Coronavirus – Recommendations from the UMONS authorities to staff and students

Published on 17 October 2020
Written by DCOM
Latest measures and recommendations adopted by the UMONS authorities: Update OCTOBER 17 2020

Update October 17

Subject: CORRECTION regarding our university restaurants following our communication to the UMONS community on Friday 16th October.

Dear colleagues, Dear students,

In our communication sent on Friday evening, regarding services to the UMONS community, we mistakenly associated our university restaurants with the “Horeca” sector; the latter being subject to a one-month closure.

However, after obtaining additional information, it appears that our catering services are subject to specific regulations related to higher education and thus constitute an exception.

Therefore, contrary to what we initially announced, our restaurants will remain accessible, subject to the health rules related to the transition to Code Orange (1 person every 1.5 m).

So, in concrete terms, from Monday 19/10/2020, our university restaurants will therefore be able to continue serving you and also provide a take-away service. The “White House” (which has become a study zone) will also remain accessible to students, but consumption of alcohol is not allowed. However, the closure of the 18.00-22.00 time slot is confirmed.

As we said yesterday: take care of yourselves and your loved ones…

We will get through this!

Kind regards,

Ph. Dubois, Rector     M. Labie, First Vice-Rector    Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update October 16

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: communication from the UMONS authorities following the CNS of 16/10/2020

Dear colleagues, Dear students,

The latest information from the CNS confirms the concerns we expressed in our communication of Thursday 15/10. Therefore, as we had anticipated, we are switching to “Code Orange” on Monday 19/10, pending the new protocol of the ministerial circular associated with Level 4 (new government classification), scheduled for next week.

As our Prime Minister has said: “If we want to avoid the worst, we must act now!”. And we know we can count on you to do this!

We are aware of the constraints this imposes, both in our private and professional lives. But you can count on our full understanding and support. Together, once again, we will overcome the obstacle that stands in front of us, as we have done so far!

So, in very concrete terms, how will we proceed from Monday 19/10/2020 and for the week to come? 

Regarding internal work organisation: Teleworking is once again the rule when it is compatible with the function/missions performed and with the prior agreement of the Head of Department. The Administrator will settle any disagreements.

Regarding research activities: These can continue, while giving priority to teleworking when possible and with the agreement of the Head of Department. The Administrator will settle any disagreements.

Regarding services to the UMONS community: As you have heard, the “Horeca” sector is being shut down for one month (with an assessment of the situation within 15 days). This decision means that our university restaurants will be inaccessible. At the same time, from Monday, the “White House” of the Plaine de Nimy campus will serve exclusively as a relief zone for students to study, just like the study room at Place du Parc.

Regarding teaching: As mentioned in the previous communication, we have been transitioning to Code Orange this week and until the new protocol is transmitted to us. Code Yellow is still applicable for our first year Bachelor students, in accordance with our previous communication.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones…

We will get through this!

Kind regards,

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update October 15

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: communication from the UMONS authorities – Switch from Code Yellow to Code Orange from Monday 19th October 2020

Dear members of the University,

Dear students,

Today at 12pm, the media officially announced the switch to Code Orange in universities from Monday 19/10/2020. This announcement was the subject of an official press release, drafted this very morning (15th October) by the Council of Rectors of Francophone universities (CRef) and communicated this afternoon.

Please find below the full text of this press release, which was leaked by the press, much to our disappointment:

“Switching to code orange in the universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation

Following numerous contacts with the political authorities and various experts, as well as extensive consultation with the Council of Rectors of Francophone universities (CRef), the Universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation have decided to switch to Code Orange from Monday 19th October.

For activities involving more than 50 students, this essentially results in attendance being limited to one in five places, or a switch to distance learning. We will, however, be flexible with regard to the continuation of face-to-face teaching for first year Bachelor students, so as not to disrupt their efforts to integrate into university life.

This evolution confirms the strong will of the Universities to react adequately to the unfavourable evolution of the health situation. They will of course also take into account the measures that will be decided in the CNS this Friday.

The CRef would like to thank the teachers who have made a significant effort since the beginning of the academic year, as well as express its desire to provide the best possible support for the continuation of the academic year for all students, all the while paying particular attention to the most vulnerable among them.

Finally, the CRef insists that everyone should be constantly concerned, both within and outside the walls of the Universities, about contributing to the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.”

On Thursday, with the agreement of Minister Valérie Glatigny, the CRef decided to switch from Code Yellow to Code Orange. The universities are fully aware of the role they must play in reducing extra-curricular activities (which are more prone to the spread of the virus), by limiting the use of our sites, campuses and public transport.

This decision plays an active part in the collective effort requested by the Belgian authorities to avoid overwhelming the hospitals and to preserve the health of the most fragile among us.

In concrete terms, at UMONS, all courses taught to groups of more than 201 students will henceforth be in distance learning mode from Monday 19th October 2020,

For all other groups of between 51 and 200 students, attendance is still allowed, but only if 1 out of 5 places are occupied (the wearing of masks by students and teachers, who cannot maintain a distance of 3 metres when teaching, is of course obligatory in all cases). In this case, the teachers concerned are free to decide whether to give their lessons in a classroom setting (with 1 in 5 places occupied) or in full distance learning mode.

However, a major exception is made for the first-year Bachelor students, taking into account the overriding need for students to adapt further to their new university environment. The organisation of the BAB1 courses therefore remains unchanged.

For all other groups of up to 50 students, the system remains the same as that currently recommended under code yellow.

Practical activities in labs and computer rooms, as well as various exercises, are not impacted by the change from code yellow to code orange.

It should be noted that research activities are not affected by the switch to Code Orange and that working arrangements also remain unchanged.

