Update 15 June
Although revisions and exams are in full swing, many of you undoubtedly have numerous questions about what the next academic year will bring. Well, we have good news for you: recently, the minister of education announced that higher education institutions will start under Code Green in September. It is an extra boost after restrictions had been eased by the Federal Consultation Committee last week. Obviously, we are more than happy with these positive developments. Spending more time on campus and enjoying the full campus life, such as studying, lecturing, collaborating in projects is the core of higher education. Clearly, we must still keep an eye on the corona numbers, nevertheless we should be positive and hopeful about what’s to come.
In the short term - until the summer vacation
Because restrictions have been substantially eased, more on-campus activities are now possible, such as examination board meetings and access to exam papers. The current exams and the resits in August will take place under the same measures that applied to the previous exams during this academic year. As decided earlier, graduation ceremonies will take place early October, with parents in attendance and lots of festive activities. The current limitation of maximum 200 attendants indoors (or 400 outdoors) will not allow us to organise large ceremonies in July yet.
“Code Green” at the start of the academic year
Much has already been said about the colour codes, so just to be clear: “green” means no special corona measures. The minister made the decision well ahead of time to allow higher education institutions to properly prepare for the new academic year. Apart from the epidemiological situation that is heading in the right direction, nearly all students and staff will have had the opportunity to be vaccinated before the start of the academic year.
This situation will provide additional options for hybrid learning to be implemented next academic year. Nevertheless, on-campus learning will remain our top priority. At the same time, we will embed the best practices of online learning in our programmes. We have decided to offer a mix of on-campus and off-campus activities: on-campus classes when face-to-face meetings and physical space are required, for practicals and lab work, complemented by a smart and engaging online component in our programme offerings. Hence the term ‘hybrid learning’. In short, we combine various aspects in a smart educational approach. After the exams, you will learn how it will implemented in your programme and on your campus. So, keep an eye on the Intranet and your email box towards the end of June.
Update 19 May - Vaccinations during exams
If the federal vaccination campaign continues to pick up pace, chances are that a large part of the UCLL community will be vaccinated in the month of June. This is fantastic news for all students and staff, but at the same time we must prepare for how to deal with vaccinations during the exam periods.
What about vaccinations in Belgium? For all international students currently residing in Belgium
- Every student who already resides in Belgium and who is staying or will stay in Belgium for more than 90 days, will receive a vaccination invitation.
- The invitation is based on the so-called BIS number (a local and temporary national identification number)
- Students do not have to take any actions to receive a vaccination. Invitations are sent out based on age.
- According to EU regulations, both shots must be administered in the same country. Students who return home before their second shot is administered, will have to contact the relevant GP in their home country.
What will be the procedure for students? Whenever a scheduled vaccination coincides with an exam, it is considered a ‘justified absence‘ . Students will be allowed to do a make-up exam later on a scheduled date, on condition that a vaccination invitation and proof of vaccination is presented.
This arrangement was inspired by a common interest, by the pressure that many youngsters experience due to the restrictive covid measures and the fact that our university fully supports the vaccination campaign. We will let students know that they have the option to postpone the vaccination date, should the vaccination coincide with the exam date. This option is mandated by the federal authorities: every vaccination invitation contains guidelines on how to postpone your vaccination date, https://www.laatjevaccineren.be/home (link available in dutch only)
The ‘justified absence’ option also applies to staff members, on condition that their superior is notified in a timely manner. Should the vaccination date coincide with a required attendance (e.g. oral exam or jury), we will try to find the best alternative solution.
Update 13 April
Measures as from 19 April
Following a meeting with the Flemish universities and universities of applied sciences, the Minister of Education, Ben Weyts, has communicated the measures that will apply starting Monday, 19 April. To be more concrete: we will return to a 20% occupancy per campus (comparable to the situation during the week of 15 March, just before the federal government decided on an ‘Easter pause’).
This proposal has been drafted in consultation with the virologists and biostatistics experts of the GEMS, the Group of Experts for the Management Strategy of the pandemic and has yet to be confirmed by the consultative committee on 14 April. We hope we can depend on it being agreed upon.
