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Coronavirus: essential information & updates

Klik hier voor alle info in het Nederlands.

The VUB is permanently in touch with government services and other universities. The situation is evolving at a fast pace. Please, follow up all information carefully.

It has been decided that the exams will take place in the period from 1 June to 3 July. Every effort is being made to ensure exams take place in June 2020. Some of them will take place on campus. The practicalities will gradually be defined.

For the time being, the exam days are from Monday to Saturday, but the days and times will be determined in consultation with the students themselves. We will communicate the specific exam schedules later, so that consultation with the student representatives (among others) of your study programme is possible.

Exams will be a mix of online and offline evaluations. All lecturers and programmes are looking at what adjustments will be necessary, such as a change in exam formats, remote examinations and organisational measures around social distancing.

In order to continue to guarantee the rules of social distancing, written exams can also take place outside campus. We will also communicate about this as soon as there is more clarity about the locations. Between exams, we will always provide the necessary time to disinfect the room and guarantee your safety.

For students who stay abroad or are in quarantine during the exams, we provide an alternative exam as much as possible. The faculty will be your point of contact for this.

There is the possibility of a limited extension to the exam period. However, the academic calendar will be maintained as far as possible. We will also ensure that everyone gets a period of vacation.

The new measures in relation to exams will be communicated via Canvas in the week of 20 April 2020. For each course they will be coordinated and defined in consultation with the faculty and student representatives in the coming days and weeks. Questions to which the university already has an answer will be answered. Where we do not yet have answers, we will say so.

Following an interuniversity consultation on Thursday 26 March, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel repeats the guiding principles that will ensure the academic year runs as smoothly and normally as possible. Practicalities for the June exam period will be gradually clarified.

Last week, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel decided that all educational activities in the second semester would take place digitally. The switch to digital education was unexpected and abrupt. Therefore students have questions: How will exams be organised? What about the quality of online education?

VUB’s main aim is to prevent the prolonging of courses due to the coronavirus situation. To allay uncertainty, we can confirm that we are doing everything we can to ensure exams will take place in June 2020, including on campus. There will be a mix of online and offline evaluation formats. All lecturers and programmes are looking at what adjustments will be necessary, such as a change in exam formats, remote examinations and organisational measures around social distancing.

The new measures for each programme will be coordinated and defined in the coming days and weeks, in consultation with the faculty and student representatives, and will be communicated via Canvas in the week of 20 April 2020. Questions to which the university already has an answer will be answered. Where we do not yet have answers, we will say so.

VUB is striving to adhere to the academic calendar as far as possible, but we are also looking into the possibility of a limited extension to the exam period. We will ensure that everyone gets a period of vacation. This is of course subject to new measures imposed by the national security council or changes in the evolution of the coronavirus crisis in the coming days and weeks.

To ensure proper oversight of this transition, discussions are taking place between the rector, vice-rectors, deans and student representatives. There are also regular consultations between VUB and other Flemish and francophone universities, and with the Flemish minister for education.

Managing the uncertain progress of the coronavirus situation is a challenge for all of us. We are all experiencing frustration and the need for flexibility.

To optimise and guarantee the quality of online education, the department of Education and Student Affairs has moved up a gear since the abrupt switch to distance learning. We are supporting lecturers to run their digital classes as smoothly as possible and have developed a bilingual website about distance learning for lecturers, online and live information sessions, a lecturer forum learning platform and a helpdesk that is staffed 7/7. As a result, online education is gradually improving. A complete, high-quality transition to digital education takes time. VUB is counting on everyone’s understanding.

The sole use of PowerPoint presentations cannot be considered online lesson material. Students who have questions about the organisation of education are invited to contact the helpdesk of their faculty. Each faculty will communicate this information via Canvas.

The VUB, together with the other Flemish universities, has decided to continue to keep all classes exclusively digital until the end of the current semester, 5 July 2020.

Consistent with this, the following measures apply:

  1. The pace of class weeks will be maintained as much as possible for both the learning content offering and the continued acquisition of competences.
  2. Extension of study duration and the shifting of subjects will be avoided. Special attention is paid to students in a graduation year as well as those in their first Bachelor year, and international students, and all this without compromising the interests of others.
  3. The organisation of exams is being verified.
  4. There will be complete focus on finding remote/distance-friendly alternatives for practical classes, master's theses and internships.
  5. The current academic calendar will be maintained as much as possible.

Furthermore, the VUB guarantees a holiday period for both students and lecturers.

More information and clarification will follow in the coming days and weeks.

This decision only applies to education, not to research or the support provided by administrative departments.

As a result of the email sent yesterday to the students, there may have been some confusion about the arrangement for internship students.

Below a clarification:

Internships that require a physical presence on site will be stopped, unless they can be continued qualitatively from a distance or if they are internships in the healthcare sector. For questions, the students can check with their internship coordinator.

The above stipulation replaces the one on internships mentioned in the e-mail sent to all students yesterday (18th March). 

Dear Colleague,

The National Security Council significantly tightened the corona measures last night. It is important that we too take these far-reaching guidelines to heart. This is in the interest of our well-being and health, and with the intention to give care providers in particular all the space and support they need for their important work in the coming weeks. As stated by the National Security Council: our personal commitment is vital, and contacts are almost completely excluded.

What does this mean for the operation of the VUB?

1. Education

  • The transition to digital education is complete.
  • Class recordings can still exceptionally be made on campus, but social distancing and disinfection is necessary.
  • All tutoring is digital.
  • Well-being and psychological consults are digital or by telephone.
  • Internships are halted, unless they can be continued qualitatively from a distance or if they are internships in the care sector. For questions, students can contact the internship coordinator. 
  • Master's and bachelor's theses are also exclusively digital.

2. Research

The university is not just an educational institution. It carries out fundamental and applied research, and through this research it serves the business community, healthcare sector and society.

Hence the following guidelines. They only apply to researchers. We consider PhD students as researchers, as staff:

  • A minimal occupancy to keep a lab open is guaranteed.
  • Researchers who cannot work from home are allowed to use their office in consultation with their supervisor as long as the rules of social distancing are respected.
  • A researcher may also use a lab under the following conditions:
  • A minimal occupancy to keep the lab open.
  • The researcher can only go to their lab in consultation with their manager.
  • The researcher cannot ask additional persons to be present for their research.
  • The libraries are closed.
  • At the university, rooms for video recordings are open to researchers but by appointment only.
  • The master's theses are continued online in consultation with the supervisor. There will be no more students on the campuses.
  • Experimental work in the context of master's theses which are part of the research activity are completed by the staff present in the laboratory.
  • All questions related to research should go to supervisors, principle investigators and research directors.

3. National and international students

  • The national students were told to leave their student accommodation unless they had nowhere to go. An exception for Campus Jette is given below.
  • This measure also applies to international students, unless returning to their country is not possible.
  • Students staying abroad must return, unless this is impossible, or unless they are in a safe and comfortable situation in their country of residence for a longer period of time.
  • Students returning from a country or region with coronavirus must strictly monitor themselves and self-quarantine.

4. General measures

  • From now on, meetings are exclusively digital.
  • Desks will be closed, including those of the Study Guidance Centre, Info Punt, ICT and the International Relations office.
  • Security will keep a presence.
  • Postal services will be monitored this week but with minimal service. Further updates will follow later. 
  • Well-being and psychological consults are digital or by telephone.
  • Jette and Etterbeek have a separate procedure. See below:

5. Specific measures for campuses

Campus Etterbeek

Access to buildings:

  • All buildings will be closed and can only be accessed with badges.
  • All car parks will be closed.

Students

  • All classes are digital only.
  • Students who can have been sent home. Those who can't are in contact with student housing.
  • All tutoring is online.

Critical services

  • For all technical services (logistics, security, heating, maintenance, nitrogen, ...) procedures and working arrangements have been prepared, aimed at maintaining a minimal continuity.
  • The restaurant will be closed.
  • The following services remain operational on the campuses with minimum presence:
  • Surveillance & technical services.
  • Postal services.
  • Laboratories where research has to be continued, with minimum occupancy.
  • Social distancing is crucial.

Campus Jette

Access to buildings:

  • A separate communication for the campus will be worked out by the medicine & pharmacy faculty and the UZ Hospital and communicated later.

Students in Jette

  • All classes are digital.
  • Clinical internships are maintained.
  • Voluntary work to support the UZ hospital and the healthcare sector is strongly encouraged.
  • Students in Jette who follow clinical internships or participate in voluntary work can, of course, stay in their own home.
  • Students who no longer have any activity on campus will go home; those who are unable to do so should contact the student housing.

Critical service

The following services remain operational with a minimal presence:

  • Monitoring.
  • Minimal postal distribution and functioning of the faculty secretariat.
  • Laboratories where research or animal care must be continued, operate at minimal capacity.

Campus Gooik

  • Follows the VUB campus Etterbeek procedure.

Campuses Diest, Anderlecht and Leuven follow the instructions of GO!.

These measures are in place until 19 April 2020. Updates will follow if necessary.

Dear colleague, please know that the VUB crisis cell is operational and continuously coordinates internally with faculties, research groups, services, the UZ Brussel and others, and externally with the government, the other UZ Hospitals and other universities. Therefore, be sure to check www.vub.be/coronavirus every day. Send all your questions to: coronavirus@vub.be.

