COVID-19 FAQ

The following is a list of frequently asked questions about COVID-19. For the latest Graduate School-related updates on COVID-19, please refer to the Graduate School COVID-19 Response page.

Safety on Campus
  • What measures are in place to protect students at ISTA?

    Keeping all of our students safe is a top priority for us. We follow the latest government recommendations and update our procedures anytime there is a change. At all times though, you  can expect the following:

    • Regular updates: information about the developing situation in Austria, as well as the latest guidance on hygiene and behavior on campus, are published in the campus-wide coronavirus update. Once you receive your ISTA email address, you will automatically receive these updates.
    • Good infection control: all public surfaces on campus and on the ISTA shuttle bus are regularly disinfected, especially those that are touched often (door handles, light switches, furniture, elevator buttons, handrails, taps and dispensers, phones, etc.). Perspex screens have also been installed in reception and service areas.
    • Hand washing facilities are available all across campus and hand sanitizer dispensers are situated at major entrances. In the ISTA shuttle bus, a hand sanitizer dispenser can be found at the front of the bus and can be used to disinfect your hands or any surfaces you touch.
    • The office of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) provides support with questions about hygiene and safety on campus, and, in the case of a suspected infection or possible exposure, works together with the Austrian health authorities to do contact tracing.
    • An occupational physician is on campus once per week to support you with your health needs (important: in case of suspected covid-19 infection, please STAY AT HOME and call the Austrian national health hotline at 1450, available 24/7 with English-speaking operators. Please also contact EHS at ISTA).
    • All ISTA employees and visitors are expected to abide by general hygiene and behavior regulations (see below), which are continuously reviewed and adapted if necessary.
  • What are the general hygiene and behavior regulations on campus?

    For a full list of up-to-date hygiene and behavior regulations for on-campus activities please refer to the EHS website.

    In all cases:

    • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
    • Stay at home at the slightest indication of feeling unwell, call the Austrian national health hotline at 1450 for a test, inform EHS at ehs@lists.ist.ac.at, and notify your supervisor.

    The current standard format for all activities is on-campus activities. This may however change to a mix (in-person, online-only, or hybrid) depending on the evolving coronavirus situation in Austria and at the Institute, and instructions will be issued accordingly. However, in all scenarios and wherever possible, we have accommodations in place that allow for remote-only participation.

    The campus and the facilities are open with all services continuing. Please be reminded that the default working mode is presence on Campus. Please coordinate your work place presence and any home office times with your supervisor.
    Please strictly adhere to 3G rule at workplace and come to campus only in case you are vaccinated, recovered or tested negatively.

  • Where can I get up-to-date information about changing regulations?

    ISTA publishes a bi-weekly coronavirus update with information about the developing situation in Austria and at the Institute, as well as the latest hygiene and behavior recommendations on campus. Once you receive your ISTA email address, you will automatically receive these updates.

    In addition, the EHS website provides the full-list of current regulations and recommendations, as well as a history of all updates.

    The Austrian Federal Ministry for Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection provides current coronavirus related information in foreign languages.

    The Vienna-based publication “Metropole” offers a daily update in English on COVID-related news, developments, rules and regulations.

  • What should I do if I feel ill or had contact with a person who is (potentially) infected?
    1. Stay at home
    2. Call 1450 (omitting any area code): the Austrian national health hotline is reachable 24/7 and has operators available in English
    3. Call +43 2243 9000-1087 or -2244: EHS at ISTA

    Environment, Health and Safety (EHS, from inside IST: ext. 1087 or 2244, from outside IST: +43 2243 9000 1087 or +43 2243 9000 2244 or EHS@lists.ist.ac.at) has to be informed immediately in the following cases:

    • A student feels sick with respiratory symptoms or fever, either on or off campus.
    • A student has been in contact with a person who is infected or potentially infected, i.e. is waiting for test results.
    • A student has tested positive for COVID-19.

    In most cases it will be necessary to inform the national health service (24h hotline) for further instructions (call 1450, omitting any area code). English speaking operators are available.

