COVID-19 : Last Communication

June 23, 2020

Message addressed to the university community.

Dear Members of the University of Liège,

For the upcoming 2020-2021 academic year, the University of Liège is preparing for a general return to in presence teaching. Our goal is to see our students and staff back on our campuses and for direct interaction to be just as frequent as in the past. It is therefore not presence limited to certain students on certain days, but widely open.

Even if currently the situation is developing favorably, we must remain cautious and not table on the disappearance of the virus, or even on the absence of a new epidemic wave. In these circumstances, precautionary measures remain necessary. However, we need an alternative to the strict physical distancing currently imposed, which compels us to use our lecture rooms at only 10 to 20% of their capacity, leaving us essentially in de facto distance learning. Fortunately, the University of Liège has opened up another path.

Since the start of the crisis, the University has played a major role in the development of the capacity for PCR testing, the tests that detect individuals currently infected with the virus. The University's initial intervention was to produce or develop substitutes for the reagents that were missing on the market. It now has the largest PCR testing capacity in the country with local production of the reagents and other items needed for each test. In addition, a plan has been drawn up to further increase this capacity and allow massive tests – between 30,000 and 60,000 per day – with a simple saliva sample, much easier to carry out on a large scale. Very regular testing of the 30,000 members of the university community as of September will therefore be possible and set up on a voluntary basis while respecting anonymity.

Regular general tests will have the double effect of reassuring at a time of year where mild respiratory infections are common and of detecting any new outbreak of covid-19. This surveillance combined with the tracing that is being put in place and maintaining basic sanitary measures will be an effective tool to contain the epidemic while only applying targeted containment measures. If, in addition, we ban any non-essential event involving the mixture of populations who are not usually in contact, the conditions for a successful return to campus and academic year will be met. This is what the University intends to offer to its students and is ready to put in place more widely so that the region and the country can manage a continuing pandemic without going back to highly restrictive measures and suffering the major disruptions that they imply.


Pierre Wolper



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