Archive of messages addressed to the university community


June 10, 2020

Message addressed to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

There has recently been an increasing number of statements, press releases, and other messages regarding the organization of the second exam session. There is a clear and quite understandable demand to return to our classrooms. Still, the University's decision remains to organize the second exam period without any physical presence on our premises. This choice is purely pragmatic. The evolution of the epidemic is currently positive, but no certainty exists as to the sanitary constraints that will be in effect in August. The experts of the GEES are cautious on this matter. At most, they suggest a slight alleviation of constraints which - it should be remembered - only allow us to occupy one spot out of 8 or 9 in our auditoriums, not to mention the constraints of disinfection and respect of social distancing when entering and leaving. Under these conditions, setting up a timetable and reserving sufficient space for over 3,700 exams is a logistical headache. A hybrid solution in which s  ome exams would be face-to-face and others at a distance would partially reduce the problem but would create other complications, if only because of the delicate choice of which examinations would or would not be held face-to-face.

The real challenge is the organization of the 2020-2021 year for which our students must return to our campuses. It will not be enough to hope or ask; we must act to make it possible. The University of Liège is developing a capacity for testing in very large numbers, which will allow regular monitoring of the epidemiological situation and thus enable required health measures to be applied only when and where they are necessary. Taking full advantage of this testing capacity also implies a discussion with the regional and federal authorities to ensure that this testing is integrated into pandemic management policies. All this work is underway. We intend to be ready by 14 September.

Sincerely,

Pierre Wolper

Rector


June 5, 2020

Message addressed to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

The National Security Council has announced the third phase of the exit from lockdown that will take place on Monday, June 8.

Given this, the University of Liège has decided to re-evaluate the provisions concerning telework and face-to-face meetings. These measures are intended exclusively for the University staff and do not apply to students.

Since the beginning of confinement, telework has been the rule. A voluntary and partial return, limited to two half-days per week, was allowed as of May 11. Today, while telework whenever possible is still advised by the National Security Council, it is no longer the default rule. Starting Monday, June 8, the limit of two half days of on-site work no longer applies and working on site is encouraged. Resuming on site work must be done in coordination with your supervisor and the essential safety rules must be obeyed:

  • social distancing or masks;
  • hand hygiene;
  • if suspected covid-19 symptoms should appear: confine, consult and be tested;
  • be cooperative with the tracing process and ensure that the necessary information is available if needed.

A full reminder of the safety rules is available at https://my.news-agendas.uliege.be/cms/c_11752140/fr/deconfinement-masques-et-hygiene-des-mains.

Along the same lines, in-person meetings may again be organized while taking into account the necessary safety requirements. In practice, this means that the participants will be limited according to the capacity of the room (1,5 meters between participants). If arrangements can be made to ensure sufficient physical distancing during the meeting, masks are not mandatory.

We will inform you in the near future about the dispositions that apply to the organization of conferences, symposia, and scientific events.

We are counting on your support to help ensure that the gradual return to a near-normal situation can go forward under the best possible conditions.

 

Pierre Wolper

Rector

Jean Winand

First Vice-Rector

Laurent Despy

Administrator


May 30, 2020

Message addressed to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

The COVID-19 crisis has reached a new turning point. The exit from lockdown is accelerating, and the epidemiological numbers are good. Is this the end of the crisis? We can hope it is, but certainly not take it for granted, all the more so since, while our short-term visibility is fine, our long-term view remains very blurred. It is somewhat like the weather. Forecasts for the next few days are quite reliable, for the next two weeks they can still be useful, beyond that they are essentially random.

In early March, we saw the Coronavirus storm rising with just a few days’ notice and we rushed to take shelter, switching to distance learning and telework. Fair weather, both epidemiological and meteorological, is now back – some people actually believe there might be a link between the two – and it looks that going out without too much risk is again possible. Really?

There's a big difference between how the weather changes and how the pandemic evolves: the latter depends directly on our behavior. Going out in shorts doesn't make it rain, but going out without a mask can restart the transmission of the virus. What's more, our personal actions impact not only ourselves but also others. Getting caught in a sudden downpour without an umbrella doesn't make anyone else wet, but going out sick and without a mask can lead to infecting many.

We must thus remain cautious. We will be moving towards more on-site work, but we will keep sticking to safety rules, which will be gradually fine-tuned to take into account our knowledge of the actual risks. The central element to always keep in mind is that seeing the situation evolve favorably and harmoniously depends heavily on everyone’s sense of responsibility and on the mutual trust that will be built up.

