Archive Corona guidelines and updates

Below, archived updates from WUR about the coronavirus can be found. The information below can be deprecated.

Coronavirus guidelines and updates

Update 18 August 2021

Update 18 August 2021

After a few weeks of much-needed relative calm, many colleagues are preparing for the new academic year. During the press conference of 13 August, prime minister Mark Rutte detailed the measures that will apply to the education sector from 30 August.

The most significant changes that affect education at WUR are:

  • The 1.5-metre distancing rule is lifted for the education buildings Forum, Orion, Aurora and the Leeuwenborch, as well as for floors 1 and 2 in the Atlas building.
  • Facemasks are mandatory for students and staff while moving through these buildings
  • The maximum group size is set at 75

Teachers and students are to receive the information that applies specifically to them today.  

As of yet, not all details on measures for education-related extracurricular activities can be divulged. The service document detailing these measures is currently under development at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and is expected next week.

For all employees who are not charged with education-related duties and tasks, the current measures remain in effect until 20 September: work from home, maintain a 1.5-metre distance from others, wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, take a self-test regularly and stay at home and get tested if you have any symptoms. For more, check out the protocol.

Safe working and studying environment

Naturally, we monitor the safety of students and employees constantly. During the AID, a testing facility is available in Orion, and students are offered vaccines. We focus on the possibilities for self-testing and vaccinations and have joined the VSNU campaign ‘Ga je studeren, laat je vaccineren’ (“Going to study, get vaccinated”). Student willingness to get vaccinated is high, according to studies conducted by the RIVM and GGD. A study among WUR students is to start soon to provide insight into WUR students’ willingness to get the vaccine. This study will be conducted within the limitations of the privacy guidelines and legislation.

Ventilation in buildings is an important aspect that will be taken into account in setting up workspaces.

This approach ensures as high a level of safety as possible in our work and study environment.

Hybrid working

20 September is the tentative date on which we may gradually return to the office. HR and FB are currently preparing the Hybrid Working guidelines. The most up-to-date information for employees is provided in the Working@WUR intranet group.

Finally, for those not yet returning to work, enjoy the remainder of your holidays. For those that have already returned to work: good luck and have fun!

Update 22 July 2021

Update 22 July 2021

First and foremost, we stress that the basic measures to mitigate the spread of the virus remain in effect until further notice. Wash your hands regularly, maintain a 1.5-metre distance from others. If you have corona-related symptoms, stay at home and get tested.

1.5 meters, or face mask

As WUR employees, we are jointly responsible for protecting ourselves, our colleagues and our students during our work.

  • Face masks are no longer mandatory when moving through a building. However, the social distancing requirement remains in effect. So, please wear a face mask if there is a chance people may not keep sufficient distance.
  • Use the self-tests twice a week.

Working from home

Following the debate in the House of Representatives about Corona on July 14, the Cabinet has decided that as of July 19, 2021, the advice will be to work from home again, unless there is really no other option. This advice is adopted for working at WUR. In concrete terms, this often means that office work is mainly done from home. Look for the most recent measures on this page with the WUR protocol.

Self-testing

The option to order Self-tests is still available via www.zelftestonderwijs.nl/ You can also find (self-service) containers with self-tests at WUR locations. Instead, Higher Education will receive self-tests from the government/OCW for dissemination. These will be distributed by WUR itself from 1 August. There will be (self-service) containers for this at each WUR location. As soon as the inventory has been completed, we will inform you where these self-service bins will be placed.

Maximum group size and events

As of 26 June, there are no longer any restrictions for group size, neither indoors nor outdoors. Indoors the MCC is the leading factor (both at room level as for the entire building). Outside, the 1.5-metre distancing rule remains in effect. Booking rooms/spaces in advance, through the normal procedures, is necessary.

For larger gatherings (outside as well) the following applies:

  • Guests seated 1.5 metres apart
  • Registration and health check
  • One or more people in the organising team to be appointed as corona stewards to monitor compliance with the rules.

(Deparment) Meetings, inside and outside, are allowed again. The maximum Corona capacity determines the number of participants.

Requests for outdoor gatherings may be sent to the Servicedesk Facilities

Most recent information in the FAQ

The next update will probably be posted in mid-August. The corona FAQ are continuously updated. Should you be unable to find your question, please email info.corona@wur.nl.

Update 24 June 2021

Update 24 June

During last Friday’s press conference, a number of adjustments to the corona measures were announced. These adjustments will come into effect on 26 June. In this update, we will inform you on how the relaxing of the measures affects working at WUR. Students will receive a message with information specific to their situation today.

First and foremost, we stress that the basic measures to mitigate the spread of the virus remain in effect until further notice. Wash your hands regularly, maintain a 1.5-metre distance from others. If you have corona-related symptoms, stay at home and get tested.

1.5 meters, or face mask

As WUR employees, we are jointly responsible for protecting ourselves, our colleagues and our students during our work.

Working from home becomes working partly at the office

Immediately at the onset of the corona crisis, the maximum corona capacity (MCC) was calculated for all our buildings, based on the ventilation capacity and the number of square metres. Now that working at the office is once again permitted, 100% of the MCC may be used. That is: within the 1.5-metre rule and within the ventilation capacity. Supervisors will discuss within their teams how the available workstations can best be used. Organise this at group level, for example using a booking system or fixed days.

Maximum group size and events

As of 26 June, there are no longer any restrictions for group size, neither indoors nor outdoors. Indoors the MCC is the leading factor (both at room level as for the entire building). Outside, the 1.5-metre distancing rule remains in effect. Booking rooms/spaces in advance, through the normal procedures, is necessary.

For larger gatherings (outside as well) the following applies:

(Department) Meetings, inside and outside, are allowed again. The maximum Corona capacity determines the number of participants. Requests for outdoor gatherings may be sent to the Servicedesk Facilities.

4 June 2021

Update 4 June

The government is easing the corona measures as of 5 June. This means we can move a step back in the roadmap. However, we are still at the highest level of risk. The corona numbers are decreasing, but we must remain vigilant. 

The measures that are being lifted apply to restaurants, movie theatres and museums, and are expected to affect our personal lives. There is no change in the remote working situation. This will remain the standard. Within the available capacity of WUR buildings, education and research are prioritised. Moreover, we consider it our responsibility to limit movements to and on campus as much as possible, in keeping with the government’s policy, until such a time this policy is changed.

How is our WUR corona protocol affected? 

These changes come into effect on Monday 7 June. 

Weekly update will become update following developments

Over the past months, there was a weekly update. From now on, we will issue an update whenever there are developments that affect WUR’s corona policy.

Update 3 June 2021

Update 3 June 2021

The government is easing the corona measures as of 5 June. This means we can move a step back in the roadmap. However, we are still at the highest level of risk. The corona numbers are decreasing, but we must remain vigilant.

The measures that are being lifted apply to restaurants, movie theatres and museums, and are expected to affect our personal lives. There is no change in the remote working situation. This will remain the standard. Within the available capacity of WUR buildings, education and research are prioritised. Moreover, we consider it our responsibility to limit movements to and on campus as much as possible, in keeping with the government’s policy, until such a time this policy is changed.

How is our WUR corona protocol affected?

  • Meetings with a maximum of four persons are permitted indoors and outdoors without prior consent as long as the individuals maintain a 1.5-metre distance;
  • Courses and trainings are permitted within the corona guidelines, preferably away from the campus, to guarantee sufficient capacity for education and lab activities;
  • The number of guests permitted to attend a PhD defence is set at 40 (50 in total including student and supervisors etc.), while maintaining a 1.5-metre distance
  • The number of people permitted inside and outside in company catering facilities is set at 50. Catering services are asked to see how they can organise this. Catering for meetings will be restarted.
  • Relevant / essential external visitors who wish to visit with a maximum of 3 persons are welcome without explicit consent from management. The maximum group size is set at 4 persons. To date, permission was required for every external visitor.
  • Sports Centre de Bongerd is increasing the number of activities, and staff are once again welcome.

These changes come into effect on Monday 7 June.

Weekly update will become update following developments

Over the past months, there was a weekly update. From now on, we will issue an update whenever there are developments that affect WUR’s corona policy.

Update 27 May 2021

Update 27 May 2021

The wet, fresh Spring weather seems to be nearing its end. The garden is heavy with rain dripping from the rain shower. On the up side, herb seeds of the Spring emailing have germinated and sometimes protrude about 10 cm above the ground. At Together@WUR we can already see the first photos of the basil and nasturtiums.

The relaxation announced in tomorrow's press conference will give social life a little more leeway. A step towards phase 3 of the WUR roadmap. We emphasize that working from home is still the rule. We do hope that the relaxation will offer more opportunities to meet again personally in small groups. If this is the case, we will translate this directly into our protocol (see column on the right).

Fortunately, with the relaxation of measures and slightly wider travel options, going on holiday and taking time off is more attractive. It gives the opportunity to take a few days off to visit a museum or enjoy a day out with the family. Or go on holiday in your own country, before the hustle and bustle of the school holidays begins. Take a longer vacation if you can, and coordinate with colleagues what fits in planning. At least two consecutive weeks of free time is advised in order to continue to work well and to stay mentally and physically healthy!

Update 20 May 2021

Update 20 May 2021

The easing of measures that was announced last week came into effect yesterday. With the relatively cold and wet spring weather, the outdoor terraces will not automatically fill up, but ‘we have some options’. We are still awaiting a reopening of the cultural sector so that we may also satisfy our hunger for theatre and art, in addition to being able to snack and drink outdoors.

Stage 4 of the roadmap is still current, despite the eased measures

WUR is also faced with questions on whether the easing means other things may now also be possible, for example, through emails sent to info.corona@wur.nl. Examples of such questions include: will the remote working rule be lifted now that self-tests are available? And: are we permitted to organise events with larger groups on campus? Or: will students be able to go on exchanges, or can we take business trips now that the measure prohibiting non-essential travel has been eased?

We make every effort to answer these questions as new information becomes available. We adhere to the government policy, which means that we are still faced with the restrictions as detailed in stage four of the national roadmap, in spite of the adjusted measures.  As soon as the government eases more measures, our policy will be adjusted accordingly. 

