Coronavirus: Current information

This website contains information from Bern University of Applied Sciences about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on university operations and about specific measures taken by the BFH. For general information for the public, please refer to the information provided by the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH and the canton of Bern.

Status: 03.05.2021, 04.30 pm

Current information

Classroom teaching

Limited classroom teaching is permitted once again for both our degree programmes and continuing education programmes. BFH welcomes the Federal Council’s decision to allow reduced reopening. A maximum limit of 50 people applies, no more than one third of the capacity of any room may be used, masks must be worn and distancing must be observed. The departments will look at each degree programme or module and decide whether classroom teaching would add any value over distance learning under these circumstances. The departments will then inform the students of their decision. The timing of the resumption of attendance courses is also decided on a degree programme-specific basis.

Working from home

The physical presence at the BFH is currently reduced to an indispensable minimum due to the continued home office obligation. Staff will continue to work from home, with the exception of those lecturers who resume classroom teaching.

Meetings

Meetings of committees, working groups, teams will continue to be held virtually. They will only take place in person when absolutely necessary.

Events

Public events at BFH are permitted again, with restrictions. Numbers may not exceed 50 for indoor spaces or 100 for outdoor spaces. The safety measures that are currently in force must be observed without exception (see FAQ Events).

University sports

Information on the BFH sports programme can be found on the university sports website.

Vaccination offer for teachers in Bern

Tertiary level staff cannot benefit from these vaccination dates because attendance at the universities is restricted despite the opening of 19.4.21.

Contact

Downloads

FAQ

The following information on the situation at the BFH is constantly updated. Please also note the information provided by the federal and cantonal authorities on the Corona pandemic:

All students and staff are urged to follow the FOPH’s guidelines.

Teaching

Updated: 22.04.2020, 8 am

Limited classroom teaching is permitted once again for both our degree programmes and continuing education programmes. A maximum limit of 50 people applies, no more than one third of the capacity of any room may be used, masks must be worn and distancing must be observed.

How will hygiene be ensured indoors?

Where rooms are used by different groups, heavily used surfaces (tables, door handles and light switches) and materials will be cleaned regularly. There are rules on this in each department. Rooms with windows must be aired at least hourly for 10 minutes.

Must I use the SwissCovid app?

We strongly recommend that you use the SwissCovid app.

How does contact tracing work in teaching?

For teaching sessions, the module enrolments in IS-Academia are used for contact tracing; no additional collection of personal details is necessary.

In which situations must I wear a mask during on-site teaching events?

Masks must be worn for all events at BFH: teaching, continuing education and general events

I don’t want to wear a mask. What should I do?

If you do not have a mask, you cannot attend classes. If you are not present at a compulsory class, you will be recorded as absent. Students are responsible for catching up on missed teaching content themselves.

I am unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons. Am I still allowed to attend the BFH premises?

If you are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons and have a note from your doctor to confirm this, you may still attend teaching events/work on campus. Note that you must be able to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres at all times. If this is not possible, you will have to switch to distance learning/working from home. Please ensure that you carry your doctor’s note with you at all times in case you are asked for it.

Must the lecturer also wear a mask?

The mask-wearing requirement applies to lecturers without exception, irrespective of whether they maintain social distancing of at least two metres while teaching. 

Who checks whether everyone is keeping to the social distancing and mask-wearing rules?

Everyone has a duty to abide by the rules and is responsible for doing so. In the teaching rooms, lecturers are responsible for enforcing the distancing rules and any applicable mask-wearing rules. If students do not comply, the lecturer can require them to leave the room.

Must I wear a mask during breaks and when leaving or moving between teaching rooms?

Yes.

Must masks be worn on excursions that are part of the teaching programme?

Yes.

What should I do if I don’t have a mask with me?

It is usually possible for students and staff to purchase masks from Reception at a price of CHF 1.00.

 

Can I attend teaching on-site if I feel unwell or ill?

If you have obvious symptoms such as fever, feeling feverish, sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath, muscle pain, or sudden loss of sense of smell and/or taste, please follow the instructions on isolation: www.bag.admin.ch/selbstisolation.

If the symptoms occur on-site, the person concerned should inform the module coordinator and the head of the degree programme and go home immediately with a mask.

