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.
Are you viewing the page on your mobile? Scroll down for the measures that are currently in place.
Update 8 April 2021
We are currently at a stage where the government and its advisory bodies appear to assess the development of the pandemic more positively. But, there is no certainty, and there are no guarantees. Therefore, we are continuously in a dialogue with our colleagues from other universities and in consultation with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the VSNU (Association of Dutch universities), the GGD and public transportation organisations so that we may prepare for changes in the measures. In these updates and through messages sent to staff and students, we will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.
Self-tests in higher education
The Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science definitively indicates that students can attend on campus education for one day a week from April 26 (for WUR: as of teaching period 6). We are currently examining how to organise this per study. Students and teachers will receive more information about this shortly. In the coming weeks, WUR is organising pilots with COVID-19 self-tests. In its education, WUR will work on organising small-scale pilots of COVID-19 self-tests so that we can rapidly scale up if and when needed. Until otherwise announced, all measures remain in force, including the social distancing measure, regardless of whether self-tests are deployed. If students and staff use the self-tests that the government is making available for education institutes, this will significantly contribute to identifying asymptomatic patients, thus mitigating the spread of the virus. Thus, self-tests contribute to safety on campus and beyond. They can, and will, not be used as an “entry ticket to the campus”.
Working@WUR, scenarios for the near future
Just as we are working on scenarios of how to organise education in the new academic year, we are also developing scenarios for our organisation. The balance between working online and on-site at WUR locations is key. In Working@WUR, HR and FB (facilities and services) are detailing these scenarios, as was announced on Intranet at the start of this week. With the question “Have you thought about it yet?” they invite employees to discuss among themselves the adjustment from remote working to a return to the work floor, as well as a future design of remote working. What measures apply are determined by the situation at hand.
Did you enjoy the wonderful spring weather of the past few days? Did you use your break to take an extra walk without your coat or hold a Teams meeting on your balcony? The blooming Japanese cherry trees and magnolias in the neighbourhood gardens and all the spring flowers on campus provide a welcome splash of colour in these times.
The corona measures remain in place without alterations. During the last episode of Zondag met Lubach Arjan Lubach stressed once again: ‘stick to the measures, also during these final months.’ This means maintaining a one-and-a-half-metre distance from others on campus, frequently washing your hands and wearing a facemask where required. Fortunately, the directives are often followed well!
Work continues as usual. For example, preparations for the new academic year, in the knowledge that much is still to change between now and September. This is why WUR now works with a scalable scenario in which uncertainties can be accommodated.
But, some tangible adjustments are also being organised. Rapid (self) testing will be launched shortly, from period 6 at WUR. We will start this as a pilot in a limited number of places to gain experience for the coming academic year. The pilots are to provide insight into how we may make some extra physical education possible on campus and in the field, for multi-day field trips, for example. We will divulge more information as it becomes available. There is already some easing of the measures for single-day field trips. Teachers and students will be informed.
With the curfew moving up to 22.00 hrs as of yesterday, the opening hours of many of our buildings (Forum included) have been extended to allow students to make use of the study places until later in the evenings.
We have been working and studying from home as much as possible for over a year now. No reason to celebrate, not something to become accustomed to, but a simple fact with an impact of unprecedented proportions. This is why we prefer to look beyond this moment, towards a beckoning perspective, even if there is no specific implementation thereof to be given. The key question, for now, is: ‘How can we help each other through this period with vitality and resilience?’. This includes everyone in the WUR-community, but also the issue of how work will be organised after corona. The signs, questions and comments we receive from students and staff are essential in designing the next steps.
Period 5 unaltered
In keeping with the announcements made by the government in the press conference of 23 March, easing of the measures for education may be possible from 26 April. WUR has decided not to alter the planned education for period 5 (until 9 May).
Rapid (self) testing
The use of rapid (self) tests in various sectors will ultimately open up more possibilities, including for our higher education and research. The government considers rapid (self) tests a tool to help ease the measures for higher education. Our priority is currently in analysing the consequences of this step. We will share our considerations and information on the practical implications with you over the coming weeks.
