Information about education regarding Corona

[Updated 2020-09-30] This information briefing to Karolinska Institutet’s staff is updated continually as reports come in on the spread of the virus.

Nytt

  • New information regarding student exchange during the spring term 2021 under the headline Student exchange

On 29 May, the Government announced that, as from 15 June, higher education institutions may conduct to campus-based teaching, provided that all activities on campus comply with the official recommendations issued by the Public Health Agency of Sweden to help limit the transmission of the virus. In practice, this means that most theoretical education will continue remotely, in order to enable campus-based teaching for priority groups and activities.

All activities done on campus are to comply with the official recommendations to help contain the transmission of the virus. Karolinska Institutet has therefore decided that the following groups and activities are to be given priority on the KI campuses:

  • Practical modules/skills training or practical examinations
  • New first or second-cycle students
  • Examinations not deemed possible at a distance and the examination of courses in the final year of a programme
  • Study programmes at first and second-cycle level held in English
  • Thesis defences – premises are to enable attendees to follow both physical and digital procedures.

KI’s research and education continue with regard to the recommendations and guidelines below.

It is everyone’s responsibility to create and maintain a safe environment on university campuses and in society at large. Studies show that young persons as well as adults can spread the virus. Out of respect and concern for other persons and their well-being in society, it is important for everyone to be careful and follow the recommendations and guidelines.

Recommendations at KI

These recommendations and guidelines are based on detailed recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Sweden, Folkhälsomyndigheten (FOHM), and KI’s COVID-19 resource teams.

In some aspects, our recommendations complement those issued by FOHM, reflecting the special challenges faced by an internationally oriented medical university.

Each of the following elements must be in place in order to effectively limit the spread of COVID-19:

Stay home if you feel ill

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you must stay at home. Stay at home for as long as you feel unwell and wait at least 48 hours after recovery before returning to KI.

If someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 you must stay at home if you have non-compulsory teaching such as lectures, group work or self-study.

Physical distancing

To prevent virus transmission, everyone should keep a physical distance at all times, and not gather in large groups or in crowded places. COVID-19 is typically spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Aerosol droplets from their mouth or nose are released into the air and can reach the mouths or noses of people nearby. Viruses can also spread indirectly through contaminated surfaces.

Hygiene

Frequent washing of hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds is an effective method of removing and killing the virus. Use of a hand sanitiser is an alternative when hand washing is not possible. The university has introduced expanded cleaning and sanitising procedures on campus.

Face masks when difficult to practice physical distancing

Face masks can help block the spread of droplets and is recommended for use in educational situations where it is difficult to practice physical distancing, for example in clinical practical skills training, laboratories, and dissections. Disposable face masks and instructions on how to use them will be available at the relevant locations. Course leaders can contact their department for more information.

Important:

  • Face masks should not be used as an alternative to other precautions, such as practicing physical distancing or staying at home if you have symptoms of illness.
  • This shall not be construed as a recommendation to wear face masks on campus in general.

Download instructions for use of face masks

Testing for COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you can make an appointment for testing (PCR test), which is free of charge, including those without a Swedish social security number. Individuals within Region Stockholm can also make an appointment for an antibody test via the website 1177.se. In order to do so, you must have been asymptomatic for more than 14 days.

Find more information in English and in Swedish on 1177.se.

KI encourages students and employees to get tested.

Guide for KI staff on the testing and analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in relation to research.

Work from home if you can

The recommendation from the Public Health Agency is to reduce the amount of social contact you have and to work from home if you can this autumn. You need to have the consent of your immediate manager. You will receive salary as usual if you have the approval of your manager to work from home.

Find more detailed information on KI as a workplace during the autumn of 2020.

Risk assessment

Risk assessment for all campus-based educational activities is done according to the existing template, and the assessment must take any other ongoing activities on the premises into account.

The department responsible for the course is also responsible for ensuring that risk assessments are made and that the recommendations are followed. If there is a need for prioritization / joint planning between departments on each campus, the dean is responsible for coordination between the departments. For activities in common lecture halls and writing rooms, the Property and Facilities Office (fastighetsavdelningen) is responsible for adapting bookings of premises so that it is possible to follow the recommendations. This may mean, for example, that the number of people who are allowed to be in a room is significantly reduced compared to the usual number of places or that two nearby premises cannot be booked during the same time.

