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Questions and Answers about the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19)

General Information about the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The most important thing you can do is to practice good hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly (for at least 20 seconds) and often. Wear a protective mask when required. Don’t shake hands with people or hug them. Avoid people coughing or sneezing directly on you. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible. Air out rooms regularly. Throw away tissues immediately after use. The German Federal Center for Health Education provides extensive information about ...

Like other respiratory pathogens, a coronavirus infection can lead to a variety of symptoms. According to the Robert Koch Institute, symptoms vary greatly and are hard to define. They range from an infection with no symptoms to severe pneumonia with respiratory failure and death. It is therefore not possible to provide a general description of “typical” symptoms of the illness. Current information is available in German and English on the Robert Koch Institute's website.

The Berlin Senate Office has set up a hotline for people to call if they think they have been infected. The number is 030 90 28 28 28. Health insurance providers have also set up hotlines. Please contact your health insurance provider as well. Further Information Up-to-date information on health safety regarding the novel coronavirus (e.g., symptoms, risk of infection, preventive care), can be found on the Robert Koch Institute website. Current information and advice can also be ...

Telephone Hotlines The Berlin Senate Office has set up a hotline for people to call if they think they have been infected. The number is 030 90 28 28 28 . Further information, including the contact information for the local health departments, can be found here:  https://www.berlin.de/corona/en/   Health insurance providers have also set up hotlines. Please contact your health insurance provider as well. Further Information Up-to-date information on health safety regarding the ...

Studying

Instructors and students have had to make drastic changes to how they teach and learn over the course of the pandemic. The majority of classes are currently being held online in order to help protect the health of all participants. Examinations may only take place onsite in exceptional circumstances that can be sufficiently justified, and they must be carried out in accordance with the applicable hygiene regulations. The Center for Academic Advising and Psychological Counseling is currently offering support to students with a range of workshops and counseling options.

On these pages you can learn more about the regulations that apply to studying at present, as well as which counseling and support services are available if you have any questions or are having a difficult time coping with the pandemic.

Mandatory Covid-19 Testing for Students before Attending Courses or Taking Exams in Person at Freie Universität Berlin

On the basis of Berlin’s Third SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Measures Ordinance, and as a further measure to contain the spread of the ongoing pandemic, Freie Universität Berlin requires anyone taking a class or an exam on Freie Universität’s campus to have proof of a negative coronavirus test. This regulation came into effect on May 1, 2021.

This measure further safeguards necessary activities on campus as an addition to the existing regulations (social distancing, handwashing and hygiene measures, wearing a mask, airing out rooms, basic hygiene plan of Freie Universität Berlin) and makes it possible to detect potential infections at an early stage.

  1. In order to attend a class or take an exam on campus at Freie Universität, you must provide proof of a negative SARS-CoV-2 antigen test or a PCR test.
  2. If you are only attending one class or exam in a week on campus, the negative test result must be dated within the 24-hour period before the class or exam begins. If you are attending several times in one week, you only need to show a test result that is no more than 72 hours old.
  3. You should get tested at one of Berlin’s certified testing centers (https://test-to-go.berlin).
  4. There is also a certified testing center on Freie Universität’s campus (https://www.covid-testzentrum.de/berlin-fu). You can get tested here once a day for free.
  5. Please schedule your testing appointment in advance.
  6. Even if your test results are negative, you still need to comply with all applicable protective and hygiene measures, including keeping your distance from others and wearing an approved mask.
  7. If you test positive you are not allowed to attend the in-person class or exam on campus and should quarantine in accordance with state regulations. If your positive results came from a rapid antigen test, please take a PCR test at one of the certified testing centers as soon as possible to ensure that your results are accurate.
  8. If you test positive and were on campus for an in-person class or exam within the last 48 hours prior to obtaining the test result, please contact your instructor or department immediately. They will then take steps to identify and contact other people who might have been exposed to you. (See Freie Universität’s reporting procedure.)
  9. State regulations on testing make an exception for people who have been vaccinated (after 14 days following their last vaccination) or who have had Covid-19 and recovered (with proof of a positive PCR test dated at least 28 days ago, but no more than six months old). These individuals are not required to get tested.

Vaccination Program for Students

The most recent amendment to the Ordinance Regulating Access to Vaccination Against the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, Section 4.1.8, states that persons working in higher education (universities and colleges) fall into the category of increased priority for vaccination (Priority Group 3).

In the State of Berlin, this group has been entitled to receive vaccinations since May 3, 2021. If you are employed as well as enrolled as a student at Freie Universität, you will have received a letter about this by email and can now make a vaccination appointment with your doctor or at a vaccination center. You can find more information about the vaccination program in the State of Berlin at https://www.berlin.de/corona/impfen/.

In addition, Freie Universität Berlin is also currently offering its own vaccination program for employees and students via the university’s occupational physicians. You can find more information about the program at the vaccination center website.

Virtual Seminars and Lectures

There are different support services available to you at Freie Universität and elsewhere in Berlin to which you can turn. These services are bound by strict confidentiality policies, and your identity can remain anonymous if you choose. If you are affected yourself or have witnessed incidents, or if you are an instructor and want to learn more about the topic, you can also contact the task force at Freie Universität Berlin dedicated to preventing sexualized harassment, discrimination, and violence: Arbeitsgruppe Gegen Sexualisierte Belästigung, Diskriminierung und Gewalt (SBDG). They also provide confidential consultations in English or German.

Freie Universität Berlin is discussing solutions with the State of Berlin to continue to find ways to help people in need so that they, too, have access to digital education resources. Please contact Studierendenwerk Berlin with questions or concerns related to this issue. The following website provides extensive information and FAQs related to financial support for students: www.stw.berlin/unternehmen/themen/corona-faq.html

Generally speaking, the same rules apply regarding regular class participation whether a course takes place online or on-site. These rules are set out in the degree program and examination regulations for each degree program and in Section 9 of Freie Universität Berlin’s framework regulations, the Rahmenstudien- und Prüfungsordnung (RSPO).