We are also developing scenarios for the 2021/2022 academic year. These scenarios will include the progress of the Dutch inoculation programme, rapid (self) testing and social distancing (or not). In the optimal scenario, the campus would be fully opened without the social distancing requirement.
As of today, the first version of the WUR COVID-19 roadmap is available. In the run-up to a period in which the measures may be eased, the roadmap describes the impact of the guidelines in the various stages. The WUR COVID-19 roadmap is designed as a guideline for management and is based on the 2020-2021 government roadmap for Higher education and secondary vocational education.
There is a fair chance that those of you who went out to vote yesterday now have a red pencil lying around on the kitchen table. Possibly with a device of newspaper next to it with the preliminary outcome of the 2021 elections for the House of Representatives. The corona crisis barely affected the turnout, but its effect on the outcome is a likely topic of conversation these coming days.
Possible easing of measures in higher education
Meanwhile, we are preparing for a possible easing of the measures in higher education. After the press conference that is scheduled for 23 March, we will know if, and how, the measures will be eased. Then, we will be able to get to work on implementing the adjustments for WUR.
We all feel as if we are entering the last, defining, stage. September sounds tangible and near, but we lack the certainty in the information we need to make decisions on how to prepare. We are going to use a WUR roadmap as an instrument. The roadmap contains four scenarios based on the government roadmap. We expect to complete the first version of this roadmap later this month. The document will be updated to accommodate new insights and facts as they develop.
Working from home in transition
When we talk about later, we must not forget the present. “It appears to be a stable situation, working from home, but we are in the middle of a transition’, says anthropologist Jitse Kramer in her book Het werk heeft het kantoor verlaten (“The work is out of office”). Each of us goes through this stage in our personal way, because everyone’s situation is unique. Keeping in touch with each other and seeking opportunities to meet (sometimes literally), that is at the top of our to-do list. Use the options WUR has to offer. From chatting with the EB to FAT sessions, from virtual coffee corners with colleagues to walking dates in your area. It is essential to take time for activities such as these.
Prospective students on a virtual tour of the campus
March is traditionally marked by the BSc open day. Entirely online this year. For prospective students wanting to learn more about studying in Wageningen, WUR has designed a large number of extra activities scheduled to last until August. This year, for example, we have a UniBuddy, a chat option on the WUR.nl programme pages. This allows prospective students to chat with a student who is currently enrolled in that particular programme. The ‘student for a day’ activities will continue in a restricted form, and we are working in a campus audio tour, which guides prospective students past hot spots on campus.
We celebrated our 103rd Dies Natalis on Tuesday, 9 March, on Pandemic prevention, prediction, and preparedness. An online celebration, lacking the traditional elements such as the academic procession in robes, due to the continuing corona restrictions. In this forced adjustment of our tradition, we see that remotely meeting one another opens possibilities for permanent change. Because thus, over a thousand relations, students and staff members were able to follow the discussions in real-time and live with Marion Koopmans, Henk Bekedam, Wim van de Poel and Emely de Vet. They were also able to witness our young WUR researchers Daniel Gallardo Albarrán en Tessy Hick's presentations. We look back upon a successful celebration.
Eased measures in higher education
Easing of the measures in higher education is expected to come into effect as of 1 April, as was announced at last Monday's press conference. Students and teachers were informed in the past few days. We will use the intermittent period to prepare. At the TU Delft, RUG and Maastricht University, there are pilots underway with rapid (self)tests that are to contribute to safe usage of the capacity of, for example, the library and study places. WUR is in close contact with these universities and with the VSNU and is following the results as they become available. WUR will experiment with rapid (self) tests for multi-day field trips.
The urgent recommendation to refrain from travelling abroad has been extended to, and including, 15 April. The effects of this travel ban are becoming increasingly visible. In keeping with this recommendation, WUR's travel policy remains unaltered. We are looking into adjustments to be able to respond quickly to a possible easing of the measures, especially for travel for study or research purposes. To that end, we will make use of the possibilities the corona measures (including those in our surrounding countries) have to offer.