Self-tests

Working with self-tests is a key feature in the current approach. Students and staff needing to be physically present at one of WUR’s location can order these self-tests free of charge. The Outbreak Management Team advises you to test yourself once or twice a week as a preventive measure. It may still not be possible to provide every student and staff member with sufficient tests as they are in short supply. We, therefore, request students and staff to start with one test per week.

Preparing for the 2021-2022 academic year

Earlier this week, teachers facilitating courses in period 1 have been sent an extensive FAQ for teaching staff detailing how best to set up their teaching activities for the start of the 2021-2022 academic year. Students have also been sent information on what to expect at the beginning of the new year. For incoming students, the most recent information will be posted on wur.nl next week.

Update 12 May 2021

Update 12 May 2021

Due to Ascension Day tomorrow, this week the update appears a day earlier.

Yesterday's press conference outlined cautious optimism. It is a balancing act between "managing expectations" and taking actions based on facts and figures. The question of if and which relaxations of measures will be possible as of next week, was therefore not yet answered.

In all likelihood, in the next update we will be able to indicate what the relaxation in "Step 2" of the opening scenario of the central government means for, for example, the WUR campus facilities. Only then will it be clear whether and which relaxations will be implemented.

Exchange programs and travel

Specific information is given regarding travel to and from abroad now that the general negative travel advice expires on 15 May. Clarity about the possibilities this offers is important for WUR students who want to study abroad in the coming semester, and for international students who want to come study at WUR, starting in September.

We believe that students should absolutely have the opportunity to participate in exchange programmes. In the coming weeks we will know more on to what extent it will be possible to initiate exchange programmes. Students and lecturers will be notified as soon as we have more information.

For employees, WUR will align the travel policy on the basis of the advice of the central government. The information in the corona FAQs will be updated very shortly.

Perspective for employees: WUR roadmap

The relaxations that have already been implemented mainly aim at education. In general, WUR follows the opening scenarios of the national government. The implications for WUR have been translated into a WUR roadmap. We see that for now, despite minor easing, we still maintain Level 4, the highest risk level. Working from home therefore remains the norm, as does following all the basic measures: keep 1.5-meter distance, wear a facemask, and take a test when you have symptoms related to COVID-19. Only when we can go to Level 2 – in line with the instructions of the Dutch government - will it be possible to return to (more) work at WUR locations. It is not yet possible to indicate when that will be.

Self-tests

WUR employees can now order Covid Self-tests at www.zelftestonderwijs.nl

They are free of charge for all students and staff of Wageningen University & Research (using your WUR-login), and provided by our government. Self-tests will make it possible to detect infected persons who haven't developed Covid-19 symptoms (yet).

Using these tests thereby contributes to reducing the spread of the virus in the Netherlands. These tests will not be used as an ‘entrance ticket for the campus’ and use of them is strictly on a voluntary basis. Nevertheless, we strongly encourage employees who work at WUR locations to make use of this free option.

Working @ WUR

In our internal communication, we ask employees to actively participate in Working@WUR. This programme focuses on a new balance between remote and on-location work and is mainly aimed at a future situation where there are no, or only very limited, COVID-19 restrictions. However, it does make use of the experiences that have emerged from the past year.

Update 6 May 2021

Update 6 May 2021

This week again, a short update, due to the May holidays.

5 May is National Liberation Day in The Netherlands on which we celebrate the end of WWII. For the second time it was celebrated without the usual national festivities. Some traditional elements did take place, such as in Wageningen the traditional lighting of the National Liberation Fire, at midnight. For the time being, the corona measures will continue to leave their mark on what can take place, and what cannot. Yet there is also room for optimism. The declining trend of infections and the increase in the number of vaccinations mean that we can carefully start looking forward to a different situation after the summer.

For education, we are preparing for education in the new academic year in which the 1.5 meter measure will lapse. In the new academic year, however, a maximum group size of 75 people applies. In doing so, we act in line with the advice of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the VSNU, which is followed by all Dutch universities. By making this decision well before the summer, timely organization and preparation is possible. Teachers and students will be notified on what it implies for them as soon as possible.

Education period 6 will start next week (May 10), and more students will come to campus again because more education is allowed on campus. However, it is expected that further easing of Corona measures will not take place on short notice. We continue to monitor developments on a weekly basis and translate them into what will be possible at WUR locations, so that we also can offer prospects to employees in research and support.

Update 29 April 2021

Update 29 April 2021

This week and next it is the May holiday. We had a beautiful sunny King's Day this week, and many colleagues enjoy some well-deserved days off. Students use this week to prepare for the exam week of the 5th period. Therefore this week short update.

The Education Taskforce uses the time to complete the preparations for a timeline and scenarios and to make decisions about which scenario is used for the educational situation per academic year 21/22. Teachers will receive information about this shortly.

We are also awaiting further instructions from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and VSNU on the provision of self-tests. Compared to last week, no additional information has yet been provided.

Finally, we would like to emphasize that we understand employees who experience stress or unrest due to the long-term uncertainty we have to deal with. The limited relaxation mainly affects education, but all other general COVID-19 measures will remain in place until further notice. As WUR, we want to offer colleagues who are affected by this a good and precise safety net. This often starts with a signal to a manager, so that we can look together at what is needed to get through this period again.

Update 22 April 2021

Update 22 April 2021

The press conference of Tuesday, 20 April, provided clarity on the expected easing of some of the corona measures. The curfew will be lifted, shopping will be possible without booking a timeslot, the outdoor terraces will open from 12.00 to 18.00 hrs and students are permitted to follow live classes one day per week. The government stresses that if we stick to the basic rules of social distancing, hygiene and wearing a face mask, as well as testing when there are symptoms, the easing poses an acceptable risk on the route back to normal.

How the relaxation of these measures affects WUR is detailed below.

Education opens as of period 6

In period 6 (from 10 May), we will offer education and education-related activities on campus. The situation will be similar to that of last fall, before the Christmas holidays. Please bear in mind that it is quite possible that there may be differences between individual students and how often they may follow courses on campus. Students have already been informed; teachers will be updated at the beginning of next week. The WUR shop will reopen as of 28 April from 10.00 to 14.00 hrs.

The eased measures also enable study associations to organise small-scale activities, as was permitted before the lockdown of 15 December. They will be informed.

PhD defence in the Aula

As of 13 May, PhD defences will once again be permitted in the Aula, with a maximum of 15 people in the audience. For now, the defence must do without celebratory drinks after the ceremony, and all basic measures must be followed. Blended or entirely digital defence also remains possible. Check out the FAQ and protocol for further information.

Self-tests  

Self-tests form an addition to the existing measures on campus. We stress that the tests are taken voluntarily and are meant to identify infections rapidly to create a safe environment. The tests are provided by the government free of charge. You can order tests through the website: zelftestonderwijs.nl  from the beginning of May. If the applications exceed the offer, it may be that not all requests can be accepted.The self-test is not a replacement for the GGD test. More information for students and employees will follow as it becomes available. Check out the corona FAQ for more information.

Well-being first

The relaxation of the measures may cause relief in some, while others may become uneasy. WUR aims to provide a safe study and work environment and puts the well-being of students and employees first.

FAQ updated

You will find the most recent questions and answers in the corona FAQ based on the prevailing guidelines and measures.

Update 15 April 2021

Update 15 April 2021

Regardless of how much we want it, the measures are not eased yet. We are preparing to allow more students to follow classes on campus in period 6. This week, the government announced a decision is to be made on this issue next week.

Another issue we wish to provide clarity on shortly is the self-tests. From the start of May, the government aims to make self-tests available free of charge to students and staff. Taking a self-test is not a prerequisite for access to the campus. More information will follow as soon as a definitive decision has been reached. 

Reporting a positive COVID-19 test

The following applies within WUR when someone has been tested positive for COVID-19 and has been in contact with others on campus: the supervisor or teacher is informed so that the people who have been in contact with the affected person can respond by self-isolating and getting tested. If the corona measures and the social distancing requirements have been followed, there is, in keeping with the government guidelines, no need to quarantine as a group.

FAQ

The corona FAQ page is consulted frequently and regularly updated. Can’t find your question? Let us know at info.corona@wur.nl, and we will add it to the page.

Update 8 April 2021

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.

Update 1 April 2021

Update 1 April 2021

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.

Update 25 March 2021

Update 25 March 2021

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.

WUR Roadmap

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.

Update 18 March 2021

Update 18 March 2021

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.

Roadmap

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.

Update 11 March 2021

Update 11 March 2021

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.

Travel

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.

Update 4 March 2021

Update 4 March 2021

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.

Update 25 February 2021

Update 25 February 2021

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.

Perspective

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.

Update 18 February 2021

Update 18 February 2021

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.

Curfew issues

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 (bedrijfsmaatschappelijkwerk@wur.nl).

Travel policy

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.

Together@WUR

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.

Update 11 February 2021

Update 11 February 2021

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!

Curfew extended

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.

Update 4 February 2021

Update 4 February 2021

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.

Update 28 January 2021

Update 28 January 2021

‘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.

Update 22 January 2021

Update 22 January 2021

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.

Viable solution

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.

Update 14 January 2021

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.

Update 7 January 2021

Update 7 January 2021

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 FAQ page is visited frequently, and it is also as up to date as possible. Is your question not included, or is one of the answers not clear? Let us know at info.corona@wur.nl.

Update 17 December 2020

Update 17 December 2020

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.

Update 15 December 2020

Update 15 December 2020

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:

Students:

  • 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:

  • 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 offered
  • 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.

Update 10 December 2020

Update 10 December 2020

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.

Update 3 December 2020

Update 3 December 2020

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.

December Together@WUR

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!

Update 26 November 2020

Update 26 November 2020

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.

Update 19 November 2020

Update 19 November 2020

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.

Update 12 November 2020

Update 12 November 2020

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.

Update 4 November 2020

Update 4 November 2020

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.

Update 29 October 2020

Update 29 October 2020

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.

