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Corona - frequently asked questions

What is the position of VU Amsterdam regarding the Corona crisis in the Netherlands?

VU Amsterdam follows the advice of the RIVM for public health and the advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for travel abroad. Together with other Dutch universities, VU Amsterdam keeps a close eye on these advices and communicates via this page if there are any updates for students, staff and visitors.

You can find more information about the campus in times of corona:

The Dutch government has announced further relaxations of the coronation measures for education from 25 September. 

For more information, see the flyer with basic and campus rules. There is also a decision tree for students and teachers to assess whether they can come to the VU campus.

At the moment our FAQ is under construction due to the new measures starting 30 August. 

Corona - General and contact information

  • Measures on campus

    The following measures will apply on the campus from 25 September: 

    The government has issued various general measures that also apply to the VU. The basic rules given there also apply to VU staff and students. Some parts of the basic rules also apply specifically to the campus:

    • Do you have complaints? Stay at home and get yourself tested at the GGD. 
    • Cough and sneeze into the inside of your elbow. Use paper tissues to blow your nose and throw them away afterwards. Wash your hands.
    • Do not shake hands and wash your hands often.  On entry, everyone is given the opportunity to clean their hands. Additional instructions may apply in research environments.
    • Keep as much distance as possible and give space to the other person where possible; but 1.5m is no longer compulsory on campus.

    On the campus, the following agreements apply: 

    • On entering the building you have the opportunity to disinfect your hands. 
    • Follow the instructions and walking lines. When passing: keep to the right, walk through and avoid unnecessary contact. 
    • As of 25 September, the homework advice will change. This is a transition to hybrid working. You will make agreements about hybrid working with your manager, coordinated with your immediate colleagues.
  • What else can I expect on campus?

    Starting Monday 30 August, the following matters have been organised to ensure smooth operation:  

    • Several entrances have been opened so that we do not have any unnecessary congestion when entering, and with hygiene measures in place.
    • Routing is adjusted where necessary for optimal flow.
    • Registration for employees and student counting will no longer take place. At the entrances, an anonymous tracking of traffic in the building is performed by means of infrared counters of incoming and outgoing movements. 
    • Communication on ventilation is intensified. 
    • The regular cleaning programme in buildings is in place, with an increased focus on toilets for example.
    • Various communications about measures: flyers, messages on coffee machines, toilets, stickers, etc.
    • Increase of the number of stewards for escorting and providing information.
    • Monitoring of busy points in the buildings (and deployment of stewards where necessary).

    Safety 

    The usual safety rules of the campus apply, supplemented by the corona measures (see Company Emergency Plan and instructions). In case of emergency call 22222 or 020 - 5982222.

  • Self-testing and vaccination

    What does self-testing mean for students and staff at VU Amsterdam?

    All students and employees can order free self-tests at www.zelftestonderwijs.nl. With the use of self-tests, the government wants to focus on the faster detection of infections in order to prevent as many corona outbreaks as possible. To order, you can use your existing institutional account. If that does not work, please contact servicedesk.fco@vu.nl. Taking the self-test is voluntary. Having a negative test result is not a prerequisite for students or staff for access to education. Students do not have to show proof of a negative test result in order to gain access to the VU.

    Is vaccination mandatory or a condition for coming to VU Amsterdam?

    No, it is not a condition. Vaccination is voluntary and easy to arrange in the Netherlands. Opening up the Netherlands benefits from a high vaccination rate. We therefore warmly encourage our staff and students to heed the government's call and get vaccinated. By doing so, you will not only be helping yourself, but others as well.

    At the Amsterdam Municipal Health Service (GGD), you can get a corona vaccine at a number of locations without an appointment. The RAI is close by and easily accessible from VU Amsterdam.
    For more information, go to the website of the GGD.  For more information, visit the website of the National Government.

    Does VU Amsterdam know which students or employees have been vaccinated?

