Coronavirus: info and guidelines
Vice Minister-President of Flanders and Flemish Minister for Education Ben Weyts has given the green light to start the academic year 2021 – 2022 under code GREEN. The virus is still around, but we are literally given some breathing space now that face masks are not always mandatory.
As of Monday 13th September 2021 the following rules apply on all Howest campuses:
- On campus education is the rule. Theoretical and practical classes are organised on campus.
- In de classrooms and practice rooms, wearing a face mask is not mandatory when standing or sitting down and there is no need to respect any social distance.
- It goes without saying that whoever wishes to wear a face mask, can do so.
- When walking from one classroom to another or within the buildings, wearing a face mask is mandatory.
- Good hand hygiene is recommended.
- Rooms and work spaces must be well ventilated. The school management checks the CO2 level in all rooms and spaces.
- Should you feel unwell, please stay at home and contact a doctor. If advised, ask for a PCR test.
No one knows what Autumn and Winter will bring. We sincerely hope we will not see a fourth wave spoil our hopes! Don’t take any unnecessary risks and enjoy the presence of students and colleagues on campus.
The call for COVID-19 vaccination is recognized by Howest as a force majeure situation. If the moment of vaccination coincides with an evaluation moment, where attendance is mandatory, your proof of vaccination, with indication of the vaccination timeslot, counts as valid proof of force majeure. The procedure as described in the Education and Examination Regulation (OER) article 76 must be followed, whereby the proof of force majeure must be uploaded to iBamaflex within 5 calendar days. You also contact the relevant lecturer (s) to schedule a catch-up exam.
Following the most recent decision of the Consultation Committee, we are again allowed to organise contact classes on campus as of Monday, 19 April. However, this is a limited amount of contact classes which we will continue to combine with distance learning.
After the so-called 'Easter break', contact classes will resume on campus from next week onwards. Initially, we will restart most of the practical contact classes, such as labs, simulation classes, workshops and skills training. The theory classes will continue primarily online, but we try to make sure that every student can come to campus at least one day a week to attend classes. There is enough room for these teaching activities to take place in a corona-proof and safe way.
- Almost all practice-oriented activities can take place on the campus
- Theory classes continue to be given mainly online.
- The hygiene and social distancing rules (mouth mask obligation, sanitizing/washing hands, keeping a safe distance, etc.) remain applicable.
- The student restaurants will not open yet.
- The libraries on the various campuses remain open for the purpose of borrowing educational tools or books.
Concretely, Howest is switching back to the situation that existed just after the start of the second semester: practical courses can continue on campus, theory courses will primarily take place online. When and how which courses will be online or on campus, is still being looked at for each course. The programme coordinators and lecturers will communicate everything to the students via the LEHO learning platform.
We know that these are not easy times and we are doing everything we can to ensure that the classes and activities on the campus are conducted as safely as possible. Students who have questions or concerns can always contact our STUVO staff and their programme coordinators. Together we will get through this.
Following the most recent measures announced by the federal government, Howest will organise its lessons exclusively online for at least one week starting Monday, March 29. This decision concerns all campuses and all courses.
Due to the more stringent measures of the federal government, Howest will organise all classes exclusively online from Monday, March 29, until Friday, April 2. The lessons will again be offered via distance learning and only essential practical classes and labs will still take place on campus. This, of course, on the condition that the students abide by the current COVID measures.
- Some programmes organise exams next week. Only exams which cannot take place online ( e.g. practical exams and facility 'exams on campus') will take place on campus. Here, too, the COVID measures will always be implemented. Students who do need to come to campus for their examinations will be informed of this in due time by their programme coordinator and via LEHO.
- For Howest staff members, teleworking still remains the norm. If this is not possible, they must have a certificate or other proof confirming the necessity of their presence on campus.
- Only students who register at STUVO are allowed to study on campus. Of course, they must also comply with the applicable COVID measures at all times. If necessary, classrooms can be added.
- The reception areas and student secretariats on the different Howest campuses will remain open. Students can always collect items from their lockers. However, they are not supposed to come to the campus for other purposes.
- The libraries on the various campuses will also remain open according to their current opening hours. No reservations are required to borrow books, courses or other documentation.