Medium and long-term issues are more complex. How will we be operating when all activities resume after the summer? Will there be a second wave? Asking this last question is somewhat like asking whether September will be sunny or rainy. Our forecasting tools for COVID-19 are no much better than those we have for the weather, except that we can take action about COVID-19. In March, we did so in a harsh way. However, today, we have other less radical options available to us:  monitoring, detecting, and acting in a more fine-tuned way. Monitoring means testing and tracing contacts, detecting amounts to analyzing the data with the help of models, and acting in a fine-tuned way involves restricting contacts and increasing health precautions for a limited group of people.

This analysis lets us develop a view of what the autumn term could be like. First of all, we start from the premise that face-to-face contact is essential for our students as well as for our staff and that, if being in presence is subject to too many constraints, it will be very hard to organize and will not fulfill its role of allowing social contacts. Next, we rely on everyone's sense of responsibility and the resulting mutual trust to overcome the still very present fears. Finally, we plan to have the capacity to organize systematic testing of all staff and students and, thus, detect any re-emergence of the epidemic and take appropriate measures to prevent it from spreading.

Under these conditions, the next academic year could very well start and proceed under close-to-normal conditions. Of course, we must be prepared to react and temporarily switch back to some distance learning and teleworking, but we have learned a lot in recent months about how to do this.

This view is somewhat optimistic but not unrealistic. Of course, we do not operate in isolation: what we will be able to do will depend on the general epidemiological situation. The comparison with the weather suffers from the fact that our individual behavior does not influence the latter. But if we shift our attention from the weather to the climate, the similarity is much stronger. We can view the COVID-19 crisis as an accelerated global repetition of the climate change crisis. May we fully use this learning opportunity and draw the necessary conclusions.

Pierre Wolper

Rector


May 20, 2020

Message addressed to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

The University is carrying on with its gradual exit from lockdown, new provisions being in force  from Monday 25 May. The objective remains to restore the University's activities progressively. Of course, we would all like to proceed more swiftly, but it is essential to avoid going too fast, which could compel us to move back. This note attempts to outline both a short- and a medium-term perspective.

Except for the measures described below, previously decided provisions remain in force until further notice. For additional information on controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, a best practice guide is available to the academic community.

Short-term perspectives

  • Access to libraries

As previously announced, the book loan service is available to staff and students as of 18 May. For more information: https://lib.uliege.be/fr/coronavirus.

Working in libraries and reading rooms is still not allowed at this stage of the exit process. The situation will be assessed regularly, taking into account the evolution of the health crisis. Reopening sometime in June could be considered.

  • Access to laboratories

Activities carried out in laboratories are subject to the same rules as those set out for work on site. It is the laboratory managers' responsibility to establish the schedule for on-site work and to  ensure that physical distance rules are applied.

Students' presence in the laboratories can be allowed from Monday 25 May, subject to the agreement of the laboratory manager. This access is restricted to master students working on their  degree thesis.

  • Fieldwork and observations

Field activities are allowed for staff and students, within what is allowed by distancing and sanitary rules. They are subject to the prior agreement of the group or department head. For activities taking place abroad, see below.

  • Traveling abroad

Staff members are allowed to travel abroad for scientific missions, provided their travel plan is submitted in the MODUS application and granted approval.

It is up to the staff members to ensure the feasibility of their travel plans in the context of the health crisis (possibility of crossing border, availability of means of transport, quarantine periods being imposed, etc.). The website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides useful information on the regulations adopted by each country. 

Students' travel authorization is subject to their academic supervisor’s approval  and his/her obtaining approval of the proposed travel plan through the MODUS procedure.

For any questions relating to insurance cover and the health situation in the visited country, contact the legal department (Ms. Carine Speetjens - (Carine.Speetjens@uliege.be).

  • Access to university museums

As a result of the decisions taken by the federal authorities, the Maison de la Science and the Aquarium Museum are preparing to reopen on Tuesday 26 May. Visiting conditions will comply with health regulations (signposting, limited entry, remote ticketing, etc.).

The precise details will be available on the Maison de la Science website.

Medium-term prospects

  • Activities taking place during the summer

During the summer, the University traditionally organizes (or hosts) various activities, including preparatory courses.

This type of activity should be maintained. The practical arrangements for their organization will depend on the evolution of the health situation.

  • Second-session examinations

How the second session exams are organized will depend on the experience learned from the first session and the evolution of sanitary conditions.

We are counting on your support to help ensure that these instructions are respected in order for the lockdown exit process to go forward in the best possible conditions.

Sincerely,

Pierre Wolper
Rector

Jean Winand
First Vice-Rector

Laurent Despy
Director


May 08, 2020

Message addressed to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

Since May 4, the University has started its move towards exiting from lockdown.
We can now move to a second phase with a loosening of some constraints, as detailed below.

A GRADUAL RETURN TO THE WORKPLACE

Telework remains the rule. However, to help employees gradually regain contact with their workplace and allow getting back to tasks that were left pending, limited on-site presence (two half-days per week) may be organized, on a voluntary basis, along lines and starting on a date from May 11 onwards to be agreed with your supervisor.

This return to work is subject to strict compliance with the following conditions:

  • All individual and collective protective measures remain in effect (hydroalcoholic gel, masks, social distancing):
    • Wearing a mask is mandatory when in the presence of other people, whether in the same room or in shared spaces (corridors, stairs, lifts, etc.).
    • A first delivery of disposable masks and small hydroalcoholic gel bottles has already been made; other deliveries are in progress. Distribution arrangements are on the responsibility of the building's administrative director (or their delegates): https://www.ulg.ac.be/cms/c_21822/fr/directeurs-administratifs-des-batiments
  • Supervisors will define their staff's schedule on the premises to ensure sufficient social distancing. As far as possible, it is recommended to limit presence to one employee per office at any time.
  • Any specific questions and problems concerning returning to the workplace should be addressed directly to your supervisor.
  • In presence meetings, as well as breaks or meals taken together, are prohibited.
  • If a staff member develops symptoms, however mild, but potentially caused by the coronavirus, it is imperative that they stay at (or immediately return) home and contact their physician.

ACCESS TO LIBRARIES

As of 18 May, the book loan service will once again be available to staff and students.

  • This loan service will only be possible through a prior reservation, by appointment, and at a limited number of access points.
  • The time spent on the premises is strictly limited to the time necessary for the collection and/or return of the loan. Wearing a mask is mandatory for visitors, staff, and students.
  • Detailed information concerning terms and conditions for loans can be found here: https://lib.uliege.be/fr/coronavirus
  • Working in libraries or reading rooms is strictly forbidden.

Except for what is described above, the rules previously decided upon remain in force until further notice; partial resumption of activities on the University premises does not apply to students.

For further information, a guide to good practice for fighting the spread of COVID19 at work is available to the entire University community: https://my.news-agendas.uliege.be/cms/c_11752140/fr/deconfinement-masques-et-hygiene-des-mains.

It is our collective and individual duty to ensure that these guidelines are respected so that this new phase of the exit strategy can be carried out under the best possible conditions.

Yours sincerely,

Pierre Wolper
Rector

Jean Winand
First Vice-Rector

Laurent Despy
Director


April 30, 2020

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, and Laurent Despy, Administrator,

to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

The National Security Council decided to the first phase of the Belgian lockdown exit plan start on Monday May 4th. Given the high stakes involved, this delicate process must be carried out with caution and rigor. The University is fully aware of this and will make sure to carry out the process gradually. How the situation evolves will be monitored very closely by the University authorities. You will be kept informed regularly.

It is obvious that this new phase in managing the crisis raises many new questions. Faced with this complex situation, the University has established, as of Monday, May 4th, the following rules.

Telecommuting

The protective measures in place since mid-March remain in force, which means that telework remains the rule. It should therefore be continued whenever possible.

Employees for whom telework is not an option may be invited by their supervisor to gradually return to their place of work, provided that all the conditions for health security are met.

Opening of and access to buildings

The majority of the University buildings have remained open with limited access and access controls. This situation will be unchanged until further notice. Any specific request to open a building should be addressed to the PCA and the building's administrative director (for a list see https://www.ulg.ac.be/cms/c_21822/fr/directeurs-administratifs-des-batiments).

Any presence at work must be agreed beforehand with your supervisor who will establish an occupation plan allowing for social distance rules to be followed and will share this information with the administrative director of the building. Any specific questions and problems with respect to reintegrating the workspace should be addressed directly to your supervisor.

Meetings in presence, as well as breaks or meals taken together are prohibited. Everyone must bring with them the drinks and food they will need during their presence on the premises.

Compliance with strict hygiene rules already contributes to limit the spread of the virus. Thus, social distancing and regular washing of hands with soap and water are basic precautions. To allow people on site to follow these recommendations, our technical teams will make sure that the buildings are ready for gradually resuming work on all of the University's sites from this Monday. The company ISS will resume cleaning all buildings with a thorough cleaning of the restrooms and disinfection of handles, taps, main doors, reception counters, etc. Also, all buildings will be supplied with soaps, toilet paper and paper towels.

Individual protective equipment

Disposable facemasks and small bottles of hydroalcoholic gel will be made available to all staff. Masks and gel bottles will be delivered to each building of the Institution from Monday May 4th and handing them out to staff will be coordinated by the administrative directors of the buildings (or the persons to which they will delegate this task).

While in the presence of other people in the same room, as well as in corridors and access paths, wearing a facemask is compulsory for all.