However, we must draw your attention to the fact that the provisions described above are subject to additional, or even more restrictive, decisions that the federal authorities may have to take from Friday 16/10/20.

We will, of course, keep you informed of any developments.

Kind regards,

Ph. Dubois, Rector        M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator

Update October 14

Subject: Message to UMONS staff on 14/10/2020 – teleworking

Dear colleagues,

We have remained attentive to the evolution of the health situation and have noticed a rapid deterioration that is making us worry about our health and that of our loved ones.

It has been our intention to delay the switch to Code Orange for as long as possible in order to allow our students, and in particular first-time students, to familiarise themselves with the university setting.

This has been the whole purpose of the “White House”, erected on the Plaine de Nimy campus, which serves as a relief zone for our students to study, eat and, under supervision, create a new social network that is not virtual.

Our intention is also, of course, to offer our students the chance to be taught by teachers without the interference of technology that hinders the direct relationship important to quality teaching.

We are also well aware that some of you may be feeling anxious, and it is clear that, in addition to the now well-known “barrier” gestures, the more we limit our contacts, the easier it will be to get back to normal.

Also, in accordance with the recommendations made at the last National Security Council meeting, we would like to confirm that the “special Covid-19” teleworking regime at UMONS can resume, as long as the measures under “code yellow” are maintained.

In other words, and provided that your role is compatible with this working method and with the agreement of your Head of Department, you will be able to go back to teleworking from Monday 19th October 2020.

As was the case during the initial phases of deconfinement, the Administrator may be called upon to mediate any disputes in this respect.

Even if, once again, the indicators are rather alarming, it is clear that it is through individual and collective responsibility and solidarity that we will succeed in controlling and overcoming this situation.

We are convinced that by working in this way, and together, everything will be fine.

Regards,

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator

Update October 8

Subject: Covid-19 coronavirus: provision of a relief zone and a supervised reception and social area for our students on the Plaine de Nimy campus.

Dear members of the University,

At the request of the Students’ Union (ORE), the UMONS authorities have agreed to set up an infrastructure, erected temporarily, for an initial 2-month period, on the Plaine de Nimy campus, behind the Da Vinci and Mendeleïev buildings.

Offering a maximum of 200 places, this space has been dubbed the “White House” (in reference to the colour of the infrastructure, and not the next American elections or our neighbouring Pentagon building 😉 ) and will be accessible on weekdays from Wednesday 14th October at 11 am.

The purpose of the “White House” is twofold: 

  1. Every weekday between 10am and 6pm, the “White House” will be used as a relief zone for our restaurant, the capacity of which has been considerably reduced to comply with the new HORECA standards, as well as an additional study room equipped with Wi-Fi, in order to accommodate our students who wish to work or follow their courses remotely, while respecting sanitary and distancing measures.

(To know which study rooms are available at UMONS, click here).

  1. During the week, between 6pm and 10pm at the latest, the “White House” will also serve as a reception and social area; the aim here is to limit the likelihood of illegal parties being organised and to allow our students (especially first-time Bachelor students) to meet and “socialise” in a strictly supervised manner, in spite of the particular context they are currently experiencing.

The “White House” will therefore not host any student parties, since no night-time activities are allowed in order to respect the sanitary measures imposed by the federal and regional authorities!

A private security service has been specifically hired to ensure compliance with the two aforementioned uses (daytime relief zone and supervised reception and social area from 6pm to 10pm) and the sanitary provisions. The security team will prevent access to the facilities after the “White House” closes and will continue to provide surveillance on the campus at night and at the weekends.

At all times, the conditions of access to the “White House” will be strict: entry will only be granted upon presentation and validation of the UMONS badge and will be reserved exclusively for the students of our institution. Anyone who disobeys these access rules, even slightly, will be penalised.

The Internal Regulations will also take into account the recent health measures imposed by the federal and regional authorities. They will fully comply with the new HORECA standards in force (obligatory wearing of a mask, disinfectant hand gel, tracing, a maximum of 4 people per table and no bar service) so that all guarantees are upheld to protect everyone’s health.

Of course, the “White House” will benefit from all the necessary authorisations from the City of Mons. The Governor of the Province has also been informed of our plans. The authorities of the University of Mons will also remain vigilant before extending the initiative beyond the initial 2-month period envisioned. They are even ready to stop the experiment if ORE and the other student associations do not respect the rules.

Indeed, the latter have undertaken to show that they are worthy of the trust placed in them by the provision of such an infrastructure. They have promised to demonstrate responsibility and maturity. UMONS students are aware of the need to protect their loved ones, their teachers and all UMONS staff who work daily so that the academic year can continue, and to respect the community and to act accordingly.

Regards,

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator

Update September 24

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: communication from the UMONS authorities following the CNS of 23/09

Dear members of the University,

The National Security Council (CNS) held a meeting on Wednesday 23rd September 2020. We were expecting the CNS to opt for a switch to code orange for universities, which would have meant considerably reducing face-to-face attendance on our sites and campuses (from 75% to maximum 20% of students).

Since this was not to be, we are therefore happy to continue under code yellow, as has been the case since the start of the academic year. However, it is imperative for each and every one of us to continue to strictly follow all the rules which remain imposed in our infrastructures (see reminder below). The virus is still present, and so we must remain cautious and vigilant, without scaremongering.

The past two weeks have allowed us to test the functioning of our institution under code yellow, and has allowed students to (re-)familiarise themselves with our campuses, infrastructures and internal IT tools (Intranet, Moodle, webmail, etc.), as well as with our face-to-face and remote teaching methods. Our new students have also been able to get to know each other and meet their teachers and their Faculty secretariat staff.

