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Current Information about the Coronavirus

In lieu of the current developments regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus ("Coronavirus"), we would like to inform you accordingly.

schild mit JKU darauf und im hintergrind science park 1

UPDATE March 26

6,398 people in Austria have become infected with COVID 19 and the current death toll is at 49 (last update today at 3:00 pm). Unfortunately, there is a direct connection between the number of infections, the number of intensive care patients, and the number of deaths. In addition, our healthcare system is becoming increasingly strained and, as we have seen in Italy and Spain, at some point this will influence mortality rates on a massive scale. In other words: those who prevent infections save lives! This is why, over the past weeks, we have been appealing to you to maintain (physical) social distancing and reduce social contacts to a minimum. This is also the JKU’s ultimate goal in regards to university operations.

 

1. Registered Infections

 

Three other university employees have unfortunately been affected by the virus: an employee at the International Office, an employee at the Department of Business Informatics, and a student employee at the Faculty of Medicine. Naturally we immediately informed everyone in each person’s circle of contact and took the necessary measures. Our reconstructed timeline of contact to others shows that in all three cases, the risk of infection on campus was extremely low. In total, we have received 7 reports of infection at the JKU. We wish all of those affected a speedy recovery!

 

2. Access to the Workplace

 

Unless explicitly otherwise regulated for individual cases, we urgently appeal to all employees to continue working from home until further notice. This is for your own protection, the protection of your families, and to protect the general public. Only if absolutely necessary, you can go to your workplace on campus to conduct any crucial tasks for as short a time period as possible. However, in an effort to ensure a number of people are not accumulating in individual areas, we ask that before you come to campus to address any urgent matters, please send an e-mail to: om@jku.at to let us know when you will be on campus.

 

3. Leave for Childcare Responsibilities

 

Based on the current legal situation, leave to care for children up to the age of 14 due to closed schools, kindergartens, and crèches can be granted for up to three weeks. At the JKU we have, of course, made full use of this option. In many cases, the three-week period mentioned above will be used up by the beginning of the Easter break (April 4) as schools have been closed since March 16. Regardless, it is generally not an option to take advantage of this type of childcare leave during the Easter break week, especially as childcare would have been necessary even without the precautionary COVID-19 measures.

 

The federal government has announced that schools could remain closed until even after the Easter break. We are assuming that the federal government will issue supplementary regulations about leave for childcare. Should this not be the case, we will work on an internal JKU solution.

 

4. Holiday Leave

 

As we have emphasized, your health and your family’s health is of particular importance to us. This is the reason that – to the greatest extent possible - we have changed operations at the JKU to enable you to work from home. In some areas at the JKU, our consistent approach to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus can – almost unavoidably - lead to a reduced workload. In these cases in particular, but also to all other employees, we would like to appeal to you to think about using up any compensatory time and/or using available holiday time (despite the current stay-home order) as a sense of solidarity and overall responsibility. If leave is accumulated at a publicly financed institution that is currently granting its employees permission to work from home, it would send a bad signal to many who are now facing dismissals or the short-time work scheme.

 

5. Digital Examinations

 

In coordination with the faculties, the Vice-Rectorate for Academic Affairs has developed a digital concept to hold oral and final subject area examinations using Zoom. This option also guarantees public accessibility, which is required by law. Based on this, the corresponding oral examinations can be resumed shortly. In regards to oral and final subject area examinations suspended due to precautionary Coronavirus measures, a new date will be arranged in the near future. If the examiner and candidate agree, the minimum 14-day registration period for final oral examinations may be waived in which case, the period may be reduced to 3 working days. The Vice-Rectorate for Academic Affairs will soon send additional information.

 

All written subject area and final examinations are suspended and corresponding dates are cancelled. Grading for individual courses - as grades can be determined separately by the respective course instructor – remain unaffected. In this regard, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our faculty members and instructors for their high level of willingness to provide our students with online learning opportunities using many innovative concepts and solutions. At the same time, we would like to thank our students for their flexibility and understanding during this unprecedented situation.

 

We also urge all faculty members and instructors to adjust their course planning to maintain current measures for some time. In the students’ fundamental interest, we must search out and offer ways to ensure and review learning goals. Cancelling or postponing sections of a course can only be considered in exceptional cases as this, in addition to continuing uncertainty, brings a risk of a work overload toward the end of the semester.