However, it is possible that student attendance may not always be adequately documented and therefore cannot be reliably checked. If this is the case, the lack of documentation must not have negative consequences for the students who have taken the course. In particular, it must not lead to students being asked to participate more actively in the program than would normally be expected of them. The module description will indicate the level and kind of participation that can be expected of students. In cases where a student’s attendance at an online teaching session can be reliably ascertained, this can be taken as an indication of whether or not they have fulfilled the requirement for regular attendance. But if their attendance has to be checked retrospectively, it may involve considerable effort given that students do not always need to use their Freie Universität account to register for a course.

In light of the above, the examining board is entitled to decide that regular attendance at an online teaching program need not be monitored and that it can be assumed to have taken place without further checks. Such decisions, however, should be the exception rather than the rule and should only be taken in cases where regular attendance cannot be reliably ascertained and/or a retrospective check would involve disproportionate effort.

They can use Freie Universität’s E-Learning Platform. The platform provides students with virtual rooms where they can work in groups or meet with others to study together.

Studying with Children

If you are taking care of a young child or children, if you are caring for family members, or if you are working while studying, then you can request a leave of absence or change your official status to part-time student.

A leave of absence or switching to part-time status might influence things like BAföG payments or scholarships. The Social Counseling Center through the Studierendenwerk Berlin can provide you with advice and support.

The Family Service office has set up a Wiki (http://wikis.fu-berlin.de/x/KoK2KQ) with information for students with children. The information provided there will be updated as needed. The Center for Academic Advising and Psychological Counseling at Freie Universität Berlin also provides counseling and support concerning your studies or if you are in a stressful situation: https://www.fu-berlin.de/en/sites/studienberatung/index.html.

Dates, Deadlines, Advising

Please contact your examination office to find out how they are currently handling requests to view records. Generally speaking, there are two options. Either you will be allowed to view your records in person (usually at the examination office) while observing the university’s hygiene regulations (wearing a protective mask, keeping a safe distance, etc.), or your documents will be scanned and sent to you electronically.

In most cases, the scanned documents will be sent to your ZEDAT university email address. Exceptions can be made only if the examination office has no doubts as to the identity of the email recipient at the address provided based on sufficient documentation.

Freie Universität has done its best to make it possible for student to continue to complete coursework since the very start of the pandemic. Credits completed will count toward the completion of your degree requirements. Neither the 2020 summer semester nor the 2020/2021 winter semester as well as the 2021 summer semester will, however, count against you in calculating your time to degree in your major. If, during the pandemic, students were not able to take all the courses they were supposed to or could not complete scheduled assessments, they will not face negative consequences due to the circumstances. You can find more information about BAföG here.

The universities are taking precautions to ensure that regularly occurring important dates and deadlines will automatically be postponed for upcoming semesters. For technical reasons, however, the semester will appear on students’ transcripts.

You can obtain a certificate confirming your individual time to degree by accessing the Student Records and Registration Office portal under https://studium.fu-berlin.de.

Students who enrolled in a master’s degree program starting winter semester 2020/2021 with a “two-thirds certificate” must submit their bachelor’s degree certificate when they renew their registration for the winter semester 2021/2022 at the very latest.

Students who were enrolled in a master’s degree program starting summer semester 2021 with a “two-thirds certificate” must submit their bachelor’s degree certificate when they renew their registration for the summer semester 2022 at the very latest.

Semesterticket

There are several locations available at Freie Universität where you can now pick up and validate your CampusCard, which includes the VBB semester ticket for public transportation. Please visit the Student Records and Registration Office website to find out which locations are available and when they are open.

If your CampusCard has been lost or stolen, you can find information on the steps to take here.

Until you have replaced your CampusCard/VBB semester ticket, you must purchase other tickets if you want to use public transportation. Reimbursement for individual tickets is currently not an option, and a certificate of enrollment alone does not serve as a valid replacement ticket. You can find more information on this topic here (in German).

Term Papers, Examinations, Final Theses

The Berlin Higher Education Act (BerlHG) has been amended to include a provision (Section 126b) on how failed examinations are to be handled for a defined period of time. This states that if you fail an examination taken between April 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021, then this attempt will be considered null and void. For the sake of fairness, the same applies to exams taken between March 15 and 31, 2020. If the date of the exam or the deadline for a written assignment falls between March 15, 2020 and September 30, 2021, the attempt will be considered null and void. The regulation also applies to any assessments that fall between March 15, 2020, and September 30, 2021, so long as there was at least one day of work or processing scheduled for the assessment during that period.

Section 126b of the Berlin Higher Education Act also applies to bachelor’s and master’s theses as well as university assessments within the scope of degree programs associated with state examinations (Staatsexamen), such as pharmacy and veterinary medicine, in cases where the assessment is a prerequisite for the state examination itself.

Examinations that receive a failing grade because the candidate has cheated are excluded from this regulation. Similarly, this regulation does not apply if a candidate fails to submit a written thesis or show up to an obligatory examination without just cause for said omission.

If you failed an examination after April 1, 2020, but have retaken the examination since then and passed, then this regulation does not apply to your situation.

The applicable information shall be removed from the Campus Management system. You don’t have to take action unless you need an up-to-date overview of your academic performance, e.g., for an application, before your records have been updated in the Campus Management system. In this case, please get in touch with the responsible examination office. All other cases will be processed gradually, depending on the office’s workload.

Basically, all assessments at Freie Universität Berlin are being conducted remotely (often online) for the time being. The various remote formats include:

  • Oral examinations via video conferencing
  • Written exams either as “take-home” exams, in which students receive and submit their assessment digitally (E-Examination@Home), or as a term paper assignment.

The normal rules still apply for term papers, but students do not need to submit printed copies of their papers. Instead, they can submit them electronically.

For an overview, please refer to the white paper on rules established for examinations (in German). CeDiS has created a Wiki for instructors and students with information on digital examinations and assessments (E-Examination@Home).

There are some exceptions to this policy such as exams that cannot be conducted online, for example, exams with hands-on components or state examinations, which have their own set of legal requirements. In these cases, examinations will be conducted in person.

In order to compensate for the difficulties resulting from the pandemic and the restrictions in place to combat it, all students were granted additional time to work on thesis assignments and term papers, as long as the topic of the assignment was announced before January 11, 2021, and the deadline for the project came after January 11, 2021. The remaining allotted time to work on assignments is on hold until June 30, 2021. The start date for the remaining time to work on the assignment is July 1, 2021, and the alloted time commences from that point on.