Should I stay at home if I feel ill, even if this means that I miss classes?

You MUST stay at home if you have obvious symptoms such as fever, feeling feverish, sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath, muscle pain, or sudden loss of sense of smell and/or taste. With regard to any teaching you may have missed, you should get in touch with the person responsible for the module. Students are responsible for catching up on missed teaching content themselves.

I have returned from a country/region with an elevated infection risk and am required to quarantine. Can I attend classes in person if I comply with the protection measures?

No! The rules of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health FOPH apply. Important: A negative test result does not remove the quarantine requirement or shorten the duration of quarantine. People who do not quarantine for the required ten days must expect to be fined.

I have to quarantine/self-isolate and can therefore not attend my classes. What should I do?

As a first step, you should inform the head of your degree programme.

Will I be disadvantaged if I cannot attend classes because of isolation/quarantine?

You have the right to equal treatment. In individual cases it may be that the teaching material cannot be replaced or compensated (e.g. excursions). Contact the lecturers who are delivering your class or module. They will ensure that you are able to access the documents and subject matter.

Students and staff in whom infection is confirmed or suspected should note this information:

Procedure if you have symptoms of illness 

If you have obvious symptoms such as fever, feeling feverish, sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath, muscle pain, or sudden loss of sense of smell and/or taste, please complete the FOPH coronavirus check and follow the resulting instructions on what to do next: https://check.bag-coronavirus.ch/screening 

Reporting a positive Covid-19 test result 

Unless there is a department-specific regulation, this applies:

  • Students should report a positive Covid-19 test result immediately to the head of their degree programme. 
  • Members of staff should report a positive Covid-19 test result immediately to their line manager. 
  • Heads of degree programmes and line managers always confirm receipt of the report. 
  • Line managers inform the Human Resources about cases among members of staff.
  • If you as a student or member of staff do not receive confirmation within two hours, you should contact the head of department direct. 
  • It is important that this information is conveyed promptly. 

When passing information on more widely, the name of the index patient must be withheld for data protection reasons. 

Quarantine or self-isolation for contacts is ordered by the cantonal medical office. Until this occurs, department heads can issue a recommendation for quarantine at short notice. 

Limited classroom teaching is permitted once again for both our degree programmes and continuing education programmes. A maximum limit of 50 people applies, no more than one third of the capacity of any room may be used, masks must be worn and distancing must be observed.

Can I make free use of digital teaching materials and recordings?

No, these are subject to copyright principles and the rights of third parties. This means that input and images from lecturers and fellow students must be treated as confidential. Third-party materials can only be used within the closed class group.

Will course costs be refunded in full as a result of the cancellation of (individual) continuing education events because of coronavirus?

Continuing education classes and courses can be cancelled or terminated by BFH irrespective of the opportunity to deliver them. The course fees will then be refunded. If ECTS credits have already been awarded, the refund will be pro rata.

As a result of coronavirus, it is not possible to hold an examination or competency assessment. What happens now?

In this situation, competency assessments can be postponed or the time allowed for them can be appropriately extended. In the case of student papers (with the exception of bachelor’s and master’s theses), a new or amended paper can be required. You will receive written notification in advance of such variations.

How will entrance exams/aptitude assessments take place?

If the examination or aptitude assessment must be conducted on-site, the applicable hygiene and distancing rules of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health FOPH must be adhered to. If the form and content of the examination/assessment are changed, you will be informed of this promptly by the relevant department.

I am in quarantine/isolation and so cannot complete the competency assessment. What should I do?

In this situation, competency assessments can be postponed or the time allowed for them can be appropriately extended. In the case of student papers (with the exception of bachelor’s and master’s theses), a new or amended paper can be required. Affected students should get in touch with their lecturer as soon as possible.

Who can decide on changes to study programmes?

The heads of degree programmes are responsible for implementing measures relating to study programmes. They are supported by the module coordinators.

Can I be given leave retrospectively as a result of the coronavirus situation?

