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Coronavirus situation at the University of Eastern Finland

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University of Eastern Finland’s staff will return to work on campus gradually – most of the university’s teaching will continue to be offered online also in the autumn

  • Academic community

The staff of the University of Eastern Finland will return to work on campus gradually over the course of this summer and early autumn, but most of the university’s teaching will continue to be offered online also in the autumn semester. Restrictions and guidelines issued by the authorities will be followed at all times in order to ensure safety and security.

Use of facilities and working at the university
Starting from 17 June, permission from the head of the department/school/unit to visit the campus is no longer needed; a mere notification to the head in a manner agreed upon at the unit is enough. However, the head must always have information about which employees are working on campus, since this information is needed for tracking possible chains of transmission.

The following basic instructions on safety and hygiene on campus must be followed by everyone (students, employees, visitors):

  • Only come to the campus when you are healthy.
  • The first thing to do when you arrive is to wash your hands. You should also wash your hands regularly throughout the day. Use hand sanitizer in situations where washing your hands is not possible.
  • Keep a safe distance to others (1.5–2 metres).
  • No handshaking, no hugging.
  • Use protective gloves when you are using shared devices.
  • Prefer online meetings whenever this is possible.

 

Returning to work on campus gradually from 17 June onwards

Most of the university’s staff will continue to work remotely from home this summer. On 17 June, i.e. after all entrance examinations have been held, employees whose duties require presence on campus will return to work there, as well as employees who wish to return at this point (employees belonging to a medical risk group may not return). The number of employees working on campus may not exceed half of the normal.

Starting from the beginning of August, the units’ employees will start to return to work on campus. However, the number of employees working in the university’s facilities may not exceed half of the normal. Each unit can decide how to organise the return of its staff. The head of the department/school/unit must always have information about which employees are working on campus. With the general COVID-19 situation permitting, all employees can return to work on campus over the course of the autumn. However, employees belonging to a medical risk group will remain working remotely from home, and the practices relating to their return will be defined later.

Members of the teaching and research staff do not have to return to work on campus in the autumn, if there is no need. Only teaching that is deemed crucial to be offered as in-person teaching will be organised as in-person teaching in the autumn semester 2020 (please find more detailed information below).

Return to work on campus of employees belonging to a medical risk group

Employees belonging to a medical risk group are the last ones to return to work on campus. Information on the medical risk groups is available on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL: https://thl.fi/en/web/infectious-diseases/what-s-new/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-updates/coronavirus-covid-19/risk-groups-for-coronavirus-disease

If you suspect that you belong to a medical risk group:

  • Call +358 30 6000 and book a telephone appointment or a 20-minute remote appointment with Occupational Physician Pekka Koukkari or Occupational Physician Juhana Aura (only Juhana Aura will be available on 1–21 June).
  • If you belong to a medical risk group, the occupational physician will issue a statement and give you information about how you can safely return to work and what kind of conditions apply. After assessing the nature of your work, the occupational physician may also recommend that you continue working remotely from home. Please show this statement to the head of your department/school/unit.
  • If it turns out that you do not belong to a medical risk group after all, you can return to work on campus following the same procedure as everyone else.

Examinations

General exams and other exams will not be organised as classroom exams in the autumn semester. Facilities for electronic EXAM examinations will remain closed until 31 July, and they can only be opened by a separate decision of the dean. EXAM rooms will be opened starting on 1 August, and the university will provide separate instructions on how to use these facilities safely.

New students

The parts of new student orientation that are common to all will be organised online. Otherwise, the academic subjects will receive and welcome new students, organise new student orientation for them, and possibly offer in-person teaching, while observing guidelines on safety.

Teaching

Only teaching that is deemed crucial to be offered as in-person teaching will be organised as in-person teaching in the autumn semester 2020. By a decision of the dean, laboratory courses, field courses, internships deemed necessary, and other teaching that is impossible or unreasonably hard to organise online, can be offered as in-person teaching. In addition, in-person teaching can also be organised for new students in order to foster their commitment to their academic subject and to the academic community.

In-person teaching is organised with safety in mind. The Finnish Government’s restrictions on gatherings and other safety recommendations in effect at each time are followed in the organisation of teaching. From 1 June onwards, gatherings are limited to 50 persons, and this is applied to in-person teaching so that a maximum of 50 people, including the teacher, may be in the same room at a time, and with people keeping a safety distance of 1.5–2 metres.

The faculties and the Language Centre will make their decisions on teaching, and inform students about these decisions, as follows:
- by 30 June regarding arrangements of teaching starting in August and September
- by 7 August regarding arrangements of teaching starting in October, November and December
- The Open University will inform its own students.

Student exchange and international Master’s degree programmes

In the autumn semester 2020, UEF will not be sending or receiving exchange students. The university’s international Master’s degree programmes are encouraged to offer their teaching online in the autumn semester 2020. An international Master’s degree programme may consider postponing the start of the programme, if students are unable to enter Finland. In addition, students admitted to international Master’s degree programmes have the right to defer the start of their studies by one year.

Entrance examinations

Training for supervisors of entrance examinations that require presence on campus will be organised in early June, before the entrance examinations start. The basic instructions relating to safety and hygiene on campus apply to entrance examinations as well. Information on the entrance examinations can be found at https://haeyliopistoon.fi/valinnat-2020-muutokset/.

Public examinations of doctoral dissertations

According to the decision of the Finnish Government, meetings of up to 50 persons will be permitted from the beginning of June. Public examinations of doctoral dissertations can therefore be organised on campus while observing restrictions on the number of participants and caution to maintain a safe distance. Public examinations are nevertheless still recommended to be organised online.