These two weeks have also shown us that the protocol put in place at UMONS proves that the provisions of the ministerial circular have generally worked well so far. Based on this experience since the start of the academic year, and in order to preserve both the organisation of teaching and the health of all UMONS members, we have, however, decided to adapt certain face-to-face and distance teaching methods, from Monday 28th September 2020.

The aim of this intermediate scenario is to, above all, facilitate the adaptability of teaching at our Faculties and Schools. Each teacher can therefore adapt their courses in order to make them even more accessible to students, particularly those in large groups (practical work and research activities do not fall under code yellow).

Depending on the circumstances of each course, and with the prior agreement of the Dean/President, the idea is to give teachers more freedom and flexibility so that they can decide on the most suitable teaching arrangements and be as coherent as possible. This will be a combination of remote and face-to-face teaching.

These adaptations will not change schedules or the current room allocation. The adaptations will soon be communicated directly to students by the Deans/Presidents and, of course, by the teachers.

As a reminder:

  1. Our university remains open.
  2. All students can have face-to-face lessons.
  3. However, the limit of 75% of students simultaneously present on campus is maintained.
  4. First year and last year students have priority for face-to-face lessons.
  5. Services are still provided in accordance with the recommended hygiene rules.
  6. Face-to-face and distance learning and assessment activities are implemented and adapted according to the experience acquired since the start of the academic year.
  7. For staff, teleworking up to 50% of the time is maintained for all those whose missions allow it, with the prior agreement of the department head (the Administrator will intervene in case of dispute).

The measures set out in this communication apply everywhere at UMONS, so for all of our sites on both campuses, in Mons and Charleroi.

These measures are of course subject to change, based on future decisions of the CNS. Colour code changes may therefore be made later, both nationally and locally (upon decision of the authorities of the City of Mons, Charleroi and the Governor). In the latter case, each site will have to adapt as quickly as possible.

If a student or staff member is suspected to have COVID: 

In case of symptoms, the student or the staff member concerned must self-isolate immediately for 7 days and contact their doctor in order to be tested as soon as possible

If the test is positive, the quarantine continues, and if the test is negative, it is possible to come out of quarantine as soon as the symptoms clear up.

As a reminder, a suspected COVID-19 case is a person presenting the following symptoms:

– at least one of the following major symptoms of acute onset, with no other obvious cause: cough, breathing difficulties, chest pain, altered sense of taste or smell

OR

– at least two of the following minor symptoms, with no other obvious cause: fever, achy muscles, fatigue, rhinitis, sore throat, headache, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, acute confusion, sudden fall

OR

– worsening of chronic respiratory symptoms (COPD, asthma, chronic cough, etc.), with no other obvious cause.

If a student or staff member is confirmed to have COVID: 

Under article 34 of the Study Regulations, the student concerned is required to report immediately to Michaël Boulvin, the head of our Internal Unit for Prevention and Protection at Work (SIPPT), either by email: michael.boulvin@umons.ac.be, or by phone on 0490 / 57.13.34. Staff are asked to do the same.

  • If the required physical distance has been observed, the other students in the class/group, teachers, other staff and other classes/groups are considered low risk contacts. Therefore, screening and quarantine are not necessary.
  • If the required physical distance has not been respected (close contact with the positive person), the students and staff concerned are considered high risk contacts. In this case, they will be contacted by the contact tracing team (via 02 / 214.19.19) or the SIPPT (Michaël Boulvin) and must immediately quarantine and follow the instructions communicated to them.

The University undertakes to respect the GDPR, in accordance with its privacy charter, and will respect the privacy of COVID positive people.

To avoid any risk of contamination, we therefore ask you to strictly follow, in both your private life and at the university, all the basic hygiene instructions which remain more applicable than ever:

  • If you are ill, stay at home
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Keep a physical distance from others
  • Wear your mask in all situations where it is compulsory
  • Disinfect your work surfaces and regularly clean your equipment
  • Respect the one-way systems in all our infrastructures.

For up-to-date information, please refer to the FAQs of the FPS Public Health via this link: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/fr/faq/#id_7

We will keep you informed of any developments.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update september 10

Dear students,

We are well aware that the beginning of the academic year will not be easy for any of us, yet we do not doubt for a moment that we are all doing our best to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible.

To make this easier for you, we are providing you with a “back to school” guide, which is available on the “Student” intranet via this link.

Please read this document carefully. It provides very clear instructions regarding the organisation of your lessons, as well as the health and safety measures under code yellow, as of Monday 14th September 2020.

We take this opportunity to once again emphasise the procedures that all students must follow at the start of the academic year (see page 9 of the guide on this subject).

Finally, we are pleased to inform you that a MOOC is now up and running online (accessible here) for those who have not yet finalised their registration procedures. This MOOC gathers all the most important and relevant information for you to get to know UMONS. We are counting on you to get the message out to those who need it!

Once again, we are relying on your sense of civic responsibility to respect these measures and to participate in this collective effort which is necessary to return to “normal” as quickly as possible.

We wish you an excellent start to the new academic year!

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        M. Demeuse, Vice-Rector for Education
Ph. Mettens, Administrator


UPDATE 04 september

Dear teachers,

Dear colleagues,

As the summer resit assessment period draws to a close, and at the dawn of the 2020-2021 academic year, we are doing everything possible to implement the measures of the ministerial circular of 24/08/2020, which were the subject of a previous email on 26th August.

new teaching guide (available on the UMONS Intranet) now allows you to find all the necessary and useful information for the organisation of face-to-face lessons.

This guide directs you to the Intranet sites of the various departments that offer technical and educational support. Feel free to consult these resources.

