Important Information for Students & Prospective Students Regarding Coronavirus

 

General information on the virus

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spreads from person to person. Droplet infection is the main mode of transmission. This can take place directly, from person-to-person, or indirectly through contact between hands and the mucous membranes of the mouth, the nose or the conjunctiva of the eyes.  There have been reports of persons who were infected by individuals who had only shown slight or non-specific symptoms of disease. The percentage of asymptomatic cases is unclear; according to data from WHO and China, however, such cases do not play a significant role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

 

What are the symptoms of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2?

The disease progression varies considerably from one person to another.  According to WHO, a SARS-CoV-2 infection can lead to symptoms such as dry cough, fever, a runny nose and fatigue. There have also been reports of difficulties breathing, an itchy throat, headaches and joint pains, as well as shivering. Some patients also suffer from nausea and diarrhoea.

 

How can I protect myself?

As with influenza and other acute respiratory illnesses, proper hand hygiene, coughing and sneezing practices, as well as keeping one’s distance from sick persons, can also help prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus. These practices are also recommended in view of the flu outbreak. Shaking hands should be avoided. Generally, persons suffering from a respiratory illness should stay at home if possible.

 

What should you do if you feel sick and think you might have been infected?

Persons who (independently of travel) were in personal contact with someone who has been laboratory-confirmed to be carrying the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus should immediately, irrespective of symptoms, get in touch with the competent health office. The health office will conduct an individual interview to assess the specific risk and determine the measures to be taken. This approach also makes it possible to coordinate medical attention should any symptoms emerge.

Berlin, Hannover and Hamburg have created special hotlines to call if you think you have been infected.for information and counseling. The Berlin hotline can be reached from 08:00 am to 08:00 pm at 0049 30 9028 2828, for Hannover please call 0049 511 4505555 and for Hamburg please call 0049 40 428 284 000.

People who have spent time in a risk area as identified by the Robert Koch Institute should, irrespective of symptoms, avoid unnecessary contact with other people and stay at home, wherever possible. Should you experience acute respiratory symptoms, you will need to follow proper coughing and sneezing etiquette as well as proper hand hygiene and see a doctor, making sure you have called ahead to announce your visit and provide information regarding the places visited.

If you are travelling from a region where cases of COVID-19 have occurred, but it is not deemed a risk area, you should visit a doctor – after announcing your visit ahead of time by telephone and saying that you had been travelling – if you develop symptoms such as fever, coughing or difficult breathing within 14 days of returning from your trip. In addition, you should avoid unnecessary contact with other people, stay at home, wherever possible, and follow proper coughing and sneezing etiquette as well as proper hand hygiene.

 

The current risk areas are as identified by the Robert Koch Institute (as of March 31):

  • Austria
  • Egypt
  • France
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • In South Korea: the city of Daegu and the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do (North-Gyeongsang)
  • United Kingdom and Northern Ireland
  • United States of America

This definition is constantly being adjusted as the situation evolves.

 

Other precautions you should take if you feel sick include:

  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Ensure you do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If you have easy access to surgical face masks, use one, and dispose of it safely after use. Remember to wash your hands after disposing of a mask.
  • Follow appropriate disinfection/hand washing rules to avoid spreading the virus to others.

 

Current situation in the EU (including Germany)

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is in continuous contact with the European Commission, the public health authorities in China and the World Health Organization regarding the assessment of this outbreak.

Currently, the risk associated with the Coronavirus in the EU/EEA and UK is still only considered moderate to high. The evidence from analyses of most recent cases that the virus causes mild disease (i.e. non-pneumonia or mild pneumonia) in about 80% and most cases recover fully. In 14 % of the reported cases, people have more severe disease and only 6% experience critical illness.  

Please be aware that the great majority of the most severe illnesses, and deaths, have occurred only among the elderly and those with other chronic underlying conditions.

For up-to-date information and news on the outbreak and risk assessment in your area of residence, please refer to the website of the Federal Ministry of Health. The Federal Ministry of Health is continuously monitoring the situation, evaluating all available information, estimating the risk for the population in Germany and providing health professionals with recommendations. Further information can be found on the website of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the public health institute in Germany.

For any further information from GISMA on the outbreak, please refer to our FAQ document

Frequently asked question during coronavirus outbreak

The health, welfare and safety of students and staff is the number one priority for GISMA Business School.

GISMA welcomes students and staff from around the world to Germany, and they are an integral part of our international community.