    No. Based on privacy laws, VU Amsterdam is not allowed to register who is vaccinated and who is not. Strictly speaking, VU Amsterdam is not even allowed to ask participants.

    Does VU Amsterdam use "Corona Access Certificates” for educational activities?

    No, VU Amsterdam does not use Corona Access Certificates in line with government policy. Although the recent amendment of the Public Health Act makes it possible to use access tickets in higher education, the government has not opted for this in the current relaxation. The use of access tickets in higher education is legally possible only if it is determined by ministerial regulation and if the university's representative body has subsequently agreed to its use. This is not currently the case.

  • Will all meetings at VU Amsterdam take place?

    Activities related to VU (education and research)

    For these activities there is no maximum group size and no corona admission tickets apply. For banqueting, the standing policy applies.

    Activities not related to the VU / public events

    For these activities, other guidelines apply than for higher education (events): maximum capacity depends on whether or not there are fixed seats and access is subject to corona tickets.

    The physical space itself is therefore not the starting point, but the activity that takes place there. The core of the difference is: the size of the group and whether or not there is a specific access protocol (such as corona tickets). 

  • How does VU Amsterdam deal with the ventilation of the buildings on campus?

    VU Amsterdam closely follows the discussion on the possible spread of Corona through ventilation systems in buildings and also receives questions on how the ventilation systems at VU Amsterdam work. 

    We think it is important to explain how the systems work at VU Amsterdam, how the RIVM guidelines are applied and whether additional measures are necessary for VU Amsterdam. We take all possible measures to maximise the use of the ventilation systems in our buildings for air refreshment. We adhere to the recommendations and rules for ventilation in the Buildings Act and the instructions of the RIVM, and we regularly consult with the Municipal Health Services (GGD). By adequately following this advice and guidance, we are doing what can be expected of us and are helping to minimise the risk of contamination through ventilation. VU Amsterdam is dependent on the latest scientific knowledge available about the possible spread of the virus via ventilation. We are therefore unable to give any guarantees that there is a 0% risk to anyone. What we can do is closely follow the guidelines of the RIVM and the instructions of the GGD and quickly adjust our approach in the event of new insights.

    Ventilation systems at VU Amsterdam

    Our systems comply with the rules for air ventilation in the Dutch Buildings Act and also with the guidelines of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). Our buildings are not all the same. One building is older than the other; one is fully connected to an air-conditioning system; another is partially connected to an air-conditioning system. In laboratories and specific research environments, other air treatment systems (for example in combination with fume cupboards) are applicable than in offices and educational environments.

    The systems are operated in such a way that the ventilation in the buildings, old or new, is as good as possible. All ventilation systems in our buildings are maintained by professional personnel and checked on the actual functioning of these systems. The air-conditioning systems are maintained up-to-date and kept in good condition. FCO's Property Management department is responsible for this. This department takes care of maintenance and operations with its own technical people and in cooperation with contract partners. We attach importance to proper functioning and carry out additional checks on a daily basis. 

    Is air quality monitored? 

    The air quality (CO2) is actively monitored by the VU's building management systems. This monitoring shows that the air quality is in accordance with the RIVM standards. We have various automated measuring systems in the buildings that monitor the air quality in real time. As soon as a critical limit is reached, a report is immediately sent out. This is picked up immediately and assessed on the spot to determine whether measures need to be taken. In addition, manual measurements are taken daily in the various buildings. There is increased alertness and speed in the response and handling of reports (questions and complaints) relating to climate and ventilation. Complaints about the climate are sometimes confused with complaints about ventilation. The fact that it is too hot or too cold does not mean that the ventilation is not in order.

    At what capacity do ventilation systems currently run at VU Amsterdam? 

    The ventilation capacity is set for 100% utilisation. This means that we use the maximum ventilation capacity. This maximum ventilation capacity is also sufficient if the one-and-a-half metre measure is dropped, and the campus becomes more crowded again. It is important that the maximum number of persons in a room is not exceeded.