 

6. Social Services by Students

 

There is a plan to waive tuition fees for students hindered from studying for more than two months during Summer Semester 2020 due to providing emergency services, performing postponed military service, or engaging in additional alternative civil service. We will provide information in the Newsletter as soon as the corresponding regulation has been passed.

 

In order to and in some way compensate our students’ impressive voluntary contributions, such answering the nationwide Coronavirus hotline 1450 during the current situation, we have created an opportunity for these students to earn up to 5 ECTS credits toward fulfilling autonomous coursework requirements. The prerequisites include voluntary work with a corresponding organization that can also confirm the number of worked hours. The existing regulations for voluntary work (fire and rescue services) remain, of course, upright and valid.

 

7. Continuing Committee Work

 

We ask all employees currently active in committees or commissions to, despite the current restrictions, continue their work to the greatest extent possible via circular resolutions or with the aid of "Zoom" video-conferencing software. This is the only way to ensure taking and continuing the necessary decision-making processes and faculty appointment procedures. We would also like to take this opportunity to expressly thank Senate members, above all Chairman Prof. Mössenböck and the Senate Office, for their outstanding cooperation.

 

8. JKU Expertise to Fight the Coronavirus

 

As part of the last communiqué, we called for JKU contributions to use scientific and academic expertise to help overcome the Coronavirus crisis. We were impressed by the response. In the field of biophysics and general medicine, work is currently underway to make PCR infrastructure available to test for the Coronavirus. In medical mathematics, research is being conducted on prognosis models to be able to assess consequences any additional precautionary measures would have as well as when the time comes to ease measures. In material sciences, 3D printers are being used to test necessary medical technology products. The chemistry department has immediately agreed to produce disinfectants. Artificial Intelligence in the field of computer science is being used to test 1 billion molecules for any effectiveness against the Coronavirus. Thank you very much for the support in the fight against the Coronavirus.

 

Hang in there and stay healthy!

 

UPDATE March 19

This is now our 10th communiqué regarding the Coronavirus crisis. Once again, we would like to please have your attention.

1. Thank You!

It is more than high time to once again say thank you to each and every one of you. It is simply wonderful to see the way you are meeting the enormous challenges not only in education, learning, and in research, but also administratively. The JKU is most certainly a role model for the way campus operations were closed down and then made available again, being managed from home. Additionally you have your special duties and responsibilities as well as being worried about your family and your circle of friends. The way you have mastered it all is truly impressive. With this attitude and commitment, we will be able to manage this crisis longer.

At this moment, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to everyone maintaining necessary university operations and the required infrastructure directly on campus. This is an extraordinary achievement under these circumstances. I would also like to commend our medical students who volunteer by answering the nationwide Coronavirus hotline 1450. And I would also like to mention one person by name: Prim. Doz. Dr. Bernd Lamprecht, Vice-Dean of our Faculty of Medicine and Head of Pulmonary Medicine at Kepler University Hospital. His support for the JKU crisis team during the past 14 days has been indispensable. As a leading expert in Upper Austria, he has also been invaluable helping us address the cases regarding those affected at the JKU. Many thanks!

2. Internal Communication / Video Conferencing Software Zoom

At the moment, there is a lot of talk about "social distancing". We would like to encourage you to understand "social distancing" in terms of "physical distancing". As important as physical distancing is, social contact without meeting physically is just as important. In order support this as best we can, university management is making the campus license for “Zoom”, video conferencing software, available to all JKU students and employees. Information about activating your Zoom account and how it technically works will be sent separately in an upcoming newsletter.

Take advantage of this and other technical tools to exchange information regularly within your team, organize project meetings, meet virtually for morning updates or joint coffee breaks, conduct courses, and for students, create study and discussion groups.

In order to strengthen communication from the university’s side as well, you will soon receive special employee and student newsletters with more frequency. We will keep you fully informed.

3. Childcare Leave

Employees who have childcare responsibilities for children up to age 14 due to the closure of crèches, kindergartens, and schools will be granted extended leave quickly and without unnecessary bureaucracy as before. Please contact the Department of Human Resource Management with the involvement of a supervisor) by sending a brief electronic message.

4. Another Case of the Coronavirus at the JKU

A student in the MMJus program tested positive for the Coronavirus. This student is studying exclusively in Vienna and had no contact with anyone at the JKU during the relevant period.