If the topic of the assignment was announced between January 11 and June 30, 2021, the full time granted to work on an assignment starts on July 1, 2021.

The Department of Law has its own special rules regarding state examination degree programs. Please visit the examination committee website for more information in German.

If you meet the conditions above and would like an extension as described here, please contact the appropriate examinations office.

If you wish to register for a final thesis, please contact your degree program and examination office by email.

The rule regarding the time period for starting a second attempt for a final thesis, which stipulates it should begin no later than three months after the results of the first attempt have been announced, was suspended until June 30, 2021. If the results of your final thesis were announced before July 1, 2021, the time period for a second attempt starts on July 1.

The Department of Law has its own special rules regarding state examination degree programs. Please visit the examination committee website for more information in German.

You will receive an email letting you know that your certificate is ready, at which point you should send us your current mailing address. If possible, we will then send you your graduation documents by mail.

If it is determined that an examination must be conducted in person by a student at a Freie Universität location, there are special rules that must be followed in order to protect the health of those involved and reduce the risk of infection for all university members. These rules state, for example, how far tables must be from each other, what you have to do when you enter and leave the examination room, cleaning procedures, etc. Students will be properly informed of these rules before the examination. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

For an overview, please refer to the white paper on rules established for examinations (in German).

If you wish to postpone the date of your exam, please get in touch with the examinations office for your subject by sending an email from your ZEDAT account.

If the examination date is not mandatory (“nicht bindender Prüfungstermin”), you have the right to withdraw at short notice without needing to give reasons. However, if the date of the examination is binding (“bindender Prüfungstermin”), then you can only withdraw with a compelling reason, and your formal application to withdraw must be submitted within the relevant deadline.

The choice to take an exam through a digital format is voluntary. Students must agree at the beginning of the exam that they consent to this testing format and promise that the work they submit is their own. Students who cannot or do not wish to take the exam under these conditions will not face any negative consequences.

If an examination cannot take place due to technical issues, or if a candidate has to stop during an exam because of technical problems, the examination attempt will not count against the student. A new examination will be prepared and held within an appropriate period of time.

Digital examinations are not substitute assessments; they count as regular assessments just like an in-person exam would. That means that once you have officially started a digital exam (including online written exam), you can only withdraw if there is a strong reason to do so.

For an overview, please refer to the white paper on rules established for examinations (in German). CeDiS has created a Wiki for instructors and students with information on digital examinations and assessments (E-Examination@Home).

Freie Universität Berlin is using more or less the same software for digital exams as it is for digital teaching, namely Cisco Webex and Blackboard.

In addition, “E-Examinations@Home” has been developed as a campus-wide resource for digital assessments conducted remotely. Other examination software includes LPLUS TestStudio, which Freie Universität had already been using in its E-Examination Centers (EECs). The software is, however, being hosted on the software company’s own servers at the moment. This allows students to take exams from home. To do so, all you need to do is install the Safe Exam Browser (SEB) on your computer together with Freie Universtität Berlin’s configuration file. The Safe Exam Browser prevents users from accessing other applications while the examination is in progress and effectively prevents attempts to cheat. All applications currently being used for exams have undergone the appropriate data protection test procedures. The university does not use a proctoring or surveillance system to monitor testing.

CeDiS has created a Wiki for instructors and students with information on digital examinations and assessments (E-Examination@Home).

No, you do not. In the current situation, in-person examinations are voluntary. You will not be penalized if you decide not to participate. If you do not wish to attend an in-person exam, please contact the teaching staff and/or the examinations office responsible for conducting the exam. Please note that special rules apply to exams in subjects where the degree is also a professional qualification such as law, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine.

Information for Freie Universität Students Studying Abroad or Planning a Stay Abroad

If you are doing an internship abroad through Erasmus+ or organized your own study abroad, e.g., through the PROMOS program, and have questions about the current situation, please contact the appropriate contact persons for your program in the Student Mobility Office or the Career Service Office: https://www.fu-berlin.de/en/studium/international/index.html

At the moment we are working under the assumption that many Erasmus+ exchanges planned for the academic year will be able to take place. But we also anticipate that many students will have to cancel or postpone their study abroad plans. The central Erasmus+ team for outgoing students is already in contact with students who are in this situation.

Students who canceled their study abroad plans entirely due to the coronavirus pandemic should contact the central Erasmus+ team for outgoing students at outgoing-erasmus@fu-berlin.de if they incurred costs in preparation for a trip that they never took (for example, deposit payments for accommodations or travel expenses that were not refunded). We will evaluate each case individually to see if it is possible to reimburse some or all of the costs through the Erasmus+ program.

The central mobility team is already in contact with students who plan to participate in a direct exchange or the Erasmus+ weltweit program. They are doing their best to help students make their study abroad plans possible.

Please feel free to contact us by email if you have any questions at auslstud@fu-berlin.de or erasmusworld@fu-berlin.de

These programs are currently subject to restrictions. If you want to apply for PROMOS funding, you can find more information at www.fu-berlin.de/en/studium/international/studium_ausland/promos/index.html.

If you want to apply for an Erasmus internship abroad, you can find all the information you need at www.fu-berlin.de/en/studium/international/studium_ausland/promos/index.html.

When making your plans please consult the German Federal Foreign Office’s travel warnings.

More information on the impact of travel warnings for internships and study abroad.

The German Federal Foreign Office has issued travel warnings related to Covid-19 for many countries and regions. The warnings caution against travel to certain regions if the purpose of travel is not completely necessary, such as tourist trips. Travel for study abroad programs or internships abroad, however, does not count as tourism.

If you have been accepted to a partner university or an internship abroad, you can decide to take part at your own risk.

Please be sure to read the country-specific advisories issued by the German Federal Foreign Office carefully, as there may be special conditions on travel to your destination (e.g., mandatory quarantine). These may entail additional costs. If you are a German citizen, please register to be on the crisis management list. The German Federal Foreign Office has announced that it will no longer be organizing emergency flights to repatriate German citizens if the situation further deteriorates. The costs for return flights, cancellation fees, etc. will have to be borne by the traveler themselves in such cases.

Certain study abroad scholarship programs might not be able to provide funding when travel warnings have been issued, for example, DAAD programs. If you were planning to study abroad with financial support, please contact the appropriate person in the Student Mobility Office or your scholarship sponsor to find out more about the current policies.

Please check the relevant country page on the German Federal Foreign Office website regularly to keep up to date with entry requirements for your destination country, bearing in mind that these can change on short notice.

If you can be vaccinated in your destination country, we recommend that you make an appointment there. If this is not possible and you have to return to Germany for your first and/or second vaccination, you can choose to do this on your own responsibility. However, please make sure you keep your host university, funding organization, etc., informed of any longer breaks you may have to take from your studies or your internship as a result of traveling to your vaccination appointment.

Information for Exchange Students Studying at Freie Universität

Yes, you can! The university is currently planning on holding as many courses as possible on campus during the 2021/2022 winter semester. However, there will still be a selection of courses being offered completely through digital formats. At this time, we are not planning on offering hybrid options. The first day of classes is October 18, 2021, and classes end on February 18, 2022.

If you enroll in the 2021/2022 winter semester, you can take online courses offered at Freie Universität without traveling to Germany. Online examinations will also be possible. Please be aware that there will only be a limited number of online courses and that we cannot guarantee that you will be able to fulfill your course requirements for your home institution solely through online coursework. German language courses offered during the semester will only be taught in person.

Please inform the student mobility team for incoming students at incoming@fu-berlin.de as soon as possible before the beginning of the semester if you do not intend to travel and wish to study completely online at Freie Universität. The staff team will then provide you with further information.

If you were planning on studying abroad at Freie Universität Berlin during the 2021/22 winter semester, you are welcome to postpone your plans and come during the 2022 summer semester.

Please let us know if you do wish to postpone by email at incoming@fu-berlin.de. You should also inform your home institution and let them know that they need to nominate you again for the 2022 summer semester. We will accept both students who postponed their study abroad as well as the regular nominees for the summer semester.

Please be aware of the current obligations for quarantine and reporting if you are coming from a country designated as a risk area. You can find the current regulations here.

If you want to know the specific travel regulations for entry into Germany from your country, which vaccinations are considered valid in Germany, or similar information, please visit the following websites:

If you are required to go into quarantine, you may not visit the campus of Freie Universität during that period. You may only take part in digital classes and online exams.

Students are now allowed to enter the country to commence their studies at a German university or for study-abroad stays. You must have an acceptance letter from your host university to show upon entry. You do not need to provide documentation stating that in-person coursework is necessary for your program since universities are now regularly offering a mix of online and on-site courses and exams. You can find more information on this topic here.

Freie Universität Berlin is currently providing vaccinations for all students. You can find more information about the program at the vaccination center website.

Freie Universität Berlin is currently providing vaccinations for all students. You can find more information about the program at the vaccination center website.

Social Welfare and Financial Aid

Interim financial aid from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to be extended

Interim financial aid provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is intended to help those students who can prove that they are faced with financial hardship caused by the pandemic, who need immediate help, and who are unable to overcome their pandemic-related hardship by making use of other sources of support. Interim financial aid can be applied for by German and foreign students who are enrolled at a public or state-recognized higher education institution in Germany. The application deadline is September 31, 2021. Please note that the application process is somewhat different this time around, so check the requirements carefully before submitting an application.

More information is available on the studierendenWERK BERLIN website.

SoliFUnd: Financial support for Freie Universität students

Financial support is available for Freie Universität students thanks to a fundraising campaign launched by researchers at our university. Students can apply for an individual, one-time payment of 500 euros. Applications must be submitted online through the studierendenWERK BERLIN website: www.stw.berlin/solifund. Applications will be processed in the order received. 

The Social Welfare Packages (Sozialschutz-Pakete), put in place by the German Bundestag in March 2020, in May 2020 and in March 2021 aim to mitigate the economic impact of the coronoavirus epidemic on citizens.

The packages include provisions for self-employed individuals, small businesses, and one-person businesses, but also for families, retired people, and social services. The packages also include measures to make it easier for people to receive basic income and other support for securing their livelihood, including children’s allowances.

More information from the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has decided that students at all levels who are dependent on financial aid under the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) should not suffer financial disadvantages if classes at their educational institution are temporarily canceled or the start of the semester is postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. You can find more information on this topic (in German) here: https://www.bmbf.de/de/karliczek-keine-nachteile-beim-bafoeg-wegen-corona-11122.html

Studierendenwerk Berlin recommends that students who cannot take their final examination (e.g., defense of a bachelor thesis) due to the pandemic and are therefore unable to complete their studies within the maximum funding period, should submit a new application for BAföG and present an extra statement explaining the reasons for needing to extend the maximum funding period. You can find the appropriate request form here: https://www.stw.berlin/assets/sw-berlin/BAf%C3%B6G%20Corona/Antrag_Verlaegerung_Foerderhoechstdauer.pdf

Support for Instructors

The Center for Digital Systems (CeDiS) is providing support for instructors as they adjust their lectures, seminars, and practice sessions. Support, suggestions, and instructions for the use of digital media and technologies in teaching and research, can be found here. You can contact the CeDiS team at digitale-lehre@fu-berlin.de.

Campus

The practice of wearing protective masks has proven itself to be a highly effective precaution in containing the spread of the coronavirus. This is why all individuals who enter the university campus and university buildings are obligated to wear an FFP2 mask. You can request FFP2 standard masks through your unit as an employee of the university.

You can find more information on library and university archive services, University Sports Center courses, and student cafeteria availability on this page.

Masks Required on Campus

On the basis of Berlin’s Third SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Measures Ordinance, Section 26.3, a mask must be worn in all enclosed spaces at Freie Universität Berlin including the libraries.

Whether or not you need to wear an FFP2 mask depends on the safety assessments conducted by the specific university departments and offices.

Libraries and University Archives

Please check the University Library website for the most up to date information about Freie Universität libraries.

If you have questions, please contact:

Please check the University Archives website for the most up-to-date information (in German) about using the archive.

You can find out more about using library workspaces on the University Library website.

