Coronavirus: Information for Employees

Latest update: 15 April 2021 

Dear Goethe University employees: Below you will find information on coronavirus-compatible occupational health and safety, which will of course be updated and extended as the situation develops.

Work organisation: on site, remote or from home

To the extent that their tasks and technical equipment allow, and as long as their physical presence at their workplace is not required, Goethe University employees should work remotely in in home office in coordination with their supervisor until further notice. Employees whose presence is required for the maintenance of teaching, administration and infrastructure operation may work on site at the university under strict observance of the RKI standards. This includes employees in technical operations and administration, researchers and university teaching staff. Researchers are requested to give priority to research work and tasks that can be carried out remotely or from home. For research projects on the campuses, RKI standards also apply. 

Before commencing work, employees must be briefed (see documentation form under information sheets and documents).


Regulations for working at computer/office work spaces and in laboratories  
  • For office and evaluation space, the specifications of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and the corresponding instructions of the State of Hessen, as well as the recommendations of the RKI, apply until further: Offices, regardless of their previous occupancy, may only be occupied by one person. If further capacities are urgently needed on site, alternating work - the change between office and home office or mobile work - as well as the alternating use of the office by employees should be organised. 
    If occupancy by several employees is absolutely necessary for official reasons (maintaining operations and infrastructure / or of teaching and research), it must be checked whether the use of additional technical protective measures is necessary, and whether the ventilation requirements can be complied with. Please direct your questions to krisenstab@uni-frankfurt.de
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    If the simultaneous use of rooms by several persons is necessary, the minimum area for each person in the room shall not be less than 10 square metres, insofar as the activities to be carried out allow this.

    If the activities to be carried out do not permit this (room occupancy requirement of 10m²/person), the employer shall ensure equivalent protection of the workers by other suitable protective measures. Equivalent protective measures are the provision of medical face masks or FFP2 masks, suitable partitions between the persons present and compliance with the ventilation requirements. Workers shall wear the masks provided by the employer.

    Approval by the university's occupational health and safety department is necessary for this; work areas that have already been approved are to be regularly compared with the current specifications by supervisors and, if necessary, checked and adjusted. Please direct enquiries to mailto:krisenstab@uni-frankfurt.de.
  • Laboratory spaces may only occupied so that depending on their size, a distance of at least 1.5 metres and an area of 10 square metres per person is guaranteed.
  • Office and laboratory spaces must be sufficiently ventilated, and/or be regularly aired; 
  • Regular cleaning of surfaces and sanitation facilities must be ensured; 
  • The personal measures for infection protection in accordance with the RKI provisions must be observed:
    • Hand hygiene (washing with soap for at least 20 seconds)
    • Keeping distance (at least 1.5 metres), 
    • Cough and sneezing etiquette (cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm). 

In those units that are necessary for maintaining emergency operations, effective substitute regulations must be made in coordination with supervisors. 

The federal and state governments agreed to extend the Coronavirus Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance (Corona-ArbSchV) until June 30. If you are a supervisor, please take note: You must archive the completed forms for determining the necessity of on-site work and keep them in your work area to be provided in the event of any official inquiries. You do not need to forward them to Personnel Services.

The following remains in effect::

Home office

The employer is obliged to offer employees the opportunity to carry out office work or comparable activities at their home (home office), unless compelling operational reasons prevent this. Comparable activities are usually those that can be done from home using information technology. The decision on suitability or any conflicting reasons is made by the employer, i.e. the direct supervisor. Only if there are compelling operational reasons not to do so can the employer refrain from transferring these activities to the home office. This must be justified in writing and the factual justification must be provided to the competent authorities upon request (Forms Individual Employees (German) / for Area (German) and Informaton Sheets for Written Justification of the Need for On-site Work (German). Employees should accept the offer if they can. However, the exercise of home office remains subject to the employees' consent.

Employees must be briefed by their supervisors about their rights and obligations arising from the Coronavirus regulations of the State of Hessen and the SARS-CoV-2 Arbeitschutzverordnung and must confirm in writing the special regulations on the subject of home office.

For mobile work or work in a home office, the daily target working time applies. Any costs incurred for home office or mobile work can be settled via decentralised funds upon application with an itemization of these costs and approval by the supervisor. If employment is not possible either on site or in the home office or remotely, employees are to be sent home with pay until further notice. These rules also apply to the employment of auxiliary staff.

