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Updated 28.05.20, 17:16

Information on Coronavirus to NMBU employees

  • Koronavirus
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    CDC, Alissa Eckert

Updated 28.05.20, 17:16. New information in italics. From week 19 NMBU will open up more – mostly for our students. As of the end of April, campus access has only been available to students in some prioritized disciplines who need access to the premises to complete degrees this spring. Now this access is expanded to encompass all students who depend on access to the premises to progress in their studies. We still encourage home office as much as possible for employees.  This page will be updated with more details next week.

Information on Coronavirus to NMBU employees

The animal clinics are kept open only for acutely ill animals.

In a pandemic like this, we must act in solidarity with the weakest members of our society. We must do what we can to limit the spread of infection among the risk groups and minimize the pressure on the health care system. In practice, this means being careful about infectious hygiene, respecting quarantine rules, and meeting restrictions with understanding.

 

 

 

Classes, Teaching and Examinations

 

Activities on Both Campuses

Careful opening of the Clock Building to students

We are now laying the groundwork for a careful opening of certain facilities, for students who need physical access to avoid delays in their studies. This must happen in a safe and secure way. To start with we will open select reading rooms on the 3rd floor of the Clock Building. In order for students to gain access, they must have taken the course in infection prevention which will be accessible on Canvas this week. After completing the course, students can be granted access to the reading rooms in the Clock Building on an as-need basis. There is a limited number of seats available, due to infection prevention measures, so access will be granted on a first-come, first-served basis. SIT maintains an oversight of the premises, and ensures that the restrictions in place are met. More information will come once the infection prevention course is ready and the Clock Building opens.

Access to the campuses for employees

Employees are still encouraged to work from home, and this is the status quo for NMBU until further notice. Over time there will be a gradual return of employees to campus. Deans and department chairs evaluate each request to use office space, after a risk assessment. Certain employees may have good academic reasons for returning to campus, while others may suffer from physical/mental ailments due to maintaining a home office. Exceptions must be evaluated concretely. Regardless, the number of people accessing offices on campus must not surpass 1/3 of the employees per faculty/department, until we have sufficient experience to know that the infection prevention measures can be adequately safeguarded. We must start carefully, and make sure that we do not introduce infection to our campuses. 

The main regulation in place allows for a maximum of 20 people in a group  – with at least one-meter distance between them. Special events of up to 50 people may be held, after a risk assessment. The nature of the room (total area, entrances, etc.) will form the basis for how many people can participate in a group. Independent of group size, an overview must exist of all participants, including contact information, as well as the organizer in charge. Deans and department chairs make decisions for their respective faculties and departments. 

Cleaning routines on campus

Due to extra cleaning requirements, there is limited capacity, and the cleaning unit must prioritize its duties. This means that the units that choose to use their own facilities must take on extra cleaning duties themselves. They must, on a daily basis, wipe surfaces in their own office workplaces, kitchens must be cleaned by employees, and there are restrictions on the use of common areas such as kitchens, meeting rooms, etc. See action cards for further details.  

As few people are on campus, the outer doors to buildings remain locked. 

Report physical presence
Those who need to be physically present must clarify this with their leader. Activity on the campuses must be logged. This is to ensure that the units and Estate Department have an overview of who is present in our buildings. The Estate Department uses this information to plan daily cleaning routines. The Emergency Crisis Team uses the log to report weekly to the Ministry of Education and Research. The form to register physical presence is sent to deans, heads of administration, and department directors, and is to be updated weekly.

Closed Library – open library services
Many services are still accessible, even though the Library is closed.

Mail and packages
University Reception will remain open, and one employee will be physically on campus daily from 10:00-14:00. During this timeframe, it is possible to make arrangements with this person to collect mail which cannot be delivered due to locked buildings and offices. If you are awaiting an urgent package, you can call University Reception at 67 23 00 00 or send an email to servicetorget@nmbu.no.

