On this page, you can find the latest updates relevant for the majority of our personnel, students and partners. Detailed information is provided via email or by supervisors.
Wageningen University & Research complies with measures advised and communicated by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Dutch government, the local health authority GGD and the travel policy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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Update 14 January 2021
The lockdown is to be extended to and including Tuesday, 9 February. This message was confirmed by Prime-Minister Rutte yesterday evening after it had been divulged by the press earlier. The reason behind this decision is the limited decline in the daily number of infections. Moreover, extending the lockdown will slow the spread of the British virus mutation. Thus, we stick to the norm: work from home as much as possible and adhere to the measures. If you have symptoms, get tested.
The start of 2021 has not been made easier. However, we may draw some consolation from the knowledge that research and education, as we have it set up, is not restricted any further and can continue as planned. Teachers and students have been informed about how this affects the coming weeks.
We are aware of the positive outlook the vaccination programme offers. Thus, we are already receiving questions about whether we can deviate from our regulations for those who have been vaccinated. We must be clear: there are currently no exceptions possible in our policies. This will remain the case as long as the measures are not eased. In doing so, we follow the government and the RIVM: international travel for WUR study or work purposes is prohibited until at least the end of March.
Leave provision when working at home with young children
Working from home may cause issues for staff members who have children in primary school-age. As was the case in the spring of 2020, finding healthy and realistic solutions in all instances requires a tailored approach. In cases where it is not possible to adjust working hours or when regular leave cannot (or can only partially) cover the needs, there is a renewed possibility for paid (part-time or full-time) special leave. This option, available for urgent cases, does not affect the regular leave. Paid leave and unpaid leave may also be combined.
All such cases require permission from the supervisor. This option is available for parents with young children until 9 February. If working from home is extended after that date, WUR will reconsider its position.
Stuck? Take a walk!
Maintaining a positive working attitude may sometimes be quite a challenge. Initiatives such as the one launched by the intranet group vital@work om to challenge each other to a mini-competition to take a daily 20-minute walk (an initiative of the Netherlands Brain Foundation), may help you get through the coming weeks.
First of all, best wishes for 2021. After the hectic events of last year, we hope for smoother sailing this year. COVID-19 is likely to continue to define our work and study rhythm until the summer, or at least until there is more insight into the options arising from vaccination on a large scale. All agreements about working and studying during the coronavirus pandemic, such as those made for the new lockdown in December, will remain in effect until further notice. We are getting used to this situation, even if it requires some patience and flexibility.
These updates will also continue to be published weekly for the time being.
Childcare up to the Final year of Primary School: Statement of Essential Job/Profession
The closure of primary schools and childcare will continue until at least 19 January. Employees in essential professions at WUR who are affected by this can make use of the offer from schools and childcare facilities to accommodate these children nonetheless. For this, one of the parents will need a declaration from your employer. If you have any questions about this, ask your HR advisor or your manager.
Successful December Activities for Students
Nearly 200 students attended one of the activities organised by SSC, student associations, and study associations during the holiday period. As education period 3 starts, students will meet each other more naturally in the online education programme or, to a limited extent, on campus. This does not mean that we will not pay attention to the welfare of students during the month of January. Student life coaches will remain available and students can register for mindfulness training programmes in January.
Coronavirus FAQs are Up to Date
The coming weeks and the beginning of the new year will be characterised by the lockdown announced only recently and the consequences this will have for all of us. In the update on 15 December, we explained the measures that WUR had taken to comply with the lockdown conditions.
We would like to end this year with the following request: during this new lockdown, always think twice, reconsider whether you can postpone your activities, avoid work and study interactions even more so than before, and do not push the boundaries. Together@WUR will have an even greater significance during the last few weeks of December. This is why the members of the Executive Board are sharing their wishes for everyone at WUR in personal videos. 2021 is a year to look forward to, however unpredictable the course of the pandemic may be.
Concrete updates relating to the opening/closing of buildings and facilities are detailed below.
Reimbursement of commuting expenses and internet connection
Today all employees receive information about the commuting expenses and internet connection. From 1 January 2021 on, the tax authorities will only allow us to reimburse the actual commuting expenses. We have decided to make adjustments that respond within the tax framework, since we continue to work remote for the time being. In January, HR will organize an online meeting for employees who have questions about this.
Limited catering facilities, buildings will be closed
- Impulse is closed until 19 January 2021. The Impulse coffee bar and the Leeuwenborch coffee bar are closed.
- Orion is closed until January 4.
- Forum remains open, but with adjusted opening hours.