This week, PhD's were informed on support offered by WUR in getting their research back on track and how to address delays they may have incurred. They were also provided with additional information on how to remain mentally fit in these times.
There are no urgent developments directly impacting our education and research this week. We are actively monitoring the situation, and we are seeing a shift in the national debate: a strong call for increased options and liberties against a backdrop of the persistent threat and visible reality of increasing numbers of infected.
The success of the vaccination programme is instrumental in when a real easing of the measures is possible.
Dies Natalis 9 March: Pandemic Prevention, Prediction and Preparedness
The COVID-19 pandemic has an unprecedented health, social, economic and mental impact. History teaches us that pandemics are nothing new, from the Spanish Flu to the more recent Ebola and SARS outbreaks. As a result of globalisation and international mobility, population growth, urbanisation, climate change, and food production systems, pandemics are likely to occur more frequently in the future. How can lessons from the current and past pandemics help us prepare for future global outbreaks?
Employees and students are welcome to attend the online Dies Natalis. The symposium programme starts at 15.00 pm, followed by the official celebration at 16.00 pm. As of 4 March, registration is no longer necessary. The live stream will we available for all WUR students and staff on www.wur.eu/dies.
Preparing for the easing of measures in higher education
Hopefully, the press conference scheduled for 8 March will provide some more information on the options to increase on-campus education soon. The TaskForce Education 20/21 is taking the necessary steps in preparation.
One of the key developments is pilots with rapid testing, which may allow for education, exams and field trips. Through the VSNU, WUR is in contact with the parties involved and with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.
To those that see the same colleagues or students regularly on Teams, it’s a familiar sight: the gesture of tucking one’s hair behind one’s ears or wiping it from the eyes or the sudden appearance of headbands and hair accessories. Soon, a thing of the past: From 3 March, hairdressers will open again. This is one of the small ways in which the measures have been eased in an effort to keep us motivated to adhere to the restrictions for a while longer.
Out-going prime minister Rutte’s statement that ‘one in four positively tested persons still goes shopping at the supermarket or walks the dog’ was striking. We continue to underscore our appeal to everyone to act responsibly and stick to all of the measures.
‘If you have symptoms, stay at home, get tested, social distance, wash your hands frequently, wear a face-mask.’ These words may have less impact as time progresses; this does not apply to our behaviour.
Outdoor sports permitted
Excellent news for students who practice outdoor sports at De Bongerd: Youths and young adults to and including 26 years old are permitted to resume their activities as of 3 March, within their regular team. A hockey, football or rugby match against another club is not yet permitted: competitions are still prohibited.
Easing does not affect university education or research
The adjustments of the measures as announced at last Tuesday’s press conference do not affect our education or research. Rutte: ‘Higher education, university colleges and universities, are to remain closed. This means online education must continue.’ This applies until at least 16 March. On 8 March, the cabinet will determine whether further easing of the measures is prudent. The curfew has been extended until the morning of 15 March.
WUR is collaborating with the VSNU (Association of Dutch Universities) towards a perspective for the new academic year, or sooner if possible. The aim is to return to normal in as many respects as possible as of 1 September. To this end, some universities are conducting pilots with rapid testing, which we are closely monitoring. The VSNU aims to offer more perspective as soon as possible.
Flow chart for exam preparation for teachers
One of the activities that will partially take place on campus is the exams. But, how do teachers ensure they know what is needed to properly prepare for the (digital) exams? Education & Student Affairs has designed a useful flow chart that helps teachers take the recommended steps to organise their (online, digital) exams. This flow chart will be divulged shortly.
Last weekend, we enjoyed the winter atmosphere: skating on the Forum pond, a real winter edition of the AID with snow and ice. Corona moved to the background to make room for fun and relaxation. A welcome change in a time where so much is demanded from so many.