Working on site

In work areas with 10 or more employees, they must be divided into fixed work groups that are as small as possible. If rooms are used by several people at the same time for on-site work, 10 m² must be available per person. If the activities to be carried out do not permit this (room occupancy requirement of 10m²/person), the employer shall ensure equivalent protection of the workers by other suitable protective measures. Equivalent protective measures are the provision of medical face masks or FFP2 masks, suitable partitions between the persons present and compliance with the ventilation requirements. Workers shall wear the masks provided by the employer.

Assistance for supervisors and employees can be found at (Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs FAQs) (German)

Mouth-and-nose coverings

Due the changed pandemic situation, the city of Frankfurt decreed through a change on 27 October 2020 to the general ruling that a mandate to wear a mouth-and-nose covering also extends to public spaces outside of buildings beginning immediately. This also applies to the open spaces on Goethe University's Westend Campus. Here, too, the wearing of a mouth-and-nose covering is now mandatory for all persons on the premises.

In accordance with the updated Coronavirus Regulation of the State of Hessen which went into effect on 1 December 2020, a mouth-and-nose covering must between worn in traffic areas, event rooms, meeting rooms and examination rooms at Goethe University.

The obligation to wear masks has also been tightened by the amendment of the BMAS Occupational Health and Safety Ordinance and by the RKI recommendations on contact tracing.

Below please find a practical guideline for implementing the face mask requirement in various work areas:

Libraries and warehouses: 

If the distance regulation of at least 1.50 m is strictly adhered to, there is no obligation to wear a mouth-nose covering:

  •   a. in counter areas that are equipped with a protective transparent barrier 
  •   b. in the warehouse areas 
  •   c. in the workshops
  •   d. for employees who are alone in an office, even if not sitting.

Even if the distance regulation of at least 1.50 m is strictly adhered to, there is an obligation to wear a mouth-nose covering:  

  •   a. when the employee leaves the work area (i.e., all areas named under 1.) 
  •   b. when visiting another office / area   
  •   c. when the work area is also used by others as a traffic area, such as when sorting books in front of elevators
  • d. during in-person work meetings (even after a seat has been taken)


Laboratories and workshops: 

  • Workspaces in laboratories are to be standardly occupied so that while taking the areas for moving about into consideration, the minimum distance of 1.5 metres (or 2.5 m for work spaces opposite each other) can be reliably observed. Employees may remove their mouth-and-nose coverings once they have reached their workspace.
  • Workspaces used by more than one employee (e.g., certain devices, function rooms) can only be used in alternation without a mouth-and-nose covering if their crossing pathways accommodate the minimum distance of 1.5 metres.
  • The ongoing use of workspaces in which the minimum distance cannot be ensured is not allowed even with a mouth-and-nose covering. The short-term use of workspaces (e.g. elevators) in which the minimum distance cannot be observed is possible with a mouth-and-nose covering.
  • All corridors are considered traffic areas in the context of the Corona Regulation on Restricting Contact and Operations and the wearing of a mouth-and-nose covering is required.
  • In individual cases, structural preconditions may exist to integrate a corridor area into a workspace in such a way that paths do not cross (e.g., separated laboratory areas without through traffic, radiation protection areas, S2 laboratory areas). This is to be ensured by technical measures (door locking systems), or signage and instructions. In such cases, the mouth-and-nose covering may also be removed.

Offices: 

  • There is no requirement to wear a mouth-and-nose covering in single offices; the office qualifies as work area.
  • In offices with double occupancy, or where there is traffic with the public, there is a requirement to wear a mouth-and-nose covering until taking a seat.

Statement of the coordination group for biological work substances of the DGUV (PDF) (German)

Further information (PDF) (German).

​Risk Groups, childcare, illness and vacation

Please take special note: special protective measures must be taken for employees who belong to a risk group according to RKI standards (information and support by the RKI (German)).  A risk evaluation is very complex, and an unambiguous designation of belonging to a risk group is therefore not possible. A medical evaluation in the form of a confirmation by doctor's certificate or attestation (issued by a specialist or family physician) is therefore is necessary. This is to be submitted to human resources on request. The doctor's attestation certifies that you are “a person with an increased risk for a severe COVID-19 disease progression" in accordance with the information and support by the RKI (German). The precise diagnosis should not be stated. The attestation will not be put on file.

Basically, the supervisor will make an assessment of the working conditions to determine which measures (according to BMAS "Umgang mit aufgrund der SARS-CoV-2-Epidemie besonders schutzbedürftigen Beschäftigten" (PDF)) are necessary to effectively protect employees belonging to a risk group from health risks in connection with carrying out their work, especially with regard to the current infection situation.

