Coronavirus Update: New Service Instructions by the Federal State of Hesse

Instructions for Employees in Connection with the Acute Outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)

Dear Colleagues,

The 2020/21 winter semester will be a tough nut to crack!

With a rise in infection rates and more and more confirmed Covid-19 cases around us - with implications on teaching, research and our daily lives - we are all facing difficult times. Maintaining a high quality of teaching and research despite limited resources and spatial restrictions will be anything but easy.

We can crack this tough nut together - teaching staff, university staff and students - so let's do it!

We are using e-guest to track contact data in university facilities (www.e-guest.de). Get the latest updates from our crisis management team here: www.hs-geisenheim.de/corona

Best regards,

Hans R. Schultz
- President -

Corona Pandemic Update

Coronavirus Update: New Service Instructions by the Federal State of Hesse

The Federal State of Hesse has issued mandatory instructions for all departments (see reporting requirements, etc.). In addition, there are official instructions for employees who, for instance, have vulnerable family members. The Federal State of Hesse's pandemic plan is applicable. Employees of Hochschule Geisenheim University are obliged to implement or comply with these instructions with immediate effect.

Contact

Please contact Occupational Safety and Healthcare Management immediately if you have tested positive for COVID-19

If a member of your household or a close contact has tested positive, please call or send an email to Corona(at)hs-gm.de to discuss the next steps. Please do not access the campus before the issue has been discussed.

Corona(at)hs-gm.de / +49 6722 502 285
(Occupational Safety & Healthcare Management))

Hannah Schmidt-Weis
Hannah Schmidt-Weis
Karsten Rose
Dr. Karsten Rose
Building 5902
Room 3
Phone +49 6722 502 283
Karsten.Rose(at)hs-gm.de Details

Dealing with Suspected and Confirmed Corona Infections, Entry/Return from High-Risk Areas

Travelling to Germany from Abroad - International Students and Guests

A summary of all entry and travel restrictions can be found here: www.zusammengegencorona.de/informieren/alltag-und-reisen/reisen/

The website provides information on:

  • obligation to undergo COVID testing when entering the country
  • designation of risk areas/high-risk areas
  • digital registration on entry
  • exemptions for vaccinated travellers

Before arrival, please read the latest information on the current classification of the area from which you enter. The latest classification is available on the webpage of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)

Please note that your vaccination certificate will only be accepted if you have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved in the EU. The officially approved vaccines are listed on the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) website.

It is expected that no trips to countries outside Germany will be undertaken if the Federal Government has classified the country as a high-risk area and it is not urgently necessary.

If you have questions, please contact International(at)hs-gm.de.

Information about federal regulations on mandatory Corona tests for people entering the country::
https://www.bundesgesundheitsministerium.de/service/gesetze-und-verordnungen/guv-19-lp/coronaeinreisev.html

Federal government information for travelers and commuters:
https://www.bundesregierung.de/breg-de/themen/coronavirus/faq-reisen-1735032

The current German Foreign Office travel warnings:
https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/ReiseUndSicherheit/reise-und-sicherheitshinweise

Important information provided by the Robert Koch Institute and recommended action for people entering Germany:
https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Transport/BMG_Merkblatt_Reisende_Tab.html

Information on the designation of international risk areas by the Federal Foreign Office, BMG and BMI
https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Risikogebiete_neu.html

Hy­gie­ne and Protection Measures

Contact Among Each Other
© WHO

In buildings and also on campus, it is important to ensure that people have as little direct contact with each other as possible or that their contact is reduced to a minimum. Contact in rooms of the university, during breaks or other activities is to be kept to a minimum. Physical contact, such as shaking hands is to be avoided.

Mouth and Nose Coverings
© WHO

Wearing a mouth and nose covering is recommended in publicly accessible areas. However, wearing a mask is not required in areas which cannot be accessed by the public, e.g. office spaces, if a minimum distance of 1.5 m to other people can be respected. The recommendation also applies to visitors, so please pass on this information.   

Teaching staff may remove the mask while teaching.

It is recommended, if possible, to take off the mask after 3 hours (75 minutes in case of FFP2 masks), ideally for a period of at least 30 minutes.

 

Ventilation

In order to protect against infection, interiors should be supplied with as much fresh air as possible. This is one of the most effective methods of removing potentially viral aerosols from indoor spaces.

Fresh air ventilation

The simplest form of ventilation is window ventilation. Impact ventilation, where windows are opened fully, must take place before or at the beginning of the event and then at regular intervals. A ventilation period of 3 to 10 minutes is recommended. Even more effective (if possible) is cross-ventilation via opposite windows.

The time interval for ventilation depends on the size of the room, the number of people, activities (normal speaking or e.g. choir singing) and the available window area. The SARS-CoV-2 occupational safety rule of the BMAS recommends ventilation after 60 minutes for offices and after 20 minutes for meeting rooms.