    In case a student is being tested and/or subject to quarantine they must inform EHS who will then inform the Graduate School.

    If a student is being tested and/or tested positive, EHS will initiate contact tracing on campus, which might lead to preventive quarantine for others who were in direct contact.

  • I’m in a high-risk group. Are there measures in place to protect me?

    Individuals with certain underlying health conditions have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Students who think they might belong to a high risk group should contact their physician (or the on-campus occupational physician) and inform EHS (from inside ISTA: ext. 1087 or 2244, from outside ISTA: +43 2243 9000 1087 or +43 2243 9000 2244, or EHS@lists.ist.ac.at) accordingly. Specific measures to protect the student’s health (such as increased home office) may be implemented.

Arrival/Traveling
  • I am unable to travel to Austria for the orientation/ start of the semester. Can I still start my studies?

    Yes, you can attend all courses that are offered in remote or mixed mode. Please inform the Graduate School Office if this is the case and provide us with a valid mobile phone number. IT will then contact you with your ISTA IT credentials and further information on how to access ISTA resources. However please note that we can only start your contract upon your arrival in Austria.

  • At one point I want to travel home to my family. What should I be aware of?

    Travel restrictions apply according to the Austrian foreign ministry. As entry regulations keep changing, please familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations of the country you are traveling to, as well as the entry requirements to Austria shortly before your return.

    The 3G rule – vaccinated – recovered – tested – applies for any person entering Austria. Any person without a 3G certificate must acquire a Pre-Travel-Clearance (PTC) online at https://entry.ptc.gv.at/en before entering Austria and is quarantined by the authorities with an option to test free anytime. Contact EHS if you are planning any business travel or expecting guests from abroad: ehs@lists.ist.ac.at.

    During your first year, please inform Vlad Cozac of any of your out-of-country travel plans in advance.

On Campus: Practical Matters
  • Is it possible to self-quarantine in on-campus accommodation?

    Yes. In the event that self-quarantine is necessary, Campus Services will provide a starter kit with bedsheets and towels, dishes and cutlery, and other essentials so that new tenants do not have to go out and buy these themselves. In addition, Graduate School buddies (student volunteers assigned to each student) can help with organizing grocery or medication deliveries if necessary.

  • Is the ISTA cafeteria open?

    The cafeteria is open. Please adhere to the registration procedures with your ISTA card at its entrance and wear a FFP2 mask if not at your table.

  • Are the sports facilities on campus open?

    The gym is open. It can be used with the following safety protocols:

    • keep a 2m distance at all times
    • maximum 5 persons in the gym at any time
    • required registration at the door.

    You can also use the outdoor gym and sports field (with football/soccer field).

During Orientation
  • Are we allowed to meet people in groups?

    On campus and in any social situation off campus: Yes. However you do need to wear a FFP2 mask in certain settings: (a) health related locations such as doctor’s appointment, pharmacies, hospital, or care homes; (b) kindergarten and schools with kids under the age of 12. In Vienna also when using public transport.

    We ask you to remain cautious despite the relaxation of the rules, especially with regard to particularly vulnerable people. Please keep an eye out for for any special regulation in our regular info mails about events at ISTA s.

  • What help can I expect from my buddy?

    There is a so-called “buddy system” for all incoming students whereby each new student is paired up with one of our current graduate students. Buddies are volunteers who will try their best to help you or point you in the right direction, in case you need help.

    Buddies are a great source of official and unofficial information on campus. They usually are happy to help you get along, answer your practical questions about life in Austria and studies at ISTA. Do not hesitate to turn to them in case you have questions.

Teaching and Classes
  • Will classes be held in-person or online?

    The current regulations still allow course instructors to freely choose the teaching mode from entirely onsite to entirely online teaching, as well as many hybrid modes, for example online lectures and in-class recitations. However, we would like to encourage course instructors to move classes to an online setting, in particular, if a course with a larger number of students is taught.

    For on-site teaching the mandatory 3G rule remains in place, course instructors can check if students comply with the 3G rule any time and FFP2 masks are mandatory.