5. Consequences for Serious Student Misconduct

Our students play a key role in containing the spread of the Coronavirus. For their own protection - and the protection of others - they generally adhere to the valid and applicable guidelines. However, a few still fail to recognize the seriousness of this situation. For example, only yesterday there was a student party in which over 15 students got together and socialized in a small space.

This kind of behavior endangers university employees and third parties. Accordingly university management will not hesitate to apply section 68(1)(8) of the Austrian Universities Act to this and any other similar cases. According to this statute, the Rectorate may dis-enroll students from the university if they perpetually or seriously endanger others. Aside from this and in regards to exchange students, JKU university management will also notify the student’s home university.

6. Call to Help Manage the Coronavirus Crisis

I would like to ask you to please think of how - or in what areas - you could be actively involved in helping to manage the crisis: Are there scientific efforts and accomplishments you can contribute to the fight against the Coronavirus? Could your department help to produce disinfectants? Do you have operational 3D printers or PCR equipment that could be made available quickly? Are there any legal experts who could help support the Austrian authorities during this difficult situation? If you see options and possibilities, please send an e-mail to: vizerektorat-forschung@jku.at .

Thank you for your efforts and dedication and please stay healthy!

 

UPDATE March 17

The JKU has learned that a Russian student enrolled in an international degree program has tested positive for the Coronavirus upon his return to Russia.

The international Master's degree program "TROIKA" is comprised of 26 students and is organized by the JKU together with partner universities in Nizhny Novgorod (Russia) and Bergamo (Italy). As part of the program, students have consecutive stays in each of the three countries. The students have been in Austria since January 9, 2020. 

The academic directors of the JKU program repeatedly and expressly asked students not to travel. In the meantime, we have learned that an Italian student traveled to Bergamo for a short visit between February 18 and 20, 2020, and upon his return to Linz, he volunteered to place himself in a 14-day quarantine. During this time, he showed no symptoms. Rumors regarding other students in the program taking short trips to Italy have not yet been confirmed. However, students in the program admitted today that on Saturday, they held a party in a small room at a student dormitory in Linz. An additional student in this group is currently complaining of a high fever.

University management immediately informed the Austrian health authorities and science ministry of the situation. At the same time, the students involved, the student dormitory and the respective instructors have been notified of the Russian student’s infection in order to take the necessary precautions.

Once again, this case is cause to urge you to maintain social-distancing and avoid social contact. We all not only bear responsibility for our health, but also especially the health and safety of the elderly and those who are chronically ill.


UPDATE March 15

The number of those infected with the Coronavirus in Upper Austria is increasing rapidly.

In the meantime the JKU has had two reported cases:

  • In one case (at the Department of Occupational Safety and Security) we responded over a week ago to the first suspected case (no symptoms; only contact with someone who was infected) and have asked all employees in that department to remain at home for 14 days. The other employees at the department have not shown any symptoms yet and have therefore not been tested.
  • In another case, a student in the MMJus degree program (distance learning law degree program) has been affected. According to the information available, he had no contact with anyone at the university, while being contagious.

We ask that any employees or students who suspect they have the Coronavirus, or those who have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, to inform us immediately by calling: 0732 2468-1450 so that we can quickly take all necessary precautions to protect colleagues.

Today, the Austrian Federal Government has implemented stricter measures that include staying home this coming week and working from home, if possible. There is a ban on groups of people assembling. People should leave home only to:

  • work, particularly in professions that cannot be postponed or exercised from home.
  • run urgent errands, such as grocery shopping.
  • help others who need assistance and help.

Accordingly, all JKU employees are being asked to work exclusively from home until further notice. JKU employees who have to work on campus in order to maintain the necessary, minimum level of campus operations have already been informed by the respective managers and supervisors of their respective departments. All other employees are required to perform their job duties from home.

In this regard, we would like to once again reiterate that employees must be available by telephone during work hours and, at the same time, also ensure that he/she can be present at his/her location of employment within a 2 hour period. Therefore, we ask that all employees to electronically send their telephone numbers to his/her immediate supervisor so that the employee can be reached during office hours.

Aside from providing employees the opportunity to work from home, employees who have childcare responsibilities will be granted childcare leave for children up to the age of 14. This will be done quickly and without unnecessary bureaucracy. If you are facing this situation, please contact the Department of Human Resource Management (with the involvement of a supervisor) by sending a brief electronic message.

If you have any questions, please call the internal JKU Hotline (0732 2468)-1450 between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. As before, you can always reach us by sending an e-mail to rektor@jku.at.