In case of symptoms

If a staff member develops symptoms, however mild, but potentially caused by the coronavirus, it is imperative that they immediately return home and contact their physician. If he/she tests positive, it is requested that in addition to the general tracing measures that will be put in place, he/she voluntarily informs the colleagues with whom he/she would have been in contact with during the previous days, so that they can each take the adequate precautions.

For further information, a guide to good practice for fighting the spread of COVID19 at work will be made available to the entire University community in the coming days.

In conclusion

Keeping staff safe must remain our top priority and we cannot afford unnecessary risks.

We also understand very well that this period of forced confinement is difficult to manage, that working from home and the lack of contact can sometimes be stressful and a cause of anxiety. We have all been forced to adapt to new ways of working, to manage our timetables differently, to reassess our objectives and, sometimes, to review our priorities. In particular, we are well aware that there are still many questions concerning schooling for children.

We also understand that staff members wish, for various reasons, to return to the office or the laboratory next week. But if partially resuming in presence work can help recreate the social bonds, that were sorely absent in recent weeks, it cannot be the goal of doing so. Avoiding a repeat of the epidemic is the first priority.

As far as students are concerned, the rules previously decided remain in force until further notice. They are therefore not impacted by the partial resumption of activities on the premises of the University.

We send warm thoughts to all who have been closely affected by this crisis.

For the good of the whole university community, we call on all members to scrupulously respect all of these rules. Let us be united, respectful and responsible.

Sincerely,

Pierre Wolper

Rector

Laurent Despy

Administrator


April 27, 2020

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

The announcement of the lockdown exit plan at the end of the latest National Security Council marks a turning point in the epidemic. We are moving from the phase where the goal is to stop the exponential growth of infections to a new, and probably much longer, phase where a delicate balance will have to be maintained between the resuming a more normal life and the measures necessary to avoid a new uncontrolled rise of covid-19.

For our University, this means preparing for managing the crisis during an extended period, and continually adapting to find the best balance between functioning as normally as possible and health security for all. In the immediate future, we are facing two main challenges: on the one hand, to organize restarting the activities suspended by the lockdown and, on the other hand, to ensure that the end of the teaching period the examination session proceed smoothly.

For what concerns restarting our activities, the guiding principles are to maintain teleworking whenever possible without significant drawbacks and to apply, when presence is necessary, the three measures whose effectiveness is no longer in doubt: distance, masks, and disinfection. If, in addition to this, systematic testing can be carried out as soon as symptoms appear or in the event of contact with a person who has tested positive, we can move forward with the confidence that our University will not be a place where the pandemic spreads. Of course, everyone has questions about his or her individual situation, which cannot be detailed in a general message. Still, no activity will be restarted quickly unless it is necessary, agreed to, and within the framework of strict health rules. Protective and disinfection equipment has been ordered and will be made available as needed and, let us emphasize it again, quite extraordinary work has been done by members of our University to ensure that the testing capacity are increased to the necessary level.

As far as courses and examinations are concerned, the general principle of organizing everything remotely was already announced two weeks ago. This has given us time to prepare for a session that will not be usual. The details for each exam will be communicated on Monday, 27 April, as requested by the government. Nevertheless, there will always remain, among both our students and our teachers, some stress or even anxiety about this peculiar exam session. There are three answers to that.

The first is that measures have been taken to address the computer-related and other difficulties of our students. A survey has been launched to identify their needs and to be able to provide the best possible solution in each case.

The second response is to build confidence. Too often, students and professors are presented as opponents, whereas they are partners with the common goal of transferring knowledge. Of course, there is no such thing as overall perfection among our teachers, or our students, but that is no reason to conclude that nothing is going right. In order to give a tangible signal of the confidence we are rebuilding, teachers and students will sign a Confidence Charter before each exam, a mutual commitment to work with integrity.

Finally, faced with the fear of an uncertain future, we must realize that we cannot control and predict everything. It is a reality that is brutally imposed upon us, we were not prepared to deal with this the consequences of this pandemic. We are now compelled to learn on the go how to better manage change and uncertainty. There is no magic recipe for this, except to constantly remind ourselves that fear breeds fear, and trust breeds trust.

Sincerely,

Pierre Wolper


April 11, 2020

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

Our perception of the covid-19 crisis has changed very rapidly over the past month. Initially rather tempted to disbelieve the worrying forecasts, we are today divided between the hope given by stabilizing numbers and the horror of what 300 deaths or more per day really means. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that managing this crisis requires more than ever to react, adapt, innovate and above all to do it without delay. The more we anticipate, the more effective we are.