Yes, bachelor and master students can be retrospectively given leave or have their matriculation terminated if as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic they have to perform military or medical service or similar, if they have out-of-the-ordinary caring duties or if the majority of teaching events have been postponed or cancelled. Requests relating to the spring semester must be submitted on the appropriate form. Leave of this sort will not count towards the maximum permitted leave.

The coronavirus pandemic and the associated measures have upset the planned course of my studies. Where can I get support and advice?

Contact the student advisory service in your department.

External counselling service

The protracted duration of the current exceptional circumstances can cause stress. We should like to draw your attention to the fact that the Counselling Centre of the Universities of Bern is offering counselling on-site, by telephone or online. For low-threshold psychological support we also recommend inclousiv.ch (in German), dureschnufe.ch (in Swiss German) and santépsy (in French).

What regulations apply?

As at 1 August 2020, the Corona Regulations 2 on derogations in teaching and continuing education apply. These take precedence where they deviate from the previous rules. This applies in particular to rules on competency assessments and examinations, teaching modalities, semester times, provision of continuing education courses, leave and termination of matriculation and refunding of fees. The Corona Regulations enable BFH to deviate from the applicable rules when there is good reason to do so. Deviations must be proportionate and preserve equality before the law. They must also be publicised in advance.

The regulations do not cover my situation. What should I do?

Contact the head of your degree programme about your situation. Officers will examine whether a special ruling is justified.

Does the BFH protection concept apply if the teaching session takes place at another location (outside BFH)?

No. For example, if a teaching session takes place at a non-BFH location as part of a cooperative master’s programme, the teaching site’s protection concept applies.

Incoming Students

Are you planning an exchange semester or a regular course of study at Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), but are uncertain about what is going to happen because of the current situation? Then you have come to the right place! We provide information on the latest developments to help you plan a successful exchange.

Last update on 30/10/2020

General 

From 2 November 2020, teaching events in the autumn semester 2020 will normally take place on a distance-learning basis. In exceptional cases, classroom teaching will take place in compliance with the protection measures set out in the BFH framework safety concept. 

Entry requirements

Please always consult the entry requirements for your country of origin and examine the following list from the Federal Office of Public Health to check whether you are entering from a risk country or a risk region and therefore have to go into quarantine in Switzerland for 10 days upon arrival.

People who would like to complete education or training in Switzerland that lasts over 90 days can submit a corresponding application. The applications are being processed by the migration office again.

Third-country nationals will have to submit their application to the Swiss diplomatic mission responsible for their place of residence.

EU/EFTA nationals will have to submit the application to the cantonal migration authority responsible for their future place of residence in Switzerland.

Entry will be possible as soon as EU/EFTA nationals have a residence permit, or third country nationals have an entry permit with a visa issued by Switzerland.

The International Relations Office of the BFH organises a quarantine service to assist students who must go in quarantine. Please consult your department's International Office for more information, if you belong to this group.

Further information: State Secretariat for Migration / Federal Office of Public Health

Classroom teaching

For up-to-date information please refer to the section ‘Classroom teaching (studies and continuing education)’.

Social life

The health situation is changing rapidly. For this reason, the regulations of social life are frequently being adjusted. These can be viewed on the website of the Federal Office of Public Health. It is important to remain flexible and informed in order to successfully cope with everyday life in Switzerland, even with restrictions.

IMPORTANT: Please note that wearing a mask is compulsory in many public places. Further information: Federal Office of Public Health

Outgoing students

Are you planning an exchange abroad ? Then you should regularly check the information provided by your exchange university as well as the entry requirements of the country in question and, if necessary, contact the International Office.

Staff general

Updated: 03.05.2021, 4.30 pm

Please take note of the BFH framework safety concept and the FAQs below.

Employees are to work from home. In-person attendance is only allowed in exceptional cases if the nature of the job or infrastructure make this necessary. Persons who must continue to work on-site are, as before, required to wear a mask if they are not isolated in separate rooms. Supervisors should implement these rules on working from home in an appropriate manner within their organisational unit.

Days on which you are working from home should be marked as such in the Outlook calendar. You must ensure that you can be reached by email and by telephone (via MS Teams, call diversion or callback). The hours worked each day should be recorded as usual (with the comment “working from home”). 

Risk groups 

is currently being translated.

Rules on meetings 

Meetings will be held virtually. They will only take place in person when absolutely necessary.