We ask that you please strictly adhere to the recommendations as issued by the Austrian Federal Government and maintain social distancing as much as possible.

Thank you for your help and your sense of responsibility!

 

UPDATE March 12 / II.

In lieu of the exponential spread of the Coronavirus in Austria, we deem it necessary to restrict university operations even further at the JKU and implement additional precautionary measures:

Individual communication services for students (at the Admissions Office, Department of Examinations and Recognition Services, the International Office, Student Information & Advising Services, etc.) will be suspended until further notice. However, we will ensure that documents (such as applications for admission, applications for credit transfer, etc.) can be submitted in alternate ways. We will post information on the homepage about shortly: https://www.jku.at/studium/studieninteressierte/service-info-beratung/.

Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, buildings on JKU campus will be closed until further notice, as is normal for a Sunday, for example. Access to the premises (offices, laboratories, workshops, etc.) will be restricted to authorized employees who have an access card and a key. JKU employees are asked to check and make sure access cards are working this week.

Employees responsible for laboratories, workshops and the like are requested to shut the systems down to operate at minimum capacity and, if necessary, provide reduced services. If you have any questions, please contact the Vice-Rector for Research.

In regards to working from home, please see the Rector’s 6th communiqué. In lieu of this unique situation, the following applies:

  • All department heads must issue a directive for all employees to work from home, providing he/she fulfills the criteria as outlined by the Rector in his 6th communiqué.
  • The Rectorate will hold short-term coordination meetings with the respective deans and in the area of general administration so that a number of employees are able to work from home.

Aside from the option to work from home, employees who have childcare responsibilities will be granted leave to care for children up to the age of 14 due to the closure of crèches, kindergartens and schools. This will be done quickly and without unnecessary bureaucracy. If you are facing this situation, please contact the Department of Human Resource Management (with the involvement of a supervisor) by sending a brief electronic message.

If you have any questions, please call the internal JKU Hotline (0732 2468)-1450.

Given the seriousness of the situation, we once again urge you to minimize social contacts both professionally and personally. In this unusual situation, enormous efforts are required from all of us in order to curb the rapid rise of the rate of infection (see diagram below). Aside from this, the next few days and weeks will be an enormous challenge for society as a whole. From the bottom of my heart, I ask you as representatives of the JKU, to set a special example in terms of your sense of social responsibility and solidarity.

I wish you and your families all the best under these unique circumstances.

 

UPDATE: March 12 / I.

We would like to inform you about the following measures:

In regards to examinations, the following applies beginning April 3, 2020:

  • The Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs will determine the way grading for individual courses will be carried out by the respective course instructor. The legal basis (amendment of statutes) will be available shortly.
  • Written and oral subject-specific and final examinations will be suspended until April 3, 2020. Compliance with the required hygienic conditions for written examinations and oral examinations (which, by law, must be publicly accessible) cannot be guaranteed for the time being.
  • According to the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the current measures planned will apply until April 3, 2020, after which examinations will be carried out again during regular operations (providing no new measures have been adopted). Depending on the situation and if necessary, alternative forms of examinations can be developed while ensuring the required hygienic conditions for students and employees. In any case, we are working toward providing a sufficient number of examination opportunities for Summer Semester 2020.

The commencement ceremonies scheduled for April 1 and April 2 have been cancelled.

Today we informed all department heads that employees can be allowed to work from home until further notice and under the following conditions:

  • The job tasks must be suitable to be completed at home.
  • If approved to work from home, department operations must be ensured and not hindered or impaired in any way.
  • The employee must have the proper work equipment at his/her disposal in order to be able to work from home and enable work to be completed outside of the JKU. Additional technical infrastructure or other work equipment cannot be issued.
  • During working hours, the employee must be available by phone and also ensure that he/she can be present at his/her location of employment within a 2 hour period.

The following applies for work-related business travel up to April 3, 2020:

  • Work-related company travel will not be authorized. Authorization for trips that have already been approved shall be withdrawn.
  • Work-related travel in Austria will only be permitted if necessary in order to maintain operations. In this case, it is recommended to use your own vehicle and you will be reimbursed under the official allowance for mileage.
  • Any approval issued for work-related travel will be withdrawn if the trip does not serve to maintain operations.