Update 22 October 2020

Update 22 October 2020

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).

Update 14 October

Update 14 October

Once again, we have bad news: The corona measures are to be tightened as of 14 October 10 pm. Although (higher) education may continue largely along the same lines, the announced measures will affect us in our work on research and education.

The increased number of infections prompt the government to clamp down and introduce measures to reduce social interaction. This offers the greatest chance of reducing the number of infections. The measures that affect us are related to group size, sports, working from home and the wearing of masks. These measures affect our organisation as follows:

Research and education

Blended education and thesis research in labs will continue. The maximum group size of 30 persons per room does not apply to education, which means that self-study facilities remain unchanged. Exams on campus will also continue as planned.

Field trips and fieldwork with more than 4 people are permitted, provided the 1.5-metre distance is safeguarded, and the activity is visible as a WUR-activity, for example, by having participants wear branded shirts or vests. Field trips of more than one day are discontinued.

Catering in the education buildings will be closed, but take-away services remain available.

Gatherings

Meeting at the office is permitted for specific purposes such as job interviews, welcoming new employees and assessments. As of 15 October, the maximum number of persons allowed to get together for such meetings is four. In all other instances, permission from management is required.

On-site PhD defences can continue within the current measures.

Small scale non-curricular activities are still permitted, with a maximum of four persons as of 15 October, and in keeping with the hygiene and distancing measures.

Organising study-related meetings will remain possible during the coming weeks.

Working from home

WUR employees are adhering to the request to work from home. We have seen a significant reduction in the number of people on campus, except for those in vital functions. Your contribution to this positive trend is greatly appreciated.

Face masks

Face masks will become mandatory, including in higher education. Although face masks are not yet obligatory, we will operate as if they are as of 15 October. When inside, wear a non-medical mask any time you move through the building (for example on your way to the restroom, when passing through corridors etc.) This rule applies to all WUR buildings and locations. Face masks are mandatory for staff and will be issued; students are required to bring their own mask.

Sports

Sports at Sports Centre De Bongerd are limited. Group training where the 1.5-metre rule is enforced will continue. The maximum number of participants in some classes and fitness training is reduced to a maximum of 30 persons per room. All student sports associations training is cancelled. Team sports, contact sports and related competitions that fall within the responsibility of the SCB are cancelled until further notice. The Sports Pub, dressing rooms and showers are closed.

Here too, masks are obligatory: in the corridors and when gathering or cleaning equipment.

In conclusion

The stricter measures affect us all. They call for patience and perseverance, and for extra attention for those who experience difficulties in this situation for whatever reason. But, find some room for humour and equivocation, this may help, especially as we must persist for a while still.

We reiterate that everyone’s contribution to stopping the virus from spreading is noted and appreciated. We thank all WUR employees and students.

Update 8 October

Update 8 October 2020

While autumn colors the campus, we all work hard to ensure that research and education can continue smoothly. We are waiting for the positive effect of the stricter implementation of the national corona measures to come in to effect. Earlier this week, the Senate approved the CoronaMelder app as an extra national boost to reduce the spread of the virus. At WUR, we all contribute: by following or teaching via blended education, by working from home, and keeping to hygiene measures. We only come  to campus when necessary, and when free from corona-related symptoms.

In this update:

  • Education measures: “workload must decrease”
  • Monitoring office use
  • Working from home is working together
  • Financial compensation for delayed PhDs
  • More study places, reservations are necessary

Education measures: “workload must decrease”

All education will continue in blended form for the academic year 20/21. This year's sudden transition from on-campus to blended education has a major impact on the workload of lecturers. Arthur Mol and Arnold Bregt discussed this with all chair holders. This week and next, conversations with lecturers will take place. The talks are mainly about how to reduce the workload and increase the predictability of education this academic year and discussion on experiences and propose solutions. ESA has drawn up a package of measures to decrease workload, in addition to previous guidelines. New measures have been indicated and sent to teaching staff, with focus on organizing education, learning objectives both for course- and programs, and options for course scheduling.

Monitoring office use

Due to the repeated call to work from home, the number of employees who use the offices on a daily basis has decreased. Compared to the occupancy on Monday, September 28, the occupancy rate on October 5 shrank by 20%, which means that 600 fewer people were on campus. This only concerns office buildings, and does not include the education buildings. What these numbers show us, is that when we individually take our responsibility, we really contribute to reducing the risk of the coronavirus spreading on campus.

Working from home is working together

With now more than six months of working from home, there is need for evaluation: what from our experiences can we take with us to a way of working in the future. We experience the benefit of commuting less between home and workplace, and the flexibility that comes along with it. The less pleasant sides of working from home are also known: the lack of colleagues to spar with, the informal but valuable chats at the coffee machine. And although managers organize online induction programs, it is literally impossible for new colleagues to literally "find their way" on the WUR campus and buildings. Working from home means working together: the best way to do this is still ‘under construction’.

To find that answer, we focus on the future and will formulate answers to questions such as how we organize 'time and place independent working' for the future. This is also the theme of the next Finding Answers Together- session 29 October (see also FAT of 24 Sept on Education in times of corona) on which more information will follow shortly.  

Keeping an eye on each other is important, as is balance between work and personal attention while working online. HR has collected a number of tips and tricks, the simplest being asking your colleague "how are you".

Financial compensation for delayed PhDs

PhD candidates or post-docs who experience delay in their research due to corona measures such as not being able / allowed to travel, can be financially compensated from a limited budget. Calls are currently open to PhD candidates and post-docs with an appointment at WUR (both WU and WR). The call is also open for so-called sandwich PhD candidates. In both cases, these are PhD candidates and post-docs whose appointment or sandwich PhD project ends in 2021. The closing date for applications is November 22, 2020. PhD candidates who wish to be considered for this compensation can contact their supervisor.

More study places, reservations are necessary

Studying at home can be a challenge for students: lack of a place to work quietly, or the need for people around them. Ergonomic furniture and office facilities are also a reason for wanting to study on campus from time to time. That is why the number of study places (in different rooms) has been expanded in the Forum, Orion and Leeuwenborg buildings. On Time Edit (available for students) instructions are available on how to make a reservation.

Update 01 October 2020

Update 1 October 2020

This week, as of Tuesday we have returned to work from home because of the stricter guidelines. We have already seen that many colleagues are responding to this and that we, as a WUR community, are taking our responsibility there. This positive attitude helps us to contribute to reducing the spread of the coronavirus in both our work and private environment over the next three weeks.

In this update:

  • Blended education: sustainable way of working
  • Laboratory WBVR important laboratory during pandemic
  • Limited possibility of accelerated testing on campus
  • Wearing of face masks at WUR
  • Study places for students on campus

Blended education: sustainable way of working

Despite the tightening up of restrictions, our blended education can continue as usual. This has also been confirmed by Arthur Mol. A great deal of progress has been made in blended education, but at the same time there is also concern regarding the increased workload of teaching staff, as was reflected in his conversations with lecturers and professors. We are now working on solutions that contribute to reducing that workload. More about this will follow shortly.

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Fast Lane for coronavirus testing in laboratory WBVR

Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) is a crisis organization for the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. WBVR started testing for the corona virus as a pandemic laboratory on Wednesday 1 April. The maximum test capacity is 1500 tests, a small 5% of the current total national test capacity. Since the end of September, a fast lane has been set up in the laboratory to quickly process the COVID-19 tests, especially for care workers and primary and secondary school teachers. With this, the laboratory shortens the lead time for testing from one day to less than 8 hours.

Limited possibility of accelerated test on campus

The processing of the national corona tests by WBVR daily leaves the possibility for limited and incidental residual capacity. The Executive Board has decided to use this very limited residual capacity to help ensure the progress of the most critical WUR processes.

It is therefore possible, in very narrowly defined circumstances, to allow WUR employees working in critical positions to make use of this accelerated testing option. The service has been set up in collaboration with the Vaccination Center Wageningen. In principle, the results of the test are available within 24 hours.

More information about this can be found on the intranet page.

Wearing face masks at WUR

At the moment, the urgent advice from the government and the House of Representatives is to wear face masks when moving in public indoor spaces. Until now, no specific instruction has been provided for higher education. Our guideline therefore remains unchanged, which means that it is optional to wear a face mask. Tomorrow evening, the government will give further substance to the advisory measure. If there is reason to do so, we will adjust this guideline accordingly.

Student study places on campus

The available study places in Forum, Orion and other buildings will remain available to students, whereby the maximum capacity of individual rooms is strictly enforced. We ask students to be on campus and in the buildings only when they are attending courses, lectures, practicals or required to be present on campus for other study-related activities. This also includes self-study, if a student does not have a suitable study location available.

The next update will appear on Thursday, October 8, or earlier in case of current events.

Update 29 September 16:00

Updated guidelines for employees and students

The government’s further tightening of the measures requires WUR to adjust the protocol on a number of issues. These adjustments will apply for a three-week period at least, starting today and lasting until at least 20 October. Louise Fresco is astutely aware that this period demands an increased effort:

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Stricter working from home and meeting online policy

We work from home as much as possible: work from home if at all possible, and only come to WUR locations for lab work or work that requires your presence on-site. In certain private or urgent circumstances, it may be necessary to work on-site, but do this as little as possible. Meetings continue to be held online, planned ‘live’ meetings are moved online. In exceptional cases, meetings with five persons (including no more than three from outside our organisation) may be held on-site, for example, assessment meetings and job interviews.

No adjustments in education

Teaching will continue as planned, adhering to the previously formulated conditions for blended education. There are limited options for interaction between students. Practical classrooms may be used to their maximum capacity within the corona guidelines. Exams on campus are restricted.

Small meetings for study purposes are permitted

For the time being, meetings and gatherings in WUR-buildings are not permitted. Small-scale meetings organised by study associations are allowed, under the agreements reached with these associations. Employee training is also permitted if there is no viable (online) alternative, and postponement is no option.

Extracurricular activities on campus and other WUR locations, such as Studium Generale and training where no online alternative is available are permitted with restrictions. Activities organised by Wageningen Academy and WCDI, educational or otherwise, are not allowed.