Individuals with an increased risk for a severe COVID-19 disease progression may not have changing contacts with the general public / customers. The options of assigning them a private office, working during off-peak hours, or also the allocation of another activity in the context of redeployment or reassignment should be considered. Risk groups can (according to the recommendation of the BMAS (PDF – German), risk group 3 and higher “should") be granted the option of working remotely or from home.

In order to maintain public safety and order, this options does not apply to employees in areas of the state administration whose continued operation must be ensured without restriction even in the current situation (e.g. local IT infrastructure, workshops, janitorial services, etc.). The department head determines which areas are exceptional for his or her department. (Dienstanweisung zum Umgang mit dem Corona-Virus im Geschäftsbereich des Hessischen Ministeriums für Wissenschaft und Kunst (PDF)).

Procedures for implementing protective measures for employees who belong to the risk groups and whose on-site work is absolutely necessary for maintaining unrestricted continued operation, even in the current situation (e.g. for location-based IT infrastructure, workshops, caretaker services, repair and maintenance tasks, emergency and standby services, etc.): 

  • Employees must submit to Personnel Services the medical certificate (without specifying the illness) stating that they belong to the risk group.
  • The supervisor, together with the Occupational Health and Safety department and possibly the employee, shall determine the necessary protective measures in accordance with the legal basis for employees requiring special protection (BMAS).
  • After implementation of the protective measures at the workplace and briefing of the employees by the supervisor, on-site work is possible again. 
  • Changes to the legal provisions will be implemented by the supervisors promptly after they become known, in consultation with occupational health and safety
  • Both parties, supervisors and employees, shall comply with the established protective measures. 
  • The route to work and the choice of transport are not the responsibility (or duty of care) of the supervisor, this is the employee's private concern.
  • The SBV (reprsentative for employees with disabilities) has the option of having the established protective measures explained to them by the Occupational Health and Safety Department and, if necessary, to demand improvements on the basis of the regulations. 
  • A release from work is the sole responsibility of the supervisor or employer and may only be authorised by the supervisor or employer.   

If telework / home office or remote work are not possible, especially due to the particular nature of the work, and on-site working with protective measures is also not possible, the employees in question are to be released from work.This also applies to employees who live in the same household with individuals in need of care. Parents of children who due to the closure of day-care facilities and schools are unable to organise care for their children may also work remotely or from home in consultation with their immediate supervisor. Special regulations also apply for employees who are pregnant (PDFGerman)

Childcare

Due to the extension of the lockdown, many parents have to care for their children again on an increased scale. The option of working from home or remotely in coordination with one's supervisor continues therefore to be the preferred choice in such cases. If, due to (partial) closures, you cannot perform your work or can only do so partially due to the care situation, a (partial) release from work is possible under certain conditions. 

You can find the process flow including the corresponding requirements and necessary documentation here (German).

Forms (German):


Illness

If you are ill and the submission of a certificate of incapacity on the third day of illness is currently not possible in time, it should be submitted as soon as possible. Failing to submit the initial or subsequent certificate will not result in disciplinary action for the time being. In the event of prolonged illness, however, it is important that the certificate of incapacity is submitted to the personnel services department in a timely manner to ensure the continued payment of salary. The submission of the certificates as a scan is acceptable as a temporary solution; the originals may be sent afterward by post. 

Vacation

Vacation already approved is to be taken as planned – also for reasons of solidarity with other employees regarding the distribution of work and free time. There is no right of cancellation. In exceptional cases, a mutual agreement can be made between employees and supervisors for a different vacation period if that employee's work is urgently needed during the originally planned vacation period. 

Options provided by the University Computing Centre for using IT services from home: 

For travellers returning from a high-risk area on official travel, the currently valid regulations on testing and quarantine observance must be followed: Themenbereich Quarantäne und Einreise | Hessisches Ministerium für Soziales und Integration (hessen.de) (German). Information on Hessian coronavirus regulations is also available in English here. An overview of quarantine regulations can be found here (German).

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Virtual teaching: Access to Zoom licenses for university teaching staff and employees 

In support of virtual teaching in the Sommer 2020 semester, Goethe University has concluded a license agreement with the provider Zoom, allowing Goethe University teaching staff and employees to use the service via their personal HRZ account. Since Zoom should be used exclusively for teaching, we request that this use is given priority by users and that other services (in particular Vidyo, are used for other purposes (e.g. committee work). You can find further information at https://zoom.uni-frankfurt.de sowie hier https://lehre-sose2020.uni-frankfurt.de/

Committee work / work meetings

Committee meetings can again be carried out in-person for compelling reasons if they are not possible in digital form. A distance and hygiene concept, coordinated with the University Occupational Safety Office in advance, is necessary to carry out these meetings. The distance and hygiene concept must always be created on the basis and in observance of the current instructions provided by Occupational Safety. Please send your questions about instructions and your concept to krisenstab@uni-frankfurt.de.