Regulations for Employees

Instructions for Handling the Coronavirus in the Business Area of the Hessian Ministry of Science and the Arts (Dienstanweisung des HMWK)

The instructions for handling the coronavirus in the business area of the HMWK must be observed. Furthermore, the primary objective is to maintain the proper functioning of the state government and its departments and agencies. The instructions therefore focus on the state’s duty to protect the health of its employees.

In light of the current pandemic situation, state employees are expected to observe the regulations as defined by section 1, Corona Protection Ordinance, and comply with the guidelines provided by the Robert Koch Institute.

Link in German:

3G Regulations in the workplace (§ 28b Infection Protection Act, IfSG)

Pursuant to the amendment of the German Infection Protection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz, IfSG), new regulations for infection control in the workplace have been introduced. The employer is responsible for monitoring compliance. Employers and employees have to carry proof of their vaccination or recovery status or a current negative COVID test result when entering the workplace.

For more detailed information please see the current version of  § 28b IfSG. The regulations apply until March 19, 2022.

Risk Groups and Protective Measures

If employees who are more likely to suffer from a severe COVID-19 infection cannot work from home, employers must explore all options in relation to hygiene and distance regulations to enable them to work in the office. Employees concerned must provide a medical certificate which proves that they belong to a risk group. The costs to obtain such a certificate must be borne by the employees themselves.

In particular, employers must consider if employees affected can be given an individual office, work during off-peak hours or be reassigned to alternative duties.

The medical certificate has to be presented to the superior for information purposes. The original must be sent to HR & HR Development. Superiors are not authorized to make a copy of the certificate. After the end of the pandemic, HR will destroy all doctor's certificates immediately and in compliance with data protection laws.

If neither working from home nor working at your workplace is possible, plus hours in the flexitime account or other overtime hours need to be used.

If all of the above possibilities are exhausted or are not possible, paid leave of absence from work can be considered in exceptional cases on the basis of an occupational medical examination within the framework of dutiful discretion, and after weighting up the duty to maintain proper operational functioning and the duty to have regard for the welfare of officials. In these cases, please contact HR & HR Development.

 

Care of Children and Relatives in Need of Care

If the nursery, child care facility or school is closed due to infection prevention measures, employees with children under 12 years of age can be allowed to work at home for home care reasons. The home office agreements already made continue to apply.

In exceptional cases, leave of absence from work or service with continued payment of remuneration may be granted for periods outside school holidays or closing times if

  • the shared childcare facility or school is partially or completely closed or in restricted regular operation
  • the children have not yet reached the age of 12 or are in need of help due to a physical, mental or psychological impairment 
  • work at home, if necessary with reduced working hours, is not possible
  • plus hours on the flexitime account as well as overtime hours have already been used 
  • alternative childcare options (e.g. emergency childcare, other parent, family care group) are not available on an hourly basis.

The same applies to the care of a close relative in need of care if the day care facility closes due to infection prevention measures or admission is not possible.

If all of the above possibilities are exhausted or are not possible after consultation with superiors, paid leave of absence from work may be considered. In that case, please contact HR & HR Development.

For detailed information, for examples on the conditions to claim child sickness benefit (Kinderkrankengeld), please go to the website of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth: https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/aktuelles/alle-meldungen/kinderkrankengeld-wird-ausgeweitet/164738 (information provided in German)

An English-language explanation of the child sickness benefit (Kinderkrankengeld) can be found on the following website:

https://www.iamexpat.de/expat-info/german-expat-news/kinderkrankengeld-how-parents-germany-can-take-paid-time-care-kids

Mobile Work

HGU employees are supposed to work from home until further notice, provided that their task and duties and their technical equipment qualify for mobile work and their presence in the workplace is not required (HomeOfficeCorona). If employees must be present in the workplace due to the nature of their tasks and duties or in order to ensure proper service operations, measures shall be taken to reduce the number of contacts among employees to a minimum.

When working from home, please bear in mind that you are obliged to protect confidential data and information so that third parties do not have access.

Employees can work from home if the following criteria are met:

  • The tasks must be suitable for being carried out at home.
  • Service operations can be maintained.
  • Data protection and data security is guaranteed.
  • Any overload is avoided.
  • Participation is voluntary.
  • No overtime hours can be accumulated.

Respective superiors are responsible for proper service operations.

The instructions for handling the coronavirus in the area of responsibility of the Hessian Ministry of Science and the Arts (Dienstanweisung zum Umgang mit dem Corona-Virus im Geschäftsbereich des HMWK), dated November 30, 2021, remain unaffected.

 

COVID Testing for Employees

Self-test kits are provided to employees in accordance with the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Please contact Occupational Safety and Healthcare Management for further information.

Hygiene regulations for working on campus

Surgical masks or face masks of the protection classes FFP2, KN95, N95 or similar without integrated exhalation valve must be worn in all HGU buildings. This does not include workspaces that are not accessible to the public, provided that a distance of 1.5 m from others can be safely maintained.