We strongly advise you to register on www.be-alert.be, so that you will be notified immediately in case of an emergency.

6. Message from the rector 

Dear colleague,

What we are experiencing now is disruptive and alienating. It already requires exceptional efforts from all of us, physically and mentally, both in our private lives and in our professional environment.

We will all manage this exceptional pressure and stress a little better to varying degrees from one day to the next.  But we are all in this together.  And it is important that in these difficult times we stand together, encourage each other, love each other, over and over again.

Above all, protect yourself and your loved ones. And don't forget: in exceptional circumstances maintaining a certain routine and normality is also good. In that regard, stick to your day and weekend rhythms as well as you can. Rest well too, now and again, because we are going to have to keep this up for a while - together.

I wish you and all of us, strength and courage. We will get through this and as with all crises, we will emerge having learned a lot about ourselves and others. Hopefully it will also help us to separate what is essential in life from what is secondary.

#WeAreVUB

Caroline Pauwels, rector

Dear student,

The National Security Council tightened measures in relation to the coronavirus considerably last night. It is important that students take these far-reaching measures to heart. This is in the interest of everyone's wellbeing and health, and with the intention to give care providers in particular all the space and support they need for their important work over the coming weeks. As stated by the National Security Council: our personal commitment is vital, and contacts are almost completely excluded.

According to the National Security Council, the measures will be in place until 19 April 2020. Updates may follow.

What do the new measures mean for VUB students?

N.B. We consider PhD students to be researchers, so staff. They receive an email sent to all VUB employees.

1. Education

  • The transition to digital education is complete.
  • You can only contact the tutoring service digitally.
  • Well-being and psychological consults are done digitally and over the phone.
  • Internships are halted, unless they can be continued qualitatively from a distance or if they are internships in the care sector. For questions, students can contact the internship coordinator.
  • Master’s and bachelor’s theses are exclusively digital

2. National and international students

  • National students were told to leave their student accommodation unless they had nowhere to go. There is an exception for campus Jette. See below.
  • This measure also applies to international students, unless returning to their country is not possible.
  • Students staying abroad must return, unless this is impossible, or unless they are in a safe and comfortable situation in the country of residence for a longer period of time.
  • Students returning from a country or region with coronavirus must strictly monitor themselves and self-quarantine.

3. General measures

  • Desks are being closed: Study guidance centre, Info punt, the International Relations office and the ICT Helpdesk.
  • The security guards maintain a presence
  • Well-being and psychological consults are digital and over the phone.

4. Specific measures for campuses:

Etterbeek Campus

  • All buildings in Etterbeek will be closed and can only be accessed with badges.
  • All car parks will be closed
  • Those students in student accommodation who can, have been sent home. Those who can't are in contact with student housing.
  • The restaurant will be closed. No more sandwiches will be distributed.

Jette Campus

  • Access to buildings: a separate communication for the campus will be worked out by the medicine and pharmacy faculty and the UZ hospital and communicated later.
  • Clinical traineeships are maintained.
  • Voluntary work to support the UZ hospital and the healthcare sector is strongly encouraged.
  • Students in Jette who follow clinical internships or participate in voluntary work can of course stay in their own room.
  • The students who no longer have any activity on campus can  go home; those who can't should contact student housing.

Campus Gooik

  • Follows VUB procedures.

Campuses Diest, Anderlecht and Leuven follow the instructions of GO!.

5. Message from the rector

Dear student,

Please note that the VUB crisis cell is operational and coordinates internally on a permanent basis with faculties, research groups, services, the UZ Brussel hospital and others, and externally with the government, the UZ hospitals and other universities. Therefore, please ensure you check www.vub.be/coronavirus every day. Send all your questions to coronavirus@vub.be.

We also strongly advise you to register on www.be-alert.be, so that you will be notified immediately in case of an emergency.

What we are experiencing now is disruptive and strange. It already requires exceptional efforts from all of us, physically and mentally, both in our private lives and in our professional environment.

We will all manage this exceptional pressure and stress a little better to varying degrees from one day to the next.  But we are all in this together.  And it is important that in these difficult times we stand together, encourage each other, love each other, over and over again.

Above all, protect yourself and your loved ones. And don't forget: in exceptional circumstances maintaining a certain routine and normality is also good. In that regard, stick to your day and weekend rhythms as well as you can. Rest well too, now and again, because we are going to have to keep this up for a while - together.

I wish you and all of us, strength and courage. We will get through this and, as with all crises, we will emerge having learned a lot about ourselves and others. Hopefully it will also help us to separate what is essential in life from what is secondary.

#WeAreVUB

Caroline Pauwels, rector

In line with the federal government's guidelines, the university took a series of preventative measures last week. These measures are essential to contain the spread of the coronavirus. We have found that the measures we have imposed on students staying in VUB rooms are not being complied with or are treated carelessly. We regret this.

VUB obliges students to go home. The university will be fully digital until 19 April. There will be no classes and practical classes on any of the campuses.

Those who do not comply may be subject to disciplinary proceedings with individual sanctions attached. Protective measures can also be taken, such as denying access to your VUB student room.

Students who are unable to go home (temporarily) have to report this. They can do this by sending an e-mail to huisvesting.housing@vub.be stating the reason.

We have created a Facebook group for students who can't return home. This group can be used to keep in touch digitally, to share information, to help each other if necessary (e.g. to arrange messages), and so on.

The following services will continue to be available:

  • For urgent situations, you can contact the Student Information Point by mail. For more information about opening hours of facilities and departments, go to student.vub.be/en).
  • Many facilities are closed, but are reachable via email. Please check go to student.vub.be/en for the latest information. In Jette, the housing department is open from 9:00-12:30 and 13:00-15:30; the faculty secretariat of GF (Medicine and Pharmacy Faculty) is open every weekday.
  • The restaurant and its cafeteria are closed.

We understand that students have practical questions. The universities coordinate with each other, with the government and internally on a daily basis.

For all other questions and information, please refer to the frequently asked questions on the website.

IMPORTANT : On 17 March the ‘Agentschap Zorg en Gezondheid’ issued the advice to have students return to Belgium.

Due to the fast evolving circumstances and spread of the virus the Belgian government might decide to take more drastic measures such as closing of the borders or a full lockdown. We therefore urge you to make an evaluation of your stay right now. Considering to stay for another week or two is not recommendable since it might be too late to return.

Prioirity for VUB is your health, wellbeing and safety! Returning to Belgium is not mandatory, not for Consular Affairs, nor for VUB. In some countries the situation regarding the Corona crisis is better than in Belgium and mobility is not without risk. So it is up to you to make the best decision, but do it fast.

Right now, we want to get a clear insight into your individual situation. Please fill out the questionnaire to inform us on your situation without delay.

If you would like to return, the International Relations office of VUB and Consular Affairs can support you. You are requested to register yourself at www.travellersonline.diplomatie.be if not already done so. Also inform the Belgium embassy/consulate and Flemish representation in your host country. Respect the regulation of the host country.

If your situation changes in the period after filling in this small survey, keep us informed via international.relations@vub.be about the changes. Questions can be sent to coronavirus@vub.be . Information such as preventive measures and instructions on isolation/quarantine when back in Belgium is available on www.vub.be/coronavirus.

Information on annulation of flights is available on FOD Economie.

Dear colleagues, 

First of all, a word of thanks for the enormous efforts you are currently making to digitise education and operations. You have shown a lot of initiative and leadership, which is good to see. In the course of this week we will use webinars to support teachers in making optimal use of online lessons and replacement assignments. All changes will be communicated via the website vub.be/coronavirus. Check this website regularly.

Please also pay attention to the information below about the online tools VUB works with. 

Since last Thursday there has been a huge switch to teleworking, teleconferencing and distance learning worldwide. This has an enormous impact on the networks and on the various tools that exist for this purpose. Over the past few days and hours, providers have stepped up their efforts. For them too, this is a new situation whose impact they cannot yet predict.  

Just like all other companies and institutions, we depend on the capabilities of these providers. VUB is currently using: 

  • Canvas
  • BigBlueButton (meetings in Canvas) - Premium version
  • Microsoft (including Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams)
  • Panopto (recording and streaming)

We would ask you not to take your own steps and coordinate with suppliers yourself. As a teacher you are of course free to use a (free) tool individually. Please keep in mind that VUB only supports the VUB tools. 

The implementation of Microsoft Teams (the successor of Skype for Business) within VUB was already in preparation, but it is now being accelerated. The first Teams sites are already active; Education and Student Affairs and DICT are working intensively with Microsoft to roll out Teams across the whole of VUB in the coming days. 

We ask all staff members to use the options of Microsoft (Skype for Business or Teams) or LifeSizeCloud for meetings and other activities to take the pressure off BigBlueButton. In this way, we hope to use BigBlueButton for education as much as possible. To support distance learning, we will further examine whether Microsoft Teams can be used for this purpose. 

In addition to initiatives taken by suppliers, the quality of all tele-activities is influenced by factors in the home working environment. Your wifi signal at home is an important factor, as is the use of the home network by housemates (such as for watching Netflix). A number of guidelines and tips on this subject will follow shortly. As no supplier can currently guarantee a stable system 24/7, we have to deal with this realistically. We understand that this can become very annoying for both teacher and student.