There is much ado about the curfew this week. However, until otherwise decided, WUR maintains the current opening hours for our buildings. If there is cause for change, for example if the corona measures are eased, students and staff will be informed.
Focus on student and employee wellbeing
Yesterday, the government announced an investment to mitigate the corona measures' effects through the National Education Programme (links to Dutch content). This illustrates how severe the impact of the measures is on education. We are aware that a group of students has trouble remaining positive and seeking social contacts. The ESA Student wellbeing department is available to support this group. The Student Welfare Department of ESA is available for this group, and arranges for students to come into contact with Student Life Coaches.
Staff, too, suffer from increased work pressure due to the restrictions and adjustments they experience from the corona measures. For those who wish to become inspired on how to stay fit and healthy while working from home, the HR Intranet group Vital@work is available. Join the hundreds of colleagues that have already become members. Need more support? Reach out to your supervisor, the company physician of occupational social worker (firstname.lastname@example.org).
WUR's travel policy is strict: foreign travel is prohibited, and there is barely room for exceptions. We adhere to the government travel policy and will follow suit if the government measures as eased. More details are provided in the protocol next to this article. We are aware that this may impact your study or research progress and are fully focused on this issue.
Although only a small section of our students, researchers and staff are present on the campus, we remain connected. Through stories about our research on wur.nl and through a peek into the lives of our colleagues in the together@wur section on the intranet. Moreover, the executive board regularly discusses with groups of employees, recently, through an online meeting with support staff with the Dean of Education. A positive meeting during which ideas from, among others, librarians, practical support staff and building managers were shared.
Starting in March, employees will also have the opportunity to chat on issues we face with the executive board during informal coffee meetings independent of our organisational chart.
How beautiful our WUR campus is in this wintery snowscape. Whether seen during a walk if you live close by or when you visit for work or study purposes. Or by merely looking at a photograph on one of the social media channels: Enjoy our beautiful surroundings. And our gratitude goes out to all the colleagues that keep the entrances free of snow and ice, thus keeping our buildings accessible and safe!
This week, the decision was made to extend the curfew to (and including) 2 March. This also means the strict measures remain in effect for a few weeks longer. The infections show a decline in numbers, which, along with the steadily increasing number of vaccines, provides a positive outlook. Colleagues that were issued a WUR employer declaration that is about to expire will be sent a new, automated, message similar to the first one they received.
Retaining statutory leave
Per year, every employee has four weeks of statutory leave (with full-time employment). The collective labour agreement stipulates that the statutory leave of 2020 must be used before 1 January 2022, lest it expire. The corona measures in 2020 have prevented some people from taking the vacation they were entitled to in 2020. There was much work to be done by many throughout the year. Particularly to keep education and research going with alternative means.
WUR values allowing employees an extended period of time to use the unused leave they accrued in 2020. Therefore, the executive board has decided to allow employees until 1 January 2026 to use the leave that was accrued in 2020. These days will thus not expire at the end of this year. The leave hours will be earmarked as so-called supplementary leave. This decision was made under the condition that employees it concerns draw up a year plan with their supervisor, to ensure they use sufficient leave over the current year (2021) and stipulate when the additional leave hours will be used.
If you have further questions on this provision, contact your HR advisor.
The current lockdown is to remain in place almost entirely until at least 2 March, said outgoing Prime-Minister Rutte in his press conference. He added that we are faced with uncertainties, dilemmas and responsibilities. This is something with which we, at WUR, are familiar: when do we take what decision, based on what insights and facts, and what consequences may we expect? Of late, we have focused mainly on the direct implications for education and research, while we have focused our communication primarily on students and teachers, as well as the staff members working from home.
We would like to draw attention to the employees that are required to be present on campus every day, and who contribute to making education and research possible within the constraints of the current measures. How is this period affecting them? How do they cope with the apparent contradiction of ‘being permitted only one visitor per day at home, while being surrounded by dozens of students and teachers every day’. Arthur Mol and Arnold Bregt have invited these colleagues for a dialogue, which is to take place soon.
