of the corona virus in Spring 2020."
  • You can find more information about the principles of telecommuting on the intranet.

Service exemption

  • Staff members who have activities that cannot be performed via telework (and who do not have to be physically present at the workplace to ensure safety / care) or whose duties have been temporarily discontinued (e.g because certain services have been discontinued by Ghent University) get service exemption. This service exemption is always granted fully or partially in consultation with the supervisor.
  • The service exemption is not registered (in SAP) and should not be passed on to the Department of Personnel and Organization (DPO) either.    
  • In these exceptional circumstances under COVID-19, the service exemption is the result of an agreement between the supervisor and the employee. That agreement (= fully or partially) is preferably confirmed by the supervisor by email to the employee concerned, so that this is clear to everyone.    
  • The service exemption is with pay.    
  • The service exemption should not be made up at a later time.    
  • Please note: Staff member who are granted service exemption are expected to diligently keep track of all relevant Ghent University communication (group email, this corona webpage, emails from the Rector, etc.).  
  • The service exemption is a temporary situation which is a direct consequence of the measures taken in the context of the delay of the coronavirus and can be withdrawn at any time under changing circumstances.
  • Colleagues who have activities that cannot be performed via telework and who do not have to be physically present at their work place to ensure the activities or for safety reasons, get service exemption. This service exemption is always granted fully or partially in consultation with the supervisor.

Meetings

  • Physical meetings (of any kind) are only allowed if the physical presence is required for security reasons.

New staff

New Ghent University staff members will also start in this period. Working from home is also their norm. Meeting colleagues physically is usually not immediately the case. You'll find all information on the intranet.

Scientific research

From Wednesday 18 March 2020 and until further notice, Ghent University has started to phase out all non-essential research activities which cannot be carried out at home or by teleworking. In principle, all other scientific research may be continued provided that the preconditions listed below are met at all times.

Research laboratories may only be used for essential research tasks under the following additional conditions:

  1. No more than the minimum staff required to keep the laboratory open in a safe manner may be present at the same time;
  2. researchers may not ask additional persons to be present;
  3. researchers may only enter laboratories after consulting with their supervisor;
  4. no new research activities may be started in laboratories;
  5. The necessary minimum provisions are made so that crucial ongoing research that cannot be stopped, such as research with cell cultures, laboratory animals, plants or cultures of micro-organisms, is not lost.
The suspension of research activities in laboratories does not apply to researchers working on means to combat coronavirus.

Impact on research

As a result of these measures, many research projects will be delayed and it may even become impossible for some to be carried out in full. From now on and at regular intervals, we recommend that you document the impact of these guidelines on your research activities (e.g. in terms of reporting, finances, contractual obligations, ...).

Make sure to also check which agreements have been made in any research contracts with companies (e.g. with regard to force majeure) and follow up on them. Documenting this now will ensure that that there is a clear overview of the consequences of this crisis, so that once the situation improves we have a means of quickly assessing what needs have arisen.

A number of funding bodies have made changes to ongoing calls and selection procedures. Some publishers have temporarily opened up certain databases to everyone. We are providing a frequently updated overview of this kind of research-related information and tips.

Restart

We hope that all research activities can be restarted after the Easter break. Should this not be the case, this will be communicated no later than Wednesday 15 April 2020.

Travel to and from risk areas

Study trips and business trips

  • Study trips and business trips are postponed or canceled.
If you are currently staying abroad, carefully follow the guidelines of the local authorities and register your trip via https://travellersonline.diplomatie.be/ Contact the foreign affairs office  by phone (02 501 40 00) or reach them on facebook (@ diplomatie.belgium)

This decision is valid for the moment, but can change in the future.

Please check the information on the webpage on travelling (only in Dutch).

During a holiday or business trip, I cannot return to Belgium in time due to quarantine or an imposed ban on flying. What should I do?

You inform your supervicor and if it is possible you telcommute. If telework is not possible, there are 2 scenarios:

I just returned from a risk area (after a private or business trip). What should I do?

My (research) department is soon hosting guests (students, PhD-candidates...) coming from risk areas. Will they be able to come to us?

If (doctoral) students receive permission from their home institution, they are welcome at Ghent University. They must be aware that specific corona measures apply to Ghent University and that they must also comply with them.

Public defenses of doctoral dissertations

Studenthomes

I live in a Ghent University studenthome. Can I stay here?

  • Students in residences with shared facilities (homes ASTRID, BOUDEWIJN, FABIOLA and VERMEYLEN) must leave their room until the situation returns to normal. Due to the shared kitchen and sanitary facilities in their residences, it is extremely difficult to limit or compartmentalize mutual contacts.
    • This rule does not apply to HEYMANS and BERTHA residences because social distancing can be practiced much better there. After all, residents have their own bathroom and kitchen.
  • Students with a DOMICILE at one of the homes are the exception to this rule. They can stay if they let us know in time. An exception can also be made for students who cannot leave their room for individual reasons. Requests are made via
  • International students in the GRONINGEN, UPPSALA, GÖTTINGEN, CANTERBURY residences can stay or opt for an early check out. Remaining residents are expected to apply all indicated measures. Request for on early check are made via

Financial problems

I am a student and I have financial problems because of the corona measures. Where can I go?

  • For example, have you lost your student job in the catering industry due to the corona measures? Please contact the social service at .

Prevention transmission virus

Which extra measures does Ghent University take?

Measures Ghent University 12 March 2020

  • All student restaurants and cafeterias are closed from Monday March 16, 2020 on.
  • UPDATE 13 MARCH: the culture and convention centre Het Pand is closed
  • UPDATE 13 MARCH: the university sports center GUSB, including the university swimming pool, will be closed from Saturday 14 March 2020 on.
  • The series of lectures ‘Wetenschappelijke Nascholing’ is discontinued;
  • The above measures apply at least until the end of the Easter holidays (April 19th, 2020)

What can I do?

Take the following measures regarding the transmission of viruses:

    • Cough hygiene: if you sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a disposable handkerchief and then throw it away
    • If you do not have a disposable handkerchief, sneeze against your arm, not in your hands
    • Avoid shaking hands when greeting others
    • Apply good hand hygiene: wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or disinfect with an alcohol-based hand gel.
    • Be alert for symptoms: cough, fever, shortness of breath. Contact your doctor by telephone if such symptoms occur.

I am or have been in contact with people that have been in a risk area in the last couple of weeks, or are infected with corona. What should I do?

I am diagnosed with the corona virus.

If you are diagnosed with the corona virus, please follow up your treating doctor’s directives. 

More information and contact

If you have other questions, please contact actueel@ugent.be.

All information about the corona virus (what is it, symptoms, contamination,…) can be found using these links: