On-campus presence limited to that which is essential

On Wednesday 28 October, the Federal Council announced the new measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. What will be the main impacts for the UNIL community? The point with Rector Nouria Hernandez.

Nouria Hernandez. F. Imhof © UNIL

What can be said about the current situation and these new measures issued by the Confederation for an indefinite period of time?     

Nouria Hernandez : We are very clearly in the second wave of new SARS-CoV-2 infections. We are once again in a crisis situation. The Federal Council is trying to contain and control the disease, while at the same time ensuring that the country functions as well as possible. For the University of Lausanne, this has severe consequences, but for the time being less brutal than the semi-confinement we experienced in March and April during the first wave. In particular, the campus will remain accessible as much as necessary, on the condition that the rules of hygiene and distance are strictly respected.

For the University of Lausanne, the most significant impact of the new measures is the switch to 100% distance learning from Monday 2 November. In concrete terms, how will this happen?

Distance learning was already in place for a large part of the courses, in addition to the courses given in comodal mode (editor’s note: face-to-face and also streaming of the course for the students who remained at a distance). This new measure now applies to all courses, including those with small numbers of students. However, we are asking teachers to continue to give their courses from auditoriums that have all the recording systems in place to ensure that the courses are of good quality. I know it will not be easy to talk to empty seats, but it will allow for a much higher quality recording than last spring for students. All of this means that the student token system is suspended for the time being.

Are there any exceptions for distance education?

Yes, these exceptions concern all practical work for which students must use particular structures, such as laboratories, and which are considered essential for learning. Thesis defences, limited to 10 people, are still allowed in the presence of a supervisor. Finally, students who wish to meet their professor for their dissertation work, for example, may also do so.

What support is available to students for the transition to all their online courses?

As in the spring of 2020, they can turn to the helpdesk for the loan of computer equipment and in the event of technical problems. In addition, social, guidance and student support services continue to operate.

What about the libraries?

The university libraries remain open, with a limited number of people. In addition, research activities continue with all possible safety measures, i.e. distance, wearing masks and, if necessary, a rotation to ensure that the number of people present in the laboratories and other premises is regulated.

You mentioned above a « campus accessible as much as necessary ». On a practical level, how will it be possible to enter the buildings from 2 November? 

This is a relaxation compared to what we had to put in place during the crisis period of March and April 2020: people with a Campus Card will be able to access the different buildings. The campus is not closed. However, we would like to have as few people as possible on the campus. We therefore ask people to come to the campus only if necessary, and of course by continuing to apply very strictly the rules of social distance, hygiene, and quarantine in case of symptoms, as well as the wearing of masks in and around the buildings. This is why teleworking is recommended.

What is your message for the UNIL community in these uncertain times?

We are trying to adapt ourselves day by day. The information given today can quickly change according to the evolution of the situation, and according to the decisions of the Confederation and the Canton of Vaud.

We are all tired, but it is once again time to pull together and show more solidarity than ever before. Not only in our work or studies, but also in our behaviour. As I have often said, solidarity means avoiding getting infected so as not to infect others. Furthermore, I would like to thank the UNIL community for its exemplary sense of responsibility. The vast majority of members apply the instructions and guidelines. And this is encouraging.

New measures, what is changing at UNIL? Summary

Distance learning :

  • All courses, large and small, will be given online from 2 November.
  • The token system is suspended.
  • Exceptions are provided for in the Ordinance promulgated by the Federal Council, Article 6d, paragraph 1, letter b, for courses that require the use of campus infrastructure, such as certain practical laboratory work.
  • Continuation of the recording of planned courses in rooms equipped for type A and B live recording and broadcasting: teachers are requested to continue to teach these courses from these rooms. Teachers who for special reasons would like to broadcast their lessons from another location are requested to ask for permission from their Dean or the Management of their school.

Help for students : The helpdesk is at your disposal for any technical problems and for the loan of computer equipment.

In addition, the social, guidance and student support services continue to operate.

Website of the Social Affairs and Student Mobility Service (SASME)

Website of the Guidance and Careers Service (SOC)

Website of the Registration and Enrolment Service

Wearing of the mask is compulsory in the buildings as well as on the outside of the buildings. Hand hygiene and distance rules must always be applied.

Access to campus buildings : Opening of the buildings only with the Campus Card, for any member of the UNIL community.

Teleworking recommended for administrative and technical staff : If the activity allows it and if coordination can be ensured, teleworking is recommended and possible up to 100%.

Defense of theses : They are authorised in the presence of up to 10 people. The co-modal formula is also authorised to allow the participation of additional people at a distance, if desired.

The libraries remain open: A maximum number of people can be present. Wearing a mask is compulsory. All BCU information here.

Catering service: Cafeterias are subject to the same conditions as all restaurants, i.e. four people per table, wearing of the mask while on the move, tracking with the Social Pass smartphone application.

Sports: Sports activities that do not involve physical contact, carried out individually and in groups of no more than 5 people are allowed outdoors, with mask or respecting the required distance.