Below you will find a Q&A-type overview of the measures in place at the Brussels School of Governance with respect to teaching in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. These measures are in line with the latest instructions issued by the Belgian government and are also applicable to the Fall 2021 Semester. This overview has last been updated on 20 August 2021 and is subject to changes if the Belgian authorities update their instructions.
As a general introduction, please note that during the stages of the pandemic that were characterised by a government ban on classroom teaching, we have moved our teaching from the classroom to entirely online, and our students have been able to continue to benefit from an excellent learning environment, facilitated by trained teachers and a solid learning platform managed by our dedicated Office for Teaching and Learning Innovation. We have continuously fine-tuned our online education infrastructure and services, so that students can flexibly – and safely – get the most out of their study experience at our School (including a vivid online student community!).
For the 2021-22 academic year, considering the vigilant actions by the federal, regional and local governments in Belgium, including a vaccination plan that is in full swing, we are currently in the scenario of Code Green (i.e. use of full classroom capacity) with the use of face masks in certain circumstances. In particular, we require our students to wear face masks at all times inside our building. If that scenario remains in place, we will be able to welcome our students in our classrooms next Fall for a largely on-site, Brussels experience. We are, however, also fully prepared for other options, should the circumstances so require.
For further details about any of the information below, please check this page that is continuously updated by the Belgian authorities: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/faq/
If you are an applicant to one of our programmes and have any questions about your individual situation, please reach out to us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there any requirement for students/faculty to show proof of negative COVID test before departure to Belgium?
Yes. The proof to be shown depends on the area you are travelling from and may be either a vaccination certificate, a recovery certificate, or a test certificate. For more information please visit https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/faq/.
In addition, It is mandatory to complete the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) 48 hours prior to your arrival in Belgium at the earliest, regardless of country of origin and means of transportation. Compliance will be strictly monitored at border crossings by both carriers and the Belgian government.
I need a student visa for Belgium, should I start/continue with the visa process?
Yes. If you already confirmed your enrolment by submitting your initial tuition payment, you should have already received your visa letter. If you have not started your visa process yet, we advise that you do so immediately to avoid any potential delays at your local Belgian consulate. If you have not confirmed your enrolment, we recommend you complete this step immediately, in order to avoid the risk of late visa issuance as much as possible. If you have any questions about this, please contact our Admissions team.
Should I make accommodation arrangements in Brussels?
Yes. Since the plan is to welcome all our students in Brussels for a largely on-campus study experience, you should therefore start making your accommodation arrangements, if you have not done so yet. All students are responsible for making their own accommodation arrangements. While this may sound somewhat overwhelming, in our campus area you will find plenty of options whether they are private apartments or student residences. In Belgium, student rooms (called kot here) are individual and may or may not have a private bathroom and kitchenette. Other amenities such as gym, study rooms, laundry room, etc. depend on the residence of choice.
When I arrive in Belgium as a non-resident, are there any requirements to quarantine and/or take a test upon arrival?
This depends on the location you are travelling from. When coming from a green or orange zone, quarantine and testing are no longer required. Travellers coming from a red zone in the EU or from a red code non-EU white list country, do not need to quarantine or get tested if they have a valid vaccination or recovery certificate, or if they can procduce a negative PCR test taken maximum 72h before arrival in Belgium. For travellers from a red zone outside the EU, from a very high-risk country inside or outside the EU or Schengen area, other requirements apply. Overview of the Belgian authorities’ colour codes by country / region.
How will classes be organised (in-person, hybrid, remote)?
We are planning for the scenario that we will be able to welcome our students in our classrooms next Fall for a largely on-site, Brussels experience. If the situation continues to develop in the same manner as the last few weeks, we will be moving back to campus for as many courses as possible. All BA and MA mandatory courses will be offered in the classrooms (with very limited exceptions), and if there are no social distancing requirements in place anymore, so will be (almost) all of the elective courses.
We will at the same time prepare our classrooms for hybrid teaching, so that those of you who might only be able to join in person later (due to visa issues etc.) can follow the courses online. If you are in Brussels, we would, however, like to stress that we deem physical presence is preferred. In the case where a specific condition presents itself that does not allow you to follow in person classes for the full semester, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.
Of course, if there are major changes in the governmental guidelines, this may need to be revisited. We will provide the latest updates on this page and on our social media and will inform our applicants about them.
If a switch to remote or hybrid education would be needed, how would that work?
- Remote: all classes would be conducted via live streaming and recorded as well. These livestreamed classes would take place at the times indicated in the course schedule. We guarantee that in this remote scenario, all courses would continue in any event.