- The planned campus visits for sixth-grade high-school students can go ahead provided that the COVID regulations are adhered to and that students, who want to participate, reserve their seats in advance. Such a campus visit should not last longer than half an hour and may be followed by a maximum of three people from the same bubble
Howest is constantly monitoring the situation and hopes that - in accordance with the federal government's objectives - it will be able to organise contact lessons again as of Monday 19 April. The programme coordinators of the different programmes are constantly in close contact with the students and update them in due time. If students or parents have any questions or concerns, they can always contact the programme coordinators and the staff of STUVO, the student services.
Since the beginning of November we unfortunately had to make a complete switch to online lessons, with a few exceptions. At the end of November, some restrictions were toned down, and some of you were even allowed to come back to campus for some specific practicals. However, we still apply the same strict measures (mandatory mouth mask, hand hygiene, social distancing and ventilation) and thus we – strengthened by your help – continue to ensure a safe environment for education and work.
Now that the decline in the number of new corona infections appears to be stabilizing, the current combination of practical training on campus and theory lessons off campus, will be extended until the end of February 2021. Due to the (work)space at our disposal and good planning on our behalf, we will once again be able to organize practical training (practicals, simulation lessons, labs, workshops and skills trainings) on campus. More specifically, this implies that those students who are not on an internship will be able to come to campus on an average base of 2 days a week at the beginning of next year.
Of course, we would have preferred to start the new year with less restrictions, but the current figures simply do not allow us to go back to campuses full of activity.
We are very well aware that the current situation has a serious impact on the emotional well-being of many of you. The lack of social contact is tough and the end of it doesn’t seem to be predictable which makes it even more difficult. But we want you to know that the Stuvo employees and our lecturers are available for you. In addition, we continue to focus on corona-safe and heart-warming initiatives such as the Secret Santa gift exchange.
- All practice-oriented activities can take place on campus (an average of 2 days a week).
- Theory lessons will continue online until the end of February.
- Hygiene and distancing rules (mandatory mouth mask, disinfecting / washing hands, keeping distance…) continue to apply.
- The student restaurants will remain closed.
- Student activities on campus cannot take place before the beginning of March.
Full details can be found on Leho.
On behalf of the entire Howest community, I wish you a lot of success with your exams. The holidays will undoubtedly be special, but we are convinced that ‘smaller’ can be just as much fun.
Keep it safe!
Lode De Geyter
Rector / General manager Howest
The strict measures are coming to an end and from November 30, 2020 on we are allowed to switch back to standard code RED.
In practice this means:
- As regards educational activities
- Theory lessons will remain online. Exceptions can only be made for first-year students, where a maximum occupancy of 1/5 in the classrooms still applies.
- Practical training such as practicums, lab exercises, simulation training, skills training ...: will once again be organised physically on the campus; a mouth mask remains mandatory.
- Internships: safety regulations apply at the internship location.
- As regards lessons with a sports component
- Indoors: only low-intensive, non-contact sports lessons, with a 1.5 m distance each time. Mouth mask duty unless distance can be guaranteed at all times.
- Outside: moderately intensive lessons can continue, with non-contact exercise and sports activities and individual exercise forms being preferred. If possible, wear a mouth mask and in groups up to a maximum of 4 persons/students.
- Avoid mixing up bubbles.
- Showers remain closed, changing rooms will only be accessible under certain conditions.
- The protocols of the respective professional sectors must be followed at all times.
- As regards the exams
- Examination will be online whenever possible, and physically on campus in accordance with the security regulations that also applied in June and September.
- As regards the campus restaurants
- o The campus restaurants stay closed. The takeaway, however, offer remains.
Naturally, all other safety measures remain in effect: keep your distance, take care of hand hygiene, wear a mouth mask as soon as you enter the campus, ventilate (class)rooms thoroughly, disinfect tables and other equipment after each use.
Quiet study areas are being created on the campuses for students who are in need of them. Those students can submit an application to be granted access to these quiet study areas via the facility scheme procedure.
This scheme will run until the end of the first semester. At the end of January, we will evaluate whether or not these arrangements will be extended and continued in the second semester.
As a result of the continuing upward trend in the COVID-19 figures, the Flemish Government imposed stricter rules for higher education on 30/10. Everyone has to limit social contacts to bring the corona curve back down.
Therefore, only distance learning is allowed from Friday evening October 30th to Monday evening November 30th. This means that:
- Educational activities involving physical contact between or with students are not possible. Online activities are possible.
- Any planned evaluation moments are postponed or digitally organized.
- Internships can continue as planned and according to the rules of the sectors, in mutual understanding between the internship company, educational institution and student.
- Only 1 exception to these rules is allowed: practicals, skills training and internships are still possible in the nursing bachelor program.
