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New pandemic mitigation measures in Portugal

In light of the Resolution of the Council of Ministers no. 92-A/2020 dated the 2nd of November [full text in Portuguese] and the statement released by the Office of the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education [full text in Portuguese], the U.Porto COVID-19 Task Force would like to highlight the following:

1. Students, teaching staff, researchers and employees of the University of Porto are not subject to travel restrictions when travelling to their place of work or study.

2. No changes will need to be made to any of the face-to-face lessons or assessments that have been scheduled for the academic year. These activities were arranged in accordance with the health safety standards currently in place (these have not changed).

3. Work meetings or academic, scientific or cultural events can go ahead as planned, subject to strict compliance with the standards and recommendations outlined by the health authorities. Given that remote work has been made mandatory, however, some of these events may take place virtually.

4. Open spaces will be closely monitored, especially corridors, canteens and food halls, as well as common areas in student residences. This supervision is due to the increased risk of infection in groups of people in enclosed spaces. University related parties, celebrations and recreational activities remain forbidden, in addition to events other than those mentioned in point 4 involving more than 5 participants (excepting where all participants are from the same household).

5. Remote work is mandatory for all activities that can be performed outside the workplace and through the use of information and communication technologies. The following is considered incompatible with remote work:

  • In-person classes and assessments and support for these activities;
  • Work that must be conducted on site, for instance the helpdesk and essential services;
  • Technical and administrative support for executive staff and employees working on site, unless specified otherwise by the most senior manager of the respective department;
  • All duties needed to ensure that services function as normal and that essential duties and responsibilities are met, such as processing the payment of workers, fulfilling financial obligations, IT assistance and maintenance, laboratory assistance and other forms of support essential to workers who are working remotely;
  • Work that requires the consultation of databases or other applications considered sensitive and that should not and can not be accessed remotely, or the consultation, analysis or treatment of restricted or confidential information, in cases where this would be considered a violation of security rules by the director of the institution.

6. As is already common practice at U.Porto, workers may only be granted “at-risk status” by occupational health services. In the case of a COVID-19 diagnosis, the public health authorities will implement the measures to be followed by U.Porto students and employees.

7. Students who are self-isolating (after testing positive for COVID-19 or having come in contact with someone who has tested positive), are eligible to access classes through remote digital channels, wherever possible, without prejudice to their assessments.

Lastly, it should be noted that the available data on COVID-19 within the U.Porto academic community have shown that the measures taken to reduce the risk of infection in the educational and work settings have proved highly effective. It is therefore necessary that these measures continue to be strictly adhered to, by both the institution and the individual. In particular, any student or employee that displays even mild symptoms that may be caused by COVID-19 must not travel to U.Porto and must contact the SNS24 helpline. Additionally, the StayAway COVID application is strongly recommended: the app is a completely anonymous and effective automatic contact tracing tool that alerts the user to their risk of infection.

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