In meetings with government bodies and institutions of higher education, UCLL always actively advocates for more on-campus classes and possibilities. Also, while preparing, we had already assumed the 20%-occupancy norm would apply (see the March 25 update).
- Extra attention for on-campus classes for first-year students at a maximum rate of 12 hours/week, during 3 half days.
- On-campus classes for students in study phases 2 and 3 will (again) be set to 2 half days on campus per week. This includes lab work and practicals.
- Obviously, we will take into account the 20%-occupancy norm in applying these measures. The occupancy rate of classrooms will also remain limited.
- So far, no end-date has been set with regard to these measures. The situation is being followed closely, however.
- Safety measures such as physical distance, face masks, hand hygiene remain the same. On-campus classes for large groups are and will not be allowed.
- Exams and assessments that had already been scheduled, will take place as planned, on campus. No changes there.
- Traineeships are subject to measures of the industry in which your traineeship takes place. Consult your traineeship coach and mentor.
- Are you having a hard time dealing with these new measures? Feeling down or lonely? Talk about it. Your student coach or your campus student services are there to listen:
Student Services Leuven & Diest . Studentendiensten Limburg
- The student housing guidelines. still apply for anyone staying in a student room.
New: self-tests for higher education
The minister also announced that institutions of higher education, continuing education and part-time art education will be supplied with self-tests at the beginning of May. These tests can pro-actively help in limiting the spread of the virus. How these self-tests will be administered, is not yet known. This should become clearer in the coming weeks.
Considerate and safe conduct
It has already been said a good number of times: this situation feels like a marathon. Our patience is being tried, but we do still have perspective. Although the decrease in the corona-numbers is not very strong and the vaccination campaign has only just begun to pick up speed, the positive effects of the vaccinations are already there. It might be tempting to loosen the way in which we apply the safety measures, but we cannot, we have to stay vigilant. Are you or is someone in your surroundings having a hard time hanging in there? Be mild; try to be considerate. There is only one way to get through this: together.
Update 25 March
Dear students and colleagues,
Mostly likely you have already heard it in the media: the government has issued new measures which also impact higher education, and thus our university. A new lockdown was decided. Understandably, such radical measure causes a lot of mixed feelings. The promise of more indoors and outdoors options has been put on hold. At the same time, we notice that vaccinations have a tremendous positive impact: there are hardly any retirement home residents in hospital because they have nearly all been vaccinated. In other words, the hopeful perspective has not been abandoned, merely postponed. This should give us hope and positive energy.
What do the new measures mean for UCLL in particular?
Here is a brief overview based on additional information following consultations between the Education department and the universities.
- The measures below are valid from 29 March until 18 April (this week’s education activities will continue as planned)
- Lab work and practice sessions: Only practice sessions for which the required material is only available on campus. Nothing has changed, these activities continue to be offered on campus.
- Other classes and practice sessions: online only The increased campus activities during the past weeks will end. Study programmes will provide practical information about next week’s class schedule.
- Scheduled exams and assessments (for some programmes, next week): no changes; they will take place as planned on campus.
- Traineeships: subject to measures of the industry in which your traineeship takes place. We advise students to contact their traineeship coach and mentor.
- Quiet study areas: are available for students who need it (after reservation). Leuven, Diest, Limburg
- From 19 April onwards: we assume that we can restart after the Easter vacation with 20% campus occupancy, as was the case the past 2 weeks, and we will make temporary arrangements accordingly.
- Want to know more about the general measures in Belgium (such as sports, leisure, social contact, shopping, ...): read more
Specific measures for staff
- The past months’ guideline does not change: maximum digitalisation.
- No team meetings or other gatherings on campus.
- Primary and secondary schools being closed will impact work-at-home. We advise you to contact your superior should you run into difficulties professionally because of this situation.
- The individual campus tours for prospective students scheduled for next Saturday will be cancelled.
- Professionalisation sessions: online (or temporarily postponed), except for sessions for which required material is only available on campus (see above).
We must emphasise that the situation has become very serious once again. Therefore, we urge everybody to respect the well-known measures (physical distancing, face mask, washing hands frequently).