The impact of the above measures on the education and evaluation activities of your study program will be communicated by the study program responsible via Leho and the timetable. Keep in mind that additional rules apply for remote digital exams. The general principles are included in Howest Education and Examination Regulations Article 74 (www.howest.be/eer). Any additional specific provisions will be clearly communicated by the lecturer through Leho.
In order to provide the students with the best possible support in online education, the following services are further offered by Howest:
- Because we realize that the home situation is not an ideal study place for everyone, Howest has decided to provide Coronaproof quiet study spaces on its campuses Bruges Station 5 and Kortrijk Weide The Penta from November 3rd. Please note: this "facility" is only granted after approval of a motivated application via the talent coach or Stuvo employee via faciliteiten.howest.be. Only in this way can Howest correctly implement the safety provisions.
- The Howest libraries continue to offer their services online and provide a collection service by appointment for all physical works. All information about this on bib.howest.be.
- The Howest ICT helpdesk and the system administrators are ready to support you with advice and service in case of ICT problems. Every working day there is helpdesk on duty from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm via the following channels:
- By telephone via the central helpdesk number: +32 56/28 60 60 (tip: save this number in your mobile phone).
- By email via the central helpdesk mailbox: email@example.com.
- Those who cannot be helped on-line and require physical intervention can visit the helpdesk rooms on our campuses:
- Campus Brugge Station, building BST5, room BST.B.0.004
- Campus Kortrijk Weide, building The Penta, room P.2.007 or General Services building, room E.2.008
- The Howest student administration office can be reached online for all your questions regarding your student administration file (www.howest.be/student-secretariat). Fysiek bezoek kan enkel op afspraak.
- Do you need a good conversation, do you have questions about financial support or do you want some good study tips? The Howest student facilities (Stuvo) are available online for all your questions (www.howest.be/stuvo).
If the situation permits, and after positive advice from the Minister of Education, from December 1st, physical contact education will be organised for the first-year students and the organization of tutorials, practicals and exercises will again be possible for all students.
Do not forget that you can contact your lecturer or program manager with any question. We attach great importance to the approachability of every Howest lecturer. This applies equally well to digital contact! Never hesitate to get in touch. We are going through this black month of November together!
As a result of the stricter measures from the Flemish Government, Howest will switch to code RED from Friday 30/10 at 6 pm
- Monday November 2 to Friday November 6: autumn holidays
- On Monday, November 9 and Tuesday, November 10
- All educational activities are offered through distance learning.
- There are no activities on campus.
- If exams are scheduled, they will be taken online. Exceptions will be communicated from the study programs via LEHO.
- Wednesday, November 11
- We commemorate the end of World War I
- Day off
- From Thursday, November 12
- All theory lessons for the second and third year are organized via distance education.
- Theory lessons for the first year can take place on campus, provided that a class occupancy of 1 out of 2 seats and a mouth mask are taken into account. All information about this on LEHO and timetables.
- Labs and practical lessons that cannot be arranged in a digital way, may take place on campus in small groups, provided that the distance rule, hand hygiene and mouth mask are taken into account. All equipment used and the workplace itself must be thoroughly disinfected after use.
- Exams are organized as provided in the ECTS module sheets and with the covid-19 measures available (on campus or online).
- The walking directions must be further respected on all campuses.
You will find all information regarding lessons, practicals and exams at LEHO.
Quiet study area and library
Students who want to study in peace during the autumn holidays (Tuesday 3 November - Friday 6 November) or on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 November can go to Campus BST5 in Bruges and The Penta in Kortrijk. This always from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm and with awareness of all covid-19 measures.
The library will be open at a number of days during the autumn holidays. Dates and practical information can be consulted via bib.howest.be.
Higher education belongs to the essential sector category. This implies that travel to and from campus is allowed.
UPDATE 21/10/2020: stricter measures regarding catering on campus in code orange
From Wednesday Octoer 21st on we switched to code orange within Howest. What does this mean for the catering within Howest?
- The catering offer is being adjusted, because we only work with take-away catering. That means:
- Sandwiches only to order before 9.00am via resto.howest.be
- Hot meals as take-away meals (for the Bruges campuses) are only on order before 9.00 am via resto.howest.be
- Fries, cheese croquettes and `frikandellen` are also available in takeaway in Resto 't Obeetje Kortrijk
- Takeaway soup & pasta bar remain open, without having to order in advance.
