6 April 2020

Update #28 COVID-19

  PLEASE NOTE: these updates may contain outdated information. Please read the latest information.

Update #28, 6 April 2020 16:00 hrs

In this update, we provide information about the safe use of the video conferencing service Zoom. And as requested, the Crisis Management Team is introduced to you. We also—once again—take a look at the issue of combining working from home with care duties and work pressure. In addition, we cover how things stand regarding the number of people in our community who have become ill from the virus. Finally, we would like to draw your attention to interesting online CPD workshops from EDLAB and a new interview on the 'We’re open!' website.

Using Zoom at UM is safe

The use of the Zoom video conferencing service has recently been questioned in the media and by some organisations, particularly with regard to privacy and security. We are familiar with these issues and have taken measures from the outset. At Maastricht University, Zoom has been installed and set up so that you can use it safely. However, please use the version offered by UM and follow the corresponding instructions. For this particular purpose, we offer manuals on the Online Education website that provide guidelines on the 'correct' use of Zoom. If you have any questions or problems, please contact the Helpdesk!

UM did not make a hasty decision when choosing Zoom. Based on the principle that the quality and continuity of education has priority, this system was chosen. In selecting which parts of Zoom we would or would not use, specific attention was paid to privacy and security. Being able to use the system safely also explains why we are not making all of the features available now. We have set the Zoom settings as narrowly as possible, without losing sight of the workability for teachers.

For the long term, we are looking for a definitive solution for this functionality. As soon as we can tell you more about it, we will.

CMT? Who are they anyway? And what do they do?

From the moment the first signs of the coronavirus crisis appeared at the end of February, UM set up a Crisis Management Team (CMT) that could help make quick decisions about the necessary measures. The CMT bears the ultimate responsibility for the safety and well-being of students and employees, the continuity of the primary processes and the protection of the organisation’s reputation—in short, for managing the crisis.

The CMT represents all disciplines that are affected by the crisis—not only education and research, but also the supporting processes such as HR, facility management, (digital) information provision and all the administrative support required for this.

In this case, UM's COVID-19 CMT is composed as follows:

Chairman: Nick Bos (Vice President)

Members: Martin Paul (President), Rianne Letschert (Rector Magnificus), Harm Hospers (Vice-Rector for Education), Pauline Arends (Head of Occupational Health and Safety), Pauline Aalten (Head of the UM Student Desk), Nicolai Manie (Online Education Coordinator), Michiel Borgers (Chief Information Officer), Paul van Eekeren (Safety & Security), Denis Ancion (Director of Marketing & Communication), Fons Elbersen (Interim Spokesperson)

Representative of the University Council: Amanda Kluveld

Secretary: Niels Harteman

The CMT meets daily (online as much as possible) from 09.00 to 10.00. Decisions are formally ratified in the Executive Board (EB) meetings on Tuesdays. Under the direction of the CMT, an extensive network of task forces and working groups also deals with a wide range of issues relating to education, research and business operations. The CMT Chairman and other EB members regularly (or incidentally if necessary) coordinate with the deans and directors. There is also ongoing consultation with other universities, the VSNU and other (governmental) parties where necessary.

In addition, the faculties and service centres also have their own responsibile parties, procedures and facilities to combat the consequences of the crisis.

How do I stay in balance? Tips for working from home

In this uncertain and stressful period, working from home can be an extra burden, in addition to worries about your health and that of your loved ones, especially when you have to combine working or studying with childcare and/or informal care. It can also be more stressful if you are alone at home and only have contact with others by phone or online.

It is important to inform your manager as early as possible if you think the work pressure may become too high. After all, the CMT attaches a great deal of value to the fact that the work pressure is as well balanced as possible with the care tasks, so that employees can continue to combine all of these things well.

In order to stay in balance, we would like to draw attention to a number of resources, most of which have already been communicated:

  • Click here for tips regarding mental health from the WHO.
  • Click here for tips for staying in touch with colleagues, such as Zoom and Lifesize.
  • Click here for the free online courses on staying vital, offered by HumanCapitalCare (HCC), the Occupational Health Care Service for employees. To obtain your login details, please send an e-mail to l.renierkens[at]humancapitalcare[dot]nl, stating the course for which you wish to register (in the week of 7 April, this will also be made available in English).
  • Click here for contact persons for employees in case of anxiety/stress (corporate social worker, confidential advisor, ombudsman, company doctor).
  • Click here for contact persons for students in case of anxiety/stress (student psychologist, confidential advisor for students).
  • Tips for a healthy lifestyle (healthy diet and exercise while working from home).

Are you ill? Get better and take rest!

Because we would like to know about the health of our employees, we have continued to indicate that we would appreciate it if you inform your manager whether a report of illness is related to the coronavirus. This could be a positive result of a test or when the doctor suspects that it concerns the virus.

In the past two months, a total of about twenty people have reported this to their manager. Colleagues or third parties who recently had contact with an infected colleague at work have been informed of this—with the consent of the colleague affected.

We wish a speedy recovery for employees who are ill and advise them to rest as much as possible. Even with mild complaints, working from home is not recommended! In principle, reporting sick is the appropriate way to proceed. If there are still questions or ambiguities, call the company doctor for advice.

We are open! Online workshops at EDLAB Maastricht

The coronavirus pandemic is also affecting the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) offering at EDLAB Maastricht, at least where it concerns activities where people come together.

But don’t worry—EDLAB offers interesting workshops online!

  • A webinar on 14 May: Assessment as an opportunity to learn: towards a feedback culture in university education
  • On 19 May an online session: A reflection on 'problems' in PBL Task Design

Interested? Go to the CPD website for more information and sign up soon!

New story in story series ‘We’re open!’

How do you get 280 Health Sciences students to switch to online education in just a few days? You can read what that entails for teachers and students in the conversation with coordinator Rixt Zijlstra and student Isabelle Dekker in the story series 'We’re open!'.