As a rule, food should not be served during these meetings. In exceptional cases, individually packaged food and drinks may be offered, or an external caterer with an appropriate hygiene concept may be hired.

External guests / experts etc. may also take part in committee meetings with a special access authorisation and after receiving instructions / information beforehand. Whenever possible, a digital meeting format is to be given priority.

Official Travel

Official travel is only possible in exceptional cases (e.g., the risk of serious adverse effects on the success of a scientific project, loss of research funding, a research object that demands a specific time window, or the necessity of on-site presence). Authorisation of official travel by the supervisor and dean's office in charge requires the advance review of the observance of the RKI standards and BMAS requirements. Regional travel restrictions and quarantine rules must also be followed. The completed checklist for official travel is to be submitted along with the application for official travel.

a)    Official travel within Germany

Official travel within German to areas which have been classified as high-risk areas by the RKI should be avoided. Only in exceptional cases which necessary for verifiable official reasons and after being reviewed may approval be granted by the supervisor and the dean's office.

Overnight stays should not take place if possible. If this is unavoidable, the regulations of the states in questions for overnight stays must be taken into consideration in advance.

Official travel should be undertaken alone in an official or private vehicle. The use of a vehicle by more than one person is only allowed in justified exceptional cases. A mouth-and-nose covering must be worn by all occupants for the duration of the drive, and sufficient ventilation must be ensured. 

If the use of public transportation cannot be avoided, current regulations such as the obligation to wear a mouth-and-nose covering, are to be observed.

b)   Official travel outside of Germany

No official travel may take place to regions with a travel warning from the foreign office or which have been classified as high-risk areas by the Robert Koch Institute. If a travel warning is issued by the foreign office, or it is classified as a high-risk area by the Robert Koch Institute after approval has been granted for official travel, the approval is deemed revoked and the trip may not be undertaken. Those undertaking official travel are required to check travel warnings and risk classifications on their own shortly before beginning travel. 

 

If the official travel destination is declared a high-risk area during the trip (by either the RKI or the foreign office), the employees may make themselves decide whether the trip should be continued or aborted.

For travellers returning from a high-risk area on official travel, the currently valid regulations on testing and quarantine observance must be followed: Themenbereich Quarantäne und Einreise | Hessisches Ministerium für Soziales und Integration (hessen.de) (German). Information on Hessian coronavirus regulations is also available in English here. An overview of quarantine regulations can be found here (German).

Home quarantine / Infection with SARS CoV-2

Individuals who have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 must observe a 14-day quarantine without a special order from the public health department. This also applies to all persons living in the same household. Any individuals who have had contact with an infected person must also observe a 14-day quarantine at home. If children in the same household are subject to an official quarantine, working on site is not permitted during this period. Working on site is also not permitted if a red warning notification appears in the corona app. In coordination with the public health department and the crisis team (Krisenstab), working on-site may be permitted if negative test result (RT-PCR test) can be submitted. Anyone entering Germany from an international high-risk area must also observe a quarantine in accordance with current regulations. If you notice that you or members of your family are showing symptoms, please contact your doctor. The same quarantine rule applies analogously for students.  

Reporting procedure in case of suspected infection / instruction by health office to observe at-home quarantine

Employees are unconditionally required to report the following cases:

  • A confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection of the employee or in the employee's household
  • Classification as a category I contact with close contact (“increased" infection risk) as defined by the RKI (including when a red warning notification appears in the corona app)
  • An order to observe a quarantine/isolation by a public health department for a household member in verbal or written form
  • Quarantine/isolation due to returning from a foreign high-risk area (§ 1 para. 1 of the Ordinance on the Control of the Corona Virus of 13 March 2020 in the currently valid version ) 

In order to quickly break infection chains it is also important to report when a corona test is ordered by doctor due to symptoms or to contact with an infected person.

Employees are to inform their supervisors and the crisis team krisenstab@uni-frankfurt.de or 069/798-23688) without being asked. Verbal and written orders from the health departments must also be sent to personalabteilung@uni-frankfurt.de.


Please use this record sheet to inform the crisis team.


The basis of our procedure and our specifications are the RKI standards for contact tracing, as they are also applied by the health authorities

Vacation and quarantine risk

When planning upcoming vacations, please be aware that the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) deems certain countries to be high risk areas for SARS-CoV-2 infections.

When entering Germany from a high-risk area, a 10-day at-home quarantine must be observed. The quarantine may be lifted if a RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 taken five days after entry at the earliest has a negative result. 

Further details are on the pages of the Hessian Ministry for Social Affairs and Integration (German).

When planning your vacation – also out of consideration for your colleagues - we therefore ask you to factor in foreseeable quarantine periods. Employees must either take vacation or reduce overtime hours for the duration of a foreseeable quarantine if, after prior consultation with their supervisors, it is not possible to work remotely or from home. A claim to remuneration by the employer only exists if the quarantine must be observed through no fault of the employee. Anyone traveling to a region that has been determined to be a high-risk area accepts that this claim will become void.

If a country is not deemed a high-risk area until after entry, no fault of the employee exists. If possible, and in consultation with the supervisor, the quarantine period should then be used for remote work / work from home.

Buildings: work safely on site

University buildings at the Westend, Bockenheim, Riedberg and Ginnheim locations are still closed to the public, but they may be used by university members under strict observance of the RKI standards. This applies to all buildings in which work is carried out that is indispensable for the organisation of teaching, research and administration. These buildings may be entered using card key locks or staffed main entrances. Access is regulated individually at each location (e.g., through existing closures, lists with the porters).

University library

Media can be borrowed and returned on site at the university library (UB JCS); lending sevices are again available to all users. Face masks are obligatory in all buildings, i.e., entry is only allowed with a mouth-and-nose covering.

At all locations, access using the GoetheCard or library cards is monitored by security. Lending/returning and information desks are only accessible without ID at the main library. The number of people who can be in the rooms at the same time is limited at all locations. To enter the library centres for the humanities and the library of sport sciences, an entrance ticket has to be booked in advance using a ticket system, and the ticket shown at the admission control:  https://buchung.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/zeit/

University library locations (UB JCS) can again be used to a limited extent by Goethe University students and employees as a place of study under compliance with the RKI standards and after advance booking of a workspace (https://buchung.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/zeit). Users who only have a library cards are only admitted to the main library. Out of consideration for others, we ask all users who cannot use the timeslot they booked to please cancel it and make it available for someone else.

 The campus book delivery service for Goethe University employees will continue to be provided: www.ub.uni-frankfurt.de/corona/buch.html .

You can find detailed information on all services currently being provided in the library's service monitor (German).

Wearing a mouth-and-nose covering

The wearing of a mouth-and-nose covering is also obligatory for all UB JCS visitors. This requirement also applies to all corridors throughout the buildings. It is now also required to wear a mouth-and-nose covering when sitting at a reserved workspace.

Canteens

All canteens will close beginning on 16 December 2020 and are expected to remain closed until 15 January 2021. The Studentenwerk Frankfurt will go on Christmas break starting on 23 December 2020.

The café “Sturm & Drang”, operated by CampuService on the Westend Campus, will be closed from 19 December 2020 through 10 January 2021.

Events

In accordance with the updated Coronavirus Regulation of the State of Hessen from 11 Januar 2021 for reducing the currently high number of coronavirus infections, no additional events may be permitted in addition to the in-person events and courses which have already been approved. Those teacing courses are requested to check already approved courses regarding their necessity of being held in-person and, if possible, to continue them exclusively in digital form. 

Until further notice, scientific meetings and conferences may only be conducted in digital form since these could contribute to an increase in the number of contacts and thus also to an increase in infections due to the likely interest both domestically and abroad and the travel this would entail. 

Only practical events such as laboratory activities, internships, practical and artistic sections, one-day excursions, practical sports exercises and events comparable in a narrower sense are exempt from this regulation. This also applies in particular to written examinations and examinations, which may continue to take place in person. Information on these can be found under the following links: examinations | teaching (in German).

Pocket transmitters /headsets can no longer be loaned  for use during the pandemic. It is not possible to disinfect the microphones. At this time, only handheld microphones may be used. If you are planning a purchase from your own funds, you must first contact HRZ Medientechnik, as the transmitters have to be compatible with the infrastructure in the room: mt-support@uni-frankfurt.de

Coronavirus toolbox

Templates for creating hygiene concepts for different forms of in-person events

>> Coronavirus toolbox

Questions concerning official matters

For any urgent further questions concerning official matters please send an email to  krisenstab@uni-frankfurt.de. Please include your full details and a telephone number for queries.

Questions concerning Occupational Safety

You can contact the offices for Occupational Health and Safety and for Biological Safety under 069/798-23688.

Hotline State of Hessen

The State of Hessen has set up a hotline for citizens' questions regarding coronavirus, Tel.: 0800/555-4666, Monday to Friday, 08:00 to 20:00.