We will certainly do our best and keep you informed at all times. If you have any questions, you can always contact us at onderwijsinnovatie@vub.be and the IT Service Desk at helpdesk@vub.be.

This is an exceptional, unsettling and unpredictable situation for all of us, but together we can manage it.

Important notice concerning the evolution of the coronavirus situation

Following the decision of the National Security Council, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel will make the following adjustments to the organisation of the university from Friday 13 March 24:00 until 19 April 2020. More information will follow in the coming hours. The university will not close but will go completely digital: everyone will stay at home, unless it is impossible to do otherwise.

Education

  • All classes will be digital only.
  • All classes with physical presence on campuses are suspended, also all practical classes: So, the below 50 rule is dropped.
  • The students (national and international) living in lodgings who can go home, should go home. Where this is not possible, we look at what solutions there are.
  • The only exception are those students who are needed in care and labs.

Services and departments

  • The services and departments will also be organised remotely with the technical possibilities available (skype, telephone, mail, ...).
  • Most of the facilities on the campuses will be closed: cafes, restaurant, sports facilities, cultural facilities, library, study guidance centre, all meeting rooms and all physical contact points.
  • Teleworking is maximized so that as little commuting as possible is required. Where continuity is needed on campus, colleagues with poor health and parents of children who cannot attend school are given priority for teleworking.
  • The services that have to guarantee an ongoing presence and have to be on campus for this purpose will be contacted separately and will organise an alternative form of work.

Research

  • Critical scientific research in laboratories is ensured. The supervisor will organise this together with the teams.

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is committed to delaying the spread of the Coronavirus as much as possible, following the federal government's guidelines issued on 10 March 2020. It emphasises that there is no reason to panic and asks for the cooperation of all students and staff members.

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel remains open and safeguards its core activities: education and research.  It is switching to a different way of working, in which distance education and teleworking are used as much as possible.  The 'social distancing' principles apply as a guideline:

  • The VUB limits the number of social contacts on campus.
  • When encounters take place on campus, the physical distance between VUB employees and/or students must be increased.

Concrete measures are set out below:

Distance learning and teaching activities

  • Classes of more than 50 students will be replaced by distance learning.
  • For lectures of less than 50 students, there is a choice: attend the lecture in person or distance learning. These classes will be moved to larger auditoriums, so that students can keep sufficient distance from each other.
  • For internships, the rules of the internship apply. When internships cannot take place, they will be replaced by alternative assignments. 
  • For the practical assignments,  similar solutions will be sought, again following the principle of social distancing.
  • The VUB asks its students to follow the lessons as much as possible from home or in their lodgings. If this is not possible, classes can also be followed in the library or the study guidance centre. The places there are limited, so that we can guarantee enough distance between students. 
  • The distance learning measures will take effect from Monday 16 March 2020. Students and staff will follow the guidelines of their faculty.
  • The major educational project 'weKONEKT.week', meant to take place the week before the spring holidays, will be cancelled. It is possible that some lessons of the weKONEKT.week will still take place (if less than 50 persons), but this will then be on campus. More info can be found on www.wekonektweek.brussels.
  • A solution will be found for the exams that take place immediately after the spring holidays. We will communicate more about this later.

Teleworking and permanence on campuses

  • The VUB encourages teleworking wherever possible. Employees should discuss this with their manager.
  • Managers will give priority to employees with a risky state of health: the elderly, pregnant women, people with a lowered immune system.
  • The operating services (Info-Point, faculty secretariats, restaurant, ICT, Infra, Marcom, M&O, etc.) and labs remain on post to support the (digital) organisation and continuity of teaching and research activities. For activities that cannot be carried out by teleworking, the rules regarding social distance should be applied.
  • To ensure that employees do not have to use public transport, flexible working hours will be extended. More information will follow.
  • Meetings will be postponed as much as possible or organised via teleconference.

Campus facilities

Campus facilities, such as the student restaurant, library and the study guidance centre, will remain open. The number of available places will be reviewed in function of increasing the physical distance between attendees. The swimming pool will be closed. All other sports activities will be communicated later.

Foreign mobility

  • Students and researchers should no longer travel abroad and use teleconferencing as much as possible. 
  • Foreign students or exchange students who have questions are directed to coronavirus@vub.be.

Events

  • All events on the campuses that are not related to education or research have been cancelled or postponed. Targeted communication will follow to the organisers.
  • The organisers of activities that do not take place on campus are advised to postpone them. To do so, they may invoke the seven criteria defined by the Federal Public Service of Public Health*. They must also take into account the specific guidelines that are in force in Brussels.
  • The measures concerning events on campus will take effect from Thursday 12 March 2020 at midnight.

Do not hesitate in case of illness

The VUB urges close monitoring of the precautionary measures. Students and staff who are ill or show symptoms of illness must stay at home. Possible infections should be reported as soon as possible via coronavirus@vub.be.

The VUB continuously follows government guidelines and will adjust its own measures if necessary. Therefore, follow the latest updates and check the overview of frequently asked questions (FAQ) on www.vub.be/coronavirus on a daily basis. Students should consult daily their class schedules and the communication channels of your faculty.

 

 *Avoid large number of people gathering; Avoid close contact (less than 1 meter); Keep contact as short as possible; Ensure ventilation of the room; Avoid contact with those above 65, and those with compromised immune systems or health issues; If an event is not necessary, postpone it; Check if it is possible to cancel the event.

The VUB has launched a general email address coronavirus@vub.be for all questions and reports regarding the Coronavirus. Both students and staff can use this email address. Previously mentioned e-mail addresses will no longer be used, but will still be monitored on a regular basis.

In addition, the VUB has also decided to strongly discourage student activities in which the risk of infection is increased by physical contact, such as: parties and cantuses. Other activities, lectures, practical exercises and research will continue until further notice, but the situation may change quickly. We do ask everyone to take extra precautions:

  • Everyone is responsible for ensuring that the virus is spread as little as possible;
  • Even if you are not ill yourself, you can spread the virus. Adjust your behaviour accordingly. Let’s encourage each other inside and outside our organization to take precautions.
  • Try to avoid physical contact: as far as possible, keep a sufficient distance (i.e. one metre) from each other. Do not greet each other with a kiss or a handshake.
  • Lecturers are asked to be prepared to offer distance learning and to consider alternative ways of teaching. Lecturers who need support can contact onderwijsinnovatie@vub.be.
  • We realise that teleworking is not always possible, but we do encourage it. In some cases it is really advisable; think of colleagues with a precarious state of health, the elderly and pregnant people, people with a lowered immune system. To be discussed with the head of department. By ensuring that Skypeforbusiness is active/online, you can easily stay in contact with colleagues.

The VUB is permanently in touch with government services and other universities. The situation is evolving at a fast pace. Please, follow up all information carefully.

For updates, prevention tips and answers to frequently asked questions, please keep checking the website www.vub.be/coronavirus.

Classes at VUB will continue as normal. Students should keep a close eye on possible symptoms.

Classes at VUB will continue as normal. Students should keep a close eye on possible symptoms. The coronavirus has meanwhile been diagnosed in 2 VUB students.

Two students have tested positive for the coronavirus, but they have no symptoms. These students are currently in quarantine. Classes continue until further notice. All students and teachers should keep a close eye on their medical condition. If in doubt, they should notify their doctor. The VUB closely monitors the situation and takes all necessary precautions.

The two students contracted the virus during a skiing holiday in Italy. The Dutch tour guide of the bus tested positive for the coronavirus too. As a result, a total of five students were tested. The other three tested negative.

The students who tested positive took lessons at the VUB from Monday 2 March to Thursday 5 March. Therefore, we emphasize again that the students and staff have to follow basic hygiene measures and keep a close eye on possible symptoms. Students, teachers and other staff closely involved with the positively tested students should measure their temperature twice a day. In case of the slightest doubt, they should contact their doctor by telephone.

Hospital protocol applies to VUB community at UZ Brussel

Students, academics and personnel at UZ Brussel are to follow UZ Brussel protocol for the coronavirus disease. These rules also apply to personnel at the dental clinic.  Other members of the VUB community are to follow general VUB guidelines.

UZ Brussel protocol includes following rules, that apply to all reference hospitals:

  • A person without symptoms, needs to continue working.
  • A person displaying symptoms (of fever above 38° C, cough and shortness of breath) after unprotected and intimate contact with an infected patient, needs to visit the emergency ward for testing. Waiting for test results is to be done in confinement at home. The doctor at the emergency ward will provide a medical certificate to do so.

Notes:

  • A person having had unprotected contact with a patient without displaying symptoms, can come to work. This person needs to wear a face mask for 2 weeks following the last contact with the patient.
  • A student having had contact with an infected person without displaying symptoms, can go to class but needs to wear a face mask for 2 weeks following the last contact with the infected person.

Information about the coronavirus disease, guidelines and updates of UZ Brussel, can be found on the UZ Brussel intranet.

Guidelines provided by the Belgian government (Ministry of Public Health) for the coronavirus disease remain unchanged in today’s daily update. VUB isn’t issuing new internal rules either. However, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel recently received an important notification from 2 of its students: both claim having had contact with a person who contracted the disease. Both incidents are treated with the necessary care. The students involved stay home for the following 14 days, as requested in government guidelines. VUB emphasizes that this is a precautionary measure.  At the moment, the students have not been diagnosed with the coronavirus disease. VUB is just following general government guidelines. VUB classes and assemblies aren’t suspended. The institute isn’t being shut down in any way, at this moment.

The coronavirus has already spread throughout Belgium. Most likely, VUB will also be affected in the near future. Therefore, we already created a crucial procedure to be deployed immediately with local authorities when a case of coronavirus infection is detected. If coronavirus disease is diagnosed at our institute, this should also be reported immediately to the VUB via coronavirus@vub.be.

For the time being, standard hygiene and prevention rules remain instrumental to avoid infection:

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
  • Cough in a paper tissue (and throw it away in a closed bin afterwards), or in your elbow.
  • Use paper tissues to clean your nose.
  • In case of illness: stay home.
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands as much as possible.
  • Avoid physical contact.
  • Air the rooms frequently.

VUB students and VUB personnel find all relevant information on the coronavirus webpages (www.vub.be/coronavirus). We ask everyone to remain vigilant in this matter, to stay home and to contact the family doctor in case of any doubt. Actual VUB guidelines are in line with instructions of the Ministry of Public Health and the Department of Education. 

We stress that everyone having visited a risk area or a person possibly infected with coronavirus disease, is to remain vigilant and to contact a doctor if required.

VUB students and personnel, having visited a risk area and working at the UZ Brussel hospital, have to stay home for 14 days as a precautionary measure, as instructed by UZ Brussel authorities.

VUB students and personnel can find all relevant information on coronavirus disease and precautionary measures on the webpages: www.vub.be/coronavirus .

General information, issued by the government, can be found on https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/.

For travellers’ information, please visit: https://diplomatie.belgium.be/en/services/travelling_abroad.

We are monitoring the situation closely and we are following guidelines provided by the Belgian Ministry of Public Health:

  • 6 new cases of coronavirus disease have been detected in Belgium on 2/03/2020. 5 new cases have been detected on 3/03/2020. The total now stands at 13 cases. Some people are quarantined at home. Others have been transferred to a hospital.
  • The risk assessment in Europe was elevated from ‘Moderate’ to ‘Moderate to high’.
  • In Belgium we are now in Phase 2 of the “Coronavirus emergency plan”. The government focuses on controlling and reducing the viral outbreak.  
  • Phase 2 means that cases of infection have been detected, we can clearly trace the sources and link them to risk areas, plus patients are quarantined. There are no specific implications for schools and universities.
  • The government is making great efforts to avoid Phase 3. This phase is entered when sources of infection cannot be traced in new cases. In Phase 3 the  Ministry of Public Health can decide to close down schools, stop public transportation or, e.g. ban public events. This isn’t needed now, as the Minister of Public Health Maggie De Block pointed out earlier.  

For the time being, there aren’t any new precautionary measures. Prevention is still the best measure to avoid infection. 7 golden rules:

  1. Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.
  2. Sneeze and cough in a paper tissue (throw it away afterwards), or in your elbow.
  3. Use paper tissues.
  4. In case of illness: stay home and consult your family doctor by phone to avoid waiting rooms. When the coronavirus disease is diagnosed, this should be reported immediately to the VUB via coronavirus@vub.be.
  5. Avoid touching your face with your hands as much as possible.
  6. Avoid shaking hands.
  7. Avoid close contact when you are ill.

We advise VUB personnel to take their laptop (if applicable) home each day after work so that, if necessary, work from home can easily be organised.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs and Sciensano take into account the potential future presence of the coronavirus disease in Belgium.

When a staff member, student or visitor at the VUB is diagnosed with the coronavirus disease, the VUB will follow the following procedure:

  • When the coronavirus disease is diagnosed, this should be reported immediately to the VUB (coronavirus@vub.be).
  • After that, the procedure is started immediately in consultation with the official bodies which will organise the necessary measures.
  • At that time, all communication will be shared exclusively via the central VUB channels mentioned below. From that moment, all staff members and students are expected to follow these channels for more information:

Prevention is still the best measure to avoid infection. At any time, the VUB advises to apply the rules of basic hygiene. For the time being, taking these precautionary measures is the only thing we can do. We kindly ask you to actively spread these within your entity: 

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Disinfect your hands by using hand gels. Extra hand gels have been purchased by the VUB department of Prevention and Environment. More information about this will follow.
  • Use paper tissues and throw those away after use immediately
  • Sneeze and cough away from other people
  • Take into account that the older section of the population is a high-risk group
  • In case of illness: consult your doctor and let it run itself out at home
  • In case of a minor cold, we advise staff members who work at the office to work from home. Take your laptop home.

Furthermore, VUB emphasises that staff and students returning from high-risk areas should be extra attentive to their health condition and should consult their doctor in case of the slightest doubt.

Up-to-date information

Information about the state of affairs of the coronavirus disease – as well as information and recommendations about traveling abroad and high-risk areas – can be found at:

- WHO: www.who.int
- Foreign Affairs: https://diplomatie.belgium.be
- Sciensano: www.sciensano.be

Some additional measures are necessary due to the expansion of the Corona virus. The measures take immediate effect:

South-Korea, Iran, Italy (Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol)

  • Outgoing mobility to South-Korea, Iran, Italy is put on hold for students and personnel until further notice.
  • Students on exchange and personnel on mission/training at these locations can stay abroad. 
  • Local regulation needs to be followed.
  • There is currently no mandatory return. This situation can change in the coming period.
  • VUB students who return on their own initiative, returning personnel, incoming students & staff need to monitor their health and when starting to feel feverish, contact a doctor. Before going to a waiting room or hospital, in order to prevent further spreading of the virus, the doctor  must be provided with the patient's travel history and the persons they came into contact with in the affected areas.
  • Incoming mobility of exchange students/interns and staff is preferably postponed till a later date.

General:

  • Returning students are asked to contact the exchange coordinator to discuss the termination of the exchange as well as the follow-up steps.
  • The International Relations office (IRMO) will check with EPOS for the scholarships

The travel ban on students and staff going to China as decided on 24 January remains in force.

It is important to stress that there is no need for panic in Belgium or at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

One case was reported in Belgium. It concerns one of the repatriated Belgians brought back from China on Sunday 2 February. However, this person was in quarantine and taken to the Sint Pieters Hospital in Brussels (one of the reference centres in Belgium) where they were treated and taken care of following the procedures that have been put in place.  The person in question has meanwhile fully recovered and has gone home - there is no risk of infection to others. 

Belgium’s health department, hospitals and doctors know what to do and strict procedures are in place. Also, in most cases, the infections are self-limiting (meaning, they clear up by themselves often even without treatment).

Adjust your behaviour

Klik hier voor alle info in het Nederlands.

Everyone is responsible for ensuring that the virus is spread as little as possible, i.e. slowed down. Even if you're not sick yourself, you can spread the virus. The Vrije Universiteit Brussel therefore asks all students, academics and staff to adjust their behaviour accordingly and to observe the following prevention and hygiene rules:

  • Try to avoid body contact: keep a sufficient distance (i.e. one metre) from each other. Do not greet each other with a kiss or a handshake;
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly;
  • Cough in a paper tissue (and throw it away in a closed bin afterwards), or in your elbow.
  • Use paper tissues to blow your nose;
  • Avoid touching your face with your hands as much as possible;
  • Air the rooms frequently;
  • Stay at home in case of illness;
  • Teleworking is possible. To discuss with your head of department. Make sure your Skypeforbusiness is active/online so you can easily stay in touch with colleagues.

Do not hesitate

  • Are you sick? Don't hesitate: stay at home and consult your doctor immediately.
  • Did you have contact with a Corona patient? Don't hesitate: inform the VUB immediately via coronavirus@vub.be, stay at home and consult your doctor.
  • Have you been diagnosed with the Coronavirus? Don't hesitate. Stay home and notify the VUB immediately via coronavirus@vub.be. VUB wishes you all the best!

 

VUB thanks everyone who adheres to the precautions and responds quickly. We sympathise with all Corona patients and hope for a quick recovery for everyone.

FAQ

Klik hier voor alle info in het Nederlands.

Do you have questions? First check the updates and the answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) below. Is your question not listed? Then you can contact coronavirus@vub.be during office hours.

Is there any information or measures missing? Please let us know!

Questions about possible contamination

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about possible contamination in the list below.

A person who may be infected with the coronavirus is immediately asked to stay at home - this is to prevent possible new infections - and to consult their GP so that tests can be done. We also recommend avoiding social contacts. In addition, the general precautionary measures and guidelines of the Federal Public Health Department must be followed.

You inform the VUB by sending an email to coronavirus@vub.be. Your email will be followed up immediately.

You notify the VUB immediately via coronavirus@vub.be if:

  • You are a student or employee of the VUB and you have been diagnosed with the coronavirus;
  • you are a student or employee of the VUB and you suspect that you are infected with the coronavirus;
  • you are a student or employee of the VUB and you have come into contact with a corona patient;
  • you have come into contact with a corona patient and shortly afterwards visited one of the VUB campuses of the VUB.

Reports of (potentially) infected persons are immediately followed up in line with the guidelines of the Federal Public Health Service. Other questions will be answered as soon as possible during office hours.