Reception activities for new students

With current general recommendations, the introduction kick-off (introduktionsinternat) is not deemed feasible. Reception activities for newly admitted students must be adapted to the recommendations and coordinated between the programs on each campus to avoid the risk of infection. KI centrally will conduct a digital welcome day for the new students. There will also be staffed information desks, both on the Solna campus and the Flemingsberg campus, which the new students can turn to with their questions.

Student exchange

The President has decided to cancel exchange studies for incoming exchange students on clinical courses and clinical rotations, and that courses partially abroad will not be conducted this Spring semester 2021. The background is the strained situation in the dental and health care sector due to Covid-19 with a debt of care, as well as the deferred clinical training elements (VFU) from the Spring semester 2020 for regular program students. KI students nominated for exchange studies during the Spring semester 2021 are advised not to carry out exchanges this Spring.

KI has gathered information for regarding exchange studies and studies abroad, related to the corona virus.

Local management

A great number of issues must now be dealt with locally at the department level due to different conditions within different courses. Student groups, curricula, teaching, examination methods, experience in working digitally, etc. can affect how to solve the situation.

Information towards students

KI’s central administration will inform students regarding what applies to the implementation of the courses, about hygiene routines etc. It is important that the departments provide sufficient information on the specific issues of each course. It may be important to provide information even if no changes are made.

Doctoral students can turn to their department’s director of doctoral studies if they have any questions.

The syllabus applies

The syllabus should be followed as closely as possible. However, in the event of changes in examination forms, etc., content and learning outcomes and the level of expected skills, knowledge and abilities may not be changed, removed or reduced.

The default is that everything stated in the syllabus, e.g. existing examination forms and learning objectives, applies as usual. However, how the syllabus and courses are implemented in practice may need to be modified if resources are needed elsewhere. For example, it may be necessary to give fewer lectures so that the teacher has time to work on doing more exams or otherwise adapt teaching and examinations to the new current situation.

Should the examiner assess there is a need, and possibility, to change the examination form, the examiner will make a specific decision on this. The decision shall be saved in the course act.

The same applies if the examiner makes general decisions on the possibility to supplement/compensate for absence from compulsory educational modules and on-site training (VFU).

Course evaluations

Extra questions regarding distance teaching/examination and VFU during corina-19 that can be used in the course evaluations are available at Frågebanken.

Doctoral courses

In the first place the course director must decide if the planned course can be carried out according to plan or by adapting the course to an online format by using the digital tools available. Such deviations from the syllabus’s established teaching activities, and if necessary also the form of examination (for example written take-home examination or oral online examination), are permitted as long as the intended learning outcomes of the course still can be achieved. Deviations must be notified to the administrative officer of the Course and Programme Committee, via doctoralcourses@ki.se. State course number and title when communicating this.

If the course director has concluded that a digital adaptation is not feasible, a decision to cancel the course should be taken in consultation with the doctoral programme in question (or the research school’s steering group or the administrative officer of the Course and Programme Committee, depending on the source of funding). The decision should then be notified to the administrative officer of the Course and Programme Committee via doctoralcourses@ki.se, who will in turn notify the Evaluation Unit and the Ladok support. State course number and title when communicating this.

Course providers who decide to cancel their courses are recommended to reschedule these the earliest one year ahead as we already have a large number of courses planned for the autumn of 2020.

On-site training (VFU) and internships

Students who are currently doing an internship or are in on-site training (VFU) should follow the instructions they receive from their respective employers. This also applies to doctoral students within health care. When working in health care, for example, it is important to stay at home if you have symptoms of a cold or flu.

The Department should be prepared to handle cases where the internship or on-site training (VFU) cannot be carried out due to workplace closure. The following elements are useful to consider:

  • How much of the internship/VFU has been completed, that is, can you grade it? If there is sufficient basis of assessment to decide on a grade, a grade can be set even though the entire planned on-site training period has not been completed. The examiner decides whether the intended learning outcomes are considered to be met.
  • If the internship/VFU has to be discontinued prematurely because the workplace closes down and there is insufficient basis for grading, the ion-site training/VFU needs to be repeated and the institution has to be prepared to deal with this. The department must then arrange the VFU at another time as soon as possible when there is an available VFU site. The examiner decides whether the entire period needs to be repeated or only the remaining time in order to complete the internship or on-site training (VFU).