    There are, however, differences between buildings in terms of the installation set-up. Not all VU buildings are equipped with fully mechanical ventilation systems. Sometimes there is top cooling (top cooling means that there is a maximum of 2-3 degrees of cooling compared to the outside air), sometimes windows can be opened, or combinations of systems. For example, in the W&N building, in the T and U wing and the 4th floor corridor on the south side, there is no mechanical ventilation system, or only a partial one. There are other possibilities of bringing fresh air in through opening windows and/or ventilation grilles. This also applies to the smaller buildings such as BelleVUe and Filosofenhof. In Building MF, various combinations of systems are also present.

     Is fresh air or recirculation used?

    One of the topics in the discussion on ventilation is the extent to which fresh air is used or the air present is recirculated. Recirculation is a technique whereby part of the air present in the building, which still meets the air quality requirements, is recirculated so that the air handling installations do not always have to process 100% of the outside air (for example, cooling, heating, dehumidifying).

    We currently adjusted the installations so that fresh outside air is used for ventilation as much as possible. The recirculation has been turned off. As a result, the extracted air from the buildings is now blown directly outside.

    In addition to normal operations, we start the installations of the buildings two hours before the buildings open and let them run for two hours after the buildings close before switching them to night mode (with less ventilation).

    From the point of view of sustainable energy use, installations often also need recirculation to operate in more extreme weather conditions. When the outside temperature drops, it may not be possible to meet the temperature or humidity standards in all buildings. Also, on warmer days, we draw in more warm air from outside, which can cause the indoor temperature to be higher than normal.

    If situations arise in which this may become a problem, it is determined in consultation with the Operational Crisis Team and then the Strategic Policy Team whether actions should be taken. For example, if the temperature in the building becomes too cold or too hot.

    Some locations on campus already have different ventilation rules as standard, will these remain the same? 

    In certain (research) areas, such as labs (for example, fume cupboards), the dissecting room, the MF walk-in room and the Human Performance lab at the Medical Faculty, additional or separate requirements already apply in 'normal operations'. These situations already have a different set-up for their environments in terms of ventilation. No additional measures are required here at present.

    I want to know more about the ventilation at VU Amsterdam

    With this information, we want to point out which measures VU Amsterdam has taken in the ventilation of buildings. Property Management and the crisis team closely follow the developments, discussions and recommendations of the government (and therefore RIVM) and will take follow-up measures if necessary.

    We did everything possible to maintain and adjust the installation properly under these special circumstances.

    For further information or specific information in a building or lab, please contact the On-Site Campus Team On-site-campusteam@vu.nl.

  • Can I access the University Library's collections and services again?

    Yes, you can. Check here for up-to-date information about the services of the University Library.

  • What are the guidelines for travelling?

    VU Amsterdam follows the guidelines of the government. The general advice on travelling currently reads: "Only travel to countries with a green or yellow travel advisory. Whichever country you travel to, you may be faced with corona measures such as possible entry requirements, quarantine or testing. The situation in a country can also change rapidly. Therefore, always keep an eye on the travel advice.” Check here for the most up-to-date travel information from the national government. VU Amsterdam expects employees and students to follow the government guidelines. If you nevertheless travel abroad, you are taking a conscious risk. Especially if that country has code orange or red. If you have to go into quarantine after returning from this trip, we expect you to work at home. Do not come to the campus. If you are unable to carry out your work at home, or only partly, and a solution cannot be found between you and your manager, you may be asked to take holiday leave. Your manager is advised to contact the HR adviser when this situation arises.

  • What should I do if I test positive for Covid-19?

    If you are told after a test that you have tested positive, you should follow the instructions of the GGD closely. The most important measure is to isolate at home. If the GGD carries out a source and contact investigation, it is important that you cooperate. It is also possible that the GGD asks you to inform people with whom you have had contact. See the GGD website for the latest information.

    What does VU Amsterdam do if a student or staff member tests positive for Covid-19?

    The national approach to the corona pandemic stipulates that the GGDs are in charge of the regional approach to Covid-19 infections. This is of course done in close cooperation with the RIVM and the Safety Regions. This means that the GGD determines what happens if a student or employee at VU Amsterdam is found to be infected. 

    In the interpretation of this, it has been established that, just like last year, we are not allowed to ask about or register infections on an individual level. However, in case of striking developments or signals – for example, a large number of course participants suddenly cancelling their course - we will inform the Amsterdam GGD. This contact takes place via AMD and the VU Amsterdam crisis organisation.

    For more information on the working method of the GGD, please visit the GGD website.

     VU Amsterdam has no direct role unless asked. We ask employees and students to follow the national guidelines and instructions of the GGD.

    Should I do something myself if I hear from a (fellow) student, colleague or employee that they have tested positive for Covid-19?

    The most important thing is that the person who has tested positive follows the instructions of the GGD and goes into home isolation. In the source and contact investigation, the GGD determines whether others, such as fellow students or colleagues, may have been at risk and have to take measures. As was already the case last corona period, each person is asked to make their own assessment or consideration. This is no different now with the new measures. 

    At the moment, the guideline is as follows: if a high-risk contact has not (yet) been vaccinated, this person should go into quarantine and get tested at the GGD. If the person has been vaccinated, they do not have to go into quarantine. However, you must of course be tested immediately if any symptoms arise. Use the quarantine check from the national government to determine whether you need to go into quarantine.

    Staying at home

    You may want to stay home as a precaution if you have had contact with the person who tested positive, even if the GGD does not consider this to be a risk according to the criteria and you are not explicitly summoned to go into quarantine. In that case, discuss with your teacher or manager that you want to stay home as a precaution, and the possibilities to study/work at home.

    Guidelines

    Teachers and managers must follow the instructions and guidelines of the GGD and RIVM, insofar as these are given, and must enable their students/employees to follow these instructions. It is essential - as in the past period - that a person who tested positive goes into isolation and does not come to VU Amsterdam.

  • Contact students

    Student desk

    Do you have questions about registration and deregistration, tuition fees, registering for education, applying for a list of grades and authenticating a diploma? First check whether your question is answered in the FAQs. If your question is not answered, please contact the Student Desk. Answers to frequently asked questions about transition, registration and admission can also be found on this webpage.

    studentenbalie@vu.nl | +31 (0)20 598 5020

    Availability by e-mail: Mon to Fri from 09:00 to 17:00

    Availability by phone: Mon to Fri 10.30 - 12.30 and 14.00 - 16.00

    Physical desk availability: by appointment only

    Student welfare

    We know that this time can also cause a lot of confusion and unrest. Do you feel the need to talk to someone? Our student psychologists are here for you. You can best reach them via studentenpsychologen@vu.nl or via VUweb. Check this platform for an overview of the support offered by VU Amsterdam.

    International Support Services

    If you have practical questions about your stay in the Netherlands or if you would just like to talk to someone from the International Office, you can come by the Global Room on Tuesday or Thursday between 13:00 and 15:00. The Global Room is located in the Main Building (HG-1A36).

     If you have specific questions regarding your study abroad, housing or visa, please find the contact or appointment details of our specific International Support Services. For questions regarding full-time enrolment and tuition fees or to collect a student card, please visit the Student Desk.

  • Contact staff and students of the Faculty of Medicine

    If you’re a student at the Faculty of Medicine VU, please visit the faculty website. For Master's students and employees of the Faculty of Medicine VU, the guidelines and information of Amsterdam UMC on the Tulip Intranet apply (under the tile Coronavirus: Information and frequently asked questions).

     Contact ACTA staff and students

    For ACTA students and staff, the guidelines and information on ACTAnet apply.