26 June 2020

Information on the coronavirus (COVID-19)

Update #44, 26 June 2020

In this update, we discuss the relaxation of the corona measures announced by the Dutch government with effect from the new academic year. We inform you about the survey that will soon be sent to employees and students about their mode of transportation. You can also read more about the extra study places that the University Library will offer for students and the Datahub DISQOVER for researchers that has been updated with COVID-19 information from all over the world. More buildings will be opened (to a limited extent) and, finally, we would like to draw your attention to the new stories and videos published on our website last week.

Relaxation of corona measures by the government

On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Rutte announced new relaxations of the corona measures for higher education. These relaxations will take effect in the new academic year and relate to two specific issues: which activities are allowed to take place at the university again and how we should ensure the safe use of public transport.

Since 15 June, the general rule has been that universities may only allow educational activities on campus within certain timeframes, and only if those activities cannot or can only be replaced by online alternatives to a very limited extent. For example, this could include certain practicals or skills assessments. As of 1 August, these restrictions will no longer apply; all types of educational activities can again be scheduled throughout the day. An important condition in this respect is that the RIVM regulations are complied with, meaning the 1.5 metre distance rule will continue to apply without compromise.

In addition, good agreements must be made at local/regional levels between educational institutions and transport operators about travelling by public transport (OV). The aim of these agreements is to transport as many people as possible safely to educational institutions and, at the same time, to spread out the schedules for students and staff well with regard to public transport. The 1.5 metre distance rule in the buildings plus spreading out the schedules will result in fewer students and staff being on trains or buses at the same time. In addition, everyone will be asked to cycle or walk as much as possible, for example, in the compact city of Maastricht.

Maintaining the 1.5 metre distance rule means that UM's buildings cannot be fully utilised. This limited capacity indicates that the education for all students at the start of the new academic year will consist of a mix of online and on-campus education. As we have communicated before, the guideline for Maastricht University is: on campus if possible, online if necessary. The faculties are currently working hard on educational plans in which this will be worked out in greater detail. These plans will be further communicated at the level of the programmes themselves.

Finally, in addition to the 1.5 metre distance rule, the other RIVM regulations continue to apply as general guidelines: wash your hands and do not come to the university if you have any symptoms.

Survey about your mode of transport

As mentioned, UM and other educational institutions have to make informed decisions together with carriers and regional authorities about the use of public transport. It is therefore very important to gain insights into that use. How do you plan to travel to the university in the new academic year? This question is the focus of the survey that will be sent out to all staff and students early next week and which we kindly ask everyone to fill in—even if you do not travel by public transport. Insights into how people travel will contribute to a safe environment for everyone in the new academic year. The survey is an initiative of Zuid Limburg Bereikbaar and will also be distributed among staff and students of Zuyd and Vista. NS, Arriva and the Province of Limburg are also involved. So, keep an eye on your inbox early next week, and please take the time to fill in the questionnaire.

Extra study places at the University Library

COVID-19 relaxation measures will enable the University Library to further scale up the availability of study places. With due observance of all safety guidelines, we will offer the possibilities available within the Inner City Library to students in need of a study place to prepare for exams/re-sits or write a thesis. This has led to a substantial increase in the number of study places available as of Thursday 25 June.

Since Wednesday 24 June, we have also been offering students a limited number of safe study places in the Computer landscape Randwyck (Universiteitssingel 50). Studying at both locations is only possible with a reservation. Students can find information on how to make a reservation in the UM Student Portal.

Up-to-date information on COVID-19 in DataHub DISQOVER

Researchers looking for up-to-date information on COVID-19 from all over the world can now get it from DataHub Maastricht. In the DISQOVER catalogue, linked information can be searched and integrated with one's own results.

Online access to the local DataHub DISQOVER environment is simple. Log in to DataHub DISQOVER with your institutional account and enter a search term, or choose one of the categories shown. You will find the COVID-19 information in the COVID-specific categories (COVID publications, COVID patents and COVID clinical trials).

Would you like to know more about how we use DISQOVER within DataHub? Visit the DataHub portal or send an email.

Limited opening of buildings (continued)

Under controlled conditions, there is more and more space to use UM buildings. This is done on the basis of plans drawn up by faculties or service centres, in which the safety of users of the buildings is central and the RIVM measures are leading. After approval of the plans by the Executive Board, buildings can be opened to a limited extent.

PLEASE NOTE: Further details and conditions regarding the opening will be communicated to the staff concerned by the faculties and service centres themselves.

The Executive Board has approved the opening of the locations:

  • Villa Flora Venlo, as of 29 June, for the research with test subjects, and the laboratories from the moment that the necessary facilities and materials are available.
  • Tongersestraat 6, from June 23 to September 1, from 7.00 to 18.00, for the Finance Department.
  • Tapijn 11 (SBE), as of 22 June.
  • Building X Tapijn (Edlab), as of 24 June, from 8.00 to 18.00, only for the nine Edlab employees.

Finally, the protocols of MSRV Saurus and the Maastricht Student Climbing Association have also been approved by the Executive Board, as well as those of the Maastricht Student Hockey Club.

New stories and videos

In the story series ‘We're open!’, read an interview about the 3WE project ('Well-being, Women and Work in Ethiopia'), a partnership between three UM faculties.

Plus, a Zoom interview with Prof. Philippe Lambin. He and his team acquired more than three million euros of research funding in six months and he reveals the secret to his success.