27 March 2020

Information on the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Update #22: 27 March, 17.10

Dear members of the UM community,

It has been about two weeks since the Dutch government imposed the first drastic measures in the fight against the COVID-19 on 12 March. This is a journey for which no one knows the end point yet.

The crisis, which has since become global, has had a profound impact on our lives, both professionally and personally, which we fully recognise. Concerns about your own health and the health of the people you love. Concerns about your studies, your research, perhaps also about your future. Employees and students with children who have to combine work and childcare from one day to the next, along with increasing restrictions imposed by the government—for very understandable reasons. International students and staff have to stay far away from Maastricht, or in Maastricht itself, far away from their family and friends. Worries, stress and grief—the coronavirus pandemic demands a lot from all of us.

In its actions and considerations, the Crisis Management Team at Maastricht University is guided each day by the interests of students and staff, as much as possible. In consultation with fellow universities and the Dutch government, we try to find the right answers to the many questions people have. Where necessary and where possible, we implement customised solutions, for example when the specific (international) character of our university demands it. And sometimes we still don’t have an answer to a particular question or concern because we, or the sector together with the government, need even more time to come up with the answer. After all, there are no 'manuals' or 'guidelines' that we can fall back on in this exceptional situation.

At the same time, it is heartwarming to see that the crisis is also bringing out the best in people. For example, we are seeing creativity and flexibility in online education. We are seeing great initiatives by students and staff to help people in need. We are seeing how scientists are making their contribution in medicine and other areas.

‘Only together will we get the coronavirus under control' is the slogan of the campaign with which the central government is fighting the virus. Every day, we are experiencing another dimension of that 'together'—the togetherness within our community and between our community and society. That makes us grateful. And that motivates us—'together' with you—to continue to make our contributions in the fight against the consequences of COVID-19.

We have said it before and repeat it here: take good care of yourself, your loved ones and each other.

And above all, stay healthy!

Crisis Management Team

Assistance for students and staff abroad

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maastricht University has mapped the status of its students and staff abroad. Via the International Relations Officers (IRO’s) and HR advisors of each faculty, students and staff continuously communicate their situation and need for assistance. The vast majority of UM students and staff have either returned home or have indicated that they are in a safe situation abroad and able to continue their studies online.

Currently, UM is in touch with around thirty students and around ten staff members that have trouble with their repatriation to the Netherlands or their home country, mostly because of the cancelation of their flights. These students and staff are requested to register with the repatriation platform managed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with their embassy and/or consulate in their country of residence. Additionally, UM is actively participating in the Platform Integral Safety that brings together Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences and stands in contact with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with whom individual cases are discussed and solutions sought for.

UM also remains in close contact with partner universities abroad who are facilitating the repatriation of their exchange students at UM. 

This process will continue until all students and staff that want to return home have been able to do so.

Annual appraisals and assessment interviews

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, our organisation suddenly changed into an online organisation in which most people work from home. We have implemented online meeting tools and are trying out what works best for us, in all kinds of situations. Assessment interviews and annual appraisals are conversations which most people prefer to have in a personal setting, where you also take some time for that conversation. UM has drawn up guidelines on how to deal with this in the current situation. These have been translated into the FAQs for employees.

Free ReadSpeaker software license for all UM students

Due to the consequences of the coronavirus, all UM students (even students who are not in possession of a dyslexia statement) can temporarily apply for a TextAid ReadSpeaker license until 31 July 2020. TextAid is an online tool that provides reading, writing and studying literacy support. TextAid uses text-to-speech software. This tool provides you with both a written and a spoken version of your uploaded documents. There is a read-along cursor so that TextAid can support you both auditorily and visually. If you want to use this free license until 31 July 2020, go to the TextAid website and sign in by clicking on ‘Sign in with Office 365’. If this doesn't work, send an email with the subject line 'Request TextAid' and your student ID to Disability Support.

Municipality of Maastricht’s corona support point

The Municipality of Maastricht has set up a corona support point, with English and Dutch information for Maastricht residents, for example about municipal services and (support) initiatives: https://www.gemeentemaastricht.nl/en/corona-support-point-citizens.