The VUB immediately contacts the patient and informs the Federal Public Health Department.  

We ask the patient to stay at home and consult a doctor. The patient will continue to be monitored by his/her doctor and may not return to campus until a doctor has declared him/her healthy.

The VUB follows the government's public health guidelines and recommends that anyone who is infected or who has been in contact with a person who may be infected should inform his or her doctor and close contacts.

My colleague or fellow student is infected with the coronavirus. What should I do?

Avoid contact with your colleague. Be vigilant for the symptoms of the coronavirus (fever, cough, respiratory problems, sore throat, headaches and muscle aches). If you do not feel well, let the VUB know in time via coronavirus@vub.be and call your doctor.

Furthermore, all 'regular' precautions for the virus are of importance. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Use paper towels and throw them away afterwards. Cough in a paper handkerchief (and throw that away immediately) or in your elbow.

Sciensano, the research institute that draws up protocols for healthcare providers, has a strict definition of a suspicious case for which a test is requested. Currently, this is someone with a fever and clinical symptoms of a respiratory infection (cough or breathing difficulties) who has gone to a country or region with widespread transmission in the past fourteen days. This includes China, South Korea, Iran and Italy. This definition can be adjusted on the basis of the available information, and regions that pose a risk are reviewed on a daily basis.

Another definition of a suspicious case according to Sciensano is 'any person with clinical symptoms of severe acute respiratory tract infection and/or clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia, requiring hospitalisation if there is no evidence of bacterial infection'.

As long as you do not meet all these 'requirements', you will not always be tested.

If you are at home or in your kot in Brussels, you have no regular doctor and suspect you may be infected with coronavirus, call 1710. Via this number you will reach a helpline staffed by GPs, who will advise you and refer you if necessary.

If you have a regular doctor, you should call them.

For anyone stuck in Brussels, you should call the new number 1710 rather than the emergency number 112, which gets overloaded faster.

Questions concerning access to buildings and infrastructure

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about access to VUB buildings and infrastructure in the list below.

The VUB recognises the importance of avoiding physical contact as much as possible. It therefore chooses to let all classes, practicals and WPO take place via distance learning, beginning Saturday 14 March until at least 19th of April.

The VUB will only suspend classes if it appears necessary to reorganise education in function of distance education. The closure will then be of a temporary nature. If the VUB decides to do so, students and staff of the VUB will be informed by e-mail.

Following the measures taken against the spread of the coronavirus, the restaurant will be closed from 14 March to 19 April.

The cafeteria will have a temporary pick-up point, with a limited supply of sandwiches and drinks. The cafeteria counter will be open from Monday to Friday, from 10.30 am to 3 pm.

It is strictly forbidden to use the seating area in the cafeteria. Only take away use is allowed.

Payments are only possible with Bancontact/Maestro. Only disposable material will be used (coffee mugs, etc).

For further updates regarding the evolution of the coronavirus situation and an adapted minimum service on the campuses: see the information on this tab of the site.

No. The library will be closed after the last working day of Friday 13 March 2020. This situation will remain so until at least April 19, 2020, after which it may be prolonged.

For questions about other aspects of the library's operation, a separate FAQ list has been drawn up. You can find it here.

All sports facilities at the VUB will be closed after the last working day of Friday 13 March 2020. This situation will remain so until at least 19 April 2020, after which it may be prolonged.

The swimming pool will be closed until 19 April.

The following facilities are completely closed: 't Complex, Opinio, Bocadillo, Complex, Bar Pilar, Restaurant with cafetaria.

Many facilities are closed but will go digital and/or can be contacted by email. Among thoseSBC, International Relations Office, Central Library & Medical Library, etc. 

FOR A COMPLETE AND UP-TO-DATE LIST, PLEASE CONSULT OUR STUDENT WEBSITE

See also our student website for the availability of the various faculty secretariats.  

No. The site is closed to the public until April 3, in accordance with the government's corona security measures. All events scheduled until then will be postponed until after April 3. 

The crèche in Etterbeek is again open since Monday 31 March 2020.

The day-care centre in Jette will remain open.

The Facility Services are still available. Below you can find the availability of the various services:

Access Control Service (building E, rotule 4, esplanade level, opposite entrance to student restaurant).

  • Available via Infradesk for enquiries
  • No new badges supplied
  • Opening hours:
    • Monday & Wednesday, 8.00-15.00
    • Tuesday & Thursday, 8.00-10.00  & van u tot 14u30
    • Friday, 12.00-14.30

Centraal Magazijn (building F0, entrance on street side, next to rotule 5)

  • Open weekdays from 8.00-12.00 & 12.30-16.00. On-call service provided
  • Collection of urgent (expected) post and deliveries possible. No distribution rounds as of Monday 23 March
  • Lab supplies remain available
  • Recipients are notified to collect registered mail themselves. There is also the option, subject to authorisation, to scan the content and send it electronically (NDA signature required)
  • Goods and mail are received and mail is sorted.

Questions about student housing for (international) students living in a VUB dorm

Read the answers to frequently asked questions about VUB student housing in the list below.

The VUB obliges all students who are accommodated in a university dorm to go home. The university is going fully digital until 19 April. Until then, no classes or practical classes with physical presence will take place on the campuses of the VUB. 

If you absolutely cannot return home, you must first report this to the Student Housing Department. Then take the following precautions: 

  • limit contact with your fellow students and do not organise meetings or activities in the room or on campus;
  • keep a distance of 1.5 metres from each other (social distancing);
  • ensure that the rooms are well ventilated and regularly open the windows for half an hour;
  • do not share crockery, cooking utensils or other objects. Wash them with hot water and detergent after use;
  • wash your hands regularly and ensure good general hygiene and cleanliness in the room: put the rubbish bags outside regularly, clean surfaces in the common areas after use, etc.

Yes, you can. At the secretariat of Student Housing in Ixelles (building X1) there will be a permanence from 8.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-16.30pm. In Jette there will also be a permanence from 9h-12h30 and 13h-15h30 and the faculty secretariat of GF (Medicine and Pharmacy Faculty) will be open on weekdays.

The cleaning team will continue to come and clean on a weekly basis.

On both campuses, minimum services or permanence are provided for a number of facilities. For example, the cafetaria on the Etterbeek campus has a takeaway service for sandwiches. To know the adapted opening hours of all the services, please visit our student website

There's no clearly defined list of situations. But you cannot return home when you are an international student, if:

  1. you have a family member who belongs to the risk group for corona infection;
  2. you come from a country where entry is prohibited;
  3. you come from a country where the airspace is closed;
  4. you are still waiting for a Belgian ID card;
  5. you do not yet know whether the terms and conditions of your exchange provider allow you to return to the VUB at a later date.

The International Relations office will communicate the modalities of the VLIR-UOS, CSC and VLUHR scholarships for return to your home country as soon as this information is available. Students with a scholarship from their own country or another scholarship should coordinate the possibilities to return home with their scholarship agency.

For those who are staying in VUB rooms and cannot leave there is a Facebook group where you can chat to each other and ask each other for help with shopping, etc. Click here to join the Facebook group

Questions about mobility

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about commuting and travelling to and from the VUB in the list below.

Can I still take public transport to the VUB?

At the VUB all classes, practicals and WPO with physical presence on campus are suspended, and teleworking is maximised. So ask yourself whether you really need to be at the VUB. If not, stay at home.
Do you absolutely have to be at the VUB? If so, the VUB closely follows government guidelines on this matter. There is currently no government directive that restricts or completely discourages travel by public transport.
However, when taking public transport the general principles regarding general hygiene, avoiding close contact, gathering groups of people, the duration of contact, etc. should be followed.
Do try to travel by public transport when the train, bus or metro is not too full of passengers.

At the VUB all classes, practicals and WPO with physical presence on campus are suspended and teleworking is maximised, beginning after the last working day of Friday 13 March 2020 until at least 19 April. So ask yourself whether you really need to be at the VUB. If not, stay at home.

In principle, if you are considering carpooling, this is done with a limited number of people, in many cases with people you know personally. In this situation it is advisable to continue to apply the general hygiene regulations. If there is any doubt about someone's state of health, arrange different forms of transport with the person concerned.

Cycling and walking are largely done in the open air. This lessens the risk of infection a lot. There is currently no government directive that discourages walking or cycling.

VUB decides to suspend planned visits of students from abroad for internships, exchange programmes, info days and visits related to activities at the VUB until further notice in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

For students who have planned an exchange or internship at the VUB it is recommended to contact their exchange coordinator/internship supervisor at their home university and those at the VUB to discuss an alternative. The VUB International Relations office can also give further advice on exchange programmes and internships for students at VUB.

Since international travel involves additional risks for travellers and those with whom they come into contact, it has been decided to postpone visits from abroad in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Foreign incoming delegations are postponed until further notice. Foreign jurors in doctoral defences participate by videoconference.

The VUB suspends all classes, practicals and WPO with physical presence on campus after working hours and maximises telework from Friday 13 March 2020 until at least 19 April 2020. Returning VUB students from abroad are asked not to come to campus during this period.

Those returning to Belgium from 'lockdown' areas or high risk areas are recommended to observe a period of 14 days after their return, avoiding close and daily contact with larger groups of people (and especially sick people). This measure will lapse if no signs of disease (such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath) have occurred during that period.