In order to support you fully in your preparations for the start of the academic year, several activities are being held as of next week:

Demonstration of recording equipment in the classrooms:

  • Tuesday 8th September, from 9:30 am to 4 pm (four 1.5-hour sessions) on the Plaine de Nimy campus (Bâtiment 6, Auditoire 18)
  • Practical info

These sessions are offered to any teacher who will have to use broadcasting material.

 

Any staff members who can provide support in the equipped classrooms (experts in Moodle, Faculty teaching assistants, …) especially for the first sessions, are also encouraged to participate in one of these sessions.

Webinars on the organisation of lessons at the start of the academic year:

  • Wednesday 9th September, from 10 am to 12 pm
  • Friday 11th September, from 3 pm to 5 pm

TEAMS invitations will be sent to teaching staff by the SAP. These webinars will be an opportunity to explain the teaching materials and to answer questions from teachers.

Students will be informed of course organisation and practical health measures over the next week. A guide will also be made available to them.

We are aware of the difficulties and unknowns that we will face at the start of the new academic year. Anticipating and applying the basic rules from the start of this academic year is paramount. We therefore ask you to remind yourselves of the framework that everyone must respect in order to limit any risks. PPT slides will be made available to you for this purpose.

By 14th September, we will be sure to inform you of the measures and other resources that will help you prepare for the start of the academic year under the best possible conditions. All our support teams remain available to answer your questions and help you throughout this first semester. The “Helpdesk Enseignants” will remain open and any requests will be redirected to the appropriate person(s) to provide you with a solution or the necessary support.

We hope that the resit assessment period went well and wish you an excellent start to the new academic year! Thank you once again for your full cooperation.

Kind regards,

Ph. Dubois, Rector        M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        M. Demeuse, Vice-Rector for Education
Ph. Mettens, Administrator


UPDATE 26 augustus 

Dear colleagues,

Dear students,

Following the meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday 20th August 2020 and the meeting with the Minister of Higher Education, a “code yellow” scenario has come into force and is therefore now confirmed for all Francophone universities in Belgium as of 1st September 2020.

As you know, before the summer holidays, UMONS had anticipated a moderate and controlled face-to-face return, while protecting the health of our staff and students.

What is code yellow?

Code yellow means that the risk factor is “low”, and that transmission of the virus is limited. Increased vigilance is recommended, and contact between potential carriers is to be limited. Necessary contact, for practical reasons, may continue, subject to applicable security measures.

Regarding higher education, the objective is to preserve everyone’s health, while ensuring that our members can have as many face-to-face interactions as possible on our campuses.

Therefore, all students must have face-to-face lessons, but not necessarily at the same time. The idea is to reduce the physical presence of students on our campuses by 25%, while prioritising first-time Bachelor students and those registered in their final year of studies.

As a reminder, significant effort has already been made to prepare our staff and to equip our largest classrooms and lecture halls with the appropriate material in time for the start of the academic year. Classes will now be able to be broadcast live, as well as recorded, for large groups of students who have to take it in turns to alternate coming to class and staying at home (rotation of sub-groups).

The main practical arrangements

The measures indicated below, resulting from the ministerial circular issued on 24th August, apply everywhere at UMONS, on all sites and campuses in Mons and Charleroi.

These measures may be adapted depending on future decisions of the CNS.

The ministerial circular included a table (included at the bottom of this message) which summarises the provisions for each colour code / scenario, from green (the most positive) to red (the most restrictive).

We will therefore be in the yellow scenario from 01/09/2020. However, if the health situation evolves (favourably or unfavourably), this scenario will be adapted accordingly.

It should be noted that any colour code changes made during the academic year may be carried out nationally as well as locally (upon decision of the authorities of Mons and Charleroi, as well as the Governor). In the latter case, each site will be obliged to adapt as quickly as possible.

Internal implementation process for the beginning of the academic year at UMONS

The ministerial circular is currently being reviewed internally to ensure that it is most suited to the configuration of our institution.

The implementation process will be detailed in 2 guides, one for staff and another for students.

These documents must be validated by our internal bodies – the Rectoral team, the Deans and Presidents, administrative department heads, student representatives, and the COCOBA consultation committee – before they are communicated to the entire UMONS community and can then be implemented as of the next academic year.

Additional Precautions

People at increased risk of Covid-19 (see list published on the Sciensano site) must consult their doctor so that their situation can be analysed on a case-by-case basis (each situation is not associated with the same risk). Based on medical advice, additional precautions to respect health measures (e.g. reducing the number of contacts, maintaining a safe distance, practicing hand hygiene and wearing a mask) will be imposed by the organising authority and validated by the prevention advisor or the SIPPT.

In case of illness

People who are ill and/or who may be carriers of Covid-19 should stay at home and contact their doctor.

If the doctor thinks there is a risk of contamination, they will order a test.

If the doctor thinks that contamination is highly likely, they will immediately notify the Covid-19 contact centre and contact tracing will begin.

If the doctor thinks contamination is possible, they will wait for the test result before notifying the Covid-19 contact centre. The contact centre will then contact the carrier of Covid-19.

Provisions relating to the organisation of work for staff members

In the ministerial circular, it is stipulated that “members of staff are available to their management, within the limits of the workload resulting from their usual duties, in order to ensure the implementation of the provisions provided for in said circular, and to participate in the management of any emergency linked to the situation”.

However, the University of Mons proposes that, for those who so wish, teleworking be maintained from 01/09/2020. This provision applies to all staff, for a maximum working time of 50%, and with the prior consent of the agent’s department head (in case of dispute, the Administrator will intervene). This proposal will be reassessed regularly by the authorities according to the evolution of the health situation.