Working from Home

There is still a great risk of infection in society, and the pandemic is not over. In line with the government's recommendations, we still encourage as much as possible home office for employees – and meetings on Teams. Exceptions must be cleared with your nearest leader.

The services listed below are safe and secure to use off-campus:

  • Via Home Office you can access your virtual NMBU desktop. You will be able to access your home area, shared folders, email, and administrative services.
  • On the NMBU Portal, you can access select NMBU services.
  • If you are logged in through an unknown network (insecure network), then the IT department recommends you to use VPN.

Everyone has access to Teams. You now have the opportunity to create temporary Teams yourself. Here you can read how to proceed and where you can get help and support (scroll down for English).

In this special situation, your employer can require that you stay away from your workplace. Your employer can also require that you work from home if it is possible for you to do so. Employers expect that employees are available during normal working hours.

The Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation informs that there is no basis to suspend state employees.

The pertinent special agreement on flexible work hours provides for an additional timeframe from 06:00 to 21:00. The Working Environment Act (§ 10-11 (3)) allows for an employer and employee to make individual arrangements to work between 21:00 and 23:00. It is possible to make such an agreement. The requirement for break times must be observed.

Welfare leave with pay can be approved in accordance with the Basic Agreements for the Civil Service § 22. The employee can also have the right to leave with pay to care for children and relatives living at home, in accordance with the Basic Agreements for the Civil Service § 20.

Information for PhD Fellows, Postdoctoral Fellows, and Residents 

If you are not able to work on your project, we strongly recommend that you register and document the reasons for this. Such registration and documentation may, at a later stage, form the basis for an application for extension of your contract. It is important to maintain close contact with your faculty, advisors, and project leaders, in order to find good solutions together. 

Rights in case of delays due to illness / closed kindergartens / schools due to corona.

Routines for possible extensions for PhD research fellows, post-docs and residents as a result of the corona situation – a guideline.

Frequently asked questions for NMBU students.

Meetings and Events

The main regulation in place allows for a maximum of 20 people in a group  – with at least one-meter distance between them. Special events of up to 50 people may be held, after a risk assessment. The nature of the room (total area, entrances, etc.) will form the basis for how many people can participate in a group. Independent of group size, an overview must exist of all participants, including contact information, as well as the organizer in charge. Deans and department chairs make decisions for their respective faculties and departments. 

We still recommend to hold digital events (gatherings, conferences, meetings, etc.) as much as possible for employees. Teams, Skype and Zoom are tools that can be used. Here you can read how to proceed and where you can get help and support (scroll down for English).  

Use of Zoom at NMBU

NMBU, like the rest of the Higher Education sector, uses Uninett as our supplier. This means that NMBU uses a custom layout for Zoom. Read more about Zoom, personal privacy and security (in Norwegian).

NEW UPDATE 28.05: Leave of Absence and Vacation

Sick leave

Note that there are new leave of absence codes and routines in place for self-notification, registering sick leave and sick children due to corona. Leave of absence related to corona must be registered using the correct codes so that NMBU can be reimbursed by NAV.

Changes to self-notification
In connection with the corona crisis, the government introduced an unlimited right for employees to use self-notification during the employer period; that is to say, the part of sick leave that the employer pays for. The regulations were to be in place until the New Year, but now the government has announced that they will remove the right to unlimited self-notification as of June 1st, 2020.


This means that as of next week we will be back to "normal practice" when it comes to self-notification, and that the employee can no longer claim to use self-notification throughout the entire employer period (first 16 days). The amount of time an employee must be employed prior to using self-notification will again be two months.

Self-notification due to corona or quarantine: code 1012 – self-notification corona.

Sick leave
If you are sick beyond the first 16 days, then you will need to be put on sick leave by your doctor. Inform your leader about your sick leave. The Payroll Section will be notified of sick leave by doctor's orders related to the corona epidemic. Your nearest leader is responsible for filling out and sending in the necessary form. More information can be found in the employee handbook.