In case of symptoms of sore throat or fever, contact a doctor. Do this by telephone to avoid any risk of infection.The doctors will then agree on the necessary next steps.

If your GP is not available, you can find doctors on duty in Brussels at: http://www.gbbw.be/index.php/en/doctors-on-call.

For emergencies - only for really very urgent cases! - via the UZ Brussel.

The VUB suspends all classes, practicals and WPO with physical presence on campus after working hours and maximises telework from Friday 13 March 2020 until at least 19 April 2020. Returning VUB personnel from abroad are asked not to come to campus and work from home during this period.

Those returning to Belgium from 'lockdown' areas or high risk areas, or those working at the Health Campus Jette, are recommended to observe a period of 14 days after their return, avoiding close and daily contact with larger groups of people (and particularly sick people). This measure will lapse if no signs of disease (such as fever, coughing or shortness of breath) have occurred during that period.

In case of symptoms of sore throat or fever, contact a doctor. Do this by telephone to avoid any risk of infection. The doctors will then agree on the necessary next steps.

If your GP is not available, you can find doctors on duty in Brussels at: http://www.gbbw.be/index.php/en/doctors-on-call.

For emergencies - only for really very urgent cases! - via the UZ Brussel.

Students must follow the local guidelines of the country/region if there is a departure advice. Either the guidelines of the Belgian authorities are followed in case of a return advice. The International Relations Office can support students in case of an early return. See also 'Do returning VUB students from abroad have to be quarantined?

Staff members must follow the local guidelines of the country/region if there is a departure advice. In other words, they must follow the guidelines of the Belgian authorities in the event of a return advice. The International Relations Office can provide support in the event of an early return. See also 'Do returning VUB staff from abroad have to be quarantined?

Students do not travel abroad anymore and only use teleconferencing. This rule is in force until 19 April and can be extended.

VUB staff members no longer travel abroad and will use teleconferencing as much as possible. This rule is in force until 19 April and can be extended.

Please read the terms and conditions of scholarship providers for incoming international scholarship students at VUB

VLIR-UOS

Given the expanding travel ban worldwide, it is not advisable for ICP-scholars to return home. In case they choose to do so, they will have to cover all costs made themselves and make sure to inform the programme coordinators on their plans. The latter is also stipulated in the individual contracts of each scholar.

The scholarship allowance for master students is a lump sum totalling 12 (for the one year programmes) or 24 times (for the two year programmes) the foreseen monthly allowance. The allowance is paid to each scholar independent of the time of graduation. The scholars keep receiving their monthly allowance, even if they would not be in Belgium, allowing for a certain flexibility. The scholarship will not be suspended in case a scholar decides to return home, nor will it be extended.

China Scholarship Council

Students with an CSC scholarship who return home have to contact the Chinese embassy in Belgium. Scholarship matters will be looked at case-by-case. According to the general guidelines, students are entitled to one return flight ticket for their stay at VUB.

Erasmus scholarship

Erasmus students at VUB receive their scholarship from their home university. If you would like to return home, inquire at your home institution for scholarship implications. 

Master Mind scholarships

Information is not yet available.

Other scholarship schemes

Students with a scholarship from their own country or another scholarship should coordinate the possibilities to return home with their scholarship agency.

Erasmus+

The scholarship will be discontinued upon return to VUB. As Erasmus+ makes an initial payment of 70%, hence students will be asked to refund part of the grant, depending on when they return. In this case, the Erasmus officer will contact you.

Following online classes in the home country does not count towards the grant. If students temporarily stop the exchange and later return abroad, the scholarship period can be adjusted accordingly. No scholarship will be paid for the period during which the student is not abroad.

Extra costs due to postponement, cancellation, interruption, cessation, etc of activities can be reimbursed on the basis of real costs to be substantiated with documentary evidence. In such a case, the fixed amounts will no longer apply. In order to charge these costs, proof/statement must be available that these expenses are not covered by other sources (such as insurance). However, the contractually allocated total budget to VUB cannot be increased. That is why budgets are limited.

For more information, contact exchange.outgoing@vub.be.

VLUHR – ‘Priority country scholarships’ & ‘Generieke beurzen’

The following guidelines will be applied by the VLUHR for the implementation of the Mobility Action Plan ‘ Brains on the Move’, commissioned by the Department of Education and Training:

1) There is no ban on or negative travel advice from Foreign Affairs regarding the destination and there is no closure of or cancellation by the partner organisation:

In case of no unforeseen circumstances (no force majeure).

Case 1:

            • The student has not yet departed;
            • The mobility is postponed or another destination is chosen.

All costs associated with cancellation or postponement are the complete responsibility of the participant or the organisation (based on who made the decision). The costs associated with cancellation or postponement do not qualify for reimbursement and cannot be claimed.

The right to funding for a mobility lapses and is void.

Case 2:

          • The student is already at the destination
          • The student returns early, within one month, due to the corona virus.

The initial grant for travel expenses can be kept.

The right to the scholarship lapses and is void as the minimal mobility duration of one month is not reached.

Case 3:

          • The student is already at the destination;
          • The student has been on mobility for at least one month and returns early due to the corona virus.

The initial grant for travel can be kept.
The scholarship is recalculated on the basis of the (partially) completed mobility. The calculation of the scholarship amount of the last month is calculated according to the scholarship programme guidelines (26 days rule).

 

2) In the case of negative travel advice, cancellations by the partner organisation or cancellation by the home university or college:

In case of no unforeseen circumstances (force majeure).

Case 1:

            • The student has not yet departed;
            • The mobility is postponed or another destination is chosen.

VLUHR allows students to postpone the departure date to their chosen destination, on the condition that the mobility still takes place within the same academic year.
VLUHR allows students awarded a scholarship to go to a different destination than initially agreed upon, within the guidelines and possibilities offered by the scholarship programme.
Extra expenses incurred as a consequence of postponing the mobility or changing the destination that cannot be recuperated, are eligible for reimbursement, based on the presentation of proof of these expenses. This includes proof of the initial expenses incurred as well as proof that it was impossible to recuperate these expenses. Please note: the total amount of reimbursed expenses per student cannot exceed the initial scholarship amount.

Case 2:

          • The student has not yet departed;
          • The mobility is cancelled.

VLUHR allows students to cancel the mobility and offers students the opportunity to postpone the mobility, with the scholarship amount intact and still available, to the next academic year.
Extra expenses incurred as a consequence of postponing the mobility or changing the destination that cannot be recuperated, are eligible for reimbursement, based on the presentation of proof of these expenses. This includes proof of the initial expenses incurred as well as proof that it was impossible to recuperate these expenses. Please note: the total amount of reimbursed expenses per student cannot exceed the initial scholarship amount.

Case 3:

          • The student is already at the destination;
          • The student has been on mobility and returns early to Belgium, but does not go to another destination

The initial grant for travel can be kept.
VLUHR awards a scholarship amount based on the performed study/internship period. The calculation of the scholarship amount of the last month, if the month is shorter than 26 days, will, as an exception, be calculated  on a week basis (7 days). For example:

            • The last month has 17 days: the student receives 50% of the scholarship amount for the last month.
            • The last month has 23 days: the student receives 75% of the scholarship amount for the last month.

The minimum mobility duration that is applicable to the scholarship programme is not applicable in this case.

Extra expenses incurred as a consequence of cancelling the mobility that cannot be recuperated qualify for reimbursement, based on the presentation of proof of these expenses. This includes proof of the initial expenses incurred as well as proof that it was impossible to recuperate these expenses. Please note: the total amount of reimbursed expenses per student cannot exceed the initial scholarship amount.

Case 4:

          • The student is already at the destination;
          • The student continues the mobility at another destination.

The initial grant for travel can be kept.

VLUHR awards a scholarship amount based on the performed study/internship period. The calculation of the scholarship amount of the last month, if the month is shorter than 26 days, will, as an exception, be calculated on a week basis (7 days). For example:

            • The last month has 17 days: the student receives 50% of the scholarship amount for the last month.
            • The last month has 23 days: the student receives 75% of the scholarship amount for the last month.

The minimum mobility duration that is applicable to the scholarship programme is not applicable in this case.

Extra expenses incurred as a consequence of cancelling the mobility at the first destination that cannot be recuperated are eligible for reimbursement, based on the presentation of proof of these expenses. This includes proof of the initial expenses incurred as well as proof that it was impossible to recuperate these expenses. Please note: the total amount of reimbursed expenses per student cannot exceed the initial scholarship amount.

Questions about insurance

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about insurance in the list below.

In case of early return of students from abroad: which costs will be reimbursed (rent, etc.) by the insurance?

Students should consult their personal insurance broker.

Does VUB intervene in the cancellation of travel & accommodation costs of staff members due to the coronavirus?

The VUB BCS travel assistance insurer does not intervene in case of cancellation due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Actions that can be taken:

  • Please contact the travel agency. They may propose to cancel the trip for a limited cost or to rebook the tickets.
  • If necessary, contact the agency that cancelled the activity (for which travel & accommodation expenses were incurred) and check whether and to what extent they reimburse the expenses incurred.

My trip abroad within the framework of an externally financed project will not take place. To which interventions am I entitled?