We understand that students and staff may be worried about friends and family members in Germany and affected areas around the world, and our thoughts go to all those affected by this outbreak.

We ask that students and staff support their fellow friends and colleagues at this difficult time. Harassment and discrimination of any kind, including racial or xenophobic, are totally unacceptable at GISMA.

Any instances of harassment should be reported immediately either to the Management team, or to the Student Support Team in the case of students.

 

GISMA Business School and GISMA Language School are following the advice of the German government regarding campus buildings being open. Therefore, the GISMA Language School Hannover is able to open for students who are in Hannover, and strict hygiene measures are being taken. On advice by the authorities, campus buildings in Berlin and Hamburg are still closed to students. All teams and staff will continue to be available to students via phone and email during regular hours.

We have converted the April intake to be carried out entirely online as per the government advice and precautions are being taken for the June/July intake. This is to minimise the risk of the virus spreading.

We will update students on a regular basis so please check our website and your student email regularly.

 We will be taking precautionary measures throughout the pandemic and our number one priority is to keep our students safe.

Please be assured that during this challenging period we will endeavour to continue to provide online high-quality equivalent learning, teaching and support services to all our students.

Virtual classrooms are a feature of blended learning options at GISMA Business School. A virtual classroom features a tutor delivering a lecture or seminar live, and real time interaction between students. Students can ask questions either verbally or in the chat feature, and also work in break-out groups and deliver presentations to the class. Whilst the lecture is not pre-recorded, a recorded version is available for students to re-watch at any time.

Streaming programmes are an option for all GISMA students enrolling from April 2020. They allow for students to start their academic programmes online, and then continue their studies in a face-to-face environment once students are able to travel to Germany. Streaming learning gives students access to a virtual classroom, and therefore offers a very similar experience to face-to-face learning.

In addition to closing are campus, currently all our staff are working remotely. There is an opportunity for face-to-face meetings with staff to take place only in emergency cases, however we are limiting the number of people on campus to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

We have set-up NTT-Hotline (Need-To-Talk Hotline) for students and staff to provide both information and comfort from one of GISMA team if they feel distressed in the current situation or in self-isolation. You can get more information on it by contacting GISMA through the following email addresses: careercentre@gisma.com for students; and HR@GISMA.com for staff and external faculty.

Applying for a programme couldn’t be easier! All you need to do is fill out an application form for your chosen programme and one of our consultants will get in touch with you.

Paying the fees associated with your programme is a straight forward process. Applicants should use the GISMA online payment or if you are able to use online banking to process your payments we advise you use this method. If however this is not an option, you can visit your local bank to process the payment in person. Should these options not be a possibility due to bank closures or lack of access to online banking, we advise applicants to find relatives or friends who are able to process their payment via online banking and quote their unique student number when doing so.  

As an educational institution we want ensure that our students can start studying with us. Currently, students are being offered the option to defer their intake to a later intake, which is a straightforward process and will have no impact on your studies. We have also moved all of our learning, teaching and assessment online where possible if deferring your intake is not preferable.

If you are either unable to travel from your home country to Germany or if you have to go into self-isolation you should email studentsupportberlin@gisma.com with your name, student ID and programme of study. This will help us keep an accurate record about who is affected and to give you further guidance. You should try to keep up with your studies as far as possible using the resources available on the learning platform and keep in touch with your programme management team. If you have to miss any assessments, you should inform the programme management team.

If your visa or current residence title is expiring and you cannot visit the local authorities for an extension application because you have been tested positive for the coronavirus or have to stay in isolation, please get in touch with your local visa support team for further guidance and instructions.

For Berlin campus students please reach out to visaberlin@gisma.com, for Hamburg campus students please reach out to visahamburg@gisma.com, for Hanover campus students please reach out to visahanover@gisma.com. If you are a member of staff affected by coronavirus and you have concerns about your immigration status, please contact Human Resources.

The situation continues to evolve globally. Travel restrictions may be imposed, and additional health precautions may be placed upon individuals returning to Germany. If you live in an affected area you are advised not to return for the vacation. If you are travelling to, or have family travelling from, other affected areas, you should consider the risks of exposing yourself and GISMA to the virus, and speak to your Programme Management team in the first instance if you need any further advice.

We are recommending all staff and students follow the Federal Ministry of Health‘s guidance on travel to affected areas.

We are identifying and communicating directly with all staff and students, providing them with advice specific to their circumstances.

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