In this fifteenth newsletter “Work”, you will find an interview of Nouria Hernandez about the consequences for the UNIL community of the softening of the measures to fight against the coronavirus, as announced by the Federal Council on May 27th.
What do the announcements of the authorities change for the UNIL community?
First of all, it is good news! The campus will be able to reopen more widely. We are not going to return in a few days, or even weeks, to the situation before March 13th, the day the UNIL campus was shut down. We have to be aware of this and accept it. The answer to your question depends on who we're talking about. For students, nothing changes until the beginning of August in any case: the campus remains closed. However, recent decisions by the Federal Council allow us to continue the gradual return of staff on site from Monday 8 June.
What arrangements have been put in place?
Within all the units of the institution, the UNIL Rectorate will ensure the application of the rules for the protection of individuals laid down by the FOPH. For example, the obligation to keep a distance of two metres from each other. Instructions will be posted in the required places. The Decanates and services will receive instructions and tools to put in place the conditions allowing everyone to carry out their activity in compliance with the rules, on site or when working from home. Finally, I remind you that until Friday, June 5, the rules currently in force continue to apply.
What is going to happen on Monday 8 June for employees?
We are going to make sure that each employee can carry out his or her activity on site in compliance with the conditions and measures laid down by the FOPH, or by remote working. Therefore, line managers are responsible for organising, at the level of their units, a gradual return to on-site activities. We will draw inspiration from the partial restart of research, which has been under way since 27 April. Depending on the number of people occupying the premises and the size of the latter, as well as the nature of the professional activities, alternation between working on site and teleworking will be organized. We will experience a hybrid model.
What about people at risk?
UNIL will encourage vulnerable employees to pursue their activities at home. However, if safe sanitary conditions can be guaranteed at their workplace, we will not prevent them from coming either.
Will we still have to follow the current procedure for entering the buildings?
The campus will be "semi-open". The doors will remain closed: access to the buildings for employees will be possible via the Campus Card. The first novelty is that the presence on the site will no longer be controlled by UniSEP. Indeed, there will be enough people in the various buildings to ensure that in the case of an accident, for example, there will be someone to report it. Afterwards, students will be able to access the premises by invitation, for example if they need to contact their Master Director. Finally, people from outside UNIL will be allowed to enter the buildings by appointment. In both cases, staff members will accompany their guests to the meeting rooms.
Will all scientists be able to return to the site on June 8?
Access to the laboratories, which has been re-launched since April 27, will be extended to other work environments, such as offices for example. The good news is that the "field researches", which can take place under conditions that comply with those laid down by the FOPH, will be authorised in Switzerland. On the other hand, "field" abroad will remain prohibited until a new decision by the Federal Council.
Is the campus open to students again?
Unfortunately not, it is not possible for them to return to the site before the beginning of August, in any case, for the start of the second examination session. There are however two exceptions, access to the BCU counters (but not to the reading rooms), which has been possible since May 11th, as well as meeting with a teacher by appointment.
However, there is already a strong demand for the work tables of the Banane...
It should be noted that the measures decided by the Federal Council are then applied by the cantons. To date, we have no directives from our authorities regarding the opening of reading rooms in the cantonal libraries.
What about student services, such as the Career and Guidance Service, the Service for Social Affairs and Student Mobility or the helpdesk?
Services will continue to be provided at a distance, as they are now. The counters will therefore not be open to students.
Now that the Confederation has softened the rules, will the June exams be held in person?
Some will be disappointed, but no. There are no last-minute changes for the June session and the exams will be online only. The arrangements announced by UNIL on 28 April remain in force, as already communicated. It should be understood that we are talking about the organisation of thousands of exams. We cannot change everything so quickly, between 27 May and the beginning of the June session. So much work has gone into the preparations that there is no turning back.
What about August?
Some exams will take place in person. This possibility is already keeping our teams very busy. Due to the application of individual protection measures, especially the two-metre distance required between each person, space management is delicate. For example, this rule reduces the large Erna Hamburger auditorium from 800 to ... 240 people! Our priority remains the same: people must be safe. We don't want the pandemic to start again.
IV. EVENTS, CAFETERIAS AND SPORTS
Can I organize a symposium at UNIL this summer?
No, at least not before the end of August. The UNIL teams who supervise the events already have a lot of work to do, in particular for the reorganization of the auditoriums in special settings for the August exam session and for the preparation of the new academic year in September.
And what about thesis defences?
Private defences will be possible. But this is not the case for public defenses, which are still prohibited. Professional meetings, such as a service session or a laboratory meeting, will also be allowed... always in accordance with the rules.
Where will we be able to eat at Dorigny?
The Unithèque cafeteria already offers employees who come to work on campus the possibility to buy and consume their lunch. However, picnics are not allowed there, to avoid too many people inside the premises. It is also not allowed to use them for studying. The Da Nino restaurant is open to the public. The restaurant is subject to the branch-specific, nationally defined regulations. For other cafeterias, information will be published regularly.
Access to the sports facilities is tempting...
... UNIL or EPFL employees who are already subscribers to the Sports Service can take over some of the activities, in compliance with FOPH rules. The Federal Council has just issued rules concerning sport. Their application on campus will be communicated to university sports subscribers.
V. THE MEASURES
What's going to happen in the next few days?
The situation is changing rapidly. Between the time when the Federal Council announces new measures and their entry into force, there is about a week's delay. This forces us to be agile and to adapt in a climate of uncertainty. While the Rectorate has issued framework conditions, the implementation of the May 27 measures will pass through the hierarchies of the Decanates and services. They will receive instructions next week, with a request to provide their staff with initial information by June 5.
VI. PRELIMINARY CONCLUSIONS
Do you have a message for the UNIL community?
I wish the students good luck for their exams. Their working conditions, like those of the employees, have not been easy. I would like to underline the enormous amount of work that this complicated period has imposed on the administrative units. Sometimes you get irritated when you don't get answers as quickly as you would like, or when things don't get sorted out as quickly as you had hoped. But everyone in the UNIL community has to realize that there are people who have been on deck for two and a half months now, without a moment to breathe, which sometimes brings them to the limit of exhaustion. So I ask for your understanding.
More broadly, we have just gone through more than eight very difficult weeks. But thanks to the measures taken by our authorities, we have managed to avoid the tragedy of hospitals being flooded by sick people. This is a huge victory for our country and our society, of which we can be proud. This success is also due to the people who stayed home, sometimes feeling that they did not contribute.
Today, we must avoid a second wave of the epidemic, which would be catastrophic for many reasons. I will cite just one: the damage that a new lockdown would do to our mental state. We are all a little fed up, but that does not in any way exempt us from continuing to behave responsibly. As I've been saying for more than eight weeks now, solidarity means avoiding getting infected, to avoid infecting others.
For daily information on restaurants: unil.ch/restos.