Travel and field research

For now, our policy is: travel in accordance with WUR’s travel policy. Employees are not permitted to travel to areas coded orange or red. These rules apply to students.

Employees are permitted to travel for visits and field research within the Netherlands, always within the corona measures.For now, our policy is: travel in accordance with WUR’s travel policy. Employees are not permitted to travel to areas coded orange or red. We are currently detailing measures regarding study-related travel for students and staff.

Employees are permitted to travel for visits and field research within the Netherlands, always within the corona measures.

Experience days for potential students

Experience days are currently not permitted. Separate guidelines for the open day will be divulged shortly.

Campus facilities

Catering is available with restrictions, within the corona measures. The sports pub at the SportsCenter will be closed. For all public spaces (such as the library, restaurants, etc.) a limit of 30 persons is in place.

Measures regarding access to laboratories and research facilities remain unchanged, within the maximum corona capacity. BSc and MSc students are permitted to work in laboratories within the corona guidelines.

PhD defence in small numbers, MSc graduation ceremony online

PhD graduation ceremonies may be held with a maximum of 30 persons, if the distancing norm of one-and-a-half metres is strictly ensured, along with all other preventive measures. Moreover, PhD defences online remain a possibility.

MSc graduation ceremonies will be held online. BSc students receive a personal email.

For specific additional alterations: see changes in the right column.

Update 29 September 08:30

Stricter measures needed to avert worsening

Preventing the rapid spread of infections with the COVID-19 virus is the current priority. ‘The number of infections is increasing so fast; we are at risk of getting behind’,  in the words of Prime Minister Rutte. The WUR-community will contribute to halting the spreading of the virus.

Our protocol of measures and guidelines remains in full force. At this time, the national measures that were announced on Monday evening, do not directly impact our education, in the form in which we have now set it up. Employees are required to work from home the coming three weeks unless they are absolutely unable to.

Today, we will discuss whether the existing measures are to be further tightened of expanded. We will post an update at approximately 4 pm.

We are aware that our renewed request to comply with the measures, once again requires your support. This includes every member of the WUR-community: students, teachers, researchers and staff. Consider what you need, and use the facilities and support our organisation, and your colleagues have to offer.

Update 24 September at 10:00

Current situation

A new phase in how we deal with the consequences of the pandemic appears to be imminent. The debate in the House of Representatives this week illustrates this. Measures remain in place, or become more restrictive, in an effort to prevent a worsening of the situation. While Prime Minister Rutte spoke of an ‘increased effort’ just last week, it is now becoming clear what that means: measures have become more incisive in parts of the country. We too, feel this sense of urgency. We are continuously monitoring the situation in Wageningen and will inform you through weekly updates.

Following the protocol meticulously is key to continuity

We want to stress that we are taking every conceivable action to ensure we can offer on-site education and research as much as possible. The safety region, the GGD (public health service), municipality and student and study associations, student housing and WUR are in constant contact to ensure a safe working, studying and living environment. Students, in particular, are frequently and insistently, reminded of their responsibilities in adhering to the guidelines.

  • No large parties and prevent group formation in private
  • Test if you have symptoms
  • If you have symptoms, your housemates are not welcome at associations and in classes

The increase in infections in student cities has led to extra measures that affect students, such as decreasing the maximum size of groups and adjusted opening hours for the catering sector. The city of Wageningen has asked catering businesses to refrain from facilitating activities for groups of students/young people. Moreover, there is increased surveillance in parks and other public places. WUR has issued guidelines for student associations and other student organisations. The Wageningen municipality and WUR also join the national campaign for student housing and youngsters. The protocol of measures and guidelines remains effective for all WUR students and employees, without exception.

How to deal with reports of corona

A frequently asked question is: what should I, as a supervisor, do if an employee calls in sick or goes into self-isolation, or, as a teacher if a student reports a similar situation. Supervisors are free to inform their team about an infection, to avoid unrest or uncertainty. Within the General Data Protection Regulation (Dutch acronym AVG), reporting a positive COVID-19 test result is always voluntary. The content of a message disseminated to the team may never contain information that may reveal the identity of the individual. Supervisors will be briefed by HR separately. 

Teachers who are facilitating courses in period 1 have received a FAQ by email, outlining how to handle reports of a COVID-19 infection.

Increased flexibility in organising education

It is becoming clear that teachers in particular experience increased work pressure as a result of the many adjustments and extra workload in their teaching activities. Occasionally, uncertainty over the risks of infection when facilitating physical education are added to this. Based on the lessons learned from period 1, Education & Student Affairs (ESA) aims to allow teachers a greater degree of freedom in organising their teaching. ESA has formulated several guidelines to be discussed in professors meetings within the sciences groups for further feedback and input. As soon as these guidelines are definitive, they will be disseminated. We expect this to be during the coming week.

Infographics for students and employees: 'If you plan to come to a WUR facility'

Working from home and online education remain the default. However, working is possible within WUR locations if we adhere strictly to the maximum number of people permitted within rooms and spaces for the purpose of study, work or practicals. But, when can you come to a WUR facility, and what should you do if you have corona-related symptoms? These infographics for students and employees provide the answer. Check them before coming to a WUR location or the campus.

Weekly updates

Over the next period, the Taskforce Education and the Corona Team will continue to monitor the situation closely. A weekly corona update will appear until further notice.

Update 20 August at 12.00

Current situation

During the press conference on 18 August, Prime Minister Mark Rutte once again emphasised that the coronavirus is not gone yet. At the beginning of spring, we had hoped that we could move forward step by step after the summer, but the current situation gives us no reason to do so. For this reason, working from home remains the standard, and the current guidelines will continue to apply.

With the start of the new academic year on the 31 August we will see more students on campus, facilities that are partly open again, and more travel movements. Further preparations were made during the summer to make this possible in a responsible way.

There is still a need to adhere to the measures that prevent the spread of the virus. It is precisely during this phase that we must look out for each other. We have to talk to each other and stay alert. We have to stay at home when we or any of our housemates have symptoms, maintain safe distances, avoid crowds, and wash our hands.

Contents of this Update

  • We aim to restart physical courses gradually. First, practical sessions will be restarted, followed by small-scale, interactive courses and thesis research on Campus. On-campus teaching for first-year students will be prioritised.
  • In periods 1 and 2 we expect to offer a blended form of education, a combination of online and offline lectures. This will allow us to increase or decrease activities if the developments regarding the corona crisis demand.
  • On 15 June we decide whether exchange education (minors, internships) within Europe will be permitted from the start of the new academic year 2020-2021. This requires both WUR and the guest location to (at least partly) offer offline education.

The Number of International Student Registrations

For the 2020-2021 academic year, we are seeing much less decline in the registrations of national and international Bachelor’s and Master’s students than originally expected. The number of PhD candidates remains the same. The coronavirus pandemic has less impact on registrations than expected.

Blended Education and Dos and Don'ts in Education Buildings

Informational videos were created in order to give students more insight into the considerations that WUR takes for blended education, timetables, and dos and don’ts in education buildings. The videos are a supplement to the general coronavirus updates.

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Watch the series: WURking on academic year 2020-2021

Watch the videos

Buddy System for Students in Quarantine

Students who come from certain code orange/red areas listed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or who have been there to study or on holiday, are required to quarantine for ten days. The SSC and Erasmus Student Network (ESN) Wageningen help new international students by assigning them to a buddy. This buddy, often a student who lives nearby, helps them with the shopping and makes them feel welcome in this new country. SSC also provides a welcome package with organic groceries for these international students in quarantine. All other students have to arrange their own quarantine. If you need help with this, you can contact SSC via ssc@wur.nl.

Meetings and Events at WUR Locations

Meetings in the campus buildings and outdoor areas are permitted to a limited extent. These are subject to the previous guideline: they must comply with the maximum capacity, and consent from the manager is required. Under the same guidelines, meetings of WUR-affiliated organisations outside regular working hours are now permitted as well, provided that the meeting is relevant to the activities of the organisation and the 1.5-metre distance measure can be adhered to. All participants must also be registered by the organiser.

The spaces in the buildings on the campus are primarily intended for education and research. Drinks or informal activities are not allowed. Meeting at other locations outside the campus is only allowed if this is possible in accordance with the national measures in effect and based on a thorough assessment of the need in consultation with the manager.

Meetings outdoor on campus must be requested in advance via Service Desk Facilities. Each request will be reviewed to see if it can take place. Permission is required to monitor security and the number of people on campus. We adhere to the national guidelines regarding maximum numbers, participation, and prior registration of participants. The 1.5-metre distance measure must always be observed.

Employee Business Trips

The existing restrictions remain in force for business trips by employees. This means that travelling to code orange/red areas is not possible. Travelling within the Netherlands is possible. It should be emphasised that it is important to consider whether the business trip is necessary. This also applies to short trips to code yellow areas within Europe.

Returning from a Code Orange/Red area

The RIVM guideline stipulates that after returning from a trip to code red or orange countries, you should quarantine for ten days. This also applies if your holiday country changes code colour during your stay. If your private holiday results in a quarantine, it is at your own expense. The current travel advisories can be found on netherlandsworldwide.nl.

Test Site on Campus

At the request of the GGD, a coronavirus testing site will soon be set up in the car park at Sportcentrum de Bongerd. WUR is pleased to make this location available to the municipality and GGD, so that additional testing capacity can be provided for the region. If you would like to get tested yourself, please call the national number 0800 12 02 or visit www.coronatest.nl.

"Staying apart, keeps us together"

This slogan will be printed on the cups at the coffee machines from autumn onwards. Following the guidelines and taking personal responsibility are the best ways we can ensure that WUR will continue to give our education and research the full attention it deserves in the upcoming period.

We follow the current developments closely. As soon as they affect the current guidelines, a new update will be shared. Keep track of these updates on WUR.nl.