This fast-approaching academic year will, without a doubt, be another challenge for our community. But we do not doubt for a moment that it will once again be an opportunity to show that UMONS is more than a university.

Take care of yourselves,

Ph. Dubois, Rector        M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator


UPDATE 21 augustus 

Dear colleagues,

We hope you managed to rest during the summer break and that, as a result, you are able to approach the start of the new academic year with the energy and enthusiasm that so often characterise our university.

At the time of writing, I am pleased to note that the current remote exam session is running just as smoothly as the previous one – which is the best we can hope for! The updated figures, provided by our technical services, indeed show that the rate of “incidents” compared to the total number of students assessed is close to zero.

Once again, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank all of our teachers, who have demonstrated their great ability to adapt to the imposed remote assessment methods and have, above all, made sure to apply the same guidelines, which include kindness and understanding, as those which prevailed during the June session.

Credit goes to the Pedagogical Support Unit and the IT Department for the smooth running of these remote exams. Let’s also not forget all the staff members who took on the extra role of running the “Moodle Examens” helpdesk, despite it being the summer holidays. This solidarity has made it possible to considerably reduce any worries, and thus contribute to the smooth running of this decisive session for our students.

As you are no doubt aware, a National Security Council meeting was held on Thursday 20th August 2020. The subject of the organisation of upcoming academic year was not specifically addressed. However, everything seems to indicate that the “code yellow” scenario, which UMONS had anticipated before the summer holidays, will be implemented, meaning that a moderate and controlled face-to-face return to our institution will be favoured, with the health of our students and staff being our main priority.

The Prime Minister also announced that there will be another meeting between the higher education ministers before the academic year gets underway. A preliminary meeting with Minister Valérie Glatigny is scheduled for Friday afternoon to discuss the measures regarding the start the 2020-2021 academic year. We will then communicate these measures to you once they have been finalised.

In the meantime, we wish you the best possible return to your activities, despite the situation, and call upon you all to remain vigilant. As the Prime Minister reminded us today, “we all have a role to play in the fight against the epidemic”.

Keep in mind that it is only by complying with the preventive health measures that we will be able to permanently eradicate this virus and therefore hope for a more rapid return to a “normal” life.

Take care of yourselves,

Ph. Dubois, Rector        M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator


UPDATE 29 july 

Coronavirus Covid-19: communication from the UMONS authorities following the National Security Council meetings of 23rd and 27th July 2020 and provisions relating to the organisation of work and the resit period (second session) ​​​​​​​

Dear colleagues,

Dear students,

Against all hope, and despite everyone’s efforts, the health situation is not improving. As we already feared, we are not yet done with this virus, which has already changed our lives so much.

The dreaded second wave is here! We must therefore continue to take responsibility and, despite the circumstances, continue to carry out our collective missions, as we have been doing since the start of the crisis.

The meetings of the National Security Council on 23rd and 27th July confirmed the latest epidemiological tendencies and a necessary return to the measures that we had been hoping were behind us.

As far as we are concerned, and with regard to the organisation of the resit period (second session), it is now certain that it will take place remotely, as already anticipated.

For the very few face-to-face exceptions where resits need to take place on-site, we insist that the security measures recommended by the National Security Council be strictly applied and that our teachers be extremely attentive to social/physical distancing, the compulsory wearing of masks and limiting the capacity of lecture theatres to a maximum of 100 students.

In addition, the National Security Council again recommends teleworking for the next four weeks.

While we had made “face-to-face” the rule and “distance” the exception, we are now forced to switch back to the exact opposite.

We therefore ask you to, once again, favour teleworking as much as possible.

So, for all missions which do not require your physical presence at the University, we ask you to perform your tasks remotely, as you have been doing since mid-March.

The Human Resources Department (DRH) will add extra teleworking days to individual counters for this purpose.

Although most of us are currently on holiday and/or having a well-deserved rest, we must remain vigilant and attentive to the evolution of the situation.

As soon as we have any new information, we will certainly keep you informed.

Enjoy the summer break, be careful in all circumstances and, above all, take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Ph. Dubois, Rector     M. Labie, First Vice-Rector   Ph. Mettens, Administrator


UPDATE 23 july 

Dear colleagues,

Dear students,

On Wednesday 23rd July, the Prime Minister informed us of the new decisions of the CNS. We will not be entering Phase 5 of the deconfinement in the coming days, as initially planned. From Saturday 25th July, wearing a mask is even more mandatory in the common areas (corridors, entrance halls, common rooms, etc.) of public establishments.

These new instructions are more restrictive in order to better respond to the pandemic and the growth of cases recorded in recent days. As a public university, it is our duty to scrupulously respect all of these obligations in order to contribute to the collective and individual effort and to eradicate the pandemic.

Therefore, we would like to remind you of the information we communicated to you on 3rd July, namely that wearing a mask is compulsory for everyone (staff, students and visitors) on all UMONS sites and campuses when the minimum safety distance of 1.5m cannot be respected.

Wearing a mask is therefore compulsory in all communal areas where staff, students and visitors are likely to cross paths.​​​​​​​

It is also possible that we have to adapt our measures to the more restrictive ones that the provincial authorities (via the Governor), or those of the cities of Mons or Charleroi where our facilities are located, could later impose. If this should be the case, we will of course keep you informed.

We thank you for your cooperation and wish you an excellent summer.

Ph. Dubois, Rector        M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update July 9th

Dear colleagues,

Dear students,

We have come to the end of the semester, which was pretty exceptional, in more ways than one, and which was marked by an unprecedented crisis and special confinement measures.