    Course instructors should maintain attendance lists for in-person classes, in case we need to trace contacts at short notice.

  • Where can I find information about how to join the class online?

    You can find all updated information regarding any class on the Moodle course website.

  • As an instructor (faculty or TA), where can I get information or technical support for remote teaching?

    See Guidelines for Remote Teaching here. Please contact the Graduate School Office in advance for booking the room with proper technical equipment. In case you have questions about using the equipment please contact IT Support.

Research and Rotations
  • Will rotations be held in-person or online?

    This will depend on the field you are working in and on the group leader. It can be in one of the following modes:

    • entirely in-person mode (lab work)
    • in a mixed mode, with some components remote, other in-person
    • entirely online

    It is up to your rotation supervisor to determine what research activities you should handle on campus and what can be done remotely. In any case 3G rule at workplace and FFP2 masks indoors are mandatory.

    When discussing rotation options, please clarify the mode in which the rotation will take place.

    Students rotating with research groups must follow all group and ISTA rules.

  • Is it safe to be in the lab? Are there any restrictions or hygiene recommendations?

    We recommend everyone to adhere strictly to the lab rules. In addition, responsible personnel should make sure a safe distance is maintained whenever possible and masks are worn.

  • As a rotation student, how can I get a good feeling for the research group atmosphere if the rotation is online?

    Do not hesitate to reach out to group members be it students, interns or postdocs. Be proactive, ask questions, interact online as much as possible.

  • How can I find out about which research groups are hosting rotation students?

    First of all, check with research group leader if they have a rotation slot open before registering for rotation. Additional good questions would be whether a research group leader plans to affiliate students this academic year and what would be most important for you to do if you wish to affiliate with the group.

Qualifying Exams and Thesis Defenses
  • Are Qualifying Exams and Thesis Defenses online only or are in-person audiences allowed?

    Qualifying exams and PhD Thesis defenses may be held fully remotely, in a hybrid mode, or fully on campus. During Thesis defense’s public part the audience can join in compliance with 3G rule and wearing a FFP2 mask.

  • How should I collect signatures if the Qualifying Exam or the Thesis Defense is online-only?

    The exam/defense protocol would normally be physically signed and sent to the Graduate School Office; if some committee members participate remotely, electronic signatures are accepted.

Mental Health and Support
  • What support is available to students?

    Our Health Services offer counseling and mental health advice throughout the year. Under COVID restrictions, services and resources will be offered also online.

    Our occupational psychologist is usually on campus for your consultation every second Friday from 9am until 12am.

    An occupational physician (general doctor) is on campus once per week.

    To schedule an appointment with our psychologist, write an email to Samira Baig. For an appointment with our physician please contact Ursula Prandstätter. To explore the range of services available, visit the website of the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) office.

    It is also important to stay informed and connected. ISTA has set up a specific COVID section on the EHS website. As a member of the ISTA community, you have access to a specifically designed mailing list to exchange information about the COVID situation in Austria and at the institute.

    Students can also receive support from our Good Practice Officer (GPO) and from the ISTA Support Group.

    We will continue to update resource pages as new information becomes available.

  • Who is eligible for counselling?

    Students enrolled or soon to be enrolled at ISTA can get in touch with the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) office.

  • Is support from EHS confidential?

    Our Health Services are legally required to uphold professional standards of confidentiality; this means that they cannot release information about the content of your counseling appointments without your written consent.

  • Do I need to pay for these services?

    No fees are charged for our counseling services.

  • What if I need immediate help?

    If you are in an urgent situation, please contact the following 24-Hour off-campus services:

    • The emergency telephone number 142 (Telefonseelsorge) provides 24hrs crisis counselling (in German).  Counselling is also available via mail or chat.
    • Telephone number : (01) – 31330 Psychiatric Immediate Help / Psychiatrische Soforthilfe (in German).

    Life threatening emergencies:  Call 112 (European Emergency Phone Number (EU-wide)).

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