Archive for January, 2021

Childcare Relief Options for Parents

January 29th, 2021 | by

Remote learning – or online classes – will continue at schools in North Rhine-Westphalia until February 12. In all schools and types of schools, instruction continues to be provided remotely for all grades. For pupils in grades 1 through 6 and pupils with special care or support needs, some educational support through in-person instruction is still offered. Further information in German can be found here.

The state government’s urgent appeal to parents of children in daycare has also been extended until February 14. The State Minister for Family Affairs, Dr. Joachim Stamp, urges parents to continue to only use daycare services when absolutely necessary in the coming weeks.

The following childcare relief options are currently available to parents:

Parents who have statutory health insurance will now be able to apply for 20 instead of 10 days of child sick leave (Kinderkrankengeld) per statutorily insured child and parent in 2021 and a maximum total of 45 days if the parent has more than one child. The entitlement for single parents increases by 20 days to 40 days per child, with up to a maximum of 90 days if the parent has more than one child. Child sick leave can be claimed from the statutory health insurance fund using the following form. RWTH grants unpaid leave of absence for parents who submit a “Leave of Absence to Care for a Sick Child” request using the form available on the Forms Database.

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Further Measures in Teaching & Learning and Extension of Work-From-Home Obligation

January 27th, 2021 | by

Based on recent decisions by the German and state governments on the extension of lockdown restrictions, the Crisis Management Team and the Rectorate of RWTH have decided on the following measures, effective until mid-February:

Teaching and Learning (through February 14):

  • Exam reviews and oral exams can still only be held online up to and including February 14.
  • Practicals and in-person written exams must be rescheduled to dates after February 14. Exceptions can only be made in particularly justified individual cases and after consultation with Division 1.1. The previously approved conditions known to the deans of studies for justified individual cases continue to apply. Students should be informed promptly of any rescheduled events and relevant information. If hygiene concepts at events require wearing a face mask, this must now be a so-called medical mask. The institutions should purchase masks via the RWTH Purchasing Portal and make them available to the attendees if needed.
  • In the case of experimental theses that require attendance, students must discuss available options with their supervisors.
  • All virtual courses and exams will continue as scheduled.

Extended Plans for Teaching and Learning (from 15 February onward):

Please note: Since further planning in teaching and learning will depend considerably on the future infection rates, an initial assessment of possible measures is to be given here. A detailed plan or decision will probably only be possible in the short term:

  • All examiners are strongly encouraged to offer as many exams as possible via online formats and hold oral exams via video conferencing in order to be unaffected by potential changes with the varying infection rates.
  • Shrove Monday will be included in written exam planning.
  • If written exams still cannot be held after February 14, we will have to postpone the exams. The original exam schedule for the postponed dates will be retained but will commence at a later week, meaning these exams may have to be held after the planned exam period. We assume that the summer semester will again mostly be held online.

Service Operations:

The German government has published a new Corona-Arbeitsschutzverordnung (Coronavirus Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance), which is intended to better protect employees from infection with the coronavirus. This results in the following measures for RWTH:

  • The work-from-home obligation (for all work that can be accomplished from home – even if this results in quality losses) – will be extended through Monday, March 15, 2021.
  • After receiving many inquiries regarding work that requires an employee’s presence on campus, we would like to once again remind you of the following, non-final, catalog of measures, which has been partially updated on the basis of the German Government’s ordinance:
    • Employees should work one to a room if possible. In larger rooms, 10 square meters of space should be provided per person.
    • If the minimum distance (1.5 m) or the 10 square meter rule cannot be observed, medical masks must be provided to the employees. The masks can be purchased via the RWTH Purchasing Portal and billed to the respective university institution.
    • If necessary, departments should decide whether and how fixed (working) groups can be established.
    • The possibility of staff working in shifts should actively be explored.
    • Furthermore, virtual formats must continue to be used for job interviews.

The Crisis Management Team and the Rectorate are aware that the current measures pose considerable challenges for all RWTH employees. By following all these measures, we can make a valuable contribution to preventing further infections.

Uncertaintly Around Exams Being Able to Take Place Until Mid-February

January 21st, 2021 | by

The German government has extended lockdown measures until mid-February. For the University, however, it is the Coronavirus ordinances issued by the NRW state government that form the basis for implementing measures. It was reported in the media today that the University unfortunately cannot expect this to be issued any time soon. No one can therefore confirm at the moment whether the 51 written exams scheduled from now until mid-February will actually be able to take place.

The central exam planning team is currently consulting the instructors concerned to sound out which of these written exams can be offered in alternative exam formats, i.e. not held in person. This will probably only be an option for smaller written exams. The University is also checking whether it can arrange a different exam format (without in-person attendance) for the ZuseLab exams at short notice.