I am working from home. Will BFH provide the necessary hardware?

As a member of staff, you may take home hardware from your desk at BFH (e.g. monitor, docking station, keyboard, mouse) on loan if this will make it easier for you to work from home. It is your responsibility to transport the items home with you and back again and to reinstall them at BFH once you are no longer required to work from home.

Wearing masks is compulsory in all indoor and outdoor public spaces and for all events (teaching, continuing education and general events) at BFH.

Research staff: Physical attendance at the BFH research facilities (laboratories, workshops, ateliers, studios, field studies, etc.) is reduced to a minimum and is carried out in strict compliance with the FOPH's rules of hygiene and conduct (washing hands, keeping distance, wearing masks, rooms with windows must be aired at least hourly).   

BFH has adjusted its research operations to comply with the official measures for containing SARS-CoV-2. All research activities and services must be performed in compliance with the recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Cooperation with external project partners from the economy, society, culture and the public sector is guaranteed in order to further promote innovation. 

Project partners should contact their contact person at the BFH or the Corona Crisis Staff for questions and further information: corona@bfh.ch

Please observe the following safety measures for working in the office:

Wearing masks

Masks must be worn in all indoor and outdoor areas at BFH. Masks may only be removed if one person is alone in the room.

Hand washing

Wash hands regularly with soap, particularly on arriving at work as well as before and after breaks.

Maintain distance

The maximum occupancy per room must be calculated to allow adherence with the 1.5-metre distance rule.

Possible measures:

  • Reducing physical presence to an absolute minimum 
  • Rotations within and between teams, switching between on-site attendance and working from home
  • Part-time attendance on site
  • Use classrooms if possible

Cleaning of surfaces and objects

Ensure adequate regular ventilation in rooms (ventilate for around 10 minutes at least every hour).

For shared usage of office rooms: regularly clean surfaces and objects (e.g. work surfaces, keyboards, telephones) with a standard cleaning agent.

When do staff need to wear a mask? 

Masks must be worn in all indoor and outdoor areas at BFH. 

I am unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons. Am I still allowed to attend the BFH premises?

If you are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons and have a note from your doctor to confirm this, you may still attend teaching events/work on campus. Note that you must be able to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres at all times. If this is not possible, you will have to switch to distance learning/working from home. Please ensure that you carry your doctor’s note with you at all times in case you are asked for it.

Wearing masks

From Monday, 12 October 2020, wearing masks will be compulsory in all break rooms. Persons may only take off the mask when sitting at a table and consuming. Take staggered breaks where necessary.   

Hand washing

Wash hands regularly with soap before and after breaks.

Maintain distance

Observe the maximum room occupancy (min. 4 m2 per person). Maintain distance when standing as well.

Cleaning of surfaces and objects

Ensure adequate regular ventilation in rooms (ventilate for around 10 minutes at least every hour).

Masks must be worn in all indoor and outdoor areas at BFH. 

The mask can be removed in the following situations: 

  • If a member of staff is alone in a room
  • In cafeterias/break rooms, when sitting at a table and eating/drinking 

I am unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons. Am I still allowed to attend the BFH premises?

If you are unable to wear a face mask for medical reasons and have a note from your doctor to confirm this, you may still attend teaching events/work on campus. Note that you must be able to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 metres at all times. If this is not possible, you will have to switch to distance learning/working from home. Please ensure that you carry your doctor’s note with you at all times in case you are asked for it.

Cantonal Council resolution from 16 September 2020: Procedures to be followed where employees are officially required to self-isolate or are exempted from attending the workplace on the grounds of pregnancy 
 

I have been officially ordered to self-isolate. Can I claim paid short-term leave?


If you are officially ordered to self-isolate – for example via the cantonal contact tracing programme – your superior will check with you whether you are able to work from home. If this is not practicable, you have the option of taking paid short-term leave. Your superior will approve leave for the required time period. This shall not extend beyond the official duration of self-isolation. 

Paid short-term leave will be denied if you are shown to have flouted the hygiene regulations/code of behaviour issued by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), cantonal protective measures or BFH’s framework safety concept. Paid short-term leave will also be denied if you travel to an area that was already on the list of countries and areas with an elevated risk of infection at the time of your departure.