- The Grand Café in Forum is open from 10:00 - 14:00 with a very limited Grab & Go selection. The Grand Café will be closed from 23 December until 4 January.
- Sports Centre de Bongerd will be closed from Saturday 19 December until Monday 4 January. However, you can follow online workouts via Sports Centre de Bongerd’s Youtube channel. You will be able to take part in live online classes again from 4 January. For more information, see De Bongerd's website.
Weekly corona updates from 7 January
This will be the last update of 2020, provided that current circumstances do not change. We will be sending weekly updates again from 7 January.
On behalf of the Corona Team and the Education 20/21 Taskforce, we wish you all great holidays and a happy and healthy 2021.
Hard Lockdown Measures and the Impact on WUR
"We have no choice: the number of interactions between people must be reduced," said Rutte in the press conference last night. The measures that correspond with the five weeks of hard lockdown associated with this decision also affect higher education. These will be in place from Wednesday, December 16.
On Thursday, 17 December the next Corona Update will be issued with extra information.
Current measures at WUR:
- The only educational activities taking place on campus are exams, practical education and thesis lab research. Students will receive more information on this via e-mail.
- Fieldwork can only take place in groups of 2 students
- All other education will be provided online
- Library and study areas remain open, but please note: you must register first before you can gain access.
- No activities on or outside campus during lockdown
- The activities organized by student associations will be held online.
- You can only exercise outside, with a maximum of two people at a distance of 1.5 metres.
- Stay at home as much as possible, limit how frequently you travel, and get tested if you notice any symptoms.
Research and thesis research:
- Location bound research, also for PhD students, continues
- PhD graduations will be held online
- On site: continue to comply with the coronavirus measures and be particularly cautious.
- Employees with location bound activities can come to WUR locations
- For all other employees: work from home, and only come to work unless you have permission from the management council.
- If you are on campus or on site: comply with the coronavirus measures, wear a face mask when moving through buildings, do not walk with more than 2 people when you are outside and maintain 1.5-metres distance.
- Teaching and education support staff are part of the crucial professions, and are allowed to make use of child care facilities and school arrangements. Only use this for teaching (support) purposes.
- Limit how frequently you travel, and get tested if you notice any symptoms.
Facilities on campus:
- SportCentre de Bongerd is closed, but online classes will be
- Catering facilities: take away remains available
- During the lockdown, meetings cannot be held on campus.
In the protocol and FAQs you can read the most current guidelines, for example with regard to group size for educational and other activities, indoors and outdoors.
We realise that these stricter measures have direct consequences for everyone within our WUR community. What Together@WUR stands for, in words, thoughts, and gestures towards each other, is even more important than we ever could have predicted. We can only make this a reality together. Stay connected with each other: with family, friends, and colleagues, so that in the new year, once these weeks of lockdown are over, we will have the energy to start the next term.
We were told during the press conference last Tuesday evening that it would not be possible to relax the measures to any degree for the holiday period. This did not come as a complete surprise. It appeals to both our creativity as well as our responsibility to ensure that the rate of infection will decrease instead of increase, even in the run-up to Christmas, a time when so many colleagues and students put in a lot of work to wrap up everything for this year.
This is also the reason that we have a modest update this time. The final one for 2020 will be published next week.
Bake with Together@WUR
It was hard to miss: the Together@WUR intranet group with poems and photographs of the fantastic baked goods we made at home during the Sinterklaas weekend. To everyone who was brave enough to share their perfect and not-so-perfect results: thank you! Contributing to a positive and motivating time together, at a distance, is what Together@WUR stands for, and we hope that the end result had a positive influence on the atmosphere at home. Employees will also receive another Together@WUR message at home this week. Stay tuned!
A Good Conversation
Besides caring for each other, we also care about our students, who are studying online and may have limited contact with friends and family. You might be by yourself in student accommodation, or perhaps back at home with your parents, but both can cause a lot of uncertainty. “Heart to heart”, opening up to someone who is really listening can bring great comfort in these challenging times. It is therefore a good thing that, especially during this period, the student (life) coaches use social media to invite students to talk to them.
Compensation Round for PhD Candidates
PhD candidates and postdocs whose contracts expire in 2021 (employed PhD candidates and postdocs) and for scholarship PhD candidates whose PhD projects finish in 2020 or 2021 will be (partly) compensated for the delay that their research has incurred as a result of the coronavirus measures. This gives them an opportunity to wrap up their research properly. We have been able to award 71 employed PhD candidates an extension of 1.7 months on average, about 2.2 months for postdocs, and 63 scholarship PhD candidates over 1.8 months.
