12 June 2020

Update #42

 PLEASE NOTE: these updates may contain outdated information.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

Update #42, 12 June 2020

In this update, we inform you that an arrangement is in the making with potential solutions for PhD candidates and postdocs who have been confronted with delays caused by COVID-19. Furthermore, a message about the launch of the Cross-border Portal of ITEM and, of course, we also refer you to some nice stories that are in the blog, videos and interviews.

In addition, this update contains several messages related to the return to a 'new normal': the opening of buildings, measures regarding ventilation in the UM buildings and resuming outdoor activities.

We are well aware that the events in recent months have inevitably placed a heavy burden on UM employees. The loyalty with which everyone has worked so hard is heartwarming. But we’re not there yet. The process of resuming education, research and support will also require a lot of energy from many of us. We dare to count on that, also because we have made sure that faculties and service centres are preparing for the new academic year as well as they possibly can, with a great deal of attention for employees and for limiting the workload. The organisation also has an obligation to offer staff and students the safest possible environment. That is what we are committed to. But even then, it is plausible that some employees may prefer not to come and work from their office at UM. They may have good reasons for this and we also want to be open to it.

Potential solutions for PhD candidates and postdocs confronted with delays caused by COVID-19

The coronavirus crisis has had a great impact on UM research. Research with human subjects, for example, has been halted and many academics experience bottlenecks caused by extra online teaching duties, care duties and limited facilities for work at home. PhD candidates and postdocs (academics with temporary contracts), in particular, are faced with problems. Delays in ongoing and new research can have serious consequences for the careers of this vulnerable group of young scientists. UM understands this difficult situation and is trying to mitigate the impact as much as possible. A plan has been developed for this and it is currently under discussion. We hope to be able to report on this soon. 

UM also, self-evidently, devotes attention to all other staff who are confronted with bottlenecks and problems. The Executive Board and the faculties are continually discussing issues such as the importance of making sure that sufficient capacity continues to be available for the transition to online education and resolving as many of the bottlenecks and problems caused by the coronavirus crisis as possible. This also includes monitoring the workload.

Limited opening of the buildings from 15 June

We’re working from home and education is online. That will remain the general rule until 1 September. However, under controlled conditions, there will be a little more space to use UM buildings from Monday, 15 June. This will be done on the basis of plans drawn up by faculties or service centres in which the safety of the users of the buildings is the top priority 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 approves the limited opening of buildings:

  • the Skillslab (Universiteitssingel 5) for third-year medical students in preparation for their clinical skills assessment programme. From 29 June, skills trainings can also be planned here.
  • the Debeyelaan 1 building for educational components offered by the Department of General Medicine.
  • the following FASoS locations:
    • in the week 15-19 June only Grote Gracht 90-92 for the support staff;
    • in the week of 22 June also Grote Gracht 86, GG 80-82, GG 76 ‘achterbouw’. (GG 76, formerly Stercollege will only open from 1 September).
  • at LAW:
    • Bouillonstraat 1-3, for employees with UM card, no educational activities until 1 September
    • Kapoenstraat 2, not accessible at the moment; educational spaces available from 1 September, and from 1 October 2020 also office spaces.
  • the back offices of the University Library locations Grote Looiersstraat 17 and Universiteitssingel 50, limited and phased for the provision of basic services, location-based work and physical meetings on a limited scale for internal employees.

The Tongersestraat 53 building, as well as Universiteitsingel 40 and 50, have recently been opened to a limited extent. The same applies to the University Library at Grote Looierstraat 17 (learning spaces for students).

UM is working on ventilation in buildings

Until 1 September, we will be working from home. To a limited extent and under strict conditions, buildings in Randwijck and in the city centre will be opened up, either for employees or students. In this way, we are trying to eliminate problems that may arise for students and staff in specific circumstances, and we are able to gain experience and prepare ourselves for the time when more people will be able to use the UM buildings again.

Safety for employees is our top priority. Having said that, we understand very well that there are employees who are hesitant to return to work in the near future. We are currently developing a policy for those who have good reasons to want to work from home. For those who do want to work on-site, we are doing everything within our power to create a safe environment. We are doing this in many different areas, such as the area of ventilation. Facility Services is working with faculties and service centres on ventilation measures, both in the short term and somewhat longer term. Click here for more information.

UM SPORTS starts with outdoor sports

Many student sports associations are training again after approval of the corresponding protocols in accordance with the guidelines of the RIVM and the Dutch government.

