Information about education regarding corona

[Updated 2021-06-28] This information briefing to Karolinska Institutet’s staff is updated continually as reports come in on the spread of the virus.

Updates

  • Information updated, see headline Covid-19 vaccine

  • Decision on return to campus-based education Fall 2021.

    • Based on the assessment that the spread of COVID-19 is expected to decrease and that vaccinations will take place according to plan, KI is planning for a return to campus-based education. On 23 April the president decided that campus-based education will resume starting in the fall term, 30 August 2021. KI follows the government authorities' regulations and recommendations. This decision may be adjusted if recommendations change due to the spread of infection. Read more under headline Information about Fall 2021.

  • The President has decided to cancel exchange studies for incoming exchange students on clinical courses and clinical rotations during the autumn term of 2021. Read more under headline Student exchange.

As always:

  • Research and education will continue, keeping in mind 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. 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.

On 29 May, the Government announced that, as from 15 June, higher education institutions may conduct 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
  • Examinations not deemed possible at a distance and the examination of courses in the final year of a programme
  • Thesis defenses – 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 or someone in your household 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 seven days after the first symptoms, and wait at least 48 hours after recovery before returning to KI.

If someone in your household has confirmed COVID-19, you should also stay at home. If your students have training elements that are compulsory, they should contact the person responsible for the course regarding the possibility of completing the examination at another time or if it is possible to supplement for the absence. 

If someone in your household has cold symptoms, you should stay home when you do not have compulsory training.

If someone in your household has received a positive test result that shows that he/she has COVID-19, everyone in the household, both sick and healthy, except children who have not started preschool, will be contacted by the Health Care and given necessary measures to be taken. You are obliged to follow the measures, stay at home, avoid contact with others and act as if you have tested positive for COVID-19. More information is available on the Public Health Agency of Sweden's website.

A vaccinated person who develops symptoms should stay home and get tested for COVID-19.

If you have been tested for COVID-19, due to cold symptoms or on prompting due to the risk of being infected, you should follow the Swedish Public Health Agency's recommendations and stay home while waiting for your test result and avoid close contact with others.     

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. The use of a hand sanitizer is an alternative when hand washing is not possible. The university has introduced expanded cleaning and sanitizing procedures on campus.

Face masks when difficult to practice physical distancing

Face masks can help block the spread of droplets and are 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.

Covid-19 vaccine

KI does not offer vaccination for employees or students. Students are referred to the Public Health Agency's priority order and you will be able to book an appointment for a vaccine when your target group is being vaccinated. Please see Region Stockholm's information on vaccination planning.

You do not have to be a Swedish citizen to get the vaccine and everyone who lives or is permanently staying in Sweden will be offered the vaccine. The vaccination against Covid-19 is free of cost. KI encourages students and employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

If you do not have personal identity number you can contact a healthcare centre (Vårdcentral) for an appointment.

Work from home if you can

In response to the Public Health Agency’s tightened general recommendations on December 18, 2020, everyone who can work from home is required to do so. 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.

Information about autumn 2021

Based on the assessment that the spread of COVID-19 is expected to decrease and that vaccinations will take place according to plan, KI is planning for a return to campus-based education.

On 23 April the president has decided that campus-based education will resume starting in the fall term, 30 August 2021.

KI follows the government authorities' regulations and recommendations. This decision may be adjusted if recommendations change due to the spread of infection.

The following applies to the planning of teaching on campus:

  • Congestion in classrooms must be avoided; restrictions on the number of available spots in classrooms may be introduced into the booking system.
     
  • Examination rooms may not be filled more than 50 percent.

For KI's employees, KI follows the government's decision that those who are able should work from home until 30 September 2021. KI's management will revisit this decision when government recommendations are updated.

Due to this decision, the time for pre-booking of teaching facilities has been extended to 7 May.

More detailed recommendations regarding teaching during the fall term will be available at a later time.

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.

Examination in an examination room during the pandemic

KI has produced support documents to the risk assessment with instructions for examination in an examination room during the pandemic [updated 2021-02-11 with the clarification that all staff incl. invigilators present for examination on campus must use mouth guards] and management when students with cold symptoms come to campus for teaching or an examination.

Capacity of the exam rooms with current restrictions.

Student exchange

Incoming students

The President has decided to cancel exchange studies for incoming exchange students on clinical courses and clinical rotations during the autumn term of 2021. The background is the strained situation in health care due to COVID-19 with a care debt, as well as work-based training elements from previous semesters for regular program students. Educational dental care on Campus South has been in a similar situation. Kl has complied with Regionen's request and has not accepted incoming exchange students for VFU during the academic year 20/21. The Region has returned with the same request for the autumn term 2021, as the situation in healthcare is still very strained. 

Outgoing students

KI advises outgoing exchange students from exchange studies abroad during the spring semester of 2021.

With increased vaccination coverage and the consequent declining spread of infection, the expectation is that more countries will slowly be reopening, and travel restrictions may be lifted for many countries. Despite this, the situation is uncertain, and Kl advises students who plan to study abroad during the autumn term to closely follow the situation in the host country, to follow the Foreign Ministry's current travel restrictions, and to take into account in their planning that the situation may change at short notice. If the situation worsens, Kl can decide to immediately revoke the nomination decision for exchange studies, on the grounds of compelling security reasons.
More information about studies abroad can be found on the page Information regarding exchange studies and studies abroad, related to the coronavirus.

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

On 9 March 2021, KI president decided to extend distance education until 6 June 2021. The exceptions are practical elements and examinations that cannot be carried out at a distance while maintaining quality. Find more information in this article. Decisions for the autumn are expected in April.

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. Information due to the pandemic aimed at doctoral students can also be found on the page Consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on KI’s doctoral education.

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 Covid-19 that can be used in the course evaluations are available at Frågebanken.

Doctoral courses

The KI President has decided on a return to campus, starting from the autumn semester of 2021, provided that the situation with the spread of COVID-19 does not lead to a change of the decision. Follow the updates on the page Information for staff and students regarding COVID-19.


Course directors of doctoral courses can plan for a return to campus (with readiness to go back to distance teaching if the situation changes) or a hybrid form where some parts take place online and others on campus, or plan completely for distance teaching. In case of doubt, consult with the current doctoral education programme, research school, or, for freestanding courses, the Course and Program Committee.

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.

Since 14 December, there are new extended recommendations regarding protective equipment from the Stockholm region for on-site-training (VFU/VIL). All staff in health care, municipal care as well as dental care must always wear a comprehensive visor and fluid-resistant surgical mouth protection. This applies during the entire work shift and in staff rooms. Read more on Vårdgivareguiden (in Swedish). 

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 a 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 an 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 counselors 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.

Information about vaccination of students against Covid-19 in connection with on-site training (VFU)

Region Stockholm has informed KI that students at VFU in patient-centered care will be included in the planning of vaccinations for staff.

On 16 May, the opportunity for healthcare staff to book the first dose through their employer ended. Employees are instead referred to the track for the public and book the vaccination themselves based on their age and individual risk factors.

Please see Region Stockholm's information on vaccination planning.

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 a 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 that 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 standardized 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 canceled 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 examination on the page distance teaching and learning. On this page, you will find information regarding what applies for written and oral examinations digitally remotely. For information on digitalized teaching for students with disabilities, please have a look at the page pedagogical assistance to students 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 that 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 standardized 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.