The Corona Team and the Taskforce Education 20/21 regularly receive questions asking us to paint a picture of the future perspective. Not something that is easily done, as our scenarios are largely determined by external factors. The announcement that vaccines may be available soon in 2021 offer perspective, as it marks the start of a new phase. And, where we are able to take charge, we do. Initiatives such as Together@WUR and WURld after the Curve, but also the launch of a Factsheet Education 20/21, allow us to clarify what we can, both for the present as for the start of 2021.
In this update:
- Protocol guidelines, not for nothing
- Preparation for re-sits in February 2021
- December Together@WUR
Protocol guidelines, not for nothing
Wearing a facemask (please note: not face shields) is now mandatory by law, and is part of the package of corona measures. Social distancing, hygiene measures, and no moving furniture around or placing chairs closer together: it has almost become a habit.
Thus, we aim to prevent a large building such as Forum, from becoming an infection hub. But, sometimes things don’t go as planned, and an understanding attitude in those individuals who are addressed about the issues seems sorely lacking. This is in no way fitting with how we feel the WUR community should handle this situation. These may be mere incidents, but each such incident is one too many. Should you encounter a problem you have trouble handling, ask the floorwalkers or facilities staff for support.
The most up-to-date protocol can be found to the right on this page. Recently, for example, the number of days of quarantine for infected individuals was lowered from 10 to 5 days.
Preparation for re-sits in February 2021
During the re-sit period in February 2021, we aim to organise as many re-sits as possible on campus. An online alternative will be available for students who are unable to come to the campus due to corona related restrictions—for example, online oral exams. Setting up digital exams requires substantial preparation. For the best support, teachers are requested to submit their exams on time. They will be sent a separate instruction.
Within WUR we pay attention to each other, in this season more than ever. We see supervisors take small and sometimes personal initiatives, particularly for colleagues unable to travel home for the seasonal holidays. The same is true for international students: student associations are considering the possibilities to gather in small groups during the holidays.
But first, Sinterklaas. Sticky surprise gifts, longe poems or a tasty chocolate letter. This is the best time to try out one of the recipes from the Together@WUR mailing all employees received this week. Successful? Failed? Share your picture on the intranet, and help bring a festive feeling to this day!
Last week, the HR department organised the WUR Vitality week 2020. An excellent initiative, in keeping with an essential part of the WUR identity: togetherness. Or: Together@WUR. With the salary payment of November, each WUR employee received a net sum of €300, as a token of appreciation on behalf of the EB for everyone's commitment in the past months. This sum is also meant as a compensation for the possible costs incurred for remote working. The series of interviews 'Together@WUR in times of corona' reflects this, giving voice to a different employee each week, to explain how he/she handles working from home. This week: fisheries techniques researcher Pieke Molenaar.
Face masks compulsory as of 1 December
From 1 December, the use of a face mask is compulsory by law in public buildings. This measure is added to the already existing 1.5-metre distancing and hygiene measures. Moreover, the directive concerning symptoms remains in effect: if you have symptoms, stay home and get tested. We appeal to everyone's sense of responsibility to remain alert and to adhere to the measures when on campus.
Representative body installs corona task force
In addition to the measures and the adjustments in our education and research, the role of the representative body in the corona policy has now been firmly established. The WUR representative body recently installed an adhoc CIE corona taskforce, which focuses on the active exchange between the different WUR-Council committees, and is charged with ensuring that issues are directed at the correct committee. The CIE also provides targeted interactions with the WUR-Council's daily management, as well as collating questions and presenting them (weekly) to the WUR Corona Team.
Impact of the pandemic on the Tenure Track
In a letter to teaching staff, Arthur Mol focused on the WUR policy regarding the consequences the pandemic may have on the assessment procedure for Tenure Trackers. The policy has barely changed since April, but, since the onset of the pandemic seems so long ago, this issue merits active attention. The letter has been sent.
Compensation for PhD students without labour contracts
Through an agreement with the tax authorities, the net remuneration in the sum of €300 has also been made available for PhD candidates who do not have a labour agreement with WUR (or another employer), but who have been working for WUR for an extended period of time. If they were affiliated to WUR on 1 September and on 1 November, they will receive the one-off remuneration. The graduate schools will inform the PhD candidates concerned.
For and from students: Surf your stress-week
Last week the second edition of 'Surf your stress' took place. A programme full of inspiring (corona-proof) workshops, lectures, sports and leisure activities. Surf your Stress offers students concrete tips and tools to help them recognise the positive side of stress and to better handle the negative side of stress. The WUR Student Council and SWU Thymos organised the week in collaboration with the WUR Library and SC De Bongerd.