- Hybrid: we expand the capacity of our classrooms to allow students to come to campus. In the hybrid scenario, courses would be taking place in the classroom, and also be livestreamed synchronously to students at home with technological aides provided, so that these students can then actively participate. Courses would also be recorded.
In both the remote and hybrid scenarios, course recordings would be made available for two weeks after the session.
Will there be any limitations on class-related activities – e.g. local site visits, excursions outside host city?
Depending on governmental guidelines, any class-related activities that involve the use of the public domain will be assessed beforehand on their compatibility with the government regulations applicable at the time of the activity.
What are the limitations relating to social activities outside of the classroom?
Students are expected to follow the same measures that are applicable to the rest of the population, e.g. respect the maximum number of people to gather at once inside and outside, respect sanitary precautions, follow procedures in case of (contact with someone who tested) COVID-positive. At this moment, 10 people are allowed to meet outdoors. Overview of current guidelines relating to social contact.
How will exams and internships take place?
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, exams were all conducted online since some of our students have moved back to their country of origin. For Fall 2021, we may continue with this arrangement. Internships’ mode rests with the internship provider in collaboration with our internship coordinator.
What are the requirements regarding the wearing of face masks?
On 9 June 2021, the obligation to wear a face mask in all public areas in the Brussels Capital Region as well as on campus was lifted, as a result of the improving epidemiologic situation in Belgium. Each commune in Brussels has, however, the possibility to indicate certain zones in which wearing a face mask that covers nose and mouth is still mandatory. This will be the case e.g. in busy shopping streets. On public transport, too, a face mask remains obligatory.
How often are facilities and classrooms cleaned?
We guarantee a daily cleaning of our facilities and classrooms.
Have class schedules been altered to limit the number of people in buildings?
Class schedules have been adapted to ensure ventilation between the different courses. Some classes have also been moved to an online setting (in line with governmental guidelines).
Have there been changes to the maximum number of students in class, or the configuration of classroom space (desks, etc.)?
Yes, some tables and chairs have been removed to ensure proper distancing. Smaller classrooms are not in use at the moment and other classrooms have been merged to provide ample space.
How are facilities being managed to limit exposure?
We have a system of online registration of presence in place, disinfectant gel is available, windows remain open, tables are cleaned after each class, and face masks are mandatory. Signage is in place to alert people about where they can and cannot sit, which walking direction to take, etc.
If a student were to experience symptoms of COVID, what would they be expected to do?
If a student were to test positive for COVID, what would be the next steps for them?
If you test positive, you must stay at least 10 days in self-isolation and avoid contact with people who live in your house. The persons living in the same house have to stay in quarantine. A government employee will call you to ask a couple of questions as part of the contact-tracing system that is in place. When in quarantine, people are allowed to go to the supermarket/doctor/pharmacy.
How will fellow students be notified of positive cases and potential exposure?
In case of a positive case in our student group, we will issue an official communication about this to all potentially exposed students via email. In this e-mail, we will make sure at all times that the privacy of the COVID infected student is respected.
What is the plan for academic continuity if there is a COVID outbreak in the student community, or in the local community?
Students infected with COVID stay home until they test negative. Courses continue. Through the system of course recordings explained above, they can continue to follow the courses.
Does the BSoG offer any kind of COVID testing to its students?
The BSoG does not have any separate test centre or testing policy. The same goes for its affiliated university VUB. In Belgium, tests are only offered to people showing symptoms in the designated local test centres but can also be taken at a small fee if you plan to travel. Of course, in the event of one of our students suspecting to be infected, our Student Services team will provide all necessary guidance about which measures to take and where to go to take a test.
What is the current cost of a COVID test in Belgium?
Between 45 EUR and 70 EUR, if payment is required.
What is the turn-around time for test results?
In normal circumstances, this turn-around time is 24/48 hours.
As a foreigner, can I get vaccinated in Belgium?
Yes. Non-Belgians who stay in Belgium for more than 3 months can be vaccinated in Belgium if they register at the town hall of their temporary residence for a domicile, reference or residence address, or receive a BIS number. A BIS number is a unique identification number for persons who are not registered in the National Register, but who nevertheless have a relationship with the Belgian authorities. The vaccines administered in Belgium, are the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson. More here: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/vaccination/#faq
What is the state of Belgium's vaccination programme?
On 20 August 2021, approx. 72% of the Belgian population was at least partly vaccinated and 67% fully vaccinated (see here for latest figures). At that time, with 134.63 doses administered per 100 population, Belgium held the #4 position of all European countries (see here for latest figures).