We are now approaching the exam session which is a central concern for both students and teachers. At the beginning of this week, it was already announced that exams would mostly be organized without the physical presence of our students on our campuses. As days and news reports go by, what then seemed very probable is now almost a certainty: to organize exams in physical presence will not be possible. Indeed, deconfinement can only be progressive and, even if tests allow a finer management of constraints, they will still be present and covid-19 will not have disappeared. It no longer makes any sense to plan an exam session by considering in presence exams as an option, an option which would in any case be a masked and distanced one, in an atmosphere of anxiety deepened by each fit of coughing or sneezing.

Let us adapt and anticipate! The May-June session will be organized without any physical presence on our premises. I understand that this requires a great adaptation effort for all, but we will thus fully carry on our contribution to managing the pandemic. This will also make it possible to inform our students quickly and unambiguously about the type and scope of each exam.

This exam session will be like no other, what will be measured by the exams will be different. Still all, students and teachers alike, will learn a lot from this totally unexpected and exceptional situation. I cannot imagine that a university, which in 15 days organized the supply of the necessary reagents for 10,000 tests per day, is not able to successfully organize an exam session that will take place differently.

It is with the confidence that we will take up this challenge that I wish you an excellent weekend. Take care of yourself and of others.

Sincerely,

Pierre Wolper


March 29, 2020

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

To Members of the University of Liège,

For the past two weeks we have been living with containment measures and, not surprisingly, the National Security Council announced their extension until April 19 and, possibly, May 3. Now is the time to take stock of how the University is coping with this crisis and how to prepare for the coming months.

Never, for many generations, have we all been so intensely facing ourselves. Facing our fears: of illness, of others, of our present and future material situation, and of so many other feelings that are hard to manage; facing ourselves because we are mostly deprived of the warm interactions which help and support us in hard times. It’s a tough test, but one that, like all tests, reveals a lot. This is the case for everyone, but also collectively for our University.

Covid-19, in its progression indifferent to both position and title, revealed a University that has reacted, and of which we can be proud. Our University reacted by applying strictly, and often anticipating, the measures to control the pandemic. Its members involved in healthcare have acted with courage and determination to help the sick and to prepare for the expected influx into hospitals. There are no words strong enough to express our admiration and gratitude.

Our University reacted by keeping links open. Links that now use a technological infrastructure that has been extended in record time, both in terms of possibilities and capacitie. Links with our students through distance education, certainly still imperfect, but which is constantly improving. Links within our staff, with sometimes the paradox of seeing people in videoconferencing people we never met before. Links to other Universities, with enhanced cooperation between institutions.

The University reacted with solidarity. Solidarity with our students in difficult situations, whether here or far away. Solidarity to organize the continuity of our essential activities, while strictly respecting the measures essential to control the pandemic. Solidarity by transferring to healthcare teams our reserves of protective equipment or products used for tests and care.

The University reacted by mobilizing its creativity and inventiveness. First to solve the thousand questions that arise in all areas. Also, and above all, to contribute to the management of the pandemic. This week a very beautiful story of inventiveness, hard work and collaboration by teams from our University has been written. The advances made will significantly and rapidly increase the number of tests performed, not only in our hospital but also nationally and possibly globally. It is impressive and gives hope, testing and screening on a large scale are one of the keys to loosen with less risk the current confinement measures.

For the coming months, we are preparing for confinement to continue at least for the officially announced period and for a gradual exit which will not quickly exempt us from the rules of "social distancing". Our first priority will always be to look after everyone’s health, knowing that it depends on everyone’s health.

For our teaching, this means that we will continue distance learning until the end of the course period in mid-May, which will definitely not be extended. Going back to in-class teaching is too hypothetical, would be too constrained and limited to a period too short for it to be considered for any significant use. This, of course, implies adapting the material taught and being taken into account in evaluations with the benevolence that is essential in the exceptional situation we are living through. Evaluations will be organized during the planned examination period without any significant extension (one week at most). Modalities will have to be adapted to a situation which will, at best, allow presence on campus, but subject to constraints. However, we still hope to be able to organize the second exam session mostly along the usual lines and to resume the 2020-2021 academic year under almost normal conditions.

Our research activity continues remotely, but is greatly impacted by the impossibility of working in teams on our premises. The availability of supplies and the problems that inevitably many of our partners also face further complicate the situation. It is now essential to plan in cooperation with our fund providers and partners what can be done or not, and to consider how our activity can resume in the context of simplified, but still present, containment rules.

Similar planning is necessary for our administrative and technical services, whose role is crucial for maintaining our activity. More detailed, and regularly updated, information on all these subjects is available on our website https://www.news.uliege.be/coronavirus.

The pandemic is a major disruption, for each of us, for our University, for the country and the world. It leaves us facing oneself and do not forget that the picture I was able to draw of how our University has reacted is only a mirror image of the actions of each one of you. Sincere thanks to all!

Best regards,

Pierre Wolper


March 23, 2020

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

The French-speaking Universities have taken a joint position, outlined in the press release below, on the organization of the end of this very special quadrimester.