Parents with young children working from home will be given some additional room as of 8 February, which will help them create a better balance between their care-taking tasks and work for at least part of the day. The fact that primary schools are to reopen is good news. However, out-of-school care will remain closed, with the exception of children whose parents make use of the emergency care facilities. All provisions in this regard remain in effect. If you need further information on the different leave provisions, please contact your HR consultant.
With regard to period 4, it has now been decided that during the first two weeks of period 4 all education, with the exception of practicals and exams, will be offered online. Teachers and students will be informed separately.
To conclude, we wish to stress that we are astutely aware that the ‘new normal’ that was frequently discussed last year, does not exist. And that we are continually adapting. We are proud to see that everyone at WUR continues to contribute to finding answers to societal issues, despite the circumstances. Leading up to the 103rd (online) Dies Natalis on 9 March, we wish to reiterate this fact.
‘Slow down in order to accelerate’. This law of change also applies to the mitigation and spread of the coronavirus. Implementation of the curfew is to ensure that we may see some easing of the measures in the near future. Until otherwise decided, which may well be after 9 February, our current protocol remains unaltered and in effect.
We reduce work during curfew hours to a minimum. The procedure for obtaining an employer-declaration for employees, via the management, is already widely known within our organisation. Students having to resit exams during curfew hours will be sent a declaration.
Impact on education and research
The national press focuses increased attention on the impact of the pandemic on this academic year. The Binding Study Advice for first-year students will once again require 30 ECTS rather than the customary 36 ECTS. We too, look ahead. A working group has been installed within Education & Student Affairs to study the possible delay students incur due to their theses and internships being cancelled, and what options PhD students have to compensate for falling back.
The 'now': discuss it
Many of us may notice a decreased sensitivity to words such as restrictions and measures. And that these phrases now feel far removed. And that, more so than at the start of the corona crisis, we are focused on the question “how are we dealing with daily reality now, both in work and in our personal life”. Occasionally, it may help to talk to each other and share experiences. If at all possible, take your time to do this, those few minutes at the start of your next MS Teams meeting with your colleagues. If you have questions or issues on organising your work from home: your supervisor or HR advisor is there to help.
But, take part in the online meetings organised around this topic. Keep an eye on intranet groups and announcements, so you don’t miss the invitations, and alert your colleagues. In these sessions, we also discuss how we, as the WUR-community, can focus the ‘now’ as a topic of conversation.
We are aware that the persisting measures demand much from us all. Now that more stringent measures have been put in place, this is even more true. Our goal is to provide you with the utmost clarity on how WUR, as an organisation, implements the measures. Below, we discuss the implications and regulations that result from the curfew.
Curfew: only the most vital tasks
The Second Chamber has ratified the curfew that is to be put in place between 23 January and 9 February. The curfew applies from 21.00-04.30 hrs. During the curfew, only the most vital tasks will be carried out on WUR premises during these hours, such as urgent maintenance work and exams. All activities that can be moved to the permitted times will be rescheduled. All buildings are closed at least an hour before the start of the curfew, at 20.00 hr, allowing receptionists to close the facility on time (with exception in case of exams). After closure, the buildings are only accessible to employees who have permission from management to carry out tasks that are of vital importance.
A limited number of staff members will be declared exempt (and receive an official document to this effect), due to their responsibilities in cases of calamities or vital tasks that cannot be rescheduled. In addition to the employer's declaration, you are also required to have a personal document. You can download this document on the Rijksoverheid website.
Students and teachers will receive further information shortly detailing the consequences of the curfew for evening classes and exams on campus.
All measures, including the curfew, contribute to curbing the spread of the virus. Our data shows that our buildings are used to well below the standard for corona occupancy. We are almost all working from home, in keeping with the government's request. But, the situation persists, and we are all feeling its impact. On our mood, our job satisfaction and on the energy and flexibility needed to combine work and private life. Keep in touch, and reach out to your supervisor if you run into issues, to reach a viable solution.
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
Have more (general) questions? The RIVM has opened a hotline for questions: 0800-1351.