The measures that were stepped up two weeks ago appear to bear fruit. The past two weeks show a decreasing trend, resulting in some more leniency in the measures—a favourable development, especially in light of the upcoming holidays. ‘But’, Prime Minister Rutte warned in the press conference on Tuesday, ‘we must persist in our behaviour’. That is: work from home, travel as little as possible, stay at home if you have symptoms. All of these measures contribute to fewer infections. Particularly with the holidays coming up, we may have some extra room during the festive season.
For our protocol, the easing of the measures has a few positive effects:
- Four people are now permitted to be together outside
- The group workouts at the Sports Centre will resume
- The study associations have some more options to organise gatherings on campus. Their chairs have been informed.
The basic rules remain in effect. We:
- Work and study at home as much as possible
- Only travel abroad if absolutely necessary
- Wear a facemask indoors on campus.
In the coming weeks, the government weighs the possibilities to ‘set a few extra places at the table’ during the festive season. Let's carefully consider this and also consider involving our (international) students and colleagues when we make plans for the December festivities.
This week is marked by the news that pharmaceutical companies are coming closer to a vaccine that is to protect us from the COVID-19 virus, in addition to the declining national infections, a positive development, that will hopefully lead to a more positive and hopeful phase.
Adhering to the strict measures is a far-reaching, but also simple, way to contribute. We continue to stimulate and facilitate everyone within WUR to do so, in various ways.
Video: How WUR approaches international internships and thesis research
This period is very frustrating for many students who are in the final stages of their Masters. The corona measures make it impossible to conclude their programme as planned because possibilities for internships and thesis research abroad are minimal. In this video, Arthur Mol explains how WUR approaches this issue.
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Travel during the Christmas holidays
The majority of colleagues will forcibly forgo international travel during the Christmas break. If you are able, we strongly recommend you take leave during the Christmas holidays to rest and recuperate from the often stressful year 2020. Under the national guidelines and our own WUR travel policy, we continue to discourage international travel unless absolutely necessary.
If you do travel abroad, please be aware of your own responsibility for the possible repercussions upon your return. This applies particularly in cases where you work from home in combination with a stay elsewhere, outside of the EU. For specific information on working remotely combined with travel abroad, please see the Corona FAQ’s, ‘Travelling/Staying abroad’.
GGD testing location moved
The GGD (public health services) corona testing station will be moved from its current spot at Sports Centre De Bongerd to De Patio (Vadaring 7 in Wageningen) on Friday, 13 November. This will allow the GGD to scale-up the number of tests. Moreover, the new location is winterproof and easily accessible by car, foot and bike.
Offer home office advice, and alternative chair massages well received
When we all started working from home due to the COVID-19 virus in March, the chair massages were abruptly stopped. This form of relaxation will remain unavailable. As an alternative, employees are offered work station advice for their home office, and the option to make an appointment with dedicated massage professionals, in exchange for so-called credits. This offer was well-received, over 500 employees have already applied. Paying attention to personal wellbeing is essential in these times. If you have not yet applied for this service but want to, click here for further information and registration.
‘One-and-a-half metre’ coffee cups
During a creative working session with employees in May, the suggestion was made to print texts on the disposable coffee cups as a reminder of the social distancing rule: “Staying apart keeps us together”. Facilities & Services has ordered the cups, which you will find at all coffee dispensers from 17 November. The regular cups will be stored for the time being.
Employee experiences online
How do our colleagues fare while working at home? What advantages and disadvantages do they experience, and how do they adjust their daily lives to this new situation? In a series of short, personal portraits, we take a peek into the lives of well-known and less well-known colleagues. The series is published on the Intranet in the WUR&Corona section.
Extra national measures have been put in place for the coming two weeks, to further halt the spreading of the coronavirus. These measures apply in addition to the existing measures, that are estimated to remain in place until mid-December. Because, as prime-minister Rutte stated, ‘the situation is not bad, but certainly not good either.’
WUR’s research and education are not directly impacted by the extra measures. A positive development, and something we wish to preserve. Therefore, we urge you to pay extra attention to the following over the next two weeks:
- Do not walk outside on campus with more than two people
- Work from home, visit the campus only when absolutely necessary
- If you work on campus for issues such as job interviews, assessments or on-boarding, adhere to the maximum group size of four persons (see guidelines)
- Do not travel unnecessarily, especially not abroad
- And, most importantly, pay attention to others, be understanding, persevere.