Update 7 July at 9:30

Current Situation

Our freedoms have increased as a result of some of the corona mitigating measures being eased from 1 July, and our lives are partially returning to normal. The extra liberties are not fully reflected on the WUR campus, because working from home and a blended form of education will continue to be the default. Still,  we can ease some measures within the existing restrictions that apply to higher education and public transportation. In this update, we focus on:

  • Working from home safely and healthily
  • Working at WUR with the 1.5-metre distance
  • Internships and theses abroad
  • Next update: 20 August

Working from home safely and healthily

Little by little, we are able to work on location. However, working from home and meeting online continues as the default. Employees wishing to improve their remote working space can still borrow items such as chairs, monitors or other devices, in consultation with their supervisor. If you have questions concerning the ergonomics of your home office, you can consult your department’s health and safety officer for online help. The health and safety officer, as well as your supervisor and HR consultant, are available for any questions concerning working from home, and your physical and mental health. You will find these and other practical tips on the intranet.

For the longer term, working from home, or working independent of time and place, will be anchored in our (housing) policy. This policy is currently under development; the outlines are expected to be available in the fall.

Working at WUR with the 1.5-metre distance

Measures have been taken in every building on campus and in the larger locations outside the campus, to facilitate the 1.5-metre distancing rule as best we can, for example, routing and hygiene measures in pantries and near workspaces. The maximum corona capacity (MCC) per building can now be utilised a bit more extensively, including a limited expansion of deskwork on location.

Supervisors base their permission on factors such as work that can only be carried out on location, the home situation, mental health and the cohesion of the team.

Moreover, there is more room for meetings of up to 10 people. The room must allow this number of participants to be present simultaneously. Receiving external visitors (no more than 3 per meeting) in campus meeting rooms is permitted occasionally, without prior permission from management. Regular meetings are still conducted online and from home as much as possible.

Deviation from these guidelines is possible, provided the deviation is substantiated and with permission from management. Approval from management is also required when organising activities on campus outside the buildings. We want to limit these activities as much as possible because knowing how many people are on campus at any one time is instrumental in adhering to the guidelines.

We will monitor the effect of the measures and compliance with the 1.5-metre rule meticulously. Together, we must endeavour to keep the situation under control and adjust the measures if this proves necessary.

For labs and education, the previously issued guidelines for ‘key functions’ continue to apply.  

Internships and theses abroad

We can offer more clarity for students who have an internship or thesis planned outside of the Netherlands. From the start of the new academic year, travel is permitted to areas marked green and yellow, within Europe, Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius or Saba, albeit with permission from the department. If a student travels without permission, this is considered a private trip at his/her own risk. As of yet, it is unclear when travel to countries outside Europe will be possible. Travel for study-related purposes is prohibited until the start of the new academic year.

PhD students can enter the Netherlands from 1 July.

Next update: 20 Augustus

This update is the last before the summer break unless developments call for a new update. The next update will be released on 20 August and will include news on the first half of the academic year. We will use the coming weeks and months to further prepare for blended education in that period.

These extraordinary circumstances have demanded much from us as a WUR-community. This has not gone unnoticed. But, we see opportunities as well. The opening of the academic year will be a special, hybrid event—just as much impact, and allowing a greater number of people to partake online. Stay tuned for more information in the next update.

The coming weeks are summer vacation. Perhaps unlike last year’s summer vacation, and maybe at a destination closer to home. What remains is the fact that taking at least two weeks away from work has a positive effect on our well-being. Let’s enjoy a well-deserved rest during this period. So that we can welcome our students back, continue our research and support our colleagues in doing so after this vacation.

We wish you a pleasant summer.

Update 3 July at 9:00

Internship and thesis within Europe in new academic year

There is now more clarity for students who have planned an internship or thesis abroad. In the new academic year this will be possible, if it concerns traveling within Europe in the green and yellow areas, or to Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius or Saba. Students will always need the permission of the Science Group. If a student travels without this permission, the trip is considered private and the student travels at his own risk. It is not yet clear when it will be possible to travel outside Europe again.

Please take notice that up until the start of the new academic year, travel abroad for study-related activities is not permitted.

Update 18 June at 17:00

International study exchange programmes not possible in semester 1

All upcoming Semester 1 (Fall) 2020/21 international inbound and outbound study exchange programmes are cancelled.

Many universities have decided not to allow students from other universities to join their exchange programmes, leaving very few options. Besides there is still much uncertainty about how Corona measures impact student exchange and travel. Exchange programmes are usually for a relatively short period and thus there is not much room to carefully develop a  plan for our students should the situation in the host country change.   

Following a minor or becoming a ‘bijvak’ or contract student is still possible for students from Dutch universities or universities of applied sciences (hbo).

Update 8 June at 12:00

Current Situation

Corona mitigating measures remain of the utmost importance, even as some sectors are easing measures as a result of the government policies. Furthermore, we are continuously monitoring how we can lift or ease measures responsibly for our staff and students on our premises. This update provides you with the latest information.

The existing measures continue to apply: working from home and online meetings remain the default. Staff and students are responsible for following the guidelines and limiting their visits to our premises to situations of necessity and after prior consent by their supervisor. It goes without saying that larger (team) meetings are held online.

As of 15 June, the set-up in our buildings has been altered, and a maximum capacity has been determined. Per building, we will begin utilising the maximum capacity in stages to allow for (further) teaching and research activities and exceptions that have been sanctioned by management. This will also include yet to be determined priorities and bottlenecks.

Participation in events and gatherings outside WUR as well as travel remains restricted and requires permission from your management. We strive to restart physical courses in stages after the summer break.

Adjusted capacity of buildings from 15 June

As of 15 June, our buildings are set up to allow working safely within the restrictions of the preventive measures and one-and-a-half-metre guideline. This severely impacts our freedom of movement in buildings and on campus and requires the personal commitment of all our staff and students.

By taking physical measures, such as increasing the space between furniture, and providing routing signs, the social distancing rule can be respected. Where needed, opening hours have been extended to increase the capacity of individual buildings.

Per building, the Maximum Corona Capacity (MCC) was determined, based on the one and a half metre rule and the ventilation capacity. Generally, the MCC is approximately 30% of the “normal” capacity of most buildings. In some of our buildings, this capacity is already in use for prioritised activities, such as lab research. The remaining capacity will be utilised in stages, starting 15 June. This way, we will be able to smoothly make adjustments if the situation or national corona policy calls for them.

Thus, a limited amount of additional space will become available as of 15 June. For example, for research and education activities. This will primarily include:

  • PhD and post-doc research in laboratories and testing facilities;
  • Thesis research in laboratories and testing facilities;
  • Other lab and (testing) field research, such as applied research commissioned by third parties, field research and field visits etc.)

In exceptional situations, practicals and small-scale educational activities will be held between 15 June and 1 September. Furthermore, management will have additional possibilities to determine priorities, solve bottlenecks and allow exceptions, always within the constraints of the available MCC. Per building, we will determine how to deal with gradually (and carefully) making use of the available space. This means that we will not have the same capacity available in every building. Besides, we will restart some of the campus facilities, such as the public space in the Forum Library and the WUR-shop.

Events and gatherings that are not directly related to our research or education will not be held on WUR premises or in WUR buildings.

Working/meetings/travel on and to non-WUR locations

After 15 June, permission from management is still required to participate in gatherings at non-WUR locations in the Netherlands.

For travel abroad, we follow our regular policy as well as the national colour-coding system. Travel to regions marked yellow or orange for corona is permitted only with express permission from management. Travel to areas or countries marked red is prohibited entirely.

After the summer

Before 1 August, WUR will coordinate with the security region, local government and relevant transportation companies to shape on-campus education and travel within the possibilities offered by public transportation. This will form the basis for physical education on campus after 30 August.

We strive to restart physical courses gradually. First practicals, small-scale interactive education and thesis research on campus. On-campus teaching for first-year BSc and MSc students will be prioritised.

Teaching in periods 1 and 2 will take place in a blended form, combining online and offline education, allowing us to scale up or down, should the developments regarding the corona crisis demand.

On 15 June we will decide whether exchange education (minors, internships) within Europe will be possible at the onset of the new academic year. This requires physical education to be at least partly possible at the receiving institute, and we must be able to provide guest students with sufficient physical education in return.

Depending on the developments and experiences following our careful restart from 15 June onwards, as well as a more accurate estimate of the possibilities to restart education in the new academic year, we hope to be able to utilise more of the MCC for research and other activities after 30 August.

The below measures remain in effect

The following guidelines continue to apply for WUR staff and students after 15 June:

  • Working from home is the default. The executive board leans on the individual sense of responsibility of all staff and students to follow up on this measure.
  • “Online is the default for meetings” continues to apply. Physical meetings are permitted only with permission from management, for example, in the final stages of recruitment trajectories.
  • When working on location and when interacting, adhere to the hygiene and safety measures issued by the RIVM such as distancing yourself from others by at least a one and a half metres. Follow the instructions on location.
  • You are barred from access to buildings and premises if you have complaints:
    • Stay away from our premises for at least 24 hours after having experienced one or more of the following symptoms: nasal congestion, coughing, sore throat or fever, In these cases, avoid social contacts both professionally and privately. Contact your general practitioner by phone if the symptoms exacerbate.
    • Self-isolate for fourteen days if you have returned from an area marked red for corona, or if you have been in contact with a person infected by the virus.

Update 20 May at 12:00

Current situation

During yesterday's press conference (19 May) prime minster Rutte reiterated that the course for easing the corona mitigating measures would continue as initially planned. 'The room to do so has been made possible by our joined efforts,' the prime minister stated. He emphasised that discipline in following the social distancing guidelines and hygiene measures is essential.

For middle and higher education, this means that the government now aims for a gradual easing of measures as of 15 June. The universities have drawn up a protocol in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Dutch acronym: OCW). A gradual return to normal activities on Campus is possible, but only under strict adherence to the RIVM guidelines and in coordination with the safety region.

In addition to the individual commitment of all students and staff, this also requires adjustments to be made to buildings, technical facilities, working schedules and mobility.

The preparations for a step-by-step return to normal activities are underway so that we are fully prepared to make a start when the situation allows. A full return to 'normal' is not expected before the end of this year.