Other written exams may have to be postponed. It all depends on the regulations in the new Coronavirus Ordinance. It is already clear that Shrove Monday will be included in written exam planning. The University also urges students to look out for last-minute announcements from their instructors and to continue to prepare for their exams. If exams have to be postponed and this affects students who urgently need to take the exam, such students will be informed of the possibility of claiming exceptional circumstances (petition for “Härtefall”) well ahead of time.

The University is aware that the current uncertainty around the exam plans is stressful for both students and instructors. However, it hopes to be able to provide specific information on the exam period in the coming week.

Travel and Visits From Abroad

January 21st, 2021 | by

The legal requirements relating to travel are being continuously updated. The German Ministry of Health (BMG) has issued a Coronaeinreiseverordnung (CoronaEinrVO for short, Coronavirus Entry Ordinance in English) in addition to the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Ministry’s Ordinance also contains specifications on reporting, testing, and self-isolation obligations when entering Germany from abroad. In addition to risk areas, the Ordinance also designates current areas with high infection rates and areas in which virus variants are present. Further information is available on the website of the Robert Koch Institute: RKI risk areas.

The following still applies as a basic principle: As soon as an individual exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, they are banned from entering the RWTH premises with immediate effect. Business and private travel is strongly discouraged for all individuals. If, however, an employee goes on a trip, the Crisis Management Team and University Management request that the individual finds out about the classification of the travel destination and the currently applicable reporting, testing, and isolation obligations there well ahead of time. Division 8.3 is happy to advise employees on this matter.

Exemptions for cross-border commuters and individuals entering the country from a risk area for urgent work-related reasons or because of their training or studies continue to apply. In case of doubt, employees should contact the responsible health department. Individuals who are subject to mandatory testing are not allowed to enter the RWTH premises until they have received (negative) test results.

If a certificate is required for absolutely necessary and urgent travel to an employee’s country of origin, the following departments will be happy to help:

  • Division 2.1 for students
  • Human resources departments for employees
  • Division 2.2 for guests, visitors, service providers, etc.

RKI risk areas
CoronaEinrVO – NRW
CoronaEinreiseV – BMG

Childcare Relief for Parents

January 20th, 2021 | by

On January 18, the Federal Council of Germany approved the planned expansion of child sick leave. Thus, working parents will now receive some relief during the coronavirus pandemic in 2021.

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FFP2 Masks Provided Specially for Individuals at High Risk

January 19th, 2021 | by

Since mid-December, the German government has made a total of 15 FFP2 masks available to individuals at increased risk for severe illness via local drugstores until spring.

As an employer, RWTH would like to support this measure by providing employees at risk with additional FFP2 masks for use during work. The German government has defined the following as individuals at high risk:

  • Employees over 60
  • Employees with the following medical conditions or risk factors:
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or bronchial asthma
    • Chronic heart failure
    • Chronic kidney failure stage ≥ 4
    • Dementia or stroke
    • Diabetes mellitus type 2
    • Active, progressive, or metastatic cancer or chemotherapy or radiotherapy that may suppress the immune system
    • Recipient of organ or stem cell transplant
    • Down’s syndrome
    • High-risk pregnancy

Employees have to prove that they are generally at high risk for one of the reasons outlined above (with the exception of age) They can do so by providing a copy of the letter from the health insurance provider with the entitlement certificates or a medical certificate, which must be confirmed by the physician treating them. You can find the form here:

Employees in the above-mentioned groups can contact the Occupational Safety and Radiation Protection Staff Unit at the following email address They will then promptly send a total of 5 FFP2 masks to the affected employee’s office address. They will then send another 5 FFP2 masks by interoffice mail around 4 weeks later.

If an affected employee needs more masks due to their particular workplace situation, the Staff Unit will be happy to advise them and arrange an additional dispatch of masks if necessary.

These FFP2 masks are provided free of charge for both employees and the respective university institutions. If the employee has to pay any fees for the required medical certificate, they should keep the receipt for this and send it to Department 8.3, who will reimburse them.

In addition, other employees can also purchase FFP2 masks for their respective university institutions for a small fee at the RWTH Purchasing Portal. Please understand, however, that the number of masks dispensed may have to be limited.

Reusing FFP2 Masks for Own Use (Intranet – for employees)

Reusing FFP2 Masks for Own Use (Internet)

State Government Provides Legal Framework for Virtual Courses and Exams

January 15th, 2021 | by

As in the 2020 summer semester, the Ministry of Culture and Science has issued another special University Ordinance on the Coronavirus Epidemic to provide the legal framework for universities to allow students to successfully pursue their studies despite the stresses and adverse conditions caused by the virus. According to a press release, the new ordinance will adapt the regulations for courses and exams at universities to the requirements of the current winter semester 2020/2021, which is now primarily conducted virtually. For example, the standard period of study will again be extended by one semester. Among other things, the free attempt regulation in the event of a failed examination will also be reintroduced. To provide students and universities with security in their future planning, the new University Ordinance on the Coronavirus Epidemic will apply to the current winter semester and the 2021 summer semester, remaining in effect until October 1, 2021.