Once again, we must “shift into another gear”. It is obvious that everyone of us will be impacted and for many of us it will have far-reaching consequences on our lives and our work. We should be kind and understanding towards each other. We know that everybody tries his/her best in very difficult circumstances. Do you feel overwhelmed by the situation? Do not hesitate and talk to someone - your loved ones, colleagues, or a trusted person at university. Supporting each other will make us all stronger.
So, try and hang in there (for a little while longer)
Update 23 February
New measures on 15 March
Last week, the Minister of Education announced that he intends to allow more on-campus classes from 15 March. The restriction of 10% campus occupancy will be raised to 20%. We applaud this excellent news wholeheartedly, even though measures are only slightly eased. Having a sense of perspective and clarity is always appreciated. It is a hopeful message, yet at the same time it will largely depend on the evolution of the numbers and the impact of the vaccinations.
For quite some time now, UCLL has pleaded to increase the number of on-campus classes. Until now we have applied the government measures to the fullest. During the last months, we have used the 10% campus occupancy for lab work, practicals, and essential practice sessions. In other words, a maximum of 12 hours (3 half days) per week of on-campus classes for first-year students and a maximum of 4 hours per week of on-campus classes for students in study phases 2 and 3. The large-scale telephone action by Team connect, among others, was set up to stay in touch with everyone, also in digital times.
Even when measures are eased, we will continue to put our students front and centre, therefore using maximal capacity for education activities. For admin/support services staff and trainings, the guideline of ‘maximum digitalisation’ will remain in force from 8 March until 18 April (previous message: 2nd period).
Measures eased after 15 March?
If easing measures will be approved - and we are hopeful that they will - an increasing number of classes will be offered on campus.
We must still work out concrete schedules, but we have already decided the basics:
- We will maintain the current situation of on-campus classes for first-years students at a maximum rate of 12 hours/week, during 3 half days.
- On-campus classes for students in study phases 2 and 3 will be raised to 2 half days on campus per week (instead of the current 1 half day) which includes lab work and practicals.
- Obviously, it will be part of the new measure of 20% occupancy per campus. The occupancy rate of classrooms will also remain limited.
- Safety measures such as physical distance, face masks, hand hygiene will remain the same. On-campus classes for large groups are and will not be allowed.
- Previously, we communicated that measures would be implemented based on 3 periods during this semester (see update of 8 December) with a new period starting on 8 March. However, the revised period will start on 15 March. The measures to be implemented after the Easter vacation will be decided by the UCLL crisis team by mid-March.
Careful and safe behaviour
We are happy about the measures being eased, yet at the same time we must remain vigilant. Safety measures such as physical distance, face masks, and so on will remain the same. Easing the measures on 15 March must be done in a very careful way.
We must not let ourselves believe that easing the measures means that you become less careful towards others. Only by respecting the measures, we will be able to enjoy increasing time on campus, and hopefully for the full 100% during this academic year.
UPDATE 1 FEBRUARY
Start second semester: same measures apply
Dear students, dear colleagues,
After a rather intense exam period, you are enjoying a break between semesters before you start the second semester. Although the corona pandemic is still raging, it will probably be somewhat of a relief to take classes which will bring some structure into your life and enable more social interactions.
We concluded the past semester under code red. The code red measures will stay in place and continue to guarantee that campuses remain safe.
In practice, nothing will change when we start the Spring semester. As indicated in the corona update of 8 December, we will remain under code red until 8 March. At the end of February, decisions will be made for the next period (8/3 - 2/4). The government measures that apply at that time will obviously determine our decisions.
We truly hope that we will be able to bring more positive news by then. Therefore, it is crucial that protection measures must be respected at all times. We know that measures are severe, however, they have made it possible that exams took place on campus as much as possible and that our lab work and practice sessions continued to be offered on campus as well.
It was a joint effort which we should all be proud of.
Code red: a quick reminder
- Under code red we give priority to lab work, practicals and essential practice sessions while respecting a maximum campus occupancy rate of 10% (see update 23 November).
- All admin/support services, research centres, and trainings will continue to operate digitally.
Still remember the protection measures?
