A circular from the Ministry of Higher Education asks universities to prepare for several possible scenarios. This circular envisages the closure and all of the distance learning courses.
Adélaïde is on the terrace in front of the Sorbonne with her comrades. “We are nested like sardines” in the amphitheatres, she laments. “We have pictures of amphis where people are inside and we are all tight”, adds one of his comrades. “Impossible to enter the room to attend the lessons”, adds another. On their phones, the students scroll through photos taken this week in the premises of the university. We see masked students, but clustered at the entrance to the amphitheater. Some are sitting squarely on the floor in the hallway.
Course conditions at the Sorbonne in the middle of a pandemic pic.twitter.com/CBoh1YTG7n
– Axel (@Dina_Morgabiin) September 16, 2020
The start of the academic year has just ended, and a dozen outbreaks of contamination have already been identified on campuses throughout France. In particular, there were contaminations after parties, but also inside the universities. After six months of closure, they must reconcile welcoming students with health requirements. The watchword is that the students return to the amphitheatres. “It does not reassure too much to see so many people agglutinated against each other. Respecting a distance of one meter is not possible”, annoys this student from the Sorbonne.
I have been in courses where teachers ask that one place in two remain empty, but this is not possible for all. There are courses that are very busy. There are some that I could not attend.to franceinfo
Héloïse and Océane are in their third year of a license at the Sorbonne. According to her, the reception of students is not adapted to the health context. “There is no self-service hydroalcoholic gel. Neither at the entrance, nor in the corridors, nor in the toilets”, worries Héloïse. On top of that, not all students respect the mask, adds Océane. “There are many who put it under their chin. Even in the hallways, you can see them without masks.”
Victoria, she is tired of pointing the finger at the irresponsibility of young people. “It is a bit hypocritical to ask us to respect measures, standards and in the meantime, the institution makes it impossible to respect them”, she analyzes. For its part, the management of the Sorbonne ensures that the organization of the faculty will adapt to the evolution of the epidemic.
Other universities have decided to avoid crowded lecture halls at all costs by preparing a hybrid organization during the summer: part of the courses on campus, another part remotely. This is the case of the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. The science campus has 3,800 students. Only half of them are present on the site at the same time.
In computer lessons, for young people in the first year of the license, the amphitheater is sparse. The faculty has decided to favor these new students, those who are new to the university. All their lectures are therefore done on campus, facing the teacher. To respect the distances, everything is duplicated. Instead of a lecture hall of 250 students, there are two lecture halls each with 125 young people.
To get there, we had to make some sacrifices for the other promotions. “We are conditioned by our premises, so this means that in the second year and in the third year of the license, the students have less face-to-face”, explains Christine Greck, director of the science faculty. “For the second and third years, all the lectures are in distance and the tutorials are done in half groups.”
The students come one week face-to-face and the following week, they work independently.to franceinfo
The students are very divided. “Sometimes we don’t see the teacher, we just see a black screen and we can’t concentrate and only listen to the teacher’s voice”, evokes a student. “Mostly, distance lessons are in the morning, so it’s hot. You let yourself go, you wake up two or three minutes before, it’s complicated”, another smiles.
The university has invested in trying to make the process more fluid: 750,000 euros in total investment for cameras to film the lessons, computers for teachers and students. Now, the university is much more prepared than at the start of confinement, according to Abderaouf Ben Ali, an electronics teacher.
In March, there was no teaching tool, it was more tools for doing remote meetings. There, in September, we have two tools specifically to teach a course.to franceinfo
“In March, the students only knew Skype. Now, distance learning devices, they have mastered a few. It’s good, they are prepared.“, adds the teacher.
The latest circular from the ministry asks universities to be ready, with four scenarios that can go as far as total closure and 100% remote. Already in recent days, in Rennes or Montpellier, establishments have had to suspend classes for entire promotions of students, after the discovery of dozens of cases of Covid-19.