Coronavirus: Information on the crisis management team

The crisis management team is the official coordination and decision-making body in crisis situations. Its composition and responsibilities are regulated in the official crisis manual of the University (PDF presentation, in German). It also contains the basic principles for alerting procedure, the use of space, and the use of technical infrastructure.

The following people are the current members of the crisis management team:

  • Rector Christian Leumann
  • Director of Administration Markus Brönnimann
  • Vice-Rector for Teaching Fritz Sager
  • Vice-Rector for Research Hugues Abriel
  • Secretary General Christoph Pappa
  • Head of Communication & Marketing Christian Degen
  • Head of Risk Management Unit Urs Zehnder
  • Head of Facility Management Erich Zahnd
  • Head of IT Services Cord-Ulrich Fündeling
  • Head of Human Resources Barbara Engel

At the beginning of the pandemic, the crisis management team met three times a week, first in the crisis room at UniH6 and from the third week onwards via MS Teams, and has now reduced the meetings to once a week, Thursday, due to the stabilisation of the situation.

A crisis is an imminent or event which has already occurred that disrupts, or even makes impossible, the ability to make decisions in everyday life.

Among other things, the event can also be characterized by escalation and intense attention from outside. Significant interests, a good reputation, or even existence are at stake.

The seriousness of the situation requires the definition of guidelines for how to act, as well as rapid, forward thinking and solution-oriented decision making.

In connection with the Covid-19 pandemic, the crisis management team has drawn up a master plan. It is based on the following general principles and guidelines.

General principles and guidelines

  1. The health of all people has the highest priority.
  2. The decisions of the Federal Council and the Canton of Bern provide the guiding principles.
  3. No student should lose a semester or a year because of the Coronavirus.
  4. Exit is not simply the inverse of the transition to emergency operation, but is an independent process. Whenever possible, once the easing of restrictions or simplifications have been made, they must then also be scaled back again afterwards.
  5. Experimental research should be able to be resumed as quickly as possible and on a permanent basis.
  6. Economic harm to service providers should be minimised.
  7. The University of Bern's protection concept is the foundation for the university units' ability to resume their activities in the university's premises and facilities. It shall be adapted to the current situation.

The crisis management team roughly plans according to three scenarios. These do not indicate anything about the likelihood of occurrence, but refer to possible constellations that would, in principle, be conceivable based on current conditions.

In its decisions, the crisis management team is by no means independent. Rather, it must react to developments and specifications which often come with short notice, and must implement them in the best possible way in the interests of the university.

Description of the scenarios

The situation in Switzerland continues to develop positively. The gradual easing of restrictions until 7 June can be implemented without further restrictions. Rules of distancing and conduct remain in place and will be observed. Accordingly, the number of new infections continues to decline. Even though no vaccine is in sight for the time being, further significant easing of restrictions can be announced from 8 June to the end of July. From August onwards, a «new normal situation» will settle in (as COVID-19 will still remain a threat). This continues to mean requirements in regards to

  • Rules of conduct and hygiene
  • Events
  • Mobility
  • Mask obligation

«Recurring Waves» is a scenario in which the so-called R-value, i.e. the average number of people infected by a person infected with coronavirus, changes so unfavourably in Switzerland that the Confederation reacts again with a partial lockdown.

A «chronic smouldering fire» is understood to be a scenario in which, for many months or years, the threat of SARS-CoV-2 persists in the population and remains so significant that «normality» in the formerly experienced sense is not possible. This could happen, for example, when no vaccination is in sight, or when, analogous to other viral diseases (Hep C, HIV), no immunity or only partial immunity can be acquired or induced and no effective drugs are available.