Important: If you are officially required to self-isolate, paid short-term leave can only be taken if you have used up all the annual overtime credits (GLAZ-Saldi) you have accrued. This rule applies mutatis mutandis to members of staff working on an RAZ basis (positive ILV balance). 

Further information on cantonal personnel legislation relating to the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the canton’s FAQ.

My child has been to self-isolate. Can I claim paid short-term leave?


If you are unable to attend your workplace because you or any children living in your household have been instructed to self-isolate officially or due to mass tests at elementary schools, your superior will check with you whether you are able to work from home. If this is not practicable, you have the option of taking paid short-term leave. Your superior will approve leave for the required time period. This shall not extend beyond the official duration of self-isolation.

Paid short-term leave will be denied if you are shown to have flouted the hygiene regulations/code of behaviour issued by the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) or cantonal protective measures. Paid short-term leave will also be denied if you are required to self-isolate as a result of travel to an area that was already on the list of countries and areas with an elevated risk of infection at the time of your departure.

Important: If you are officially required to self-isolate, paid short-term leave can only be taken if you have used up all the annual overtime credits (GLAZ-Saldi) you have accrued. This rule applies mutatis mutandis to members of staff working on an RAZ basis (positive ILV balance). 

Further information on cantonal personnel legislation relating to the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the canton’s FAQ.

I am pregnant, and my doctor has instructed me not to attend the workplace. Can I claim paid short-term leave?


Under the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research’s ordinance on hazardous and arduous work during pregnancy and maternity (Maternity Health and Safety Ordinance; SR 822.111.52), pregnant employees may be instructed by their doctor not to attend the workplace because of the coronavirus risk. If this applies to you and we are unable to assign you another, medically approved workplace and you cannot work from home, you have the option of taking paid short-term leave. Your superior will approve leave for the required period. This period shall automatically come to an end if the risk at the workplace ceases or if we are able to assign other work to you.

Your entitlement to paid short-term leave is not affected by any annual overtime you may have accrued. This regulation applies also to employees in the performance agreement model RAZ.

Further information on cantonal personnel legislation relating to the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the canton’s FAQ.

SAP time sheets in the event of paid short-term leave


In all of the above cases, employees with annual working hours should report the paid short-term leave under absence code 0714, ‘Caring for dependants’. As a rule, this will be entered under the master cost centre. The usual specifications for reporting absences apply:

  • Do not exceed a daily total of 8.4 hours (do not generate overtime hours).
  • Do not exceed the weekly total (do not generate overtime hours).
  • Do not combine ‘from–to’ entries and fixed totals (e.g. 3 hours).
  • In the Information section, enter ‘Corona’.
  • Part-time employees may only report the working hours and/or ‘Caring for dependants’ on their agreed/customary working days.

I have been offered the coronavirus vaccine. Can I record the vaccination appointment as working hours?

The cantonal government resolution of 31 March 2021 states that employees of the Canton of Bern taking the coronavirus vaccination are entitled to be credited up to one working hour per working day and per visit to the vaccination venue (cantonal vaccination centre, pharmacy, doctor’s surgery, workplace vaccination, etc.), irrespective of their level of employment. At present, this measure applies indefinitely.

What are the rules on taking holidays?

For employees in the working time models JAZ and RAZ, the following applies: the planned holidays must be taken. The head of department decides on justified exceptions. 

Holidays in risk countries

Anyone who travels to the relevant areas and countries despite these travel warnings and is subsequently subject to official quarantine requirements is not entitled to be paid during this period. The missed time must be covered by annual working time, holiday or long-term account credits or taken as unpaid leave. If someone falls ill with Covid-19 as a result of such a stay, the Personnel Office may (upon application by the appointing authority) reduce the member of staff’s salary or stop it completely on account of gross negligence (Article 53 of the Personnel Regulations).