Press release of the Council of Rectors (CRef)

Universities' management of the coronavirus crisis has a threefold objective: 1) to be fully involved in measures to contain the epidemic; 2) to contribute all their medical, scientific, and technological capacities to the management of the crisis; and 3) to continue to provide training for their students.

Far from being contradictory, these objectives reinforce each other.

A landmark measure taken in this context was the widespread transition to virtual teaching as of March 16th. Mobilization has been total, with success going far beyond what was initially expected. The question now arises as to how to carry on beyond April 5th. If we take into account the spring break, this leads up to April 19th, a which time it is highly likely that it will still be for several more weeks, to say the least, unwise to physically bring together large groups.

After the coordination meeting organized by the Minister of Higher Education, the Universities unanimously decided to continue virtual teaching until the end of the quadrimester. In this, they are in line with the position of the Dutch-speaking universities. In addition to the protective aspect of the measure, it allows calm planification in continuity, avoiding the problems of hypothetically returning to face-to-face teaching at an unknown date.

Moreover, removing the uncertainty about the organization of our teaching allows us to focus on the more delicate questions that are not settled by virtual teaching. It is still too early to make decisions on the organization of the exams. Yet, all the Universities have set the goal of closing the second quadrimester, including the evaluations, without significantly deviating from the initial schedule. This will allow us to maintain the timetable for the second term and to start the academic year 2020-2021, leaving the current problems behind us.

The University of Liège is entirely in line with this approach. It is clear that there are still many details and individual cases to be settled, which will be dealt with benevolence and flexibility. We are living through some very difficult historical events, let us work together to ensure that the outcome is the best possible for all.

Yours sincerely,

Pierre Wolper

Rector


March 19, 2020

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

After ten intense days of concern, of progressive implementation of restrictive measures, of doubts, of questions, the government's decisions on Tuesday evening bring a form of peacefulness.

Peacefulness, because the rules are clear: avoid any contact likely to spread covid-19 ; peacefulness, because If the rules are rigorously applied, controlling the epidemic and its most dramatic consequences is within our reach.

In our University, the implementation of the government ‘s measures has been quite a natural extension of what had already been put in place. I want to highlight the tremendous effort made by our staff and students to adapt to this exceptional situation and to thank them warmly for their work and their flexibility.

The rules are to work and teach remotely, access to our premises is restricted and presence on site is limited to what is necessary to ensure our activities’ continuity.

All this is obviously not easy to manage, and some individual situations are particularly difficult. But what we have achieved collectively is impressive: the vast majority of our teaching carries on, security and maintenance services are available, and adequate measures have been taken for our laboratories. What's more, our laboratories have mobilized to greatly increase the capacity for coronavirus tests at our University Hospital (CHU). They have also made available their supplies of protective equipment and reagents used for analysis. Exemplary solidarity!

Even if the government measures are lifted or relaxed on their announces April 5th term, many issues will still have to be settled. Organizing what remains of the quadrimester and the full resumption of our activities will require a great deal of effort and adaptability. Course topics taught or not, internships carried out or not, examination organization, administrative situations to be resolved, the status of research projects, ... are all issues that we will have to be solved.

These issues are a cause of anxiety, but anxiety must not become paralyzing. For this, there are only two remedies: trust and action. Trust that the University is doing its utmost to look after the general interest and particularly that of its students and staff. Action is to make the best use of this particular period of time. We are fortunate to have excellent tools that allow us to work differently. So, let us focus on what can be done. Virtually attended courses that have been worked through will free up post-crisis time for activities that could not be organized. Teleworking challenges our way of working and gives us ideas on how to improve it in the long term. Not having access to one's laboratory is an opportunity to read, reflect and think. We will come out of this ordeal stronger.

With confidence,

Pierre Wolper

Rector


March 17, 2020

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

Tonight, the government has taken confinement measures and imposed restrictions on work organization. The measures already taken at the University go in the right direction, but we must ensure that the new rules are strictly applied. Therefore,

  • If your job allows teleworking, consider that it becomes an obligation as of tomorrow morning;
  • If your presence on the premises of the University is essential, comply with the restrictions already in place; the morning will be used to ensure strict compliance with the rules of physical separation;
  • Any conversation or meeting must be held by phone or videoconference.

Remember that the goal is to reduce the risk of contamination to zero. The more rigorous we are, the quicker we will be out of this terrible situation.

Pierre Wolper


March 16, 2020

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

 

The spread of the COVID-19 epidemic continues at a rapid pace. In Belgium and neighboring countries, there is talk of increasingly strong measures to limit contamination.

The measures put in place at our University are already strict. Nevertheless, we must specify their modalities and increase their effectiveness. The primary objective is to avoid any contact that enables transmission of the coronavirus, which is the purpose of the following global rules.