In this case, be sure to contact the body financing the project or consult their website to see what intervention or solutions they might propose. The VUB BCS travel assistance insurer does not intervene in case of cancellation due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Actions that can be taken:

  • If necessary, the travel agency can be contacted. They may propose to cancel the trip for a limited cost or to rebook the tickets.
  • If necessary, contact the agency that cancelled the activity (for which travel & accommodation expenses were incurred) and check whether and to what extent they will reimburse the expenses incurred.

No.  If you, as organizer, took out an event/cancellation insurance yourself, we advise you to contact the insurer. However, there is little chance that the insurance will provide cover in the event of a pandemic.

In case of cancellation of an event you organized, please contact the registered participants, suppliers and other contracting parties.

When events are cancelled, this means that the registration fees have to be refunded to the participants (unless the event is rescheduled and the participant agrees to let the organizer keep the registration fees). However, damages, such as hotel expenses, transport, etc., cannot be claimed back by the participants, since the government has explicitly forbidden events since March 13th and therefore there is a case of force majeure. However, we recommend that you always check the contracts themselves, as situations of force majeure can be contractually extended/limited/...

Financial arrangements will also have to be made with suppliers, which may result in costs having to be paid. Suppliers must be able to provide proof of the costs they have already incurred (incurred before the force majeure situation, 13 March 2020). Only these costs will have to be paid by the organizer. Again, no damages can be claimed as a result of the dissolution of the agreement as there is force majeure at stake (again, read contract for any force majeure clauses).

However, we recommend postponing events (to a date to be determined at a later date) rather than cancelling them.

Vanbreda Risk & Benefits has taken a number of preparatory measures in order to continue to guarantee its services. They recommend using their digital channels: the Vanbreda Health Care app or their Health Care website www.vanbreda-health.be/nl/ for the handling of claims (such as reporting hospitalisation and serious illness, filing medical expenses and other questions). Accessibility by telephone may be limited due to exceptional circumstances and mail distribution could be compromised.

Questions are best asked via the website

If you have not yet signed up for their digital services, you can find all the information you need to register at www.vanbreda-health.be/nl/ik-word-digitaal/. Download their app by scanning the appropriate QR-code:

Questions about personal well-being

Read the answers to frequently asked questions about personal well-being in the list below.

First of all: it is a normal reaction to experience feelings of anxiety, stress, insecurity and even panic when hearing and reading all the news, speculations and measures concerning the corona virus at the moment. Here are some tips to keep it in context and not to worry unnecessarily:

  1. Listen to experts: make sure you have correct facts and look at things from the right perspective. Don't search too much for information about the coronavirus on the internet yourself. Pay special attention to information from credible sources and experts. For example, there is a government website that offers useful and correct information. Also feel free to share this information with your friends and family. Of course, you will also find useful information on this very website.
  2. Stay connected. Maintaining social networks can promote a sense of normality. You can share and discuss feelings and concerns with each other, relieving your stress. Be careful because fear is also contagious. If you talk to a lot to people who are scared, you will become scared yourself. So look for people who are calmer. It will have a more positive effect on you.
  3. Seek additional help. If you are overwhelmed by fear or other long-lasting reactions that influence you negatively, it is best to seek help. You can contact the VUB for professional help by a student psychologist from VUB Student Counselling or an employee of CAW. International students can contact https://www.chsbelgium.org/en/ for a professional chat.

Feeling confused and anxious about the coronavirus situation? As a student, you can contact the student psychologists at the VUB with your concerns. You can schedule an appointment with a student psychologist via the student website. When making your appointment, you can use the online scheduling tool to indicate your preferred contact method.

The same working method applies to appointments with a Learning Path Counsellor or Study Advisor. If you are in guidance, you can contact your counsellor via email or online tool.

Questions about events

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about events in the list below.

The VUB will focus on its core tasks: education and research until after the spring holidays. Necessary events can take place within this framework. All other social events before 19 April such as the honorary doctorates award ceremony, the Info Days or WeKonekt-week will be postponed. Also, student activities or events by external partners on our campus will not take place.

All events not directly related to education or research have been cancelled or postponed until after 19 April.

The VUB has decided to cancel all non-digital student activities (TD’s, cantussen, rehearsals, meetings in kringlokalen….) until Friday the 3rd of July. This means that VUB will not provide facilities (classrooms, kringlokalen…) to organize non-digital activities. 

Questions about working from home (for employees)

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about working from home in the list below.

As a healthy employee you cannot decide on your own to work from home. This must always be approved by your manager or supervisor.

What if my department is closed and I am unable to carry out my tasks elsewhere (e.g. operation services, laboratory staff,...)?

Discuss this with your manager or supervisor.

What if I don't have the equipment (e.g. laptop, PC, connection, access) to work from home?  

Your supervisor can check whether the necessary material can be made available.

As a supervisor, how do I determine if I can allow teleworking, and for how long? 

As a supervisor, you closely follow the university guidelines.

As a supervisor, how do I supervise employees who are working remotely? 

As a supervisor, make clear agreements in advance about tasks, priorities, and availability. Make sure that your employees can use Skype for business. Clearly indicate when you are available and how you will monitor the progress of the work.

What if teleworking is not possible (for some employees or for an entire shift) and service must be maintained? 

The supervisor or manager determines how things should proceed for his or her department and consults with the employees.

Agreements about working from home are to be made in consultation with the managers. From an administrative point of view, the following arrangement applies: TEO must NOT be completed by ATP and WPP in March and April 2020 for applications for and approvals of homeworking. Compensation arrangements will be made later.

For insurance purposes, everything is arranged via JUVE.

Call your labour doctor. Since Monday 16 March he or she does all consultations by phone. You do not need to come to one of our campuses.

The Flemish government has put a page on the internet with information about the consequences for paid educational leave (BEV) in case of suspension of lessons because of the coronavirus. You can read that page here (only in Dutch).

Questions about teaching from home or remotely

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about teaching from home or remotely  in the list below.

I'm a lecturer. Can I decide not to give a class because I don't want to teach remotely?  

The lessons at the VUB will continue. The VUB and its lecturers must make every effort to facilitate distance learning. If this is not an option, classes will be taught in groups of up to 50 students, in sufficiently large classrooms to maintain the necessary distance.

I'm a lecturer. Which teaching activity is eligible for which form of distance learning?  

For questions and support relating to distance learning, please contact onderwijsinnovatie@vub.be.

I am a lecturer. Can I use VUB equipment and infrastructure to make a high-quality recording or organise live distance learning?

All facilities are closed. Contact AV services via infradesk@vub.be and the faculty about borrowing material for video recordings and the organisation of lesson recordings.

I am a lecturer. Where can I get support to make the switch to distance learning? (instructors) 

For support please contact onderwijsinnovatie@vub.be and provide clear information about the lesson, type of lesson, lecturers, etc.

I am a lecturer. Can I be obliged to set up a lesson via distance learning? 

All lessons take place digitally only, and cannot be cancelled. Lessons with physical presence on campuses are suspended, as are practicals and WPO. The previously established rule of teaching in groups of a maximum of 50 students no longer applies. Arrangements with regard to digital lessons are made through the faculty.

For questions about and support for setting up distance learning with clear information about the lesson, lecturers, etc, please contact onderwijsinnovatie@vub.be.

For information about borrowing material for video recordings and the practical organisation of lesson recordings, contact AV services via infradesk@vub.be or the faculty.

I'm a lecturer. Should I proceed with guest lectures or not?

Guest lectures can be postponed or held remotely. See if you can replace it with a recording.

I am a lecturer. Where can I get support to make the switch to distance learning?  

For support contact onderwijsinnovatie@vub.be and provide clear information about the lesson, type of lesson, lecturers, etc.

I am a lecturer. Which classes are eligible for which form of distance learning?  

You can find all the information about this at: https://onderwijs-studentenzaken.vub.ac.be/live_afstandsonderwijs

I'm a lecturer. Can I decide to cancel a lesson because I don't want to teach remotely?

Since all lessons must take place digitally, they cannot be cancelled. Lessons with physical presence on campuses are suspended, including practicals and WPO. The previously established rule of teaching in groups of a maximum of 50 students no longer applies. Arrangements with regard to digital lessons are made via the faculty.

First and foremost: The AV Lending Service is open by appointment only. Make your request in good time via Infradesk. A collection time in room E2.02 will then be arranged. For lesson recording, you can borrow the following items:

  • Recording package (with camera, stand and microphone)
  • Camcorders
  • Laptops
  • Zooms (recording equipment suitable for podcasts, which can be made available via panopto)

Videoconferencing is possible via:

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Skype4business
  • Lifesize: request an account via Infradesk
  • There are also rooms available with fixed videoconferencing equipment: PL5 ES, PL9 M&O, Horta, M420, E304 and E303. 

From Monday 23 March, AV Services is providing off-campus/online support.

You can reach the technicians on weekdays from 9.00-18.00 via:

  • The LifeSize app. Please note it can only be used with Google Chrome or Firefox
  • Skype For Business: log in via this link. When you click on it, choose “Third Party apps” - “Skype for Business”
  • Microsoft Teams : click on the "new chat" button at the top of the chat and enter the following email address: 886453@lifesizecloud.com.

