• Coronavirus – What is happening in the Brain City Berlin?

At the moment, Berlin’s universities and colleges are in emergency operation. The same applies to the non-university research institutions of the city. Only Corona-relevant research at the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Centre is still going on. However, the many top-class experts of Brain City Berlin continue to do important work: They research, inform, clarify and provide advice both to politics and society. Where can you find which information? And what measures does the current Senate decision include? Here is an overview.

“It moves a lot and changes every day. Sometimes the events overtake each other, and hard-won decisions are caught up the next day. We do this with a clear understanding of the situation. We will keep you informed as soon as possible, as fast as can be” says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst. In a thank you video the President of the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin addresses the staff and students of the university to reduce uncertainty and convey confidence. The President of the TU Berlin Prof Dr. Christian Thomsen already prepared the members of the university for the foreseeable emergency operation on 16 March in a video speech. Now it is here.

Since 20 March, research, teaching and also the administrative operations at Berlin's universities and non-university research institutions have been reduced to minimum operations until further notice in order to curb the spread of the Coronavirus in Berlin's scientific community. The COVID19 task force of the Senate Chancellery for Higher Education and Research with the participation of Berlin’s universities, non-university research institutions and the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin agreed to this on 18 March. Already on 13 March, the task force agreed that the city's universities and non-university research institutions should take all the necessary precautions to prepare for the orderly transition to on-site emergency operation. And two days earlier, by decision of the Senate, all scientific conferences, meetings and events were cancelled until 20 July 2020.

On-site emergency operation: the following measures were communicated by the Senate Chancellery on 18 March 2020:

  • Operations at Berlin’s universities, universities of applied sciences and non-university research institutions have been restricted to minimum operations since Friday, 20 March 2020. The individual facilities determine individually and in accordance with the pandemic plans which persons are necessary to maintain the on-site emergency operation locally.
  • No attendance-based examinations will be carried out until further notice. The examinations will be held in an alternative form and/or at a later date. Specifications for the implementation of State examinations will be issued and communicated by the respective examination boards.
  • The submission deadlines for theses within the framework of bachelor, master and diploma courses are “inhibited” until a regular course of study is resumed (at least until 11 May 2020). The means specifically: The submission deadlines are currently not running. With the resumption of regular studies, which also includes the reopening of the libraries and PC pools, students can exhaust the full term of the submission deadline. As a result, there are no disadvantages for them.
  • Update: Berlin's universities will start a digital lecture period on April 20. This was agreed upon by the Senate Chancellery – Higher Education and Research and the state, denominational and private universities on April 3, 2020. Their goal is to provide students with the broadest possible range of digital teaching, learning and examination offerings. All parties jointly agreed that the 2020 summer semester in Berlin needs to be characterized by flexibility, consideration, and reliability. The Berlin Senate Chancellery – Higher Education and Research is supporting the efforts of the state universities with a VirtualCampusBerlin instant assistance program amounting to 10 million euros and is making other funds available for more than 1,000 university teachers to get training in digital teaching at the Berlin Center for Higher Education.

Corona measures at universities and research institutions in Berlin:

Information and actions of the Berlin scientific community regarding the Coronavirus:

Projects related to Corona research are still going on: Berlin’s scientific institutions are making an important contribution to research into the Coronavirus. Corona-relevant projects of the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and at the Max Delbrück Centre (MDC) are therefore exempt from this regulation.

Furthermore, the universities, technical colleges and non-university institutions in the Brain City do important educational work. Experts inform the public and provide advice to politics and society in order to counter the spread of the Corona pandemic.

  • The Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin continues research to fight the virus. On its main focus page up to date news about the Corona subject can be found.
  • Also, the Max Delbrück Centre (MDC) is running in emergency mode. However, Corona research is being intensified.
  • The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is probably the most cited research institution in Germany in connection with the Corona pandemic. The RKI provides information concerning case numbers and risk areas among other subjects and issues up to date risk assessments. 
  • What are the effects of the Corona pandemic on the economy and society? The Corona expert service at the Freie Universität Berlin (FU) provides contact persons for non-medical topics. 
  • The spread of the Coronavirus raises many questions. Brain City Ambassador Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten, Director of the Institute of Virology at Charité Berlin, answers them in his Corona podcast on NDR Info and at the same time provides a daily update on the situation. 
  • Specific recommendations for action and information on the Coronavirus are offered by the CovApp of the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. A questionnaire can be filled out online.Individuals should be able to assess better whether a visit to the doctor or a Coronavirus test is necessary.
  • Researchers, who have not yet published Corona-relevant research results and contributions, are requested by the University of Applied Sciences Berlin to send them to openaccess@ub.tu-berlin.de and make them freely available.

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