Students

  • Students should not come to the University premises. Distance-learning courses are organized whenever possible. We must bear in mind that some activities will unavoidably be postponed or canceled.
  • For IN/OUT mobility students: international travel may be increasingly difficult during the coming months. A temporary return home, before leaving again, is likely to be impossible. However, as the shift to distance-learning becomes more widespread, part of the curriculum could be taken from a remote locations. The modalities for doing so, which will vary, have yet to be determined, particularly for exams.
  • The situation at the end of the quadrimester is still highly uncertain. The impending difficulties will be managed with benevolence, taking care to ensure that this crisis affects as little as possible the academic curriculum of our students.

Staff

  • Since the objective is to avoid contact, the first rule is to minimize the presence on the University premises. When it is necessary, it is imperative to keep one's distance whether in the office, laboratory or even around the coffee machine.
  • In-person meetings should be replaced by video-conferences or telephone calls.
  • In research laboratories, equipment maintenance must be carried out in strict compliance with the rules on limiting contact. Ongoing experiments may be pursued, but it is recommended not to undertake new experiments that would require a sustained presence on the premises.
  • In the administrative and technical services, on-site presence must be strictly limited to what is necessary to maintain the activity; staff rotation should be implemented to reduce the overall number of employees simultaneously on the premises.

This epidemic is a significant disruption, causing numerous and challenging uncertainties. Our University has the resolution to manage this crisis in the general interest and with the utmost benevolence towards its students and staff.


March 13, 2020 

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

Following the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic, the University of Liège must act firmly to contain the outbreak of the virus, while doing its utmost to maintain its teaching  and research activities. The specific measures taken in these different areas are as follows.

EDUCATION

From now on and until further notice, students are requested not to attend the University.

Classes and other face-to-face  academic activities (practical work, laboratories, etc.), are currently suspended. Students will be informed directly of any exceptions to this rule.

From Monday 16 March 2020, a maximum of our courses will be relocated to virtual platforms. Teachers will communicate directly the terms and conditions to their students.

  • Buildings:

Access to the buildings remains possible to ensure the effective operation of the University. Students should not come unless explicitly indicated by a teacher.

Libraries, study rooms, restaurants, cafeterias, etc. are closed.

  • Internships :

We urge students to follow the instructions of the host organization.

  • Mobility :

Our IN / OUT mobility students can choose to continue their studies in the host institution or end their stay permanently.

For all questions, students can contact the Qualité de Vie department : qualitedevie@uliege.be

For any specific question related to IN / OUT mobility: The International Relations Office : international@uliege.be

For any specific question about IN / OUT mobility financed by ARES-CCD or ULiège platforms: pacodel@uliege.be

EVENTS, TRIPS AND JOURNEYS

The rule is total stop of:

  • events (conferences, symposia, seminars, etc.);
  • outings, field trips or any other activities involving travel;
  • the reception of new visitors from abroad.

EFFECTIVE OPERATIONS

The prevailing rule is that all activities should be maintained under precise conditions.

Telework is encouraged whenever possible.

Buildings will remain open in a way that minimizes contact and risk of infection, i.e. access shall be prohibited in the event of symptoms and the precautionary rules already set out (uliege.be/coronavirus) shall be applied. 

Buildings should be occupied at a reduced density. We recommend, for example, that timetables be adapted and office spaces be arranged to ensure a distance of at least one meter between colleagues.

Face-to-face meetings should be limited and priority should be given to videoconference.

The heads of the department and managers will specify the practical terms.

Special attention must be paid to people with a particular health fragility ; specific measures must be organized to minimize their risk of contamination.

FOR THE ATTENTION OF TEACHERS

Precise information on the tools available to enable the transition to virtual teaching will be communicated to you very soon by the Vice-Rector for Education.

This transition may involve various modalities. It is essential that you inform your students before Monday, March 16th on how your courses will be organized during this period.

If you have specific questions, the Dean of your Faculty is the first point of contact.


March 12, 2020 

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to to all ULiège students.

SUSPENSION OF CLASSES FRIDAY MARCH,13

A series of communications going in different directions creates confusion about the possible closure of universities. The only common inter-university position is the one set out in the release below.

Release of the "Conseil des Recteurs francophones (CRef)" dated March 12, 2020 :

"The French-speaking universities have jointly decided to organize themselves to move quickly to virtual teaching in order to maintain the continuity of academic activity, while contributing to slowing down the progression of the covid-19 epidemic. The exact modalities will be determined in each institution according to their specific situation. It is expected that the switchover to virtual teaching will begin without delay and become increasingly complete over the next week.

Contrary to the information circulating, no decision on the general closure of universities has been taken at this stage by the CRef."

