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Information about education regarding Corona

[Updated 2020-06-04] This information briefing to Karolinska Institutet’s staff is updated continually as reports come in on the spread of the virus.

  • New New recommendations from June 15

  • New Risk assessment

  • New Reception activities for new students

  • New Student exchange

  • New Studies during the summer at some programme

KI's common goal for all education programmes is to follow the recommendations that the universities have received by the government, and thus contribute to the societal mission not to spread infection. KI's goal is also that we, with the help of KI's students, will help meet the health care needs with capable personnel. It is also important to create the opportunity for our students to graduate at the planned time.

New recommendations from June 15

On May 29, the Public Health Agency announced new recommendations for higher education:

“Knowledge of covid-19 is constantly evolving. In view of the epidemiology and the current state of knowledge, the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten) judges that the recommendation on distance education can be removed on June 15. Education providers can thus return to ordinary activities.

Based on the students' age, the situation at, for example, universities, higher vocational education (yrkeshögskolor), folk high schools (folkhögskolor) and various forms of adult education can be considered to correspond to a workplace. For these forms of education one can from now on refer to the regulations, general advice and recommendations that apply to the rest of society.

The appropriate way to follow the prevailing general advice in each case is up to the principal.

One option is that the education providers continue to teach distance education whenever possible, for example for theoretical parts, but resume teaching on site in the premises for practical parts." (The Public Health Agency of Sweden).

In light of the recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Sweden, KI will gradually open up for teaching in KI's premises.

We will make the best of the situation under these extraordinary circumstances. Keep up-to-date with all the information.

The university management is monitoring developments on a daily basis via the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The health, wellbeing and safety of KI’s staff and students are our highest priority.

The university management has raised its preparedness level further and is working proactively. This information briefing to students is updated continually as reports come in. It is vital that you keep yourselves informed, as the situation can change suddenly.

We understand that students are worried about the situation and concerned about family and friends. We urge everyone to observe the following recommendations and to support each other wherever possible.

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 plans to 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

With regards to incoming students, the situation for on-site training (VFU) is considered to be difficult during the autumn term. The Stockholm Region has turned to all universities with a recommendation and appeal to "during the autumn term 2020 refrain from receiving international students for VFU within the region's health care". Because of this, all exchange studies for incoming students on clinical courses and clinical rotations during the fall term are cancelled. For other courses and parts, the department with responsivity for the respective program / the program committee decides on the possibility of offering spaces to incoming students.

KI advises against the travel of outgoing students who have been nominated by KI and admitted to a foreign university for their studies abroad for as long as the travel restrictions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Public Health Agency of Sweden remain. If the situation gets worse, KI may decide to immediately withdraw the decision for approved leave for studies (studieuppehåll) for these international studies, based on compelling security reasons.

In cases where there are international parts within courses at first and second-cycle education, these should not be completed during the autumn term.

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. 

Should we offer extra examinations during the summer? 

Answer: It is up to the department/course to decide. If it is possible to do so, it is perhaps a way to prevent students from being ineligible/uncertified for later courses. 

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.