We have already said this, but we’ll say it again: we are proud of the way in which our UMONS community has approached and overcome the ordeal and the successive obstacles which presented themselves.

We are not yet out of the woods, as regards the virus, but we hope to see a light at the end of the tunnel soon and that the next academic year (the practical details of which we communicated in a previous email) will come under much better circumstances.

By the time you read this email, the proclamations for this first remote session will be over. We can inform you that the catastrophic dropout rate that was previously announced by some did not happen; 9 out of 10 students sat their exams remotely, which is still slightly higher than usual!

The switch to distance learning and the particular conditions of study leave also raised fears of students foregoing their studies. However, this was not the case, and UMONS remains in line with the success rates recorded within the academic institutions of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

For those who have unfortunately not passed, and as the Rector has previously stated during the introductory speech of our virtual proclamations, we can only advise you to persevere and, above all, not be discouraged. In any failure, there is always something positive to draw on to progress and improve.

To those students who need to prepare for an additional session, we wish you luck and the strength to study productively and efficiently between now and your exams.

Furthermore, to all our new graduates who are leaving us, we wish you every success in the next stages of your new life. We hope that you will look back on your time at UMONS with fondness. Please know that, through our Alumni Unit, UMONS will always be your “home”.

In this final message before the summer holidays, we would like to once again thank each and every one of our staff members, all categories combined (administrative and technical staff, manual labourers, teachers and researchers), for the flawless solidarity displayed throughout this ordeal that we have just overcome..

Our efforts have not always been easy. We have to face facts. We are fully aware of the extra energy this period required within many of our services for many of our colleagues.

All the more reason for us to sincerely hope you enjoy the long-awaited summer holiday! We are already anticipating the next time we will meet at the start of the next academic year, one that we all aspire to experience with more serenity. For this to be possible, we ask you once again to take the greatest care of yourselves and your loved ones. Be sure to strictly adhere to the health guidelines that will be provided to you this summer, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying life!

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector            Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update July 3rd

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: protocol for resuming classes at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year at UMONS

Dear colleagues,

Dear students,

Our supervisory Minister, Valérie Glatigny, has recently sent a protocol setting the guidelines for the resumption of classes in higher education for the next academic year.

This ministerial protocol is broadly in line with what UMONS had anticipated for its staff and (future) students following a long consultation process involving the academic authorities, the union and student representatives, and our technical and administrative departments.

With this ministerial confirmation, we are now able to inform you of the main aspects that will guide the 2020-2021 academic year at UMONS.

As a reminder, the ministerial protocol provides for several scenarios, each defining the sanitary and confinement rules to follow according to the state of the pandemic in September.

This protocol is based on a colour code ranging from green (zero risk, indicating a pre-COVID situation) to red (indicating the need for lockdown).

For the time being, and since the beginning of the confinement period in mid-March, we are in an orange phase presenting a moderate risk.

Based on expert opinion, everything indicates that we should be in a “yellow” phase with a risk described as “low” yet foresees:

  • A limited risk of transmission of the virus with recommendations to remain vigilant
  • Limited contact between potential carriers
  • Maintained necessary interpersonal contact, subject to applicable safety measures.

UMONS is therefore preparing for the start of the 2020-2021 academic year under the yellow code. However, we are ready for a changeover to an orange phase (a situation that we have been experiencing now since mid-May), if health developments justify it.

We are aware that certain measures described below may appear to be more restrictive than what you sometimes find in society. But it is our duty, as members of a public university, to be responsible and contribute to the societal effort to eradicate the pandemic.

Wearing a mask therefore remains compulsory for everyone (staff and students) on all sites and campuses when the minimum safety distances (1.5m) cannot be respected, as well as in communal areas where staff and students are likely to cross paths.

The general philosophy of UMONS for the next academic year will, however, focus on favouring flexibility, reactivity and the adaptability of each scenario according to health conditions and the evolution of the pandemic in September, with our priority being to preserve the health of our teachers, staff and students.

To this end, face-to-face teaching is the preferred option within our institution, but in a moderate and controlled manner.

This will be particularly applicable to first-time university students, so that they can meet their teachers and get to know the UMONS infrastructure and each other.

The live broadcast and/or delayed transmission of lessons will be facilitated by around fifty technologically equipped classrooms from August, which will gradually become operational from the start of the academic year. We have invested a lot for this purpose and are able to handle all scenarios.

There is no question of turning UMONS into a remote university at the start of the academic year, but rather having and using, if necessary, the pedagogical tools required for the smooth running of a remote teaching mode and thus being able to cope with all scenarios (including that of a total lockdown).

All teachers are free to consider the best way to organise their courses. As a reminder, the Educational Support Unit (SAP) is at their disposal for any advice or assistance in this regard, and several technological tools were developed during the transition to distance learning imposed by confinement in March.

In order to facilitate the students’ understanding, teachers do not have to wear a mask when teaching, providing the physical distancing measures can be respected.

The rotation of small groups of students will be organised in our lecture halls so that the recommended maximum capacity of 50% can be respected.

One-way circulation systems will be set up to avoid cross-contamination as much as possible. Masks, gel and wipes will also be made available to everyone.

Regarding movement in our buildings, as well as when entering and leaving them, masks must be worn by students at all times. Masks can then be removed once inside the classroom, as long as the 50% capacity is respected (every other seat) and that the activity is passive (notetaking but no speaking).

The ventilation/airing of rooms is recommended between each student rotation. The maximum duration of occupation of a room is fixed at 3 hours. It is necessary to split this period should it be exceeded, meaning that when a lecture hall is expected to be used for more than 3 hours continuously without interruption, it is necessary to take a break in order to ventilate/air the room.