- Wear your face mask correctly. Not under your nose or chin because that’s not effective. For more information about wearing a face mask: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/facemask/
- Keep a 1.5m distance. Classrooms are set up in such a way as to allow a safe distance between students. Also respect this distance outside the classroom (during breaks, on your way to campus, whenever you have to wait somewhere ....).
- Apply the hygiene measures: washing hands, sneezing in your sleeve, and so on.
- Ventilate classrooms. (In rooms where windows cannot be opened, we provide state-of -the-art automatic ventilation).
- Do you feel ill? Stay home and have yourself tested.
See the ‘Hygiene & Protection’ page for details. Students at our Leuven campuses can get tested in the Leuven university test centre in town.
- Have you been informed that you are infected?
Please fill out the university notification form. It is absolutely crucial to do so in order for us to quickly provide adequate advice to the high-risk contacts at our university.
- Have you had a high-risk contact?
Find out what you must do on the ‘Hygiene & Protection’ page
Update 8 december
Government decision: higher education remains ‘code red’ until the end of February.
This morning, the Flemish Minister of Education announced that code red will continue to apply in higher education until the end of February. This decision was made following the experts’ advice and in cooperation with the academic universities and the universities of applied sciences. At the moment, the situation is too precarious. In order to prevent a third corona wave, it has become clear that circulation in our communities must be restricted for the coming period. We must carry on with our efforts for a bit longer. It will enable us to ultimately ease the measures significantly.
The good part is that this announcement does not leave any room for interpretation. It is helpful to know what is ahead, despite the fact that it is a tough decision. A vaccine will give us hope, albeit not in the immediate future. We must persevere now. There is no other way. We must all consolidate what we have already achieved in these difficult circumstances.
Focus on lab work and essential practice sessions
This extended code red until the end of February means that the current measures continue to apply for the first weeks of the second semester. Priority will still be given to lab work, practicals, and essential practice sessions while maintaining a 10% maximum occupancy on each campus. The admin/support services, research centres and trainings will continue to operate digitally as much as possible. Review the detailed measures in the 23 November update.
Second semester in 3 periods
In addition, UCLL has decided to divide the second semester in 3 periods. During each period of 4-5 weeks the same code and measures will apply. Thus, we hope to avoid the yoyo effect and minimise the impact when transitioning to another period. UCLL decided on the following periods: 8 February until 5 March (code red); 8 March until 2 April, and 19 April until 21 May.
No later than 10 days before a new period starts, UCLL will make a decision about the next period based on government measures. It means that by the end of February and halfway through May we will know to which extent the measures may change.
In the short term: what about the January exams?
You have already received your exam schedule and we want to elaborate on the coming examination period. It is important to know what to expect in January. Read all detailed information in the FAQ.
Staying in touch, feeling better
Safety and good health can only be achieved when we feel comfortable. We may see each other less frequently ‘at UCLL’ but we are all still here: lecturers, study coaches, the colleague or fellow student of another programme who you used to meet for lunch sometimes.
Update 30 november
We are genuinely happy to welcome you back on campus today, 30 November, albeit on a limited scale. However, it is extremely important that it will happen in the safest way.
What to expect when you return to campus?
We will do all that is necessary to make our campuses a safe place:
- Campus occupancy will be 10% of normal maximum occupancy.
- Educational activities will be organised in such a way as to guarantee minimal contact between different class groups.
- Our cleaning teams will clean campuses on a frequent basis
- Ventilation in classrooms will be maximised.
- Class schedules have been designed in such a way as to avoid having to stay on campus for lunch (catering facilities will remain closed).
What to bear in mind when you return to campus?
We will make all necessary efforts to ensure safe campuses, and by doing so we hope that January exams may take place on campus. Nevertheless, keeping our campuses safe means that all of us must follow the rules. So, we urge you to:
Wear a face mask correctly: not under your nose or chin, otherwise the mask will not serve its purpose. Additional information about wearing your face mask correctly: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/facemask/ . Please respect the sanitary measures (washing your hands, …) as well.
Stay at a 1.5m distance. Layout of classrooms ensure a safe distance. Respect this distance outside the classroom as well (during breaks, on your way to campus, when you have to wait somewhere, ….).