Travel policy unchanged
The national guidelines do not affect the international travel policy, which was already restrictive for WUR.
Employees are not allowed to travel to areas marked orange or red unless permission has been granted by management through the standard application procedure.
For students: international thesis research and internships may continue if the destination area is located within Europe, Aruba, Curaçao, Saint Maarten, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius or Saba, and is marked yellow or green. And, only with permission from the sciences group director. International students are permitted to travel to orange areas in Europe or outside of Europe if the destination country is their home country and the risks are purely corona-related. This too requires permission.
Working out individually at Sports Centre de Bongerd
All group training is cancelled. Individual workouts are permitted. Please consult the website for the latest information.
From recent numbers, it is shown that we keep to working from home as much as possible. And in this short time, the wearing of mouth masks has become a matter of course: a compliment for everyone who works or studies from home, ánd for those who work on location.
The current measures will remain in force until December, pending their effects. In line with the message in last Tuesday's press conference we will continue working in line with the protocol as it is now. When we carefully comply with the measures and consciously adapte our behavior is a good contribution for any future scenario.
Corona stewards on site
Sometimes, a little help on "what is possible, or what is just not" can be nice. That's why corona stewards have recently started rounds on campus. Such a small indication can be useful, because more often than not, we aren’t aware that the distance of 1.5 meters is not being kept, or that we were supposed to follow a certain route. And if that is the case, a short conversation to clarify what is possible and what is not, or about responsible behavior, often is enough.
Start of education period 2
The second education period has now started. With the extra space at the Sports Center De Bongerd sports hall and the rooms in Plus Ultra II, more capacity is available to provide education as well as to comply with the corona guidelines. These spaces will remain available throughout the academic year 20/21.
Looking after new colleagues
During these special times, WUR continues to welcome new colleagues. Often enough there is special attention for onboarding, to make sure these colleagues have a good start. This is especially important for (new) employees coming from abroad, e.g. how are they supported during a mandatory quarantine period. Organizing a "safety net", both practical and personal, is important. Clear agreements on this upon arrival, is a good start for both parties. These can be organising a daily online contact moment with a colleague, having groceries delivered / done or giving a digital tour of the new place of residence, all of which, of course, with due observance of the guidelines.
Review of FAT session: working remotely after corona
During the Finding Answers Together (FAT) session this morning, in eight break out sessions, more than 100 employees spoke about how remote working can take shape after corona. Topics of conversation were
- When remote working is an option instead of a necessity, what is the intended new balance between working on campus and working remotely for you?
- How can we best shape social cohesion, team building and knowledge sharing in the case of remote working?
The results of the talks will soon be on WUR & Corona.
As the tightened measures that were announced last week to reduce the corona virus have been instituted, this week, we take look at building activities on campus. The campus is the heart of WUR, a place for meeting, knowledge exchange and development, and an important place to realize WUR's ambitions. In these strange times, it is also important to look ahead and continue building activities to improve, strengthen and to green our campus.
Working on the future of the WUR campus
In this video, we follow Rens Buchwaldt, member of the Executive Board on his walk along construction activities: the Aurora educational building, Dialogue Centre and the site of thermal energy storage. Do you want to stay informed about the activities? Join these groups on the intranet.
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FAT session October 29: remote work after corona
As we know, it is not possible to estimate when we will be able to return to working and studying on campus without hindrance. However, we cán share how we envision that. What do we take with us from this period, is remote working something we can incorporate in our future way of working? And what are the consequences for working together, or on planning your work week?
The next Finding Answers Together session on October 29 will be all about these questions. Want to join? You can still register.
Policy on use of masks in lab environments
The basic rule is that face masks are mandatory, when moving through WUR buildings. This also applies for labs, greenhouses, animal shelters or technical areas. It is possible to deviate from this rule, in order to ensure that working within these areas can be carried out safely. A specific policy has been drawn up in which the exceptions are explained. These have already been shared with managers.
Student campaign launched: "That's what we do it for"
WUR students are committed to motivate fellow students to comply with the corona guidelines. As of this week, they star on social media and printed posters on behalf of student associations in the Wageningen edition of the national campaign "That's what I do it for". The campaign is an initiative of the LKvv and funded by the ministery of Education and VSNU. With arguments such as "Being able to study abroad" and "Being able to play sports" they explain in a positive way, why persistence is so important. Posters are distributed on campus, in student houses and in the city of Wageningen (library, columns).
Have more (general) questions? The RIVM has opened a hotline for questions: 0800-1351.