- Seating is limited on campus in order to maintain a safe distance of 1.5 m. In many cases this means that only 1 person can be seated per table; this is indicated by a green sticker. This applies both inside the building and outside the garden furniture. If there are insufficient places available, classrooms in the vicinity of the catering will be kept open.
- When chairs are hanging on the table, this means that they have been disinfected, and that you can therefore use them. Our employees do their utmost to do this as soon as possible after someone leaves the place. Disinfection sprays are available at locations only for personnel and we request that you disinfect before and after use.
- The mouth mask may only be taken off when something is consumed, furthermore the use of the mouth mask is mandatory throughout the campus.
- Vending machines and water fountains will remain available. Again, we ask that you disinfect your hands before and after use. There are poles at every entrance and resto (there are also additional poles near vending machines that are far from the entrance or resto).
UPDATE 15/10/2020: Howest changes to code orange
Unfortunately, the number of people infected with the virus in Flanders as elsewhere, increases at an alarming speed. All Flemish universities and most Universities of Applied Sciences have switched to code orange. In order to keep the risks as low as possible, Howest too will be changing to code orange as of Wednesday 21st October. If so required by the government, even sooner.
We want to inform you of the consequences of this for class attendance:
- In the auditoria: 1 chair in 5 and face mask is mandatory;
- In traditional classrooms: 1 chair in 2 and face mask is mandatory;
- In laboratories and practice rooms: 1 on 1 and face mask is mandatory;
- Lessons will last 1.5 hours at must be followed by a minimum airing of the room for 30 minutes.
We will do our outmost to allow all teaching activities and practice sessions to take place on campus, allowing for restrictions as explained. More information will be posted as soon as available on Leho.
UPDATE 07/10/2020: Code yellow remains in effect in Howest
Full education (mainstream and special, primary and secondary, higher, adult and part-time, arts education) has started with great vigilance in pandemic phase yellow. Only in municipalities where the pandemic situation is acute can a switch be made to the orange phase.
In areas where the pandemic situation requires an increased vigilance and / or additional measures have to be considered, a switch can be made to another pandemic phase for education.
The procedure for this is as follows:
- The Risk Assessment Group (RAG) provides an overview of areas where increased vigilance is needed to the Ministers of Education and the National Crisis Center (NCCN).
- The NCCN informs the mayors concerned through the governors. In that case, the mayor convenes the local crisis cell, supplemented by the CLB and representatives from education.
- On the basis of this consultation, the mayor proposes a pandemic phase for education in his municipality or part of it and a transition period of a maximum of 2 weeks.
- The mayor communicates this proposal to the Minister of Education, who decides within a 48 hours period whether he agrees or not. If the Minister does not agree with the proposal, he will consult with the Mayor and the Minister for Domestic Administration in advance.
- The mayor informs the educational institutions involved, which will take the necessary measures required.
This crisis cell has not yet been convened in Kortrijk or Bruges. Only if the number of infections within our university of applied sciences would be alarming or worrying, Howest could deviate from this procedure in consultation with our occupational physician and decide to switch to another pandemic phase (from yellow to orange with 20% occupation).
UPDATE 06/10/2020: Bubble and quarantine adjustments since October 1st 2020
Can I eat in a corona-safe way?
The number of seats in the catering areas is limited/restricted. This allows you to take a seat in a safe way with a bubble of maximum four students, at a significantly sufficient distance from another bubble. You do not take off your mask until after you are seated.
It is your choice to keep 1.5 meters away from your table companion in the catering zones OR to take a seat within a bubble of maximum four students. Keep in mind that in the latter case you may be sitting less than 1.5 m from your table companions without a mouth mask for a period longer than 15 minutes. In that case, if one person from that bubble is infected, you will be considered a high-risk contact and will therefore have to be tested and quarantined. So do this in the context of a fixed bubble.
What if a colleague or fellow student becomes infected?
Flow chart and table added to indicate which test and quarantine measures apply since October 1, 2020 in case of high or low risk contact with an infected person.
CLEARANCE: Anyone who is identified as a high-risk contact by the contact center / occupational physician must follow the guidelines as stated on www.info-coronavirus.be
- Remain in quarantine for 7 days.
- On the fifth day of the quarantine (the fifth day following the contact) you will receive a test (contact your doctor).
- Always wear a mouth and nose mask.
- Wash hands often.
- Do not let other people into your house.
- You are only allowed to go to the pharmacy, the doctor and the supermarket.
- Measure your temperature twice a day.
The contacts of a high-risk person should not be put in quarantine.