Guidelines

The following guidelines continue to apply to all WUR students and employees:

  • Remote working remains the default. The executive board requests all students and employees to only come to our buildings if there is no alternative. Supervisors are asked to ensure compliance with this measure;
  • Meetings are to take place online unless absolutely impossible. Offline/Real Life meetings are permitted exclusively with express permission from management, for issues such as late-stage recruitment interviews.
  • No international travel.
  • When work requires your physical presence, adhere to the hygiene and safety guidelines, such as maintaining at least 1.5 metres between yourself and others.
  • Access to our locations is prohibited if you have health complaints:
    • Do not visit our locations within 24 hours after having experienced any of the following symptoms: Nasal congestion, coughing, a sore throat or a common cold. If you have any of these symptoms, avoid social contacts. Should the symptoms exacerbate, contact your general practitioner by phone;
    • Self-isolate for fourteen days if you have returned from an area marked red for corona, or if you have been in contact with someone infected by the virus.

Measures from 15 June onward

  • From 15 June, more research activities are enabled in our facilities, under strict compliance with the hygiene and safety precautions;
    • PhD and postdoc research in laboratories and testing locations
    • Thesis research in laboratories and testing facilities
    • Other lab and field research (such as applied research commissioned by third parties, field research etc.)
  • The Aula will be remodelled to allow PhD defences as of 10 August, and inaugural ceremonies from September. Always with an audience of no more than 30 persons, always maintaining a 1.5-metre distance as well as under compliance with the safety and hygiene measures. The option for an online PhD defence will remain intact.
  • Visitors from outside of WUR are barred from our buildings unless permission is granted by management.
  • Gatherings in WUR buildings and locations that hold no direct link with our research and education are forbidden.
  • Libraries remain closed, except for the "Pick Up & Go Desk" where books can be borrowed and returned.
  • No events on Campus or other WUR locations. This includes extracurricular activities (Wageningen Academy, Summer schools, WCDI)
  • Management permission is required for participation in gatherings held in other (non-WUR) locations.

Education

  • Courses for P6 will take place online only
  • Between 15 June and 1 September, a limited number of practical sessions may be offered. Education & Student Affairs is developing a procedure and process to assess possible exemptions.
  • Dutch excursions and fieldwork may take place within the RIVM guidelines (including those for transportation and the maximum number of people).
  • Internships in the Netherlands are permitted if businesses or organisations agree
  • The exams that conclude P6 will take place online
  • The exams will be resat online in August
  • The introductory period for new students will take place a mixed form (online and offline) and will be subject to the social distancing requirements and other regulations (see: AID website)

After the summer

In preparation for the return to studying and working on location, our buildings will be adjusted to comply with the one-and-a-half metre requirement and other regulations. These regulations have a profound impact on our ability to move within buildings and around Campus. Everything will be set up in such a way that there is sufficient distance between people at all times. Furthermore, the air circulation in rooms and buildings must be upgraded to meet the new requirements and opening hours will be extended to increase buildings' capacity.

The maximum capacity of our Campus and facilities will be reduced to about 30% of the former capacity as a result of these adjustments. We will increase to this new capacity in stages so that we can make adjustments if required by the national corona policy.

In the maximum corona capacity, we also take into account the limitations imposed on (public) transportation. These restrictions limit travel within the rush hour for students.

Education

  • We aim to restart physical courses gradually. First, practical sessions will be restarted, followed by small-scale, interactive courses and thesis research on Campus. On-campus teaching for first-year students will be prioritised.
  • In periods 1 and 2 we expect to offer a blended form of education, a combination of online and offline lectures. This will allow us to increase or decrease activities if the developments regarding the corona crisis demand.
  • On 15 June we decide whether exchange education (minors, internships) within Europe will be permitted from the start of the new academic year 2020-2021. This requires both WUR and the guest location to (at least partly) offer offline education.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. But we are aware that the virus is not yet defeated. With each easing of the measures, there is a risk that the epidemic could flare up again. The executive board is proud of the disciplined and responsible behaviour demonstrated by students and staff alike in the past months.

This has not been easy and has severely impacted our work, studies and private lives. We have not yet passed this stage, but, if we persist, we contribute to making our country safe again. Not just for us, but for our elderly, week and sick compatriots. Doing so includes reminding others, courteously, to adhere to the regulations.

Update 12 May at 12:00

Start of the Academic Year

The 2020/2021 academic year of Wageningen University & Research will commence on 31 August as usual. There are currently several teams at work to make the campus ‘1.5-meter proof’ as social distancing remains the norm. WUR strives to prioritise facilitating on-campus education for first-year students. Depending on the developments regarding the coronavirus, we expect education in September to be a mix of on-campus practicals and working groups with online lectures. On campus if we can, online because we can. First-year students will, if all goes well, be able to follow their first courses on-campus. If you have not already done so, please enrol for your studies as soon as possible, so that we may welcome you on campus. All information on education, programmes and enrolment can be found here.

Education for our current students will also start as normal, with a mix of on-site and online education. We will apply the experience of the past few months to improve our teaching skills further and to maintain our position as the best university in the Netherlands. Keep an eye on our website. If news becomes available, we will also send out an email message to all (new) students.

Update 7 May at 14:00

Current situation

The developments concerning the COVID-19 epidemic are such, that the Netherlands is now slowly and under strict control, able to ease some of the measures that were taken to curb the spread of the virus. This news was divulged at the press conference on 6 May. The prime minister stressed that following the general health measures remains critical: keep 1.5 metres distance from others, avoid crowded places, work from home and wash your hands regularly. The chance the epidemic could resurge is real. The virus is not yet under control.

Some business sectors that were fully closed will be permitted to reopen from next week, or have been offered the perspective of opening shortly. However, this does not include higher education facilities. For WUR, the implemented measures remain in place: online education and exams only, no travel for study or business purposes, online meetings, and working from home if at all possible. The measures taken by our organisation are in keeping with the government policies and RIVM guidelines.

The executive board wishes to thank staff and students fort heir continued patience and commitment in continuing our activities to the best of our ability during these trying times. We are aware that the uncertainty is a heavy burden to bear. It is good to see that we are helping and supporting each other. We are now able to look towards the future with confidence, and we may expect to emerge from the current situation stronger as a WUR-community.

Preparations for easing the measures

We are currently working hard to assess the possibilities and requirements of physically implementing a 1.5-metre distance on campus for staff and students. In lecture halls and offices, study locations, one-way traffic in hallways, a maximum number of people per room and a way to manage and control presence. Possibilities include working in shifts, tiered inflow and outflow in buildings, and the availability of general facilities such as restaurants. We are also assessing our accessibility, particularly with regard to public transportation, opening hours for buildings, and implementation of the hygiene measures. 

In our policies, we consider both the priorities of our organisation and the individual circumstances of our colleagues (such as domestic situations and care commitments, colleagues falling within the high-risk category and the health of individual employees).

Thus, we will be able to make use of our fabulous campus and facilities optimally and flexibly, as well as being able to facilitate the personal interactions that characterise our organisation. We will inform you of additional steps when information becomes available.

Education before and after the summer

Education at Wageningen University, including the exams, will be online only in period six as well. In P6, 263 of the 275 courses will continue. Twelve courses have been cancelled. Most masters’ programmes have alternatives to replace internships by a second thesis, and the last steps are currently being taken towards a so-called ‘soft cut’ (the option of starting the masters’ if the bachelors’ has not been fully completed).

The new academic year will be preceded by an alternative introduction (AID) period, because large events remain prohibited until at least 1 September. We do expect practicals to be available on campus in the new academic year, albeit in an adjusted form. We also expect thesis students to be able to access laboratories (under the RIVM and GGD conditions).

It is realistic to expect a lower number of new international students in the new academic year, although we are as yet unable to estimate actual numbers. In collaboration with other Dutch universities, we have launched a campaign to communicate that education will take place in the coming academic year: “On Campus when we can, online because we can”.

Recalibrating the strategic housing plan

Over the past weeks, the corona crisis has severely impacted how we work. Many people are working from home, and the occupancy of the laboratories and other workspaces has been adjusted to the one-and-a-half metre society. The executive board wishes to evaluate this way of working before moving forward with the strategic housing plan, which has been offered to the representative body within WUR for consent and advice in February (see news of 12 February).

During the re-calibration, we will consider what lessons can be learned from the last weeks. What are the permanent effects of working from home, to what degree could online education become part of regular education, and how should spaces such as offices and laboratories be set up to be ‘pandemic proof’. A working group will advise on policy regarding working from home, based in part on the experiences of these past weeks. A recalibrated strategic housing plan will be submitted to the representative body at a later date.  

Pulse measurement

We have also decided to interview staff members about their working conditions more frequently than the current bi-annual employee satisfaction monitor, especially on moments that could make a difference. The current situation of working from home is one such moment. Thus, some 500 randomly selected employees have been asked to participate in a so-called pulse measurement. In this survey, we focus on issues such as collaboration, vitality, and feelings of mutual connection. The results will be used to adjust the current policy and measures where needed and possible, as well as for input in the strategic housing plan.

Financial outlook

We expect the current developments to impact opur financial results for this year significantly. We are monitoring these effects. At this time we expect to be able to handle the economic impact, particularly as we expect government support for some areas of our work. A long-term financial outlook is more complicated, as we are unable to predict how the market for our research and education will develop after the corona crisis. The taskforce ‘WURld after the Curve’ has been asked to analyse this further. We will use this analysis to adjust our long term course and financial position.

Update 22 April at 10:00

Current situation

All measures and guidelines regarding work and study at WUR issued over the last few weeks will remain in force and unabridged. This is the conclusion after the prime minister's press conference on the crisis yesterday, 21 April. 

In short: education will continue online, international travel is prohibited, and employees must work from home if at all possible. Please check the measures and guidelines on this page, and the FAQs here.

The executive board is aware that this is a difficult and uncertain time for everyone. Let us all continue to keep up our spirits and continue to contribute to curbing the spread of the virus. Adhering to the WUR-measures, by working from home as much as possible, for example, is a meaningful way to contribute. But we are also looking ahead: we are developing protocols that can help us start up again once the measures are eased. And we are also working on "WUR after the curve". Thank you all for your commitment during these challenging times, please keep it up and continue to support each other where possible and needed.