We strongly advise JKU employees to not travel abroad outside of working hours or travel abroad on holiday. Any travel to high-risk areas can also have consequences in terms of your employment. We also recommend that while in Austria, you should avoid social contact as much as you can. This recommendation also applies to students.

We have also repeatedly requested limiting social contact at the workplace as much as possible. We also advise that if possible, avoid meetings involving a group of several or more people.

We are also concerned with hygiene at the workplace. Operations Management has instructed all cleaning companies working on the campus to deep clean wherever possible and clean and disinfect neuralgic spots (door handles, in particular). In addition, the cleaning companies have assured us that they have informed their employees about the correct hygiene behavior (in various languages).

We strongly urge you to use the hand disinfectant dispensers that have been set up around campus when at the JKU. They are not intended for home use.

If you have any questions, please call the internal JKU hotline: (0732 2468)-1450.

Thank you for your understanding, vigilance, and unwavering support!

 

To protect JKU employees and students and increase precautionary measures to help in reducing any further spread of the SARS CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection in the best way possible, the Johannes Kepler University Linz has made the following decisions:

Starting March 11, 2020, the Johannes Kepler University is suspending in-person classes and examinations for all degree programs. Wherever possible, we will offer online options via e-learning at home. If there are courses in which online options are not available, university courses and operations will be suspended until further notice. In addition, we ask students stay away from JKU facilities (laboratories, libraries, study zones, the Dept. of Examinations and Recognition Services, the Admissions Office, the university cafeteria, etc.) until further notice. The library reading rooms will be closed until further notice. We ask that you contact these departments by phone or by sending an e-mail.

The Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs will send detailed information to all faculty members and instructors in a separate e-mail. Faculty members and instructors will send students information about the procedure regarding individual courses and examinations.

In regards to the scope of legalities, we will make every attempt to act with the greatest gesture of goodwill possible in order to avoid negative effects regarding studies or the timeframe for the duration of your studies. In regards to courses being held at other institutions for JKU students (i.e. at the Medical University of Graz), please observe the regulations as stated by the institution.

Beginning March 11, 2020, the courses offered by the University Sports Institute (USI) will be suspended until further notice.

Other university operations are currently not affected by this measure. It is imperative that the university maintain daily operations and keep our services running.  JKU employees can only work from home under this premise. The decision is to be rendered by the respective department head after being informed by the Rectorate. Until then, university operations will continue without any restrictions.

We ask you to be vigilant and request that you restrict social contact (such as in common areas, at the library, at the university cafeteria, etc.) and meetings as much as you can. If possible, please communicate using the phone or via video conferencing. The JKU is also suspending on-campus conferences, symposia and other public events until further notice.

We would also like to inform you that in regards to your personal and home life, there is also a high-risk of transmission and we strongly advise you to avoid personal events, celebrations, and festivities.

If you have any questions, please call the internal JKU Coronavirus Hotline (0732 2468)-1450 and your request will be forwarded to the responsible department.
 

UPDATE March 9, 2020

University operations at the JKU are currently running as normal. All classes will take place as scheduled.

If, however, you feel unwell and experience acute symptoms such as a sudden cough, fever, shortness of breath, AND 14 days prior to these symptoms you

  • had close contact with someone who has or potentially has the COVID-19 virus
  • or you stayed in a region or area in which sustained transmission of SARS-CoV-2 must be assumed,

then we ask that in order to avoid infecting others you do NOT come to the JKU campus.

Under these circumstances, contact the Health Counseling Service by calling 1450 (24/7 hotline) and inform university management by sending an e-mail to: rektor@jku.at so that the necessary precautions can be taken.

We ask any faculty, staff and students who have returned to Austria from countries for which the Foreign Ministry has issued current travel warnings within the last 14 days to be extra vigilant.

If, under the aforementioned reasons, you will miss classes due to illness – particularly those requiring mandatory attendance - the university will extend a gesture of goodwill.

General questions about the Coronavirus (symptoms, procedures, frequency of occurrence, and prevention) can be answered on the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety website (AGES): https://www.ages.at/themen/krankheitserreger/coronavirus/#

Currently, any business travel on behalf of the university to areas considered at risk will not be authorized. We ask you to adhere the travel warnings issued by the Austrian Foreign Ministry: https://www.bmeia.gv.at/reise-aufenthalt/reisewarnungen/

I ask for your understanding in the event any fellow classmates or co-workers wish to avoid physical contact, such as when shaking hands in greeting.

NEWS 26.03.2020

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