 

 

 

Information on Occupational Safety and Corona provided by the German Statutory Accident Insurance

Below you will find some information (in German) regarding occupational safety and corona provided by the German Statutory Accident Insurance.

For questions concerning occupational safety and corona, feel free to contact the Department of Occupational Safety and Healthcare Management.

Time Recording
  • On days when employees work from home all day, they contact HR to report their actual working hours. Employees cannot claim overtime when working from home. Exceptions can only be made in individual cases.
  • On days when employees work partly at Hochschule Geisenheim University and partly at home, they book their arrival and departure time at the time recording device, and report their working hours for mobile work to Human Resources. In general, employees cannot claim overtime when working from home. Exceptions can only be made in individual cases.
  • On days when employees work at Hochschule Geisenheim University all day, they book their arrival and departure times at the time recording device. On these days, flextime plus hours and minus hours are recorded as usual and can be used in accordance with the flextime employment agreement.
  • Travel time between the office and the mobile workplace does not count as working time.

 

Overtime in Mobile Work

In general, employees cannot claim overtime when they are working from home. Exceptions can only be made in individual cases if the current pandemic-related workload requires overtime.

 

 

Official Meetings and Committee Meetings

Official meetings and committee meetings may be held indoors with a maximum of 25 participants and in compliance with enhanced hygiene standards. However, meetings should be reduced to a minimum. Please observe the regulations provided by the SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance, which stipulates that if several people are in the same room at the same time, each person must have a minimum of 10 square meters, if this is compatible with the assigned tasks. If necessary, the Department of Occupational Safety and Healthcare Management provides surgical face masks or FFP2 masks.

How can I protect myself and others during meetings?

  • The Federal Center for Health Education has summarized the most important hygiene information in this diagram (in German)
  • Consider if the meeting can be postponed or replaced by a conference call
  • Reduce the number of participants to the required employees/participants
  • Limit topics and schedule to what is absolutely essential
  • Wear a medical mask until you have taken your seat
  • If possible, arrange the seats in the room to allow a safety distance (1 - 2 m is recommended)
  • Do not shake hands
  • Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly before the meeting begins. The room should be aired thoroughly before the meeting starts.
  • Air the room regularly during the meeting
  • Participants with cold symptoms should not take part in the meeting
  • Participants or people returning from high-risk areas should not take part or they may participate via conference call
  • Observe coughing and sneezing hygiene. Do not cough or sneeze into your hand but in the crook of your arm or, preferably, leave the meeting room for a short period of time.
  • Always take your used tissues with you and dispose of them in a closed bin.
  • Keep your distance in personal discussions. A 15-minute lively conversation between two people in a room without any safety distance is considered enough for a transmission of the corona virus.
  • For possible inquiries, make a list of all participants with names and contact details (phone number, e-mail) and store the list for a period of one month.
Reporting Sick

In case of illness, all employees have to report sick on the first day of illness. From the 4th calender day onwards, a sick note is required.

 

 

 

Vacation
  • As a general rule, any approved recovery holiday cannot be reclaimed because of the Corona pandemic or holiday trips being cancelled as a result.
  • As usual, already approved recovery holiday can only be reclaimed in justified individual cases with the consent of your superior. This can be the case if, for urgent operational reasons, the employee is considered indispensable for maintaining services and operations despite of a planned holiday.
  • Please adhere to the current instructions and the obligation to inform your employer when returning from abroad
Further Training

Further training should take place digitally (webinars) if possible. In case digital alternatives are not possible, urgently required trainings may take place face-to-face in compliance with applicable hygiene and distance regulations.

Participating in external trainings is possible if hygiene and safety standards are adhered to. Regulations for business trips must be followed.

 

 

Business Trips
  • Superiors and the business travellers have to carefully evaluate if the business trip is absolutely necessary. 
  • Alternatives such as video conferencing or conference calls are to be prioritized.
  • If a business trip is indispensable, employees should use an official or private car, if possible, and they may not carry any passengers. Public transport should be avoided where possible.
  • In terms of travel expenses it can be assumed that valid reasons exist for travelling in your own car pursuant to Section 6 (1) of the Travel Expenses Act of the State of Hesse, and a mileage allowance amounting to EUR 0.35 can be granted.
Selection Interviews

Selection interviews may take place in the usual face-to-face setting again if hygiene standards, as outlined in the Instructions for Handling the Corona Virus, are adhered to. This also applies to interviews as part of appointment procedures.

Interviews may also take place in a digital form. For important information on digital interviews, please get in touch with the responsible departments beforehand.

 

 

Current Regulations and Press Releases (with highlighted parts)

Important documents are made available, with highlighted parts. Information regarding emergency funding for students (highlighted in yellow), most important passages about applying (highlighted in red)!

Übersicht der Verordnungen und Pressemeldungen