Update 16 April at 13:00

Current situation

A month has passed with the new corona measures. These measures appear to be effective in curbing the spread of the virus in the Netherlands. Still, at the same time, it is clear that we are far removed from a return to our normal daily lives. This means that the previously announced measures for our staff members and students remain in effect without change (see this page and the FAQ). It is marvellous to witness how WUR staff and students handle this situation and are able to continue so many educational and research activities at such an outstanding level.

Operational processes concerning research and education are continuing mostly along the normal logistic paths. This means that your own management and supervisor are your primary sources of information. They are also responsible for an optimal organisation of the work-flow and tasks.

Easing the measures step-by-step

The government will announce on 21 April if, and if so, how, the measures may be eased. This is what the prime-minster calls the 'one-and-an-half metre society'. Within WUR, we are working out how we may implement possible lifting of some measures on campus, by developing protocols that we may apply in this situation. These adjustments can be implemented only if and when the government eases the measures, and will always remain within the constraints thereof. Possible changes in the rules for WUR will be divulged through an update as soon as possible following an announcement by parliament. In that stage too, we will lean on the creativity, ideas and efforts of staff and students.

WUR after the Curve

A Task Force, named 'WUR After The Curve', headed by Martin Scholten, is currently considering what "the world" will look like after the corona crisis. It will (or will try) to envision what challenges, opportunities and adjustments WUR may see itself facing. It is essential that we look beyond the crisis at this stage, and consider our challenges and opportunities from various perspectives. The task force has been requested to advise the executive board and the board of directors mid-May.

Leave

A large number of employees are currently combining their 'usual duties' with additional caregiving activities that result from the corona measures. This is not easy. Employees and their supervisors must continue to discuss practical solutions for the work and home situation. For example, by spreading the work over the week, temporarily cutting back hours or making use of extraordinary leave options. More information is provided in this Intranet publication.

Easing the ‘Harde Knip’ (BSc-MSc)

'The Harde Knip'-regulation states that students are normally only permitted to enrol in a Masters programme if they have successfully completed their BSc programme. In consultation with the Ministry of Education, it has been decided that all universities will make concerted efforts to enable third-year students that have fallen back due to the corona crisis, to start their Master's programme in spite of not having fully completed their Bachelors. The 'Hard Cut' has thus been eased into a 'Soft Cut'. Wageningen University will provide further information on this provision per MSc programme before 15 May.

Trouble with online exams

Some students may face circumstances that make it impossible for them to take the online proctored exams in the intended way. Students that cannot take part in the online exams for insurmountable reasons are asked to send an email to studentdean@wur.nl before 23 April. Students are subsequently informed by email which details to provide. Please be aware that this request is primarily intended to gain insights in the number of students that cannot participate in the online exams from home and the reasons why. While we will make an effort to help facilitating all students, there is no guarantee that we are able to find solutions for all.

Update 1 April at 12:00

Message from the executive board

Dear colleagues and students,

The corona outbreak affects us all. Primarily because of the concerns we have for our health, and that of our friends, colleagues and family. This is why WUR is making every conceivable effort to contribute to curbing the spread of this virus. 

WUR has taken measures that are unprecedented in the history of our organisation. Our lecture halls, laboratories and group session rooms are empty, there are no meetings in our buildings, and research activities have been scaled down.

Prolongation of an extraordinary situation

Parliament announced on Tuesday, 31 March, that the measures that are currently in place are beginning to show some effect, but that they must be prolonged for at least another month. The prime minister also indicated that he does not expect the situation to be normalised soon after. For WUR, this means that the previously announced measures will remain unabridged and in effect. In keeping with the other universities’ policies, we will stick to the end dates of 1 June and 1 August for the different measures.

In doing so, we heed the prime minister’s call to take responsibility. Should the situation show signs of improvement by 28 April, we will not hesitate to adjust our measures, but for now, it is advisable to prepare, both mentally and physically, for a lengthened period of restrictions in our work and studies.

We are aware that this has major implications for all members of our community. But we can overcome this difficult time together. Help each other and, with the help of all the modern tools and applications we have available, keep an eye on one another.

We will continue to keep you updated on new developments and measures. Keep an eye out for these updates. If you have questions, contact your supervisor or management. Check our FAQs, or, if your item is not included, reach out one of the email addresses available to assist staff and students or to info.corona@wur.nl.

We wish you all the best in this challenging time and thank you all for your efforts to keep all our activities going as best we can.

The executive board of Wageningen University & Research,

Louise O. Fresco

Arthur P.J. Mol

Rens Buchwaldt

Tools for working from home

Now that it has become apparent than we will be working from home for a longer period of time, more people may wish to temporarily make use of office hardware, such as screens and office chairs, in their home. If your supervisor grants permission and registers home use, this is permitted. Draw up a schedule for picking up hardware, so that the required hygiene and distancing requirements are met.

New updates

Two measures demand further elaboration. You will be informed in more detail at the end of this week:

  • Leave provisions for those whose tasks have (partly) ceased as a result of the outbreak, or instances where the current situation has caused caring responsibilities as a result of amenities being shut down (such as schools, health services)
  • Rules for responsible use of laboratories for research purposes, such as thesis work carried out by PhD candidates and Masters students.

Update 25 March at 12:00

No physical cursory education in P6

  • All cursory education and exams will take place online to and including the sixth period. The campus will be void of all educational activities during this period. With this measure, WUR adheres to the agreements made within the VSNU (the association of universities in the Netherlands).
    • Depending on the development of the pandemic in the Netherlands, the measures may be altered, possibly allowing some practical sessions to be held in the second half of P6.
  • Exceptions can be made for the laboratory and experimental work related to graduate courses. However, this requires permission from the chair holder.
    • Students needing to work in WUR buildings for the above purpose are urgently requested to adhere to the hygiene guidelines and to adhere to the prescribed distance to others.

Measures until 1 August

  • No work or study-related travel abroad;
  • PhD defences online only;
  • No inaugural ceremonies or farewell speeches;
  • No events on campus or other WUR locations.

Measures until 1 June

  • Limit physical meetings.
    • If meetings take place, all measures communicated by the RIVM must be strictly followed.
  • The working from home measure remain in effect. All employees are requested to work from home if possible. Buildings will open for essential work.
    • Employees and students needing to work in one of the WUR buildings are urgently requested to adhere strictly to the hygiene guidelines and to maintain the prescribed distance to others.
  • No external visitors without permission from the managing director;
  • Adjusted opening hours for all buildings;
  • Impulse Ontmoeting closed (offices are accessible);
  • Forum library closed;
  • Catering services closed.

Assistance with returning from abroad

Students and employees that are stranded abroad and want to return to the Netherlands can register on the newly launched platform www.bijzonderebijstandbuitenland.nl.. This platform is a joint initiative of the national government, the travel sector, insurance branch and airline carriers. Previously communicated guidelines regarding repatriation remain in effect.

Watch out for cybercriminals

Please continue to stay alert for cybercriminals. Check what to watch out for in the intranet.

Update 23 March at 12:00

New travel guideline: Return home (replaces all previously issued guidelines)

All students and employees currently outside of the Netherlands for study or business purposes are urgently requested to return to the Netherlands or their country of origin as soon as possible. International students in the Netherlands can and are advised to stay in the Netherlands.

These adjusted travel and lodging guidelines result from the recent developments in the global corona pandemic. The spread of the coronavirus is causing global challenges and disruptions of medical infrastructure and logistics systems. In short: travel is becoming increasingly difficult, and there is increasing pressure on health care systems.

  • Employees should seek support from their supervisor
  • Students needing assistance with their return can reach out to personalsupport.corona@wur.nl

Students not wishing to return, are requested to report to personalsupport.corona@wur.nl providing reasons for their non-compliance. In doing so, they waive further financial support for return on a later moment from WUR in their return. The general WUR travel insurance stays in place. We stress that all outgoing travel for internships, business and thesis work are prohibited until 1 August.

Additional expenses for repatriation

Students may face additional costs linked to a forced return. Wageningen University will provide financial support in these cases. Further information is available via: Contribution to travel expenses for students abroad. Students in dire financial need as a result of their expedited return can report to Contribution to travel expenses for students abroad.

Advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on organising return travel

  • Contact air travel carriers that fly to the Netherlands or Europe (or travel company, if relevant)
  • Make use of whatever flight possibilities are available.
  • If you are unable to depart: register at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs information service if you have not already done so. This will ensure the local embassy is aware of your presence in the country. You will receive information from the embassy on options such as additional flights made available by airline companies.
  • If you are unable to return, make sure a safe stay is guaranteed. If you run into issues, contact the local embassy through the contact centre of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, available 24/7 at +31 247 247 247. This number can also be used for other questions you may wish to ask the local embassy.

Update 20 March at 12:00

BSA adjusted

Following a request of the Ministry of Education (OCW) to adapt the Binding Study Advise (BSA) for first year bachelor students for the current academic year 2019-2020, Wageningen University has developed new rules for this year’s BSA. These will be send to all first year bachelor students, study advisors and exam committees and included in the FAQ page. Details can be found on the BSA page.

E-mail address for student support

Students needing (practical and emotional) help and information during this corona crisis can now reach out to personalsupport.corona@wur.nl This e-mail box is designated for students currently staying abroad and wanting to return to the Netherlands, and international students in the Netherlands wanting to return home. Its primary goal is to offer emotional support and liaise with the correct people/organisations.

Events cancelled until 1 June

All events planned in WUR buildings or on WUR grounds until 1 June are cancelled, and if possible postponed until at least after the summer. The fifth edition of F&A Next, which was planned for 13 and 14 May, is postponed until next year. For this year, an alternative in the form of a short webinar on 13 May with a few exciting key-notes and start-up pitches is under development. Further information to follow on the F&A Next website.

#WURkfromhome

Show your colleagues and fellow students what it is like to work from home and post your home office on Instagram (uniwageningen) and Twitter (@WUR) under the hashtag #WURkfromhome. This way, we can still keep in touch with each other. The funniest, best and most unique tips will be shared on this website. You can also share with video.cs@wur.nl using @WURkfromhome in the subject line.