Saurus (rowing), Ultimaas (Ultimate Frisbee), Maaslax (lacrosse), Maraboes (rugby), Wildcats (American Football), DBSV (soccer), MSHC (hockey), UROS (athletics), Lagakari (sailing), Hippo's (korfball), Stennis (tennis), Fyrfad (volleybal), Ferro Mosae (triathlon), Dutch Mountains (cycling & mountainbiking), SGV (golf) and Tiburón (swimming) have started again already.

During training every student sports association must adhere to required guidelines and measures. For example, athletes must always keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other, sign up for a training and adhere to marked running routes at the sports facility. A coordinator is present per team to ensure that these rules are respected. Training within these guidelines offers a new challenge, but this certainly does not stop the student sports associations from getting back to it full of enthusiasm!

In addition, UM SPORTS has started with outdoor activities on Monday 8 June. Members have been informed about this via the newsletter, in which each member can find more information and a link to the registration. The first outdoor activity that starts is Fit & Fun Outdoor, a class in which you run short distances and do exercises to strengthen your upper body and leg muscles. All this at your own pace while a UM SPORTS instructor guides you through it.

These outdoor activities must also comply with a pre-approved protocol. There is a maximum of ten participants, each member has to register for a class and no materials are being used. UM SPORTS is looking forward to welcome members again and to do sports together in a safe and responsible way. Prefer working out at home? UM SPORTS also offers live classes on Instagram in which you can participate!

Health & Fitness Express for employees
The Health & Fitness Express introduces a new initiative for UM employees. Active breaks during the workday are important, which is why the Health & Fitness Express now offers sessions via Zoom in addition to the weekly Health & Fitness video!

Starting Monday 15 June you can join a Health & Fitness session on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and a Health & Relax session on Wednesday. After these 15-minute energizers you will have enough energy to get back to work. Check the webpage of the Health & Fitness to register and for more information.

ITEM launches Cross-border Portal

COVID-19 is a global threat and the national measures taken by governments to contain the spread of the coronavirus have far-reaching consequences, particularly in border areas. Expertise centre ITEM is monitoring the situation in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany and has created an environment on its Cross-border Portal. Here the main national and European measures are collected and analysed for the border region on border effects.

Information and comparisons can be found on topics such as the border situation and national measures combatting COVID-19, the national exit strategies, economic support measures for entrepreneurs and the tax and social security consequences of working from home as cross-border worker.

The information is updated on a regular basis, for which ITEM is happy to receive input from external parties. For information or problems, you can contact us via item[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl.

Martin’s blog #9: The search for a vaccine

Executive Board chairman Martin Paul keeps a personal blog in which he follows and comments on the news about the corona crisis. Today, blog post number 9 is online.  It’s about the feverish search for a vaccine and the ethical and scientific aspects involved.

Smart start-up of UM research on Brightlands campuses

UM research on the Brightlands campuses—the Maastricht Health Campus in Randwijck, the Chemelot Campus in Geleen and the Greenport Campus in Venlo—is also slowly being resumed. Three UM employees, Bakir Bulic (FSE), Alexander Sack (FPN) and Pamela Habibovic (FHML), explain in this video what it’s like to be back in the lab.

Video series We’re open (and diverse): gender inequality increases with working from home

In a 17-minute interview, Diversity Officer Constance Sommerey talks to Ceren Pekdemir of the Maastricht Sustainability Institute (FSE) and philosopher Darian Meacham (FASoS) about the gender inequality that appears to be growing as we’re almost all working from home.

#UMfromhome video: Marleen van der Donk on UM's Virtual Experience Days

Because organising on-site events is not possible at the moment, UM is hosting Virtual Experience Days to help prospective students from all over the world with their choice of study programme during the corona crisis. Event Coordinator Marleen van der Donk (FHML) discusses the Virtual Experience Days in the video series #UMfromhome. At the end of the video, you will also find some interactive links with more information.

We're open

Since the last corona update, three new stories have appeared in the We’re open! series. Professor Stefan Hild talks about the state of affairs of the ET pathfinder, Professor Mathieu Segers (Europa Chair at Studio Europa Maastricht and Professor of Contemporary European History and European Integration) underlines the importance of EU cooperation in times of corona, and CAPHRI director Professor Maurice Zeegers shows how their research institute made the switch to COVID-19 related research projects with a large social impact in a short period of time (including his own systematic reviews).