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Research Study on the Psychosocial Effects of the Pandemic Measures

January 14th, 2021 | by

Since April 2020, a working group at the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics led by Professor Klaus Mathiak has been researching the psychosocial effects of the measures implemented in Germany due to the COVID-19 pandemic (for example, distance learning, working from home, contact restrictions). For this purpose, an anonymous online survey was created (, which, according to the working group, complies with the GDPR and has been reviewed by the Medical Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Medicine at RWTH Aachen University. The survey takes a maximum of 30 minutes to complete (16 minutes on average) and collects demographic data as well as information on COVID-19 (for example, time in quarantine), daily habits (exercise, diet), mental health (including violence and suicidal tendencies), life satisfaction, and relationship quality (satisfaction, quality, stability).

The first survey rounds in April 2020 and July 2020 were completed by nearly 1,800 participants. Currently, the third and, for the time being, the final, survey round is underway in order to be able to make statements about developments since the beginning of the pandemic. Initial analyses show, for example, that women feel more depressed as a result of the coronavirus measures, do not sleep as well, and experience more physical symptoms of anxiety compared to men. In addition, parents or couples with children are more often irritable, yet feel sad less often compared to couples without children.

Entry from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ireland or from the Republic of South Africa

January 13th, 2021 | by

Due to a mutation of the Coronavirus that has occurred in the United Kingdom, among other countries, a Coronavirus Entry Ordinance (CoronaEinrVK-VO) for individuals entering the state of North Rhine-Westphalia from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Ireland or South Africa is in effect again as of today. Individuals who have entered the state since December 11 or who enter it from now on and have stayed in one of these countries ten days prior to entry must immediately enter a ten-day quarantine. In addition, they must immediately contact the health authorities and have two tests carried out (first test no more than 24 hours before entry, but no later than upon entry; second test after five days). If the second test is negative, the quarantine period will be terminated. The exact wording of the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance can be found here.

Questions About Care? Information for Parents Working or Studying at the University

January 8th, 2021 | by

The NRW state government is urgently appealing to all parents to only bring their children to childcare facilities if absolutely necessary from now until January 31, 2021. For daycare centers, weekly care will be reduced by 10 hours and will be provided exclusively in fixed groups. The contractually agreed times apply to daycare for children. This appeal and the related requirements also apply to RWTH childcare facilities. You can find further details in German in the letter to parents by the Minister for Family Affairs, Dr. Joachim Stamp, and here.

In-person classroom instruction in all schools and school types is suspended through January 31, 2021, with distance learning applying to all years from Monday, January 11, 2021. This regulation also applies to pupils in their final year. Starting Monday, all schools will offer childcare for pupils in grades 1 through 6 who cannot be cared for at home or who are at risk of harm. For more information, please see the email sent January 7, 2021, regarding school operations beginning January 11, 2021.

Germany is planning to grant each parent an additional 10 days of child sick leave or an additional 20 days for single parents, with the parent being able to take one of these days if they have to care for their child at home due to school and daycare closures. Should parents wish to take advantage of this, we recommend contacting your statutory health insurance provider. If they are prepared to pay the wage replacement, RWTH has no objections to releasing the employees without payment of their wage under personnel law.

In any case, RWTH will once again provide parents with special childcare leave days for 2021. Employees may take up this offer if they have no overtime nor remaining leave days from 2020. Any unused special childcare leave days from 2020 cannot be carried over and taken in 2021. For more information, please contact the Department of Human Resources.

If necessary, parents can also apply for a wage replacement due to the closure or prohibited access to the daycare center or school in accordance with § 56 of the Protection Against Infection Act (IFSG). The regulation of § 56 IFSG also applies if in-person classes in schools are not mandatory, so we assume that, in principle, employees could make a claim on the basis of the current regulations for daycare centers and schools. You can find more detailed information at You can apply for wage replacement due to daycare center and school closures in the document “Lohnersatz wegen Kita- und Schulschließung nach § 56 IfSG” in the form center.

We expect that a solution comparable to the child sickness benefit should be possible for civil servants whose income is below the annual earnings threshold (2021: 64,350). Civil servants may not be compensated under the IFSG.

The NRW state government is also planning to suspend parental contributions for childcare for January.

As soon as more information is available on possible compensatory services for parents, it will be posted here on the blog.

Employees and students of RWTH who are looking for a private carer for their children can still use the babysitting network. Please note that the requirements of the Corona-Schutzverordnung (Coronavirus Protection Ordinance) of the state of NRW must be complied with. Students with child(ren) can also take advantage of the childcare allowance if applicable.

Feel free to contact the Family Services Center of the Equal Opportunities Office if you have any questions or need advice.