Cafeterias (Mensen)

Please check the Studierendenwerk Berlin website for the most up to date information.

University Sports Center

Workshops & Conferences

In accordance with the amendments to the Third SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Measures Ordinance, in effect as of July 3, 2021, universities are permitted to open their doors to the public again. This means that Freie Universität will be able to host events for larger groups.

Section 11 of the Third SARS-CoV-2 Infection Protection Measures Ordinance of the State of Berlin provides the specific details regarding which limits and safety measures are in place for the given day. It is the responsibility of the event organizers to ensure that the measures are implemented and followed.

Overview of Event Regulations:

 

 

Currently

As of July 3, 2021

Outdoor Events  

Maximum number of participants

1000 people

2000 people

Mandatory masks

Medical-grade mask, when moving about

Medical-grade mask, when moving about

Mandatory testing

Events with > 250 people, who are tested, recovered, or vaccinated

Events with > 500 people, who are tested, recovered, or vaccinated

Indoor Events  

Maximum number of participants

250 people

500 people

Mandatory masks

FFP2 masks, when moving about

FFP2 masks, when moving about

Mandatory testing

Events with > 20 people, who are tested, recovered, or vaccinated

Events with > 20 people, who are tested, recovered, or vaccinated

For all events

Assigned seating

 

Yes, for events with > 250 people: Personal distance > 1.5 meters or protective barriers

No, for events with < 250 people, who are tested, recovered, or vaccinated

Safety and hygiene plan

Yes

 Yes

Attendance lists

Yes

 Yes

 

Information for Freie Universität Employees

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, employees of Freie Universität Berlin have ensured that research, teaching, and administrative processes can successfully continue thanks to their dedication and willingness to work from home. Employees are currently only permitted to work on campus if this is considered essential to carrying out their work and upholding university operations.

It is crucial that the wider responsibilities of employees – such as caring for children or other family members – are taken into consideration wherever possible.

On these pages you will find all the information you need on topics such as working from home, taking leave to care for your children, and the various types of support on offer if you feel yourself struggling.

Foreign Travel and Returning to Germany from Abroad

Field trips with students are now permitted if the following regulations are observed:

  • You must prepare a hygiene plan for each field trip. The measures outlined in the hygiene plan must be in accordance with the current regulations for in-person teaching at Freie Universität as well as the rules and regulations in place at the destination of your field trip (e.g., any necessary testing, attendance lists, etc.).
  • The official recommendation for field trips to countries outside the European Union is that all participants should be fully vaccinated.
  • Departments decide whether to approve or reject field trip requests. The department might need to coordinate with the business travel office in making its decision.
  • Field trips to countries or regions that are currently categorized by the Robert Koch Institute as high risk or as “virus variant areas” are not permitted as per the quarantine regulations stipulated by the Ordinance on Coronavirus Entry Regulations (in effect until June 30).

Anyone returning to Germany from abroad, or who has had contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, is urgently requested to determine if they need to quarantine themselves for ten days based on the regulations found in the Ordinance on Coronavirus Entry Regulations. This applies even if you are not showing symptoms of respiratory illness.

If this applies to you, please contact your work office and the personnel office by phone. You should also contact the local health department in your area. The Berlin Senate Office has set up a 24-hour hotline where you can get advice. The number is +49 (0)30 90 28 28 28.

If you are an employee or student currently traveling or living abroad with questions about returning to Germany, please contact: cv-info@fu-berlin.de.

Visiting lecturers and researchers from outside Germany can still take up their positions at Freie Universität Berlin provided that their stay complies with the current regulations issued by the Federal Foreign Office, the State of Berlin, and Freie Universität. Please note that visitors coming from outside the EU should apply for their visas at the German embassy or consulate in their home country, as the Berlin Immigration Office is currently exceptionally busy and is not able to accept applications via Freie Universität’s passport service. You can stay updated with the latest information on the relevant websites or by viewing the website of Freie Universität’s passport service pass-service@fu-berlin.de.

Visitors who have been in a designated risk area at any time during the 14 days prior to their entry into Germany must comply with the relevant registration and quarantine requirements. Risk areas are defined as countries or regions outside the Federal Republic of Germany where there was an increased risk of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (Covid-19) at the time of your entry into Germany. You can find a continually updated list of risk zones here.

If you have any questions in relation to your specific situation, please contact academic-relations@international.fu-berlin.de.

Working During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Freie Universität employees will be coming back to work on campus more and more following the changes that went into effect on July 1, 2021. The legal requirement for employers to provide their employees with the option of working from home expired on June 30, 2021. However, the labor protection ordinance regarding SARS-CoV-2 still includes regulations that require limited contact between individuals at work. In order to implement these measures, Freie Universität Berlin will use the third quarter of 2021 to coordinate with the various divisions, departments, and units, as well as other staff representatives, as part of our effort to return to on-site operations at the start of the 2021/2022 winter semester. We will keep you informed of any decisions made related to this matter. Until further notice, the individual divisions, departments, and units are responsible for organizing their operations with due regard to the health and safety of their teams.

Yes, administrative work will continue to be carried out on site; however, individual offices may have restricted on-site hours due to safety measures.

Generally speaking, being afraid of getting sick is not a viable reason to refrain from coming into work. You are only excused from work if you are actually unfit to perform your tasks. A fear of contracting the virus at work or on the way to work is not a sufficient reason.

Please observe the instructions on reporting confirmed and suspected cases of Covid-19 at Freie Universität Berlin.

Here is where it is important to differentiate between two different scenarios:

  1. You are in quarantine because you are ill:
    You receive a doctor’s sick note and the usual regulations on sick pay apply. You submit your sick note to your office as you normally would.
  2. You are not ill, but have been instructed to go into quarantine by the local public health department as a precaution:
    It will be possible to work from home in this situation. Quarantine-related measures can only be imposed by the responsible public health department. You will not be considered ill in this case and will not receive a doctor’s sick note, but you will continue to receive your salary for the entire period of quarantine.

Please send an email to krisenberatung@fu-berlin.de. This is how you can learn more about support options such as psychological counseling from the Center for Academic Advising and Psychological Counseling, social counseling, and the Dual Career and Family Service. You can find further details – such as availability and office hours – here.

SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Self-Test Kits for Employees at Freie Universität Berlin

On the basis of Berlin’s Second Ordinance on Measures Required to Protect the Population from Infections with the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus, and as a further measure to contain the spread of the ongoing pandemic, Freie Universität Berlin has resolved to offer a SARS-CoV-2 antigen self-test kit twice per week to employees who are working onsite.

Starting April 22, employees also have the option of getting tested at the new testing center on campus located at Habelschwerdter Allee 45.

This measure will further safeguard necessary activities on campus as an addition to the existing regulations (social distancing, handwashing and hygiene measures, wearing a mask, airing out rooms, coronavirus tracking app, basic hygiene plan of Freie Universität Berlin) and make it possible to detect potential infections at an early stage.

Certificate on the results (positive or negative) of a SARS-CoV-2 virus antigen test taken by a Freie Universität employee

SARS-CoV-2 antigen self-tests can be used to test for the presence of an acute infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Tests that are so easy to use that they can even be used independently by people who are not medical professionals (self-test kits) have recently become available on the market. Generally speaking, self-test kits deliver a reliability of over 90% – in fact, the HotGen tests used at Freie Universität have proven to be over 95% reliable. However, they can also produce false-positive or false-negative results. This is why people who test negative should continue to comply with the hygiene and social distancing measures in place.

A PCR test must be taken if the employee who has taken the antigen self-test tests positive. You can find out which testing centers and doctors’ practices in Berlin provide PCR tests here: https://www.berlin.de/corona/testzentren.

You can find further information on self-test kits on the German Federal Center for Health Education website: https://www.infektionsschutz.de/coronavirus/tests-auf-sars-cov-2/antigen-selbsttest.html

  1. The units at Freie Universität Berlin will provide their employees who work onsite with up to two tests per week where necessary.
  2. Employees can choose to voluntarily take the test.
  3. The tests will be performed by the employees themselves in accordance with the state ordinance currently applicable in Berlin.
  4. The respective departments are responsible for administering the tests and enforcing the applicable hygiene concept.
  5. Employees who have been tested can request a certificate that indicates their test result, but only if the tests have been done under supervision. You can find a sample certificate form here.
  6. Used test materials should be disposed of via the household waste in the sealed plastic specimen bag provided with the testing kit.
  7. Employees who test negative must continue to comply with all applicable precautionary and hygiene measures.
  8. Employees who test positive must inform their unit and immediately leave campus to procure a PCR test. They may not return to campus until they are able to submit confirmation that they have a negative PCR test result. The units will then report positive PCR results as confirmed cases of infection to the Occupational Safety Service office by means of the established reporting procedure. Positive self-test results will be reported as suspected cases.
  9. The personal data of the employee who has tested positive will not be shared with the public health departments or other third parties.

The coronavirus (2019-nCoV) antigen test produced by HotGen (BfArM-AT number AT282/21) is currently in use at Freie Universität Berlin. Information about the test and how to perform it correctly can be found on the package. You can find a video tutorial here: https://youtu.be/DTn_ns-bUP4.

As of April 13, 2021, self-testing kits are available for order via UniKAT at a subsidized price of 40.00 euros per package of 20 tests.

Yes, there is! A testing site opened on campus on April 22, 2021. It is located at Habelschwerdter Allee 45 in front of the Rostlaube. Testing is open to all university employees, students, and the general public.

The testing center is run by Medicare GmbH. It is open Monday to Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

To make an appointment, please visit https://www.covid-testzentrum.de/berlin-fu.

Taking Leave for Childcare Purposes

Following the implementation of the German Act on the Protection of the Population in the Event of an Epidemic Situation of National Significance, there are two options when it comes to taking leave for childcare purposes in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Leave can be taken either on the basis of the Protection against Infection Act or in the context of a claim for child sickness benefit. If you are requesting leave for childcare purposes, please note that you must indicate on which legal basis you are claiming leave, as the two options represent two separate sets of legal provisions. The epidemic situation of national significance, as defined in the Act, continues to apply for the foreseeable future until at least the end of June 2021.

Provided that you meet the relevant requirements, you as a guardian can generally apply for leave based on either Section 56 of the Protection against Infection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz – IfSG) or Section 45 of the German Social Code – Book V (Sozialgesetzbuch – SGB). Sections 2 and 9 of the German Care Leave Act (Pflegezeitgesetz – PflegeZG) set out additional regulations that apply to the care and supervision of family members requiring assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Form: Taking leave for childcare purposes pursuant to Section 56 of the Protection against Infection Act (Infektionsschutzgesetz – IfSG).

Due to the widespread closure of childcare facilities, Berlin’s Senate Department of Finance – most recently by means of Bulletin IV No.33/2021 of April 12, 2021 – has issued regulations that aim to ensure that employees can take leave from employment for childcare purposes under the provisions of Sections 56.1.a and 56.2 of the Protection against Infection Act.

Employees are entitled to take leave from work in order to take care of children under the age of 12 and children of all ages who have disabilities and thus require additional assistance or care, if the responsible government office, in order to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, has

  • closed the community facility – in other words, the nursery school, daycare center, parent-child cooperative (or similar), facility for people with disabilities, facility offering care and support for children with special needs, or school,
  • prohibited anyone from entering such facilities to ensure they remain isolated from the virus,
  • ordered or extended vacation breaks or planned closures to meet legal obligations under the IfSG, or
  • suspended the obligation to attend school in person.

You are not entitled to take leave for childcare purposes if the above facilities are simply closed as part of their regular schedule, for example, during vacation breaks or planned closures.

Section 56.1.a of the Protection against Infection Act does not apply directly to civil servants. However, they may be able to take leave from work while continuing to receive remuneration pursuant to Section 59 of the Berlin’s Law Governing the Employment of Civil Servants (Landesbeamtengesetz – LBG).

In accordance with Section 10.4 of the German Social Code - Book IV - General Rules for Social Security (SGB IV), step-children (including those of a spouse or partner) and grandchildren for whom the employee or civil servant is a primary caregiver as well as foster children are considered children in terms of this regulation, alongside biological and adopted children.