Yes. As a lecturer, you still have access to the campus and can use your office to make recordings.

We are also keeping two rooms free for this purpose: D2.20 and D2.23. If you would like to book one of these rooms, please make your request via email. Mention the date and time and at the same time request that security provide access. The technicians can help you remotely if necessary.

Questions about studying from home or remotely

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about studying from home or remotely in the list below. Here's already a good tip: on our student site you'll find all the latest information about the adapted opening hours of the student services. Be sure to take a look!

Yes, classes continue, for both students and teachers. All lessons will take place digitally only. Students will find information for each lesson component on CANVAS.

Yes. The exams will take place in the period from 1 June to 3 July 2020. Some of them will take place on campus and there is a possibility that some will be organised on 1 June 2020, a public holiday (Whit Monday). 

For the time being, the exam days are from Monday to Saturday, but the days and times will be determined in consultation with the students themselves. We will communicate the specific exam schedules later, so that consultation with the student representatives (among others) of your study programme is possible.

Exams will be a mix of online and offline evaluations. All lecturers and programmes are looking at what adjustments will be necessary, such as a change in exam formats, remote examinations and organisational measures around social distancing.

In order to continue to guarantee the rules of social distancing, written exams can also take place outside campus. We will also communicate about this as soon as there is more clarity about the locations. Between exams, we will always provide the necessary time to disinfect the room and guarantee your safety.

There is the possibility of a limited extension to the exam period. However, the academic calendar will be maintained as far as possible. We will also ensure that everyone gets a period of vacation. There is a possibility, however, that some exams will be organised on 1 June 2020, a public holiday (Whit Monday). 

The new measures in relation to exams will be communicated via Canvas in the week of 20 April 2020. For each course they will be coordinated and defined in consultation with the faculty and student representatives in the coming days and weeks. Questions to which the university already has an answer will be answered. Where we do not yet have answers, we will say so.

For students who stay abroad or are in quarantine during the exams, we provide an alternative exam as much as possible. The faculty will be your point of contact for this.

I'm a student and I'm taking an interuniversity course. From which institution do I follow the guidelines? 

You follow the guidelines of the institution that 
organises the course.
 

All lessons will take place digitally. Check CANVAS daily for announcements for each course unit. Teachers will communicate all information via CANVAS.

That is not possible. Most of the facilities on the campuses are closed: cafes, restaurant, sports facilities, cultural facilities, library, SBC, all meeting rooms.

What equipment and software do I need to follow a lesson recording or live distance learning?

The teacher will give you guidelines on this via CANVAS. If Skype is used, students will also need to install Skype.

I'm a student. From which institution do I follow the guidelines when attending an interuniversity programme? 

You follow the guidelines of the institution that organises the course.  

If you are a student, follow the corona guidelines that are in place where you are interning. If you have any questions, please contact the programme’s internship coordinator. If an internship cannot take place, the teacher will replace it with an alternative assignment.

Lessons with physical presence on campuses are suspended, including practicals. Check CANVAS for information about the course units. Teachers will communicate all information there.

How will communication about educational activities to students be organised? 

Students will receive information via CANVAS for all information on courses

The loan period is automatically extended until after the spring holidays (see also the facebook page of the library). 

Questions about the coronavirus

Read the answers to the frequently asked questions about the coronavirus in the list below.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses known to cause diseases ranging from a cold to more serious diseases such as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

When we talk about a 'new' coronavirus - CoV - we mean a new strain of the coronavirus that has not previously been identified in humans. Covid-19 is the name of the newly discovered coronavirus involved in the current outbreak that started in December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

The first cases of this outbreak were described on 31 December 2019. On 7 January 2020, Chinese scientists identified a new virus as the cause of this outbreak and temporarily called it '2019-nCoV'. Since then, the disease has spread to several other cities in China and to other countries on four continents (i.e. Asia, Europe, America and Oceania). The number of infections is still increasing and more than 4,000 deaths have been reported to date worldwide. As the epidemic is still developing at the time of writing, the figures and the countries affected are evolving rapidly. Since 11 February the WHO has officially named the virus Covid-19. For more details, see the WHO special page: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.

A significant proportion of the first patients infected with Covid-19 had visited a large fish market (in Wuhan) before their illness, indicating an epidemiological link with certain animals sold on the market. 

  • The coronavirus spreads from human to human via small droplets released by coughing and sneezing. Through those droplets, the virus enters the air, and lands on objects and surfaces. Anyone who inhales these droplets or gets them through their hands into their mouth, nose or eyes can become infected with the virus. There is no evidence that the contamination occurs through the skin. The risk of infection is reduced by keeping more than a metre away from sick people or those coughing or sneezing, avoid touching your faceand pay attention to good hand hygiene.

 

  • The corona virus survives on average about three hours on smooth surfaces and materials (such as door handles, handrails, tables, etc.). According to the WHO, the coronavirus can survive for up to a few days, dependant on the conditions (such as type of surface, temperature and humidity of the environment). It is important to wash your hands regularly and thoroughly after contact with surfaces that are touched by many people. By disinfecting a surface, the virus particles are removed. On absorbent materials (such as cardboard, paper, textiles, etc.) the virus cannot survive well. The virus is very sensitive to dehydration, heat and sunlight.

 

  • While earlier research suggested that the virus can sometimes be present in stools, the risk of being infected through stools of an infected person appears to be low.


In-depth research into the extent and all possible ways of human-to-human transmission is essential and is currently being carried out. The WHO will communicate any new findings on a regular basis. However, since there is a risk, the WHO also recommends regular hand washing after toilet visits and before eating. There is currently no vaccine or preventive treatment. Drug trials with various antiviral drugs are currently underway. Healthy people who are infected manage to heal thanks to their own immune system.

The mortality rate of the infection is about 2-3%, and in reality, it is probably less. It means that most people who are infected manage to heal thanks to their own immune system. Those who have died are usually over 60 and had other underlying conditions. In comparison, the average mortality rate in Belgium due to seasonal flu is 5-6%. Healthy people who are infected manage to heal thanks to their own immune system.

There are currently no specific antiviral treatments for the infection. But healthy people do recover from the virus. People who are infected manage to heal thanks to their own immune system.

Until now, the time between infection and the first symptoms (incubation time) appeared to be 2 to 14 days. However, new data indicates a shorter average incubation time of 5-7 days. During this incubation period, the virus is probably already transmissible. More research is needed and currently ongoing to understand how and when the main transmission of the virus occurs.

The main symptoms are very similar to other respiratory tract infections:

  • acute fever
  • coughing
  • muscle pain
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • sometimes diarrhoea
  • Several patients have signs of pneumonia on a chest x-ray.
  • The symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection(such as sore throat) seem to be less common.


Elderly people and people with existing chronic conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer and diabetes) seem to be more vulnerable to serious symptoms.

Our knowledge of the extent of symptoms is likely to increase in the coming weeks and months as more information about current cases becomes available. This new disease is difficult to distinguish from other seasonal respiratory infections due to the specific nature of the symptoms.

At this moment there is no vaccine or preventive treatment. However, there are a number of general hygiene measures recommended by the WHO to prevent the spread of the infection. You can read them here.

Masks are not recommended. The use of masks by the general public has not been proven to be effective in preventing the disease, as masks are usually made of such a quality that they stop virus particles. They are difficult to place properly on the mouth and nose and lose their filtering capacity as soon as they get wet due to condensation of breath.

VUB researches

 

Help VUB scientists to map out the consequences of the Coronavirus.

Fill in the questionnaire!

... solidarity in times of Corona

Many citizens today are committed to their neighborhood, local residents and even strangers. Researchers of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel now want to map out all these initiatives. This survey will only take 5 minutes to complete. It will stay open until Friday the 27th of March.

Help out our researchers and fill in this questionnaire!

> English questionnaire

> Dutch questionnaire

> French questionnaire 

Fill in the questionnaire!

... the every day live in times of Corona

What has changed, how do we adapt and what are the long-term effects?  Professor of sociology Ignace Glorieux: “Our everyday life is upside down, several areas of life now come together. We want to investigate the short and long-term effects and therefor we call on everyone to fill in this survey and to share it with friends, trough social media, but also internationally." 

Help out our researchers and fill in this questionnaire!

> English questionnaire 

> Dutch questionnaire 

> French questionnaire 

Fill in the questionnaire!

... online teaching in times of Corona

Are you a teacher or pre-service teacher, a university lecturer or a trainer in an educational organization? And do you have to move to online teaching because of COVID-19? Share your experiences in our survey and learn what others say! It should take maximum 10 minutes to complete.

If you would like more information about the questionnaire, feel free to contact Jo (jo.tondeur@vub.be). You are also free to share this questionnaire with anyone you wish.

Looking for a VUB-expert in times of Corona?

Coronavirus expert list

Questions about the Coronavirus at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel?

Klik hier voor alle info in het Nederlands.

First consult the updates and the answers to frequently asked questions.

Is your question not listed? Then please contact coronavirus@vub.be during office hours.

Contact with a corona patient or diagnosed with corona?

Did you come into contact with a Corona patient and visit a VUB campus shortly afterwards? Are you a student or employee and were you diagnosed with the Coronavirus?

Then inform the VUB immediately via coronavirus@vub.be.