The disinfection of the infrastructures will systematically take place at the beginning or at the end of the day.

For practical work, workshops and lab work, the same sanitary measures as for lessons in lecture halls are imposed. Note that the ministerial protocol foresees that practical work rooms and laboratories may, however, be used at full capacity, either by adhering to physical distancing measures or by the mandatory wearing of a mask.

For some courses, wearing a visor may prove useful if the physical distance between participants is respected. However, special attention must be paid to the flammability of the visor and to the risks presented when handling hazardous products.

Wearing a visor is also recommended for practical work and educational activities for which talking is important (language lessons for example), as long as the physical distancing measures can also be respected. Headsets and microphones will obviously be disinfected.

FabLab Mons will be contacted to supply our students with visors.

For IT-related practical work, provisions must be made for teachers and assistants so that the course is shortened by a few minutes to allow users enough time to disinfect the equipment (keyboard, mouse, microphone) between each session and group rotation using the materials provided.

For practical and/or technical courses, the rules imposed on the sector or on the profession concerned apply (e.g. the medical profession).

For placements, the health rules in place at the placement location (school, hospital, business, etc.) must be followed.

For incoming and outgoing mobility, the travel conditions provided for by the National Security Council and the recommendations made by the FPS Foreign Affairs must be respected.

 The university’s libraries and restaurants will be accessible again from the start of the academic year, subject to compliance with the sanitary conditions outlined in the ministerial protocol. Access will be allowed based on the same constraints as those imposed in the classrooms: sitting in every other seat and wearing a mask when moving around the reading rooms.

To avoid a repetition of the lockdown scenario, we again recommend that you follow all of the instructions which will be in force and issued at the start of the next academic year.

It is our individual and collective responsibility to avoid the resumption of the pandemic within our walls. Nobody wants a return to a drastic confinement or a complete lockdown of any of our sites.

We are confident in your sense of civic responsibility and continue to rely on the same collaboration that we have seen from you over the past few months. In the meantime, we wish you an excellent, relaxing and, above all, well-deserved summer break.

See you in September!

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector            Ph. Mettens, Administrator

 


Update 15 june

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: provisions for the organisation of the second examination session (August-September 2020)

 Dear members of UMONS,

Dear teachers,

Dear students,

In just 2 weeks, the June assessment period will be over. For the first time, given the current health context, it was organised remotely.

Despite our numerous legitimate concerns before the assessment period, we can now be very satisfied with how things have panned out.

The Moodle-examens” platform, which was specifically set up for the organisation of the assessments, has encountered no less than 400,000 connections to date. Between Monday 25th May and Friday 12th June, almost 45,000 assessments were organised and no major incidents were reported. 0.5% of the students assessed, or 1 in 200 students, reported a concern to the “helpdesk” by phone, email or via the online form. In 94% of these rare cases, a solution was immediately found!

We take this opportunity to thank the 140 people who worked on the helpdesk for just over a fortnight. These members of staff, from various bodies of the institution, worked exceptionally behind-the-scenes, taking turns to cover the helpdesk from Monday to Saturday during time slots starting from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Their availability, responsiveness and their expertise should be commended!

Thank you again to the IT Department and the Cyber & Information Security Management team who ensure the reliability of our servers! Thank you also to the Educational Support Unit (SAP) for the essential support provided to both our students and teachers during this session, and for the advice, instructions and encouragement that were communicated well in advance.

We must maintain solidarity and vigilance until the end of this month in order to be able to confirm that this remote Q2 session was a success, obviously taking into account the unprecedented circumstances of this crisis. The fact that it will ultimately be a success does not mean that it was not stressful and did not deprive us of the incomparable pleasure of our seeing our students face-to-face. Until then, all the best to all those who have invested so much of their time, energy and good humour. And above all, good luck to all students on the homestretch. Continue to work hard, persevere and be confident!

We are already preparing for the next academic year (see our previous email on this subject), but many questions still remain unanswered about the summer resit period (“second session”). This email aims to shed light on the matter.

On Monday 8th June, the Minister of Higher Education initiated a meeting between the higher education institutions, ARES, the union representatives and the FEF to discuss the resit period and the start of the 2020-2021 academic year. The universities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and the FEF voted in favour of remote examinations.

As a reminder, this option has also been the subject of internal reflection and approval at UMONS, including with the Students’ Union (ORE).

We cannot possibly allow a mass return of students onto our premises for the resit period in the summer, although occasional exceptions may be granted in certain cases and for very small groups.

Beyond the positive outcome of the current Q2 assessment session at UMONS, this prudent decision to continue remotely in the summer is based on several arguments.

  • The most obvious is that the health situation and the decisions made by the National Security Council prohibit gatherings of more than 200 people until the end of August.
  • It is also our duty to consider the psychological feelings of our students and all of our staff. Some of you are not (yet) ready to consider a physical return to our sites and campuses due to the fear of being infected, contaminating the premises/infecting others, or even bringing the virus home. We cannot ignore this aspect and must take it into account.
  • The next argument is practical: based on the current sanitary and distancing measures in place, which could of course change, it is impossible to know for sure what rooms will be available at the time of the resit period.
  • Finally, and based on the three preceding points, it is necessary in our eyes to preserve the current schedules in order to guarantee a break during the summer holidays for the staff of our faculty secretariats, considering all the substantial efforts they have already made to enable the switch to distance learning and a remote examination session.

So, in view of the above, you will understand that our concern is to remain consistent with the measures taken since the beginning of this crisis, by implementing these two objectives: preserving everyone’s health, while doing our utmost to guarantee our students’ chances of success in their assessments.