Childcare facilities have been providing emergency childcare since April 8, 2021, for parents who depend heavily on such services in order to be able to carry out their job duties. At least one parent must be employed in a profession deemed “essential” within the scope of the current situation. Employees at universities may also be considered “essential workers,” depending on their area of responsibility, i.e., teaching personnel and employees who are essential for maintaining on-site operations. Here is a list of professions and occupations that are eligible for emergency childcare (in German): https://www.berlin.de/sen/bjf/corona/uebersicht-der-berufsgruppen-notbetreuung.pdf

Emergency childcare is also available for single-parent households, parents of preschool-age children (and younger) who are not able to find other childcare options, as well as parents of children with specific educational needs, which includes children with disabilities, children transitioning to elementary school, children with speech and language difficulties, as well as children involved in child protection cases.

If you need to take advantage of emergency childcare services, please fill out this request form and submit it to the head of your childcare facility (in German):

Emergency Childcare Request Form (as of April 8, 2021)

Parents and guardians are asked to only request this option if it is absolutely necessary and to communicate openly and regularly with your daycare facility. To ensure this, you must meet both criteria at the time of your request in order to be eligible: You must have a serious need for special childcare services and you must be an “essential worker.”

The employee’s entitlement to take leave and compensation payments pursuant to the Protection against Infection Act have been outlined in both the bulletin of Berlin’s Senate Department of Finance and the German Act on the Protection of the Population in the Event of an Epidemic Situation of National Significance (Gesetzes zum Schutz der Bevölkerung bei einer epidemischen Lage von nationaler Tragweite, document 19/18111 of March 24, 2020). The following is stated in document 19/18111:

“An entitlement to compensation payments shall only be considered valid if the closure or the prohibition of access to schools or care facilities in itself results in a loss of earnings. This is not the case, for example, if and insofar as the employed person is already entitled to be absent from work based on other statutory, collective, or operational requirements or on another legal basis specific to the individual in question while continuing to receive remuneration or financial benefits that are equivalent to their actual salary. If such legal options exist, then these should be applied first. This is the case, for example, if an employed person who is a guardian still has overtime hours owed to them by the employer that can be taken. In this case, the employee should take this time off before making use of other legal possibilities. ”

Taking into account this information, the following requirements must be met in order to take leave:

  1. The employee is responsible for supervising, looking after, or caring for the child during this time because there are no other acceptable childcare options available.
  2. It is not possible to work from home, i.e., the employee cannot care for the child while also fulfilling their work duties from home.
  3. The employee does not have any compensatory hours, e.g., overtime or flexitime.
  4. The employee does not have any vacation days left over from 2020 that could be used in 2021 for childcare purposes (see also: document of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of March 2020 entitled “Information on Planned Compensation Payments for Parents in the Event of Child Daycare or School Closures under the Protection Against Infection Act: Prioritizing Vacation Leave among Employees”).
  5. Compensatory time-off may be granted to civil servants under Section 59 of Berlin’s

Law Governing the Employment of Civil Servants, provided that urgent professional duties do not prevent them from taking said leave.

Each employed person has the right to a certain amount of time off (or compensation) for a given period based on the regulations stipulated by the German Bundestag in Section 5.1.1 of the Protection against Infection Act, which describes measures related to an epidemic situation of national significance. March 30, 2021, marked the beginning of a new period (the second one) in which you can request time off (or compensation), meaning the full allotted time/compensation for this period is now available again.

However, you cannot transfer unused days off from the last period to this one in order to accumulate more that maximum allotted time for a given period.

Employees who work a five-day week can take leave for childcare purposes for up to 34 full days or 68 half-days. Single parents can apply for up to 67 full days or 134 half-days off. A half-day is defined as 50 percent of the employee’s regular daily working hours.

Leave and/or compensation payments that have already been granted under Section 56.1.1 of the Protection against Infection Act or Section 59 of Berlin’s Law Governing the Employment of Civil Servants since September 1, 2020 are to be factored into this.

During this period, Freie Universität Berlin is responsible for making compensation payments on behalf of the responsible authority pursuant to Sections 56.1.a and 56.2.4 of the Protection against Infection Act. The defined period of leave entitlement of up to 34 workdays (in the case of a five-day week) to which the employee is entitled while continuing to be entitled to unreduced salary payments and/or benefits under Section 21 of the TV-L collective agreement equates to a right of compensation based on 67 percent of the employee’s lost income for 50 workdays.

If an employee does not work a five-day week, their entitlement to time off for childcare purposes is adjusted corresponding to the number of days per week that they work as follows:

Table for alternative working hours:

6 workdays per week: 41 days off

5 workdays per week: 34 days off

4 workdays per week: 27 days off

3 workdays per week: 21 days off

2 workdays per week: 14 days off

1 workday per week: 7 days off

For single parents/guardians, the following applies:

Table for single parents/guardians:

6 workdays per week: 81 days off

5 workdays per week: 67 days off

4 workdays per week: 54 days off

3 workdays per week: 41 days off

2 workdays per week: 27 days off

1 workday per week: 14 days off

If an employee to whom the collective agreement applies needs more time off than this for childcare-related reasons, they can request additional days of unpaid leave based on their regular working days per week as follows:

Table for unpaid leave:

6 workdays per week: 19 days off

5 workdays per week: 16 days off

4 workdays per week: 13 days off

3 workdays per week: 9 days off

2 workdays per week: 6 days off

1 workday per week: 3 days off

If all these options have been used up and more time off is needed for childcare-related reasons, for example, on the basis that otherwise undue hardship would arise (Härtefallregelgung), then the employee can request additional days of unpaid leave for a temporary period under Section 29.3.2 TV-L or special leave under Section 28 TV-L.

Civil servants may be granted more time off than the maximum of 34 working days (in the case of a five-day week) as an exception to the rule pursuant to Section 59 of Berlin’s Law Governing the Employment of Civil Servants. After taking paid leave amounting to 34 or 67 working days (based on a five-day week) pursuant to Section 59 of Berlin’s Law Governing the Employment of Civil Servants, civil servants also have the option of part-time working for family-related reasons pursuant to Section 54.a of LBG or unpaid leave of absence pursuant to Section 55.1 of LBG.