Leave of absence due to sick children, caregiver's illness and closed kindergartens/schools

The code to use in UBW to register leave of absence due to children is: 2012 Child and/or caregiver's illness (corona). This code will be used for all sick leave related to children, regardless of cause. This will be in place for the rest of 2020. 

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs adopted a regulation on March 13 that gives parents the right to double the number of care allowance days until the end of 2020. Parents who must remain home with children because of closed daycare centers and schools can use their care days. The first three days are financed by the employer, and the rest is paid in advance by the employer who can then ask NAV for reimbursement.

Number of days of care allowance:

  • increases from 10 to 20 days for 1-2 children in 2020
  • increases from 15 to 30 days for 3 or more children in 2020
  • +10 days for chronically ill children increases to +20 days in 2020

Single caregiver

  • increases from 20 to 40 days for 1-2 children in 2020
  • increases from 30 to 60 days for 3 or more children in 2020
  • +20 days for chronically ill children increases to +40 days in 2020

Extra days can be transferred between parents on an as-need basis. This is done by sending in an application for «Overføring av omsorgsdager på grunn av stengt barnehage eller skole» on NAV.no (in Norwegian). 

Further information about registering leave of absence can be found with the Payroll Section (in Norwegian).  

Vacation

In principle, vacation that has been requested and planned ahead of time shall be carried out as normal.  

NEW UPDATE 28.05: What Happens this Fall? 

The Ministry of Education and Research’s goal is to kick off the semester start this fall with open learning places. We plan to maintain our study offer this fall, but we must take into account the fact that there is not enough space for as many people to be on campus at the same time as we are used to under normal circumstances. Welcoming new students this fall will be slightly different than previous years. We anticipate a combination of a digital reception for all new students, and local, group-based receptions at the faculties and programs, all in line with the prevailing infection control advice. Digital solutions for information, the buddy system, and reception, are being planned together with the various contributors, such as SiÅs, Samfunnet and the Uka Board.

For us, the same recommendations apply as for working life in general. We will take necessary measures to ensure that we operate in a responsible manner with regards to infection prevention. We hope to hold campus-based teaching as much as possible, but we plan to have a lot of online teaching this fall.  

An interdisciplinary group has been set up with members from Academic Affairs, IT, the Estate Department and HSE to work on recommendations for how NMBU's classrooms can be used in the fall. A draft guide / action card and an updated list of teaching areas are being prepared. The group has concentrated on the rooms that are used for teaching, and which lie under university administration. A proposed "standard" for furnishing central classrooms will be prepared. The faculties can follow the standard when mapping rooms at the faculties, while the working group will determine the capacity of central classrooms. Classroom capacity will be significantly lower than normal if the rule of maintaining a 1-meter distance continues.

We shall have good plans in place for the study progression of at-risk students. It is also important that we continue to develop digital education programs, so that we can ensure good study progression. 

Semester Start for VET, August 2020

The autumn 2020 semester start for the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine will occur on Campus Adamstua, and not on Campus Ås as intitially planned. This is due to construction delays.
This was communicated in a message from Statsbygg on Wednesday, March 25. The full message is as follows:

"The societal restrictions that have been introduced due to the COVID-19 situation have had consequences for the building site on Campus Ås. In part the number of personnel on site has been reduced, and in part not all goods and deliveries are arriving on time.

Production is being kept up, but at a slower tempo than before. This means that Statsbygg cannot give access to the buildings for trial operation on June 15. The government decided on March 24 to extend the duration of the introduced restrictions. Therefore, we are unable at this moment to set a new date for trial operation. 

It is clear, however, that it will be impossible to have the buildings ready for the autumn 2020 semester start. Statsbygg will have to return to when the completion date will be at a later point, and together with NMBU and VI clarify what the practical consequences will be. As soon as this is clarified we will come back with further information." 