At least 90 per cent of P5-courses online

Every conceivable effort has been made to guarantee the continuation of our education. And successfully: of the 299 courses normally offered, at least 90 per cent is now available online. Only three intensive practical sessions were cancelled, and 270 classes have already started. The executive board congratulates the teachers and supporting staff with this spectacular achievement.

Update 19 March at 12:30

Opening hours WUR buildings

As of 23 March, the opening hours of WUR buildings will be adjusted. All buildings will be open from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Exceptions:

Forum, Orion and Leeuwenborch are opened from 8.00 am to 7.00 pm due to the live recording of online courses. The libraries are closed but online collections are available.

WFSR and WBVR: due to the Statutory Research Tasks (WOT), opening hours are adjusted to the requirements of the work. WOT duties in other buildings are to be carried out within the new opening hours where possible. There is some room for exceptions.

Carus: opening hours adjusted to the requirements of the care for livestock.

Impulse Ontmoeting is closed for meetings. The offices in Impulse are accessible.

Buildings that are usually open on the weekend will continue to open, but from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, except for Carus and locations with WOT commitments.

Cleaning is done within the opening hours where possible so that the buildings can close immediately at closing time.

Online courses throughout period 5

All courses for the entire duration of period 5 (P5) will be offered online, regardless of measures for the corona outbreak possibly being diminished or lifted. Exams will be offered online. This decision has been made to provide students and teachers with as much clarity as possible and to facilitate work and study planning.

The postponed practical sessions will be rescheduled at a later date. More information on the exams and practical sessions will follow. How we will proceed during the sixth period is to be decided based on the developments over the coming weeks.

Recovered employees

Employees who have recovered from a confirmed COVID-19 infection, or non-diagnosed symptoms such as shortness of breath, flu-like symptoms, or a common cold, WUR adheres to the RIVM/GGD policy. If all (!) symptoms have disappeared for over 24 hours, they may return to work on location if needed. Naturally, all limitations and regulations such as working from home as much as possible, continue to apply to prevent the spread of the virus.

PhD defence ceremonies

As of next week, 23 March, all PhD defence ceremonies will take place online. In consultation with their supervisor, candidates may elect to go ahead with a digital defence or to postpone the ceremony. If a postponement is desired, the ceremony will be rescheduled. The digital defence will follow the format of a regular ceremony to a large degree. This provision applies until 1 August. More information can be found on the intranet.

No new PhDs

Until at least 1 August 2020, no new PhD students will be granted physical access to Wageningen University. If so desired, a distance education set-up may be used to start new PhD trajectories, at the discretion of the supervisor. In such cases, all go/no-go rules and regulations continue to apply. At a later stage, we will develop a policy regarding the possible effects of the corona crisis for PhD candidates who have already started their PhD trajectories before 20 March 2020. More information can be found on the intranet.

BACs

Broad Assessment Committees (BACs) will continue digitally where possible. The BAC chair will assess with the managing director and -if needed- the Rector Magnificus, whether this is desirable. Postponement is recommended if the quality of the BAC process cannot be safeguarded or if the candidate so desires. The postponement period will be added to the time in between the Tenure Track steps. More information can be found on the intranet.

Inaugural addresses and farewell speeches

All inaugural and farewell addresses are cancelled until 1 August and will be postponed to a later date. We will contact the professors it concerns to set an alternative date.

Update 18 March at 13:00

Working from home and extraordinary leave (overruled by the update of 25 March)

The measures that WUR is taking to contribute to reducing the spread of Covid-19 will run until 6 April. However, it is realistic to assume that circumstances may compel us to extend these measures for a longer period of time.

That means we need to be prepared for a situation where employees will be tied to their home for a longer period of time for a variety of reasons.

The executive board has taken a number of measures that enable employees to take (paid) extraordinary leave when staying home is unavoidable. All employees will receive a letter about this today via the OneWageningen email address. For specific questions, you can contact hr.servicedesk@wur.nl

Take care of each other

Another important point of attention is caring for each other. When you notice that things seem to be going less well with a colleague or fellow student (at home or abroad), because someone seems to become isolated, is sick or is otherwise vulnerable or worried. Contact him or her for moral support or practical help.  And involve your supervisor, co-workers, fellow students or teacher. The company doctor, company social work (bedrijfsmaatschappelijkwerk@wur.nl) and the student service center (ssc@wur.nl) are also ready to provide help.

Support to study from home: New course

To help all students get through the coming weeks in which they are not able to meet (on campus), we created the ‘Corona and my education’ course page on Brightspace. We advise all students to join this course because it helps to switch from on-campus to online education. You will find practical information on how to study from home and an online hang-out where students can reach out to each other. More information can be found here.
Additionally, all students receive access to Skype for Business. More information about using Skype will be provided here later.

Update 17 March at 13:30

Message Dutch prime minister

The Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte addressed the nation on 16 March, to provide further details on the measures the government has taken. He stated that: ‘All recommendations issued to date are based on the first scenario of “maximum control”. From relatively simple measures such as avoiding handshakes and maintaining a 1.5 meter distance, to far-reaching decisions such as closing the catering sector. (..) How long these measures will remain in place, and whether or not more stringent steps are needed, depends mainly on how the virus will conduct itself in the coming weeks or months. (..) Some measures may be lifted, but others may have to be strengthened as an additional step in preventing the virus from spreading unhindered. We will continue to tailor our response over the coming months, seeking a balance between allowing normal life to continue as usual, and taking whatever measures are needed. If we are able to guide the spreading of the virus, the public health consequences will stay within our grasp.’

The WUR executive board supports the prime-ministers call and urges students and employees to adhere to the measures imposed by the government both in letter and spirit. Only thus can each of us contribute. Our FAQs provide answers to the most common questions, and we will continue to update our internet and intranet pages with the most up-to-date information and guidelines. Our efforts to safeguard the continuity of our education and research are undiminished, and we welcome any innovative ideas that may help us achieve this goal.

Let our WUR community rise to the occasion and help each other in these difficult times by paying extra attention to those in need.

Extra information on avoiding domestic travel

Our policy aims to reduce contact as much as possible to curb the spread of the virus. Travel that can be undertaken without coming in contact with other people, or trips that are unavoidable due to our Statutory Research Tasks, may continue after consultation with management.

Students who have questions about their enrollment, internship or courses can reach out to ssc@wur.nl. Questions of a more general nature can be directed at info.corona@wur.nl.  

Update 16 March at 13:30

Extra travel restrictions (overruled by the update of 23 March)

Travel restrictions for staff and students have been tightened. All business and study-related travel are now prohibited, with the exception of commuter travel where physical presence on location is required.

Staff and students currently residing abroad are urgently requested to stay updated on the news from both their host country and the Netherlands. In case there is any reason to question your personal safety, you are requested to return to the Netherlands immediately. Stay informed on the travel possibilities, an increasing number of flights are cancelled. This could also prompt an early return.

Effect on research

The taken measures also have an effect on research performed by Wageningen University & Research. WUR is doing everything within its power under the current circumstances, in order to meet its contractual obligations and to meet the planning agreed to perform its obligations, also in view of the social importance of our research. Read the full update for our partners here. Practical tools for projectleaders can be found on intranet.

Update 15 March at 18:30

Dealing with school closure

The government has issued a set of additional measures regarding the COVID-19 crisis on Sunday 15 March at 5.30 pm. One of these measures is the decision to close all primary and high schools immediately. This decision directly impacts employees whose children go to school. We count on the flexibility of these employees, their colleagues and managers to find appropriate solutions.

In some cases, this may not be possible at such short notice. Wageningen University & Research allows employees who are stuck at home and unable to work, a three day period for which they need not take leave. In the coming days, we will issue long term measures for our organisation and/or follow government guidelines as they become available.

For WFSR and WBVR staff, we have requested an exemption so that these employees can continue using schools and child care facilities. Further information will follow.

Update 13 March

Message from the executive board

The measures announced by WUR on 13 March will remain in effect, at least until 6 April, per the newly published date. On 12 March, the government announced stringent measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The executive board follows the developments closely. This outbreak calls for unprecedented personal and collective responsibility. We must adhere to strict rules of personal hygiene and exercise caution in our social contact to prevent spreading the disease. This will affect our daily routines.

At the same time, we must pay extra attention to those who are concerned about additional risks for themselves or their loved ones. We are aware that our international community is now faced with uncertainty over the well-being of their friends and family at home. Our mutual solidarity will enable us to face this crisis and find suitable solutions. We understand that these measures profoundly affect staff and students, and we are aware that many of you have questions or feel uncertainties.

Please know that we will make every conceivable effort in the coming weeks to solve these problems. We are facing this challenge together, and we count on your support and personal efforts to bring this situation to a satisfactory conclusion. And should you have questions, please do not hesitate. We are always available to answer your questions (info.corona@wur.nl) or check the FAQs.

On behalf of the executive board, Louise O. Fresco, president.

Update 12 March

Working from home

We ask all students and staff to work from home as much as possible. Crucial functions in our organisation, such as the maintenance of the IT network or caring for livestock, require the presence of staff. Consult with your supervisor if physical presence is absolutely needed and how you can best carry out your duties. This may mean your working hours have to change temporarily. Where no agreement can be reached, management will make a decision.

Education (overruled by the update of 25 March)

To and including 6 April all educational activities will be online only. Stay up to date about your courses via Brightspace. Updates on educational activites are placed in the FAQs.

Buildings and events (overruled by the update of 19 March)

WUR buildings are still opened but entry is regulated. Not all facilities are opened. All events on Wageningen Campus and in WUR buildings are cancelled. The public defense of doctoral theses will continue for the time being, however, additional measures are taken. Stay up to date via the FAQs.

Questions

Check the FAQs for WUR students and employees or this page for the latest updates. Check here whom to contact for what. Or reach out to info.corona@wur.nl.

Have more (general) questions? The RIVM has opened a hotline for questions: 0800-1351.