Procedure if you have symptoms of illness 

If you have obvious symptoms such as fever, feeling feverish, sore throat, coughing, shortness of breath, muscle pain, or sudden loss of sense of smell and/or taste, please complete the FOPH coronavirus check and follow the resulting instructions on what to do next: https://check.bag-coronavirus.ch/screening 

Reporting a positive Covid-19 test result 

Unless there is a department-specific regulation, this applies:

  • Members of staff should report a positive Covid-19 test result immediately to their line manager. 
  • Line managers always confirm receipt of the report. 
  • Line managers inform the Human Resources about cases among members of staff.
  • If you as a student or member of staff do not receive confirmation within two hours, you should contact the head of department direct. 
  • It is important that this information is conveyed promptly. 

When passing information on more widely, the name of the index patient must be withheld for data protection reasons. 

Quarantine or self-isolation for contacts is ordered by the cantonal medical office. Until this occurs, department heads can issue a recommendation for quarantine at short notice. 

The mask-wearing requirement applies to lecturers without exception, irrespective of whether they maintain social distancing of at least two metres while teaching. 

Does the vaccination offer for Bernese teachers also apply to BFH lecturers?

Tertiary level staff cannot benefit from these vaccination dates because attendance at the universities is restricted despite the opening of 19.4.21. 

Work-related travel

Worldwide measures to combat the pandemic have made travelling abroad, for conferences or research meetings for example, more complex than before. The Federal Office of Public Health recommends that you avoid unnecessary travel abroad.

FOPH: New coronavirus: Information for travellers

Please be aware that the public health situation can change rapidly. If your travel destination is classified as a country or area with an increased risk of infection, you will be required to self-isolate following your return to Switzerland – irrespective of how the country or area in question was classified prior to your departure.

At BFH, the heads of department are responsible for approving work-related travel abroad.

Staff mobility

What does this mean for staff mobility? It is possible to take up the opportunities of effective international networking with partner institutions. SEMP mobilities can be carried out again, provided the risks have been carefully assessed beforehand and the head of department approves the journey. Digital exchange options should also be considered in this evaluation.

Events + Operation

Updated: 16.04.2021, 10.00 am

Public events at BFH are permitted again, with restrictions. Numbers may not exceed 50 for indoor spaces or 100 for outdoor spaces. The safety measures that are currently in force must be observed without exception:

  • Masks must be worn by all, including speakers (even during events).
  • A designated individual will be responsible for ensuring that the measures are implemented at each event.
  • The participants’ contact data (surname, first name, phone number and, where possible, seat number) will be recorded and retained for 14 days. After this, the data must be destroyed or deleted.
  • Hand sanitiser must be available at the entry points.
  • No more than one third of the venue capacity may be used.
  • Attendees must be seated.
  • Food and drink are prohibited.
  • Attendees must adhere to distancing of 1.5 metres or one empty seat.
  • The flow of visitors (e.g. when entering and leaving the rooms or during breaks) must be directed to ensure that distancing of 1.5 metres can be maintained.
  • In guests’ own interest, they should be informed of the applicable rules and protective measures as a matter of course. This includes details of rooms and distancing rules, mask requirements, information on refreshments, etc.

The term ‘event’ here refers to all gatherings of internal or external individuals, including certain examination formats (e.g. public concerts, colloquia).

Events involving external attendees must be registered in advance using the online form.

Where BFH events take place externally, the venue’s own regulations apply.

Libraries

The libraries’ reading rooms reopened on 1 March 2021 in line with the Federal Council’s latest announcement. Distancing and hygiene rules continue to apply. The study spaces in the BFH libraries are available to students.

You can find information on the individual libraries online at bfh.ch/libraries.  

BFH cafeterias and canteens

From Monday, 12 October 2020, wearing masks will be compulsory in all indoor public spaces at the universities.

Cafeterias and staff restaurants will do so under the guidelines of the Covid-19 safety concept for catering. For information on individual cafeterias, please refer to the pages for the facilities in question on the internet or intranet.

BFH buildings can be accessed by staff and students. Access for external individuals is regulated individually for the various sites. For further site-specific information please visit: www.bfh.ch/en/about-bfh/locations-facilities/locations/

Compulsory masks at BFH

Masks must be worn in all indoor and outdoor areas at BFH. 

The mask can be removed in the following situations: 

  • If a member of staff is alone in a room
  • In cafeterias/break rooms, when sitting at a table and eating/drinking