What to do when you are infected? Fill out the confirmed covid-19 form. It is absolutely crucial for our in-house contact tracing and to notify high-risk contacts in order to provide quick and accurate advice.
Have you had a high-risk contact? Find out what you can and must do.
Download the Coronalert app in order to be quickly notified about a possible high-risk contact. https://coronalert.be/en/
Do you have a student room? Read these student housing guidelines.
Staying in touch, feeling better
Safety and health can only be guaranteed when we are feeling comfortable. We may see each other less frequently ‘at UCLL’ but we are all still here: lecturers, study coaches, the colleague or fellow student of another programme who you used to meet for lunch sometimes.
So, please stay in touch with each other: with your programme, with student services, with other UCLL students or staff.
For staff members: need a listening ear? Contact info
Not sure which educational activities are allowed on campus from 30 November onwards? Read the 23 November corona news update.
Update 23 november
Dear students and colleagues,
Corona numbers are showing a downward trend, in part due to your efforts of the past weeks. The flexibility that you demonstrate to continue education activities is amazing. We owe all of you a heartfelt thank you for that.
Yesterday, the Minister of Education, Ben Weyts, announced that limited on-campus education activities may resume on 30 November. However, maximum occupancy on campus remains 10% and therefore circulation on our campuses will remain low. Nevertheless, this decision makes it possible to resume additional lab work, practicals and other essential practice sessions. In other words, from 30 November onwards, ‘code red’ will apply, the practical measures of which have been outlined on these Intranet pages previously. This code red will remain in force until the end of the first semester (end of January 2021).
For the time being, we will not return to ‘code yellow’ as was the case in September. We are waiting eagerly for extra possibilities on our campuses, however, the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths remain relatively high. Therefore, we must stay vigilant. By making these collective efforts now, we will be able to organise a larger number of education activities on campus during the second semester.
We must stand together and stay strong !
Crisis team (Marc, Stef, Klaas, Karen, Ann, Jan)
What does the announcement by the Minister of Education mean for UCLL? (from 30 november)
Below is a list of general measures. In addition, an update of your class schedule will be published by your programme and campus very soon.
- Lab work and other practicals in all programmes may be resumed on condition that safety measures are respected (face masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation).
- Essential practice sessions are allowed on condition that safety measures are respected
- Maximum capacity: lab work, other practicals and essential practice sessions in each programme are restricted to 12h/week for first-year students (first phase subjects) and to 4h/week for students in phases 2 and 3. The programme managers will decide which lab work, practice sessions will resume on campus while respecting the maximum number of hours per week.
- Online classes: classes that are not defined as lab work, practicals, or essential practice sessions continue to be offered online, regardless of group size.
- Sport-related classes (PE and Recreational Movement teacher): the faculty of teacher education will communicate specific measures.
- Traineeships may take place in conformity with the industry of the traineeship host organisation.
- Scheduled exams in January are allowed and the same measures that were valid in June and August, remain in place. Exams will have priority over other on-campus activities. However, we will use external facilities whenever needed. Your campus will publish all information relevant to your exam schedule no later than 4 December.
- Study centres are open to provide quiet study areas. Please reminder to book your spot in advance.
- Catering: on-campus restaurants remain closed.
- Admin/support services and research centres will continue to work digitally as much as possible. All meetings take place online as well. Exceptions can only be granted by managerial staff.
- Professional training sessions are only allowed online.
Update 2 November
As you may know, a new lockdown has been issued for higher education until 1 December at least. Obviously, such measure has a major impact on our education, our work, and our lives. Nevertheless, it is absolutely necessary to turn the critical situation in the hospitals around and improve the health situation in our country. Below, you will read the general measures based on the ministerial decree. Please check Intranet and Toledo regularly for specific information from your programme and campus.
Measures until 1 December at least:
- Maximum digital classes: all lectures, lab work and practicals will take place online
- Exceptions are allowed for the Nursing and Midwifery programmes (in accordance with the ministerial decree)
- Traineeships and on-the-job learning: may take place in accordance with the relevant industry’s guidelines
- Exams: no exams on campus, only digital exams and assessments will take place
- Study centres and quiet study areas: accessible again from 12 November after reservation and approval by Student Services
- Staff members working from home will be the norm. You may only come to campus in exceptional cases and after approval by your superior based on essential reasons. An attestation is required in accordance with the ministerial decree.