Study counsellors and programmes should also be prepared to change the course of studies individually for students (make individual study plans). If a student is sent home from the workplace for any reason, it should be evaluated if there is a suitable course that he/she can attend instead, so the student does not lose his/her study funding.

Students who experience strong concerns about implementing on-site training/VFU placements

Students who experience anxiety about being in a clinical setting under the current circumstances may seek a study break.

If a student wishes to conclude an ongoing on-site training/VFU placement early due to concerns about the current situation, the examiner should assess whether the conditions are such that this should not lead to a lost examination opportunity.

However, KI’s guidelines on examination state that "if a student misses parts or fails to complete their [VFU] Placement and has legitimate reason (shall be able to be confirmed/supported) the student shall be granted an opportunity to complete their [VFU] Placement at a later time.” The interpretation of whether the situation can constitute “legal obligation” should be generous.

Patient meetings in zoom

It is the healthcare provider that makes the decision, and the information we have received from the region is that direct patient meetings/teaching elements with patient participation cannot occur via Zoom, but must occur with systems used within the region for digital care meetings.

However, Zoom can be used for student supervision between a student and supervisor (without patient participation) as long as no information is exchanged that can reveal a patient's identity.

The reason is because Zoom is not considered to be secure enough to handle sensitive personal data.

Personal data is any kind of information that can be directly or indirectly derived from a living person. Sensitive personal data is, for example, information on a person's state of health.

Therefore, authentic patient cases, for example, cannot be discussed via Zoom. However, fictitious and standardised patient cases can be discussed.

Examinations

This decision is based on the assumption that we will be able to carry out all examinations during the spring semester. To the greatest extent possible, ordinary examinations should be carried out digitally and remotely instead. If the course cannot be adapted for digital or remote examination, the examination may be cancelled and students will be referred to the re-examination occasion. 

The department is responsible for providing detailed information to the students about attitudes before and during the examination. 

Depending on the development of the situation, new examinations may need to be planned later in the spring, in June and earlier in August. 

Advice and tools for digitalized teaching and examination

You can find more information and tools about digitalized teaching and exmination on the page distance teaching and learning. For information on digitalized teaching for students with disabilities, please have a look at the page pedagogical assistance to student with study disabilities – for remote learning.

Insurance

Information from Kammarkollegiet regarding insurance.

Patient meetings in zoom

It is the healthcare provider that makes the decision, and the information we have received from the region is that direct patient meetings/teaching elements with patient participation cannot occur via Zoom, but must occur with systems used within the region for digital care meetings.

However, Zoom can be used for student supervision between a student and supervisor (without patient participation) as long as no information is exchanged that can reveal a patient's identity.

The reason is because Zoom is not considered to be secure enough to handle sensitive personal data.

Personal data is any kind of information that can be directly or indirectly derived from a living person. Sensitive personal data is, for example, information on a person's state of health.

Therefore, authentic patient cases, for example, cannot be discussed via Zoom. However, fictitious and standardised patient cases can be discussed.

Questions and Answers

How should you approach learning outcomes and grading limits? Can students be approved even if parts of the course cannot be completed due to events related to the Corona pandemic?

Answer: When adapting the examination, the content and learning outcomes, as well as the level of expected skills, knowledge and abilities for the course may not be changed, removed or lowered.

In other words, students should not be given a pass grade if they do not achieve the defined learning outcomes, even if they are not at fault. The examiner may decide on additional tasks so students can fulfill learning goals in other ways. However, it may be difficult to find alternatives for on-site training (VFU) and examinations of other educational forms with practical elements.

How do you handle on-site training (VFU) that is "interrupted" by caregivers / employers, if the student becomes ill, or when other examinations with practical educational elements cannot be carried out?

Answer: KI's Guidelines for examinationsstate, among other things: "[if] a student misses part of or is unable to complete a placement with valid reason,the student should, however, be given the opportunity to complete the on-site training (VFU) at a later date".