Research

For the time being, research will primarily be carried out remotely. Carrying out research activities in the university’s facilities can be permitted in cases where access to the university’s facilities is crucial for carrying out research and the activities comply with official guidelines. These cases include, for example, field research, laboratory research, clinical research in the university’s facilities, and research that requires the university’s secure telecommunications link. The amount of personnel permitted in the facilities at the same time is limited, and safety and health guidelines as well as restrictions on gatherings must be adhered to in each laboratory and research space.

Starting from 17 June, permission from the head of the department/school/unit to visit the campus is no longer needed; a mere notification to the head in a manner agreed upon at the unit is enough. However, the head must always have information about which employees are working on campus, since this information is needed for tracking possible chains of transmission.

The current field research guidelines remain in effect. Field research or other research conducted outside of the university may be carried out while observing general protective measures and the following restrictions at all times:

– Equipment used for research may be retrieved from the university’s facilities by notifying the head of the department/school/unit, while following both the university’s and the Government’s general guidelines to avoid the risk of infection.

– When travelling due to research, general guidelines relating to safety must be followed. Travelling abroad is prohibited.

– General guidelines must be adhered to at research sites. These guidelines include restricting the number of participants at a gathering to a maximum of 50 as well as following any specific guidelines stated about or at the research site.

– Persons in any risk group, persons who are ill and persons manifesting any symptoms of infection are not permitted under any circumstances to participate in research work.

– These guidelines pertain only to research work. Only teaching that is deemed crucial to be offered as in-person teaching will be organised as in-person teaching in the autumn semester 2020.

Additionally, clarifications on research activities conducted in the university’s facilities:

– The head of the department/school/unit must always know which persons are working in the facilities.

– The head is responsible for ensuring that there are never more than 50 people working in the same space and that the minimum distance between all persons present is 1.5–2 metres.

– All writing and analysis work relating to research that can be conducted remotely will continue to be conducted remotely.

– Group meetings will be carried out as video meetings.

– Gloves must be worn at all times when using any equipment in joint use.

– Persons in any risk group are not permitted to physically participate in research at all.

– No one who is ill or manifesting symptoms is permitted in the facilities.

Library

The library’s online services and a limited pickup service of printed books, as well as the chance to return borrowed books will continue. For the time being, the service will only be open for UEF staff, students and contract customers. Up-to-date, detailed instructions can be found on the library’s website.

The Kuopio Campus Library will be renovated between 1 June and 31 August 2020. During this time, the library’s book collection will not be available for use, because the books will be put into storage for the duration of the renovation.

The Joensuu Campus Library will be renovated between 15 June and 7 August 2020. During this time, services will continue within the limits dictated by construction site restrictions.

Conferences and seminars

All conferences and seminars are being held online until further notice. Travelling abroad is prohibited for the time being.

Campus restaurants

The campus restaurants follow general national guidelines and sell take-away meals in the Carelia restaurant in Joensuu and in the Snellmania restaurant in Kuopio. From 1 June onwards, restaurant Kampus Bistro in Joensuu and the Tietoteknia restaurant in Kuopio will be selling take-away meals.

Sykettä university sports

Sykettä university sports will start organising outdoors events from 1 June onwards.

Other instructions relating to safety and hygiene:

Cleaning has been intensified and the university’s facilities are cleaned daily. Cleaning is carried out in accordance with the instructions issued by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, TTL. 

Additional instructions for activity-based work environments

  • Only personal keypads, mouses and headsets should be used.
    • If these devices have previously been in shared use, this is no longer possible (existing devices are allocated to specific employees and new ones are ordered so that everyone will have their own set).
  • Displays should be kept on to avoid the need to push the power button.
  • In an activity-based work environment, every second workstation should be left empty.
  • In conference rooms, every second seat should be left empty.
  • Online meetings should be preferred.

Protective gloves and hand sanitizer

  • Protective gloves must be worn in all facilities that have shared devices and in activities where items that have passed through several hands are being handled (customer service desks, mail pick-up and delivery, portering services, library).
    • These activities can be started by using readily available protective gloves that are available through the porters (kindly make your requests in a centralised manner and no hoarding, please!).
    • For the autumn, each unit should prepare to order hand sanitizer and protective gloves from their own budget. This signifies a return to “the new normal” where protective gloves and hand sanitizer are needed, but no longer covered from the university’s shared funds (with customer service desks being an exception).
  • Hand sanitizer is available in the university’s common facilities, but employees should buy their own for personal use (use of hand sanitizer is not obligatory; it is enough to wash hands with soap and water).
  • Customer service desks are cleaned with a disinfectant and disposable tissue at least twice a day (these supplies will be delivered to the customer service desks).

Protective masks

  • Protective masks must be used when visiting Finavia’s airports and flying on Finnair, and the employer will purchase and make masks for this purpose available to employees (business travel).
  • Employees using public transportation to commute between their home and the university may use a protective mask at their own discretion. For this use, employees should purchase their own masks (fabric masks can also be washed and reused).

Break rooms and lounges

  • Wipe the surfaces after every use (using a general detergent and a fabric cloth is enough; these will be delivered to break rooms and lounges).
  • The number of people present in these facilities should be limited so that it is possible to keep a safe distance of 1.5–2 metres to others.
  • Everyone must wash their dishes with hand dish washing detergent, or place their used dishes in the dish washer, immediately after finishing their snack or meal (i.e. no dishes should be left in the sink and it is not enough just to rinse your dishes).

 

Monitoring your health

  • We hope that fill out weekly, or whenever you experience symptoms, Terveystalo’s respiratory infection symptom survey in the Oma Terveys service.
  • Oma Terveys can be downloaded as an app or used in a browser.

 

Questions regarding these topics should primarily be sent by email to COVID-19(at)uef.fi.