We wish you all the best for the rest of this assessment period and a great, highly anticipated and well-deserved summer break.

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 11 june

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: Provisions relating to the organisation of the resumption of the 2020-2021 academic activities at UMONS

A copy of this email has also been sent to the students

Dear colleagues,

Dear teachers,

Please find below the note outlining the provisions that our institution will follow for the resumption of academic activities.

As you will read, this note was subject to prior consultation regarding all levels of representation in our community.

We hope that this document will help give you a sense of relief.

Please believe in our total dedication to our institution and the UMONS community,

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator

 

Provisions relating to the organisation of the resumption of the 2020-2021 academic activities at UMONS

We were able to draft this document following a long process of internal consultation, which took place at several levels: first, with the University’s management team (the Rector and his Vice-Rectors) on 15th May 2020, and then, with the Deans and Presidents of our Faculties and Schools on 22nd May 2020. On Friday 29th May 2020, the Institutional Strategy Commission (CSI) of UMONS, which includes, among others, the University’s management team, the Administrator, and the Deans and Presidents, also had a meeting to discuss the matter.  

This meeting then led to producing the first draft of this note, which was then subject to consultation in the Administrative Management Committee meeting on Monday 8th June 2020, then with the COCOBA union representatives on Tuesday 9th June 2020, and finally with the representatives of the Students’ Union (ORE) on Wednesday 10th June 2020. 

Furthermore, regarding external consultation, the Council of Francophone Rectors (CRef) sent an official press release on 9th June 2020, whose joint and categorical preference is to return to face-to-face teaching in university establishments from the next academic year. 

Objective of this note

The objective of this note is to outline the main guidelines for the academic activities of the 2020-2021 academic year at our institution.

This guidance note should serve as food for thought and discussion, and then be translated into practical operational modalities.

Context reminder

At the time of writing, thanks to encouraging health indicators, the step-by-step deconfinement process can continue. On Wednesday 3rd June, the National Security Council (CNS) also adopted a series of provisions to contemplate the 2020-2021 academic year more calmly.

Like the other higher education establishments, with which the authorities have been in discussion for a number of weeks on this subject, UMONS is not hermetic to this general context and can now position itself more concretely to best prepare for the start of the academic year at all levels (logistics, academic, etc.).

General philosophy  

In agreement with the Minister of Higher Education, the Francophone universities of Belgium have, therefore, chosen to favour the option of returning to face-to-face teaching in September. 

It should be noted that the proposition here only concerns the organisation of academic activities. The organisation of student activities on our premises, sites and campuses will not be authorised during the first semester of the next academic year, unless, due to a reversal of the health situation, conditions can be relaxed to allow these activities to take place.

While the current global health indicators show an encouraging trend, COVID-19 has not completely disappeared from society, and certain virologists advocate vigilance in order to protect us all from a second wave, which would, again, mean tightening confinement measures.

The fundamental principle underlying this statement of intent is therefore, above all, the consideration of the preservation of the health of our community, students and staff members. No risks will be taken. 

With the current knowledge available on the evolution of the pandemic, it is not possible to make radical and definitive choices. At this stage, since we have both reassuring elements and uncertainties, we can only envision the 2020-2021 academic year.

To this end, the proposed strategy aims to prioritise caution, modularity and the ability to adapt to the unpredictable evolution of the situation; the idea being to best prepare for all scenarios in September.

As such, the ambition of the 2020-2021 academic year is to return to our sites and campuses in person, on a moderate and controlled basis. Sanitary conditions permitting, it is clear that the will of UMONS is a return to the usual organisation of face-to-face teaching. 

Operating procedures

Following the inter-university consultation, and with the approval of the Minister responsible, the implementation of these practical arrangements related to the resumption of academic activities will therefore primarily aim to encourage a return to face-to-face teaching.

Concretely, this will mean allowing students (particularly Bachelor and Master students who are registering for the first time at university) to be able to meet their teachers and other students and familiarise themselves with student life, while respecting the sanitary measures that will be effective in September.

The Faculties, Schools and teachers will be able to decide on the best way to combine face-to-face teaching and distance learning, using the rooms (classrooms, lecture theatres, labs, etc.) allocated to them. Any decisions made will have to be in strict compliance with the standards of distancing that will be imposed on higher education establishments by the authorities of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, depending on the evolution of the pandemic.

Splitting the students into smaller sub-groups is among the list of possibilities. The idea is that when one sub-group of students is onsite, another follows the course online, as these will be recorded and broadcast live, or pre-recorded as of the next academic year.

A rotation between these different sub-groups will help the students to maintain regular contact with their teachers.

The expected advantages of this approach are:

  • The current capacity and number of UMONS lecture theatres will allow lessons to take place using this method. It will therefore not be necessary to duplicate courses.
  • The schedules as programmed for a so-called “normal” year can be maintained for the most part, making it easier for the staff concerned to take well-deserved time off during the summer holidays.

The principle of returning to a moderated and controlled face-to-face teaching also allows a two-fold flexibility:

  1. In terms of monitoring health measures:
  • If, during the first semester, it is necessary to resort to more rigorous health measures (or even a complete reconfinement), it will be easy to switch entirely and exclusively to distance learning
  • If, during the first term, we decide to lift the physical distancing measures, returning to “normal”, with all students in the classroom, can be quickly implemented.
  1. Regarding how the teachers choose to organise their courses, they can offer live or pre-recorded lecture-type lessons (with online broadcasting),or flipped classroom lessons using different modes and a combination of face-to-face teaching and distance learning. As such, the experience acquired by the UMONS teaching staff during this unprecedented confinement will make it possible to consider a potