Coronavirus: Current information

This website contains information from Bern University of Applied Sciences on the effects of the coronavirus on university operations and about specific measures taken by 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.

last amended on April 6, 3 pm

Current information

Here we publish current information from the BFH on the Corona pandemic. The FAQs are updated accordingly.

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Research operations at BFH

BFH has adjusted its research operations to comply with the official measures adopted to contain SARS-CoV-2. All research and consulting activities are carried out in accordance with the hygiene and behaviour recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Where possible, cooperation with external partners in industry, society, culture and the public sector is being maintained in order to continue to drive innovation, especially in the present exceptional circumstances.

Corona Regulations

The BFH has drawn up  regulations which form the basis for adjustments to teaching in the current situation and provide answers to your question. The BFH has prepared the regulations in the FAQs below.

Module evaluations in the 2020 spring semester

Because of the special conditions governing the delivery of teaching events in the current crisis, there will be no written module evaluations by means of the standard BFH questionnaire in the 2020 spring semester. Instead, members of the teaching staff will be individually responsible for collecting student feedback on module delivery via distance learning in a manner appropriate to the present situation. They can decide on the form and content of the procedure in the light of the specific module and delivery method. The Moodle page of BFH evaluation forms operated by the University Teaching and E-Learning Office (Fachstelle Hochschuldidaktik & E-Learning – HdEL) can be used for guidance if necessary. A BFH-wide survey of students on their experience of distance learning in the 2020 spring semester is planned for late summer.

Counselling Centre Universities of Bern

The Counselling Centre Universities of Bern is continuing to offer consultations

The Counselling Centre Universities of Bern offers consultations for people dealing with crisis situations, worries, difficulties working from home, social isolation, conflicts in personal or professional relationships, and of course also offers advice on personal development, career progression and professional cooperation. The employees at the centre are available to support both staff and students, particularly at the moment. Consultations are currently taking place over the phone (and a limited number via online tools).

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: 02.04.2020, 10.30 am

What is the significance of the admission regulations for the spring semester 2020?

The Corona regulations take precedence where they differ from previous regulations. This applies in particular to regulations on competency assessment and examinations, teaching modalities, semester times, implementation of continuing education, leave of absence and termination of matriculation as well as reimbursement of fees.

Do the previous regulations no longer apply?

The Corona regulations allow the BFH to deviate from the applicable regulations in justified cases. Deviations must be proportionate and ensure legal equality. They must also be announced in advance.

Who can decide on changes in the course of study?

The course directors are responsible for implementing the measures in the course of study. You will be supported by those responsible for the modules.

I cannot pay the BFH's bills. What will happen?

The deadline will expire on 30 June 2020. Until then, the BFH will not send any reminders and will not initiate any debt collection. However, the claim remains.   

I consider myself a special case. What can I do?

Contact your Head of Degree Programme about your case. An examination will be made whether a special regulation is justified.

When will these special corona rules start to apply?

The Corona regulations and thus these special rules will apply retroactively from 16 March 2020. The retrospective entry into force is to cover all situations that have occurred since the Federal Council orders of 16 March 2020.

 

 

 

Will the university accommodate us in terms of competence and performance requirements this semester?

You still need to meet the competency requirements to receive your assessment, ECTS credits or diploma. If your competency assessment is insufficient, the failed attempt will be cancelled once and will not count towards the number of possible retry attempts. The BFH is committed to good practice in applying the provisions in individual and doubtful cases.

What are the consequences for my exams, which I have to take under difficult conditions this semester?

The following also applies here: where possible and sensible, the competency assessments are done at a distance. If this is not possible, the exams can be postponed.

Examinations that have already been scheduled may be taken as planned, provided that the official protective measures can be observed.

Are the exam requirements unchanged?

The requirements remain unchanged.

Are competency assessments changing in form and content?

Where necessary, the form and content of competency assessments can be adjusted. Those responsible will inform you early enough.

I am registered for an entrance exam. Will this take place?
I am registered for an aptitude assessment. Will this take place?

If the examination or aptitude assessment has to be completed in a conventional manner, the hygiene and clearance rules of the Federal Council must be observed. To do this, the form and content can be changed, which the respective department will inform you of at an early stage.

 

 

The University Teaching & E-learning Office has developed a guide to distance learning. If you have any questions, the Office will be happy to help you.

Does distance learning apply to all modules and events?

Distance learning applies wherever this can be implemented. Where distance learning is not possible, the module / the event / parts of the module will be postponed or cancelled.

Can I freely use the new teaching materials and recordings?

No, the principles of copyright and the rights of third parties apply here. This means that contributions and pictures of fellow students must be treated confidentially. Third-party works may only be used in a closed class.

 

Are the semester times unchanged? Can I expect my semester break (lecture-free time) as planned?

It may be that some of your courses and exams are postponed until the semester break or the next semester. This applies in particular to events that are not suitable for distance learning. You will be informed of any postponement by your contact person (director, person responsible for the module, Head of Degree Programme).

Do the previous module descriptions continue to apply?

Changes are possible if this is necessary for the conversion of modules and competency assessment to distance learning.

What do I have to do if I want a leave of absence (vacation semester) for extraordinary childcare duties, moving in to military or employment in health care or comparable services?

You can take a leave of absence until 10 April 2020 using the appropriate form (Intranet). These extra-day leaves of absence due to the Corona virus are not counted towards the maximum quantity of leave of absence.

May I cancel my studies due to the current situation? (Termination of matriculation)  

You can arrange for the termination of matriculation using the appropriate form (Intranet) until 10 April 2020.

 

 

 

 

Are all continuing education courses taking place as planned?

The BFH reserves the right to cancel events. Fees already paid will be refunded. If a continuing education course that has already started is cancelled, the fees will be reimbursed proportionately to the ECTS credits already acquired.

I would like to withdraw from continuing education under these circumstances. What do I have to do?

After becoming aware of the new implementation modalities, you have two weeks to unsubscribe from the continuing education. We will reimburse the fees pro rata for credits already acquired. Please contact your study administration.

 

BFH buildings are closed to the public. Access for staff and students is regulated separately at the different premises and may also be restricted. Further information can be obtained from the respective department.

If access remains possible, anyone accessing the building must follow current hygiene and "social distancing" guidelines. We appeal to you personally to behave responsibly. Access to certain rooms (e.g. laboratories, studios) may be restricted if there are already too many people inside.

Students on a semester abroad

For BFH students studying or completing an internship abroad, the question is whether they – as per the federal government’s general recommendations for travel abroad – should return to Switzerland. This is an individual decision that depends on a number of factors, particularly the situation in the local area and at the partner university.

There are a number of possible solutions, including continuing or pausing the exchange programme, or simply discontinuing it. Depending on the circumstances, it may also be possible to take part in the partner university’s courses online from Switzerland. 

These options will affect the course of studies and the SEMP grant in different ways. BFH will support its students in finding the best possible solution for their specific situation.

If you have any questions or are unsure about what to do, please contact your department’s International Office. 

Foreign students at BFH can also discuss their situation with the International Office. 

Will study trips go ahead?

All study trips abroad until the end of May must be cancelled. This period is being continuously reviewed and will be extended if necessary.

Mobility and Handling of SEMP Grants

What applies to everyone?

Already effected expenses pertaining to the exchange, can be claimed for reimbursement under certain conditions.

In all cases, it must first be clarified whether the (additional) costs incurred, can be covered by an appropriate travel insurance. If this is the case, the (additional) costs must not be claimed through SEMP.

What applies to students/interns (SMS & SMT) Incoming and Outgoing?

A distinction is made between the following two situations: 1. The exchange was initiated or 2. the exchange was not initiated:

  1. Exchange was initiated:
    • All exchange students who initiated their exchange receive the agreed SEMP mobility grant and only need a confirmation from the partner institution that they actually started their mobility. Whether the exchange was paused or canceled, or supplemented with online courses or not, has no influence on the scholarship. The grant is justified by the extra expenses for travel, accommodation and other additional expenses, as these occur especially at the beginning of an exchange.
    • The following steps must be carried out on MoveOn:
      • Under questions that cannot be answered, please enter the note Corona-interruption.
      • Instead of the 'Certificate of Attendance', a confirmation from the partner university, stating that you have started your stay, must be uploaded.
  2. Exchange was not initiated:
    • All exchange students who did not initiate their exchange, are asked to first apply for reimbursement of the costs already incurred, from their own insurance companies. In the case of non-cancellable travel and subsistence costs, the maximum amount of the originally agreed SEMP scholarship can be reimbursed.
    • The following steps must be carried out on MoveOn:
      • Under questions that cannot be answered, please enter the note Corona-cancellation.
      • Upload the insurance’s decision and the summary of costs with proof of the costs already paid (e.g. accommodation) in one single PDF document to MoveOn (section ‘Certificate of Attendance’ in Process 2. Scholarship Rate). This is the only way to claim compensation.

For further information, please contact your International Office.

What applies to staff (STA & STT) Incoming and Outgoing?

If the stay is canceled or is not realized, but bookings have already been made and paid for, all relevant receipts must be uploaded to Moveon under 'Travel documents' in one single PDF document. The ‘Travel Expenses’ form must be adjusted accordingly.

We ask all staff concerned, to fill out the information on Moveon as far as possible and  to either enter the comment "Corona-cancellation", if the stay abroad was not initiated, or "Corona-interruption", if it was initiated.

  • Upload signed ‘Declaration of Commitment’.
  • Upload ‘Work Plan / Teaching Program’ even if it is not (completely) signed.

For further information, please contact your International Office.

If you have any questions, please contact the International Relations Office BFH:

Staff general

Updated: 02.04.2020, 10.30 am

The  administrative and technical operation of the university continues. 

Will meetings still be held?

Meetings and discussions are to be kept to an absolute minimum from now on. Whenever possible, meetings must be organised via MS Teams. Unavoidable meetings are to be held in large meeting rooms, with a minimum distance of two metres from others.

Allocation of other tasks and cantonal job exchange

The extraordinary situation due to the Corona virus means that various employees are no longer working on their previous tasks at full capacity and according to their job description. Other employees, on the other hand, need support. As a result, the BFH, as a cantonal organisation, is authorised to assign its employees temporarily and for as long as necessary, other or additional tasks to those listed in their job description. This was decided upon by the state council on 25 March 2020.

The canton will set up an internal job exchange to support those administrative units that are under particularly strain.

BFH has adjusted its research operations to comply with the official measures adopted to contain SARS-CoV-2. All research and consulting activities are carried out in accordance with the hygiene and behaviour recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Where possible, cooperation with external partners in industry, society, culture and the public sector is being maintained in order to continue to drive innovation, especially in the present exceptional circumstances.

BFH has adopted the cantonal guidelines governing work from home and is specifically implementing them as follows:

Home office as standard procedure

Working from home is the standard procedure at BFH until further notice. For this reason, it must no longer be specifically indicated on the calendar. However, availability must be stated and ensured (via e-mail, MS Teams, call forwarding or call-back).

The written agreement required to date is no longer necessary for the time being. The daily working time is to be recorded as usual (note: "home office").

Risk groups

Employees who belong to risk groups must work from home. Even if working from home is not possible, they must stay at home.

Monitor and mouse

Employees are allowed to take a monitor and a mouse home on loan from their own BFH workstation, if this makes working in the home office easier for them. They are responsible for transporting the monitor and mouse home and back, and for installing it at the BFH workstation at the end of the corona measures.

Time recording and paid short leave

General time recording practice

The actual number of hours worked is entered in SAP. Overtime results in the build-up of a positive flexi-time balance.

Less workload due to the coronavirus

Certain employees may not currently be working to capacity due to the coronavirus situation, or may no longer be able to do their jobs. In these cases, it is possible to take a short paid holiday. This must be approved by line managers.

The short paid holiday may only be taken after positive annual working time credits (GLAZ balances) have been used up. This regulation applies analogously to employees in the RAZ work model (positive ILV balance).

The following are entitled to paid short leave:

  • Employees who have additional child care duties as a result of the closure of schools and nurseries
  • Employees who are in a BAG risk group and whose work cannot be done from home. Anyone who wants to take paid short leave should submit a self-declaration to their line manager and HR by email; this will be saved in their personal file. A doctor’s certificate is not required.
  • Employees who are staying at home because of the closure of facilities and whose work cannot be done from home. This affects employees such as cleaning, canteen and operating staff.
  • Employees who temporarily have little or nothing to do as a result of the corona pandemic

Further information on cantonal personnel law in connection with the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the canton's FAQs.

Time tracking in SAP for paid short leave

Employees whose work is covered under the annual working hours (Jahresarbeitszeit – JAZ) model should enter the paid short leave under any of the scenarios described above in the presence/absence category “Betreuung Angehörige” (“care for relatives”), absence code 0714. The entry is normally settled via the primary cost centre. The usual requirements for recording absences apply:

  • Daily quota must not exceed 8.4 hours, i.e. no flexi-time hours (GLAZ) accrue
  • Weekly quota must not be exceeded, i.e. no flexi-time hours (GLAZ) accrue
  • “From-to” entries must not be combined with lump-sum time entries (e.g. 3 h)
  • Part-time employees enter their working hours and/or “Betreuung Angehörige” (care for relatives) only for the agreed/usual working days

 

For employees working under the JAZ and RAZ models, the following applies: holidays planned for the coming weeks are to be taken and not postponed. The Heads of Department will make decisions concerning any justified exceptions. The goal is to avoid staffing shortages in the second half of the year.

All travel abroad until the end of May must be cancelled This period is being continuously reviewed and extended if necessary.

BFH has no legal authority to prohibit staff or students from travelling to "restricted zones" or from engaging in activities in their free time that heightens the risk of contagion. However, we urge staff and students to refrain from such activities in the sense of personal responsibility and to protect those at risk.

Employees who are called up for military service are subject to the usual rules of military service. 

Regulations are also being developed on dispensation for staff who would like to provide help to the healthcare sector. These will be communicated as soon as possible. 

Events + Operation

Updated: 02.04.2020, 10.30 am

All events have been cancelled till the end of May 2020.

Libraries

All BFH libraries and their reading rooms are closed.

You will find information on the pages of the individual libraries.

BFH cafeterias and canteens

The cafeterias at BFH sites have adapted their range to local demand.

Information about each site can be found here ("Locations" webpage). Cafeterias that are still open are operated as company canteens. Food can only be sold to BFH students and employees. Hygiene and social distancing guidelines must be observed.