At this time we do not have a new completion date in place, due to the general uncertainties tied to the coronavirus pandemic, including how things will develop in the upcoming weeks. We hope it will be possible to start teaching at Ås in January 2021.

 

Work-related Travel and Private/Leisure Travel

All work-related travel to other countries must be cancelled.

About cancellations of hotels, seminars, flights, etc.
In general, the State is self-insured and each unit must cover any costs that arise from cancellations of hotel rooms, seminars, etc., if this is not covered by cancellation insurance through credit cards or travel insurance. We ask all units to keep track of costs that are incurred due to the situation with COVID-19 so that we can request compensation from the Ministry of Education.

Private/Leisure Travel

NMBU strongly advises employees and students to follow the same restrictions as for work-related travel. If you have nevertheless travelled abroad, you must quarantine for 14 days after returning to Norway.

 

Watch Out for Online Scams

The IT department has seen an increase in the number of viruses and fake emails related to the coronavirus. Be vigilant and be aware that criminals want to exploit the situation. This can include fake SMS, misinformation and financial scams. Contact your IT department if you are unsure about something you have received or been exposed to.

 

New Hires – Interview and Trial Lecture

The following recommendations are for conducting a trial lecture and interview when measures against the coronavirus prevent physical participation.

Job interview

Most employers will want to physically meet people being interviewed, but it is possible to conduct job interviews via digital platforms as we need to take into consideration the current situation. Video-based interviews have become more common in recent years, but also pose some challenges.

Technical conference solutions include Skype for Business, Teams or Zoom. Members of the selection committee must have technical solutions in place ahead of time and test them out. Check also that the job candidate has the necessary equipment.  Questions about Zoom can be sent to learningcenter@nmbu.no.

It is up to the selection committee to decide who will participate in the interview. Often the whole committee will participate. Participation should be assessed based on what type of position is advertised.

An interview is a structured and targeted conversation that should simultaneously be flexible enough to allow for improvisation. It is important to agree ahead of time who will lead a video-based interview and who will ask the questions.

It is important to maintain eye contact by looking into the camera, and not at the icons that appear on the screen. Remember to smile (in a "real" interview situation it is natural to smile and have a warm and inviting facial expression throughout the whole interview. This is more challenging during a video-based interview.)

It is recommended not to record the interview. The candidates' answers should be noted down and attached to the employment case as a case document. The following requirements from Datatilsynet apply when recording (in Norwegian). The following must be evaluated: Purpose, basis for processing, storage time, storage location, access management, deletion routines.

Trial lecture

Candidates for scientific positions can hold a trial lecture before a hiring decision is made, and it is possible to hold trial lectures via digital platforms. Have technical solutions in place ahead of time and test them out. Check also that the lecturer has the necessary equipment. Technical conference solutions include Skype for Business or Zoom. If you need help with digital platforms, contact learningcenter@nmbu.no

A relevant and limited topic should be given for the lecturer to lecture on. Candidates should not be allowed to entirely define the topic on their own. Candidates should tailor their lectures towards students as their target group.

It is recommended not to record the trial lecture. The following requirements from Datatilsynet apply when recording (in Norwegian). The following must be evaluated: Purpose, basis for processing, storage time, storage location, access management, deletion routines.

Exceptions
In certain circumstances the trial lecture may be dropped. For example, if the candidate has previously held a trial lecture for a different position, is a well-known lecturer, or has taught at NMBU before.

 

Guidelines for Holding a Public Defence

The following guidelines are for holding a public defence at NMBU when coronavirus measures affect physical participation. The guidelines have been approved by the Prorector of Research on May 14, 2020, and will replace the guidelines from March 19, 2020.

Based on an overall assessment, the Dean at each faculty will decide whether or not the trial lecture and public defence can be accomplished as planned or should be postponed to a later date. It is not required that the trial lecture is public. The defence, however, does need to be public in order to be valid. This requirement is mandatory. Below is a description of how this requirement can be fulfilled.