As stated above, pursuant to Sections 56.1.a and 56.2.4 of the Protection against Infection Act Freie Universität Berlin is responsible for making compensation payments on behalf of the responsible government authority for the duration of the leave and may retroactively apply to Berlin’s Senate Department of Finance for a reimbursement of such payments.

The application for reimbursement under Section 56.1.a of the Protection against Infection Act requires the university to submit comprehensive information and documentation as evidence of the leave taken. In some cases, we must therefore ask you to furnish us with the relevant documentation as we cannot access it directly.

First, you need to furnish us with documentation from your child’s school or childcare facility indicating that you are entitled to childcare and the period for which the facility expects to be closed. Please use the form “Confirmation of childcare hours, closing periods, and emergency childcare from the school/childcare facility” (in German) to do so.

You must also declare in writing that:

  • You are unable to find any other acceptable childcare options and that you must take care of your child or children as a result.
  • It was not possible to work from home in the relevant period as you were unable to provide childcare along with fulfilling your work duties while working from home or using any other operational measures.
  • You did not have any compensatory hours (e.g., overtime, flexitime) and/or any remaining vacation days left over from 2020 at the beginning of the applicable period. If time permits, please have your supervisor and/or the head of administration of your department verify this information. Otherwise, your personnel office can request the confirmation for you.

Along with leave for childcare purposes pursuant to the Protection against Infection Act, the period applying to child sickness benefits has been extended for 2021. In accordance with Section 45.2.a of the German Social Code - Book V, effective retroactively to January 5, 2021, the employee’s entitlement to child sickness benefits has also been expanded to include instances where the employee had to provide childcare as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic even if the child was not sick.

Employees under the collective agreement are eligible who are insurance policy holders (statutory insurance or voluntary insurance) and therefore entitled to sickness benefits, and whose children are insured under a statutory insurance scheme (e.g., under the family insurance plan according to Section 10 of SGB V).

Insurance policy holders are entitled to child sickness benefits

  1. if it is necessary for them to take off from work in order to supervise, look after, or care for their sick child, as long as the child is also insured,
  2. there is not another person residing in the house who can supervise, look after, or care for the child, or
  3. the child is 12 years of age or younger, or is disabled and thus requires additional assistance or care.

In alignment with the provisions of Section 56.1.a of the Protection against Infection Act, this entitlement applies to the calendar year 2021, not just in the event that the child becomes ill, but also if childcare facilities, schools, or facilities for people with disabilities are temporarily closed by the responsible government authority to prevent the spread of infections or contagious diseases on the basis of the Protection against Infection Act. That is, where the responsible government authority

  • has temporarily closed the facilities
  • has prohibited anyone from entering such premises in order to ensure they remain isolated from the virus,
  • has ordered or extended vacation breaks or planned closures for reasons related to the Protection against Infection Act, or
  • has suspended the obligation to attend school in person, or restricted access to the childcare service, or
  • has officially recommended that the child does not visit the facility

Pursuant to Section 45.2.a.1 of the German Social Code - Book V, a parent is entitled to 20 workdays (a maximum of 45 workdays in total) of child sickness benefits for each child in 2021. Single parents are entitled to 40 workdays (a maximum of 90 workdays in total) of child sickness benefits.

As this type of leave is not paid, you will not be entitled to remuneration during this period. The child sickness benefit will be paid out by your health insurance company upon request. Insurance companies provide the necessary application forms on their websites.

The child sickness benefit generally amounts to 90 percent of the net pay you have lost. If you have received one-off payments in the past 12 months, for example, vacation pay or an end-of-year payment, then your child sickness benefit will amount to 100 percent of the net pay you have lost. The maximum payment for the child sickness benefit is 112.88 euros per day (2021).

Proof of the closure of the school, childcare facility, or facility for people with disabilities, prohibition of access to said facilities, extension of vacation breaks or planned closures, suspension of the obligation to attend school in person, restriction of access to the childcare service, or the existence of an official recommendation to refrain from visiting the facility must be submitted to your health insurance company in a suitable manner. The insurance provider will request an appropriate certificate from the childcare facility or school.

Debeka BKK and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth have made a declaration form for your application available online (in German) as well as a template certificate for schools and daycare centers.

Social Welfare and Financial Aid

Interim financial aid from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to be extended

Interim financial aid provided by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is intended to help those students who can prove that they are faced with financial hardship caused by the pandemic, who need immediate help, and who are unable to overcome their pandemic-related hardship by making use of other sources of support. Interim financial aid can be applied for by German and foreign students who are enrolled at a public or state-recognized higher education institution in Germany. The application deadline is September 31, 2021. Please note that the application process is somewhat different this time around, so check the requirements carefully before submitting an application.

More information is available on the studierendenWERK BERLIN website.

SoliFUnd: Financial support for Freie Universität students

Financial support is available for Freie Universität students thanks to a fundraising campaign launched by researchers at our university. Students can apply for an individual, one-time payment of 500 euros. Applications must be submitted online through the studierendenWERK BERLIN website: www.stw.berlin/solifund. Applications will be processed in the order received. 

The Social Welfare Packages (Sozialschutz-Pakete), put in place by the German Bundestag in March 2020, in May 2020 and in March 2021 aim to mitigate the economic impact of the coronoavirus epidemic on citizens.

The packages include provisions for self-employed individuals, small businesses, and one-person businesses, but also for families, retired people, and social services. The packages also include measures to make it easier for people to receive basic income and other support for securing their livelihood, including children’s allowances.

More information from the German Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research has decided that students at all levels who are dependent on financial aid under the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) should not suffer financial disadvantages if classes at their educational institution are temporarily canceled or the start of the semester is postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. You can find more information on this topic (in German) here: https://www.bmbf.de/de/karliczek-keine-nachteile-beim-bafoeg-wegen-corona-11122.html

Studierendenwerk Berlin recommends that students who cannot take their final examination (e.g., defense of a bachelor thesis) due to the pandemic and are therefore unable to complete their studies within the maximum funding period, should submit a new application for BAföG and present an extra statement explaining the reasons for needing to extend the maximum funding period. You can find the appropriate request form here: https://www.stw.berlin/assets/sw-berlin/BAf%C3%B6G%20Corona/Antrag_Verlaegerung_Foerderhoechstdauer.pdf