Wednesday, January 27

Health crisis: for universities, a return to normal in February


This is the promise of a “hang up” with studies for a good number of young people. “Universities will be able to resume classes, with a physical presence of all students, two weeks after January 20, 2021”, that is to say at the beginning of February, provided that the number of contaminations by SARS-CoV-2 remains under the bar of 5,000 per day, announced the President of the Republic, Tuesday, November 24. The deadline for high school students has been set “Around January 20” by Emmanuel Macron. No change, at this stage, in the organization and health protocol in schools and colleges.

Since the start of this second confinement, on October 30, the teaching at the university has gone 100% by distance, whether it be lectures or tutorials, with the exception of practical work and vocational education requiring specialized equipment. As of October 6, the presence of students on campuses had been limited to 50% of reception capacities in regions where the virus was circulating strongly. A situation often badly lived, with a feeling of loneliness and a difficulty to “hang on” for the newcomers in higher education.

Treatment difference

In the university community, this situation raises questions. “Shops reopen on Saturday, restaurants and sports clubs on January 20, but we won’t be able to bring students back to universities until the beginning of February? What logic? “, reacted on Twitter Marc Mézard, director of the Ecole normale supérieure-université Paris Sciences et Lettres. “We are desperate to see the university so despised. Why would they be the last to welcome the public again? Is this really where the greatest health risk is? “, asks Julie Groffe-Charrier, lecturer in private law at the University of Paris-Saclay. “It is absolutely necessary that we find the students and that we resume contact with them, even in degraded mode and in half-gauge”, supports Anne Roger, co-secretary general of the Snesup-FSU union.

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Especially since the high school students will return to their full classes from mid-January: their establishments may, at that time, be “Fully open, with all the students”, indicated the head of state, Tuesday evening, without delivering elements explaining this difference of treatment. “No doubt the government considered that universities generate significant travel and greater concentrations than high schools? “, calculates François Germinet, president of the University of Cergy-Pontoise. Since the start of the school year, the number of clusters in schools and universities has been observed closely.

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