That being said, our goal is to move to teaching with a minimum of face-to-face teaching. However, to avoid any confusion, we are suspending classes and other teaching activities tomorrow, with the university remaining open and its premises accessible. You will be informed in due course about the arrangements for starting classes next week. 


March 11, 2020 

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

As the days go by, the covid-19 epidemic is more topical than ever. The federal government has recommended canceling large-scale events (over a 1000 people) and systematically applying hygiene measures, as well as avoiding unnecessary physical contact conducive to contagion.

What is the position of our University?
We must react rationally: our objective is to limit the scale of the outbreak and slow its progression. If its progression is too rapid, our hospital's intensive care services will be saturated and unable to attend to patients; it is often the weak and elderly patients who will develop the most severe forms of the disease.
Therefore, it is paramount we adopt behaviors aimed at collectively protecting the most vulnerable among us and not just our own individual protection.

Covid-19 is transmitted through close contact with infected persons whose symptoms are not necessarily obvious. There are four types of measures to prevent transmission:

  • stricter hygiene measures, in particular frequent hand washing, and avoidance of close physical contact such as shaking hands, kissing or hugging;
  • Isolation of people who present symptoms of the disease or who may have contracted it;
  • Travel restrictions;
  • Restrictions on events leading up to contacts that could transmit the virus.

Regarding the first three points, the University's policy has already been communicated to the entire community by email and via our website: uliege.be/coronavirus.

Concerning the fourth type of measures, we must take into account a balance between the importance of the event and the increase in risk it induces.
The larger and diversified the attendance, the greater the risk of a wide spread of the epidemic. 

Consequently, the instructions relative to the organization of events are the follwing:

  • As already announced yesterday and unanimously adopted by the FWB universities, large extracurricular events must be cancelled;
  • Participation in and organization of meetings, congresses or ceremonial events involving more than 1000 people is prohibited; it is equally discouraged for smaller events, especially when they bring together participants who would not otherwise be in contact;
  • The use of videoconferencing or other means of remote meetings is strongly recommended.

An immediate consequence of these rules is that the annual honorary degree ceremony and graduating PhD students, scheduled for Saturday, 28 March, is postponed. The same rules apply to the Printemps des Sciences and the SIEP student fair.

As far as the classes are concerned, they are part of the essential activities so that our students can finish their year in the best possible circumstances. They are therefore maintained, but

  • All teachers are requested to use the UNICAST recording system if the classroom in which they teach is equipped with it, thus making attendance optional;
  • Further developments to extend the list of online classes are in preparation.

Finally, where possible, teleworking is encouraged, especially when in doubt about one's health. The terms are to be determined on a case-by-case basis with one's manager.


March 10, 2020 

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to all ULiège students.

To contain the covid-19 epidemic, there is a gradation of possible measures ranging from reinforcing basic hygiene to strong restrictions on the movement and gathering of people, as imposed in Italy. The heavy disruption caused by these extreme measures is a strong reason to act to contain the epidemic by rigorously applying less radical but effective constraints to limit contagion.

This is why I am asking students, and in particular those in charge of Students Associations, to stop organising festive events involving gatherings that are sources of close contacts that are clearly conducive to the transmission of the virus. It would be irresponsible not to impose this restriction, which has a limited impact on university life. I have no doubt that you will understand that adhering to this precautionary principle is a small price to pay to help prevent a galloping epidemic and its disastrous consequences.


march 9, 2020 

Message addressed by Pierre Wolper, Rector of ULiège, to the university community.

The Covid-19 epidemic is evolving rapidly with an increase in cases in Belgium and increasingly restrictive control measures in Italy and France. Limiting the scale of the epidemic is an essential objective to which the University must be particularly attentive. The basic prevention measures remain those announced last week, namely:

Hygiene and in particular frequent hand washing;
If one presents flu-like symptoms, isolate oneself and contact one's doctor.
Spontaneous isolation, if for any reason one suspects to be a carrier of the virus, is also highly recommended, as well as particular caution with regard to contact with people who are fragile due to their age or state of health.

Beyond these basic measures, there are two issues that raise questions and sometimes cause discomfort.

The first is our habit of shaking hands or kissing to greet each other on a daily basis. To remove any hesitation on this subject, it is recommended to everyone:

To greet each other without physical contact, which in no way excludes the warmth of words or expression. 
The second one concerns travel. In this area, the recommendations are as follows:

No student group trips involving accommodation, regardless of the destination;
No travel to high-risk areas;
In general, limit travel to what is deemed essential.
When faced with each decision, let us remember that the objective is to slow down and eventually control the epidemic and that this implies not only protecting oneself, but above all avoiding any behaviour that could contribute to the spread of Covid-19.