Guidelines on access to UiO´s buildings due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Approved by the University Director on 6 April, 2020. Updated 30 April, 2020.
1. Status regarding the closure of UiO
On 12 March 2020, the government introduced strong measures to prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading. The Norwegian Directorate of Health decided to close kindergartens, schools, and educational institutions, including the country´s universities. These measures were extended for two more weeks as of Tuesday 24 March 2020.
UiO staff is now working from home unless they have been specifically requested by their line manager to come to work in UiO´s buildings. Teaching is carried out online.
In a meeting with the sector Thursday 26 March 2020, the Ministry of Education and Research signalled that they are leaving it to the educational institutions themselves to assess to what degree students and staff should have increased access to buildings in the time to come. The prerequisite for this is that limited access is carried out within the parameter of advice and guidelines given by the Norwegian health authorities, and that whoever is able to, will still work from home. At the same time, we need to maintain critically important research and prevent research from being more negatively affected than absolutely necessary.
2. Which principles have been used when deciding what functions and staff need to be physically present in UiO´s buildings
The closure has large consequences for UiO. It is therefore important that staffing be done in such a way that we ensure continued operations in a safe and sound way, reducing the harmfulness of the closure. The University Director has provided guidelines for what functions may have access to UiO´s buildings in a memo on 16 March 2020.
Principles for access to UiO´s buildings:
- Staff who need to be present in order to prevent dangers to life or health, or to prevent property, materials, equipment and more from being destroyed or lost.
- For a research-intensive university it is particularly important to maintain functions, materials and property that ensure the safeguarding of irreplaceable research material.
- Safeguarding of UiO´s functions as an employer, for example payment of salaries to our staff.
- Safeguarding UiO´s economic obligations to external partners, for example the payment of invoices related to agreements already entered into.
- UiO´s Central Emergency Management and local emergency managements on faculty level and similar.
These principles form the basis when assessing which critical functions and staffing are deemed a necessary presence in UiO´s buildings for our staff centrally and locally. Faculties and similar units have made their own assessments as to which functions need to be physically present based on the aforementioned principles.
3. Further concretisation of principles regarding limited access to UiO´s building
The principles given by the University Director in a memo dated 16 March 2020 are still valid, with some new clarifications.
Important criteria for assessing whether staff shall have limited access to UiO´s premises and infrastructure:
Necessary need of access to facilities, laboratory, and other research infrastructure needed to meet deadlines for new projects and carry out important research work.
Necessary need of access for staff on the basis that working from home is not possible for health reasons or other compelling social reasons.
Necessary need of access to libraries, archives or other collections to collect important material.
Compliance with UiO's obligations for clinical activities in accordance with the guidelines of the health authorities applies to the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Dentistry.
Specification for students and staff groups:
- Students and staff in general still work from home. Students still do not have access to campus, except for master's students who needs to have accsess to buildings as crucial for progress. Teaching is provided online. Internships are implemented for health education if possible and for others it is carried out digitally or postponed.
- Staff groups such as doctoral research fellows, postdoctoral fellows and researchers are still working from home. If necessary access to the laboratory, experimental facilities and fieldwork is required, access to UiO's premises is permitted, if this is particularly important for carrying out important research work and for compliance with deadlines. It is also important to ensure that fellows, postdoctoral fellows and temporary researchers are not significantly hindered in their research. This may also apply to master's students who are associated with research projects where one considers access to buildings as crucial for progress. In rare instances, and after a specific assessment, access to office space can be granted if homework is not possible for health reasons or compelling social reasons.
- Permanent academic staff in regular positions work from home. In rare cases, access to premises, facilities and other research infrastructure is provided for important research and to maintain safety considerations for experimental work. In rare instances, and after a specific assessment, access to office space can be granted if working from home is not possible for health reasons or compelling social reasons. UiO's clinical operations require necessary staffing, and this also applies, for example, to the request for jaw surgery and oral medical specialist function for patients from the counties in HSØ. Further specification of the guidelines in medicine is provided by the Faculty of Medicine.
- Technical/administrative support staff who are needed to safeguard critically important research may be present for this purpose. Personnel carrying out regular and reinforced cleaning, maintaining infection control etc. In rare instances, and after a specific assessment, access to office space can be granted if working from home is not possible for health reasons or compelling social reasons.
The following principles apply when implementing:
- The University Director´s primary principles and criteria for what functions and staff may be physically present in our premises apply to all of UiO.
- The faculty level, in consultation with the institute level (and similar levels), must make a concrete assessment, after a risk analysis, of what staff will have access to UiO´s premises. The risk-assessment template of the Faculty of Medicine will be used as a basis for this assessment where appropriate. The guidelines of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences regarding access to laboratories may be used as far as they fit the faculty in question and its professional communities.
- Dean/Faculty Director or positions on similar levels decide who will have access according to guidelines given by UiO centrally, after a restrictive approach.
- The University Library´s guidelines for lending of books from a closed library must be followed.
- An overview of staff must be submitted to the Estate Department by the Dean/Faculty Director or positions on a similar level. Here it must also be listed what concrete building/premises are to be used, so that cleaning and building operations can be carried out in an effective way with reduced staffing. As far as possible, the faculties must coordinate the use of their own premises and common rooms so that as few premises as possible are used.
- Implementation will take place within the parameters and regulations set by the government and the health authorities.
- Implementation will be carried out in compliance with strict infection control measures. Researchers must stay within a reasonable distance of each other, at least two meters away at all times. Everyone must adhere to the Institute of Public Health´s measures to limit the risk of infection.
- Existing HSE measures apply in this situation as well.
- Given the current situation, deviations from normal deliveries and service levels related to cleaning and building operations (frequency, response time etc.) must be accepted.
- Faculties and similar units are asked to keep local union representatives abreast of what adjustments are made locally at UiO through the IDF meetings.
The time of execution will be the week after Easter, at the earliest from 14 April, unless the government or the health authorities should change their guidelines.