- On-campus restaurants: closed
From 1 December. Clearly, we hope that on-campus education activities, lab and other practicals, essential practice sessions within a limited framework (comparable to code red) will be allowed again. However, it will entirely depend on the way in which the infection rate will develop.
Planning. Our programmes and campus services will do all that is necessary to provide accurate planning and class rosters for the coming weeks. Due to the numerous changes in the past week and the current uncertainty about on-campus exams, it will be quite an effort. Therefore, we would be grateful for your understanding and patience until more specific information from your programme and campus becomes available.
Update 29 October
Update 28 October
Update 16 October
There is so much coronavirus news these days that it is hard to grasp it all. That is the reason why we want answer the most frequently asked questions in the crisis team’s mailbox for everyone to read.
If you have specific questions about class rosters, practical issues on campus or worries, please contact your campus services or your study programme. (The general information that applies to all programmes and campuses can be found on the UCLL Intranet. So, please keep a close look at the news items).
Install Coronalert, the app provided by the Belgian government to trace any risky contacts that you may have had. As a matter of fact, there is always a chance that you may have come into contact with the coronavirus without knowing it, even if you stick to the measures. At that moment, every minute and every contact counts. When you install the app, contacts will be traced most quicker, also within our university. www.coronalert.be
If you are infected, please fill out the UCLL notification form (even when you have installed Coronalert !). If you have questions about the impact of infections and quarantine measures, feel free to contact email@example.com. Our Safety-Health-Environment services added extra staff members (including a physician) to the UCLL tracing team. So, more people available to monitor the corona infections.
For staff members the maximum campus occupancy per team remains 1/3. We hold on to this rigid principle in order to allow maximum space for teaching activities. The UCLL crisis team demands that meetings take place online, if possible, which is another measure to minimise circulation.
Update 13 October
Increasing online classes for larger class groups to maintain interaction and practicals on campus.
Next week, all Leuven campuses will switch to code orange. UCLL takes this measure after the latest local crisis cell meeting in Leuven. Also in Diest, Diepenbeek, Hasselt, and Genk, the local crisis cell will take such measures, if needed. Those cities will not yet switch to code orange; our campuses in Diest and in Limburg will remain in code yellow.
Unfortunately, we all saw it coming after what happened the last couple of days. Nevertheless, it is a hard blow for our Leuven campuses. We realise what this means for you, students and academic staff, but also for our staff members who must make this switch happen. It is important to know why we do this: reducing part of our activities to ensure other activities. We urge everyone to follow instructions on and off campus.
Why switch to code orange? We further reduce the number of students in larger rooms and increase the number of online classes. This way, we can further reduce circulation on and around our campuses, and on public transportation. It is the best way to ensure that interactive class activities in smaller groups, lab and other practicals can continue on campus.
Understanding the colour codes? Look at the attached chart.
Where? Gasthuisberg, Hertogstraat, Proximus, Social School campuses
When? We will gradually be switching from 19 October onwards. From Monday, 26 October, all Leuven campuses will be fully switched to code orange. This measure will remain in effect until the Xmas vacation.
How do we do this? Lectures in rooms for 60 or more people will switch to 1/5 of their capacity or will be taught entirely online. Each campus will take appropriate measures. Rooms for 60 people or less will switch to 1/2 of their capacity.
Class roster changes will be gradually implemented.
To our students: it is imperative that you check your class roster for updates every single day for the next two weeks. Also, check Toledo and your UCLL mailbox for the latest news from your study programme.
Which activities are impacted? The changes will impact (certain) class activities, including UCLL R&E trainings. In order to provide maximum space for education activities, other R&E and supporting services have already scaled back their on-campus activities. We intend to keep it that way.
Catering on campus? It is currently under investigation. Update will be communicated on Intranet.
The plans for switching to code orange have already been in the making for some time. Measures change very quickly and the implementation on campus will, once again, be quite a challenge for our staff. So, we count on your patience and understanding.