The above statement may be considered to apply to the VFU, degree projects with practical educational forms, and other practical training elements.

According to KI, "valid reason" includes situations where students' study situation is adversely affected without the student being able to influence this. E.g. that caregivers decide that educational activities can no longer be carried out in the care facility or that the student becomes ill / shows symptomsof the cold or flu.

The course must be planned accordingly to execute/complete the on-site training (VFU) as soon as possible. In the current circumstances, this can be very difficult and, at present, there isno clear solution to the problems that may arise.

Can we waive rules on special eligibility/certificationfor courses during the autumn term if it becomes difficult/impossible for the students to carry out the on-site training (VFU) and other practical educational elements during the spring semester?

Answer: Since the knowledge and skills that constitute the requirements for special eligibility/certification are deemed to be absolutely necessary for the student to be able to include the educational element (VFU) within the course, it is not appropriate to depart from those rules. 

The educational programmeshould be plannedto include risks that there may be situations with more students than normal who are not certified, without having had the opportunity to become certified.

If the course considers that the special eligibility/certification, or parts of what is now required for eligibility/certification, is not necessary, the syllabus should be revised. This applies to all students, which means that fewer students have to submit an applicationfor an exemption from the eligibility/certification requirements.

Support teaching and additional examinations can also be prearranged to solve this. With regard to the on-site training (VFU) and other practical educational elements, attempts to resolve this must be made in dialogue with the region and other actors where our students carry out the courses.

Is it possible to exchange the campus exam for the home exam straight away? 

Answer: It is the examiner who decides whether the examination can be carried out in a way that meets KI's regulations on examinations and whether it is possible to change the examination form without changing, removing or lowering learning outcomes. For example, it may be necessary to amend the examination structure, taking into account all types of facilities that are available and can be used. 

How will students' identity be checked when changing the examination form, and how do we ensure that it is the student who has written the work? 

Answer: Students should always be able to prove their identity during examination. The home exam, as well as other examination assignments and degree projects must be checked to detect plagiarism using text recognition tools. Urkund is used at KI for first and second cycle education levels and on doctoral education level.

If we have a course call for new courses or introductory lectures, is a physical presence needed? 

Answer: There is no requirement for physical presence. Some courses have presence at roll call as a requirement for the student to be assigned a study place. For training that has such a rule, alternatives must examined, e.g. to divide the class so that introduction takes place into smaller groups or introduce the assignments in another way. 

What happens to student financial aid if courses cannot be completed? 

Answer: According to the government' s statement, students are allowed to keep their student financial aid even if their education has been suspended due to the Corona situation. 

What can be done at KI is to investigate the possibility of alternative studies for students whose courses are interrupted or offer additional studies at a distance. 

What is the capacity for Zoom? 

Answer: Since there are many people who use Zoom at many Swedish universities, there have been problems with the service. However, they have acquired servers dedicated to the Nordic market in recent days. The capacity is now 120,000 users. However, it is not enough if most universities move teaching to the net. If there is a problem, you can check their current capacity. If there is no problem reported there, then any problems are instead local. 

From SUNET, the following tips are 

"All involved can contribute to a smoother utilisation of capacity by prioritizing and to consider the following: 

real-time communication in audio and video (Zoom) demands higher capacity requirements, and the status page shows when the load is at least 

video on demand (play service) can meet many needs in communication and teaching contexts and does not place the same demands on capacity 

Can I book meetings/teaching in Zoom for someone else? 

Answer: Zoom has now opened up functionality, which allows anyone to create an account with full functionality. For example, external lecturers can also create a meeting in Zoom. If you schedule a meeting as a host, you can tick the "join before host" option under "Schedule a Meeting". This allows attendees to enter the meeting before a host enters or without a host participating. If a host is not present and a meeting is to be recorded, see zoom's support page..  

What about the cancellation of premises? 

Answer: The real estate department has decided that all internal bookings can be cancelled without being charged, despite short notice. This applies to cancellations with more than 70 people from March 9. 

All bookings for courses can remain in TimeEdit as it provides the basis of the students' schedule.