A fully digitized disputation can be held

  • The public defence may be held by completely digital means if physical presence is hindered due to the coronavirus situation. The Dean will decide whether the disputation will be organized physically at a NMBU venue or by completely digital means. The faculty will organize and facilitate the public defence.
  • No more than 20 persons in total may be physically present in a disputation room at NMBU if no particular risk assessment has been carried out. A maximum of 50 persons in total may be present if a particular risk assessment has been conducted and it is approved by the Dean. Questions can be sent to the NMBU Head of Security. The faculty will organise physical participation of necessary administrative and technical personnel to ensure that a defence is succesfully completed. 
  • If any disputation room at NMBU is to be used, the Estate Department (Eiendomsavdelingen) must be notified of the time and place in due time.

Disputation/ public defence conducted with physical participation on NMBU premises

At a disputation/ public defence conducted with physical participation, necessary infection control measures must be in place. Please note section 12 of the NMBU «Tiltakskort – korona – kontorarbeidsplasser smitteverntiltak», an action card for corona infection control measures at NMBU premises:

  • A log must be kept of all participants and the appointed responsible person for the meeting.
  • There must be a distance of one meter between each participant.
  • The room must be tidied, aired out, and all contact surfaces must be cleaned by the participants after the meeting has ended.
  • If coffee, tea, water are served at the event: use disposable cups and glasses, make sure they are disposed of after the meeting. Jugs and carafs must be cleaned. Offering other beverages or food is not allowed.

Participation and presentations

  • At a minimum, the PhD candidate, the chair of the evaluation committee, and the three members of the evaluation committee must attend the trial lecture and the public defence, either digitally or physically (maximum five people in the same room).
  • Should NMBU’s internal committee member not be able to attend, the faculty will appoint a new internal member for the evaluation committee (cf. PhD regulations §14 (5) d. and §14 (7)). Should one of the external committee members not be able to attend, NMBU's internal committee member may step in to fill the role of this opponent.
  • Digital presentations must be shared with all participants and the public. This also applies to making the final and approved PDF version of the PhD thesis available.

Requirement for public defence

  • The requirement for a public defence may be met by giving the public access to join via a digital platform.
  • The public must be able to ask questions (ex auditorio) via the digital platform or by email.
  • It is recommended to ask it@nmbu.no and learningcenter@nmbu.no whether it is necessary to limit the number of participants in the digital room for the public defence. This may be necessary in order to limit the risk of technical problems.

Digital platforms

The announcement of the public defence must contain:

  • As a result of the coronavirus outbreak and accompanying restrictions there are limitations to physical participation during the public defence.
  • Information about digital access to the (trial lecture and) public defence, including information about the digital platform that will be used.
  • How to access the approved thesis. This may be done, e.g., by sending the PDF version of the approved thesis by email or by sharing the document with registered participants via Office365 OneDrive.
  • How to ask questions ex auditorio.
  • Who can answer questions prior to the (trial lecture and) public defence.

The public defence must be cancelled should one of the following occur:

  • The NMBU internal committee member (or the internal substitute member) is unable to attend.
  • One of the external committee members (or the internal committee member who acts as a substitute opponent) is unable to attend.

Contact persons:

 

Report Infection

You must inform your direct supervisor if you are infected with coronavirus.

 

About the Emergency Crisis Team

NMBU has created an emergency crisis team comprised of university leadership, the Head of Security, the Chief of Health and Safety, and others. The team meets daily and evaluates the current situation on an ongoing basis.

Updated information, guidelines, frequently asked questions and much more can be found in the HMS handbook (internal links in Norwegian).

Advisory resource group
The advisory resource group consists of members from BIOVIT, MINA, KBM, SHF, the Veterinary College and representatives from the protection service and central HSE / emergency resources. Members have expertise in infection control and HSE. 

Please also follow Ås Municipality and Oslo Municipality's websites for information.

 

 

Published 11. March 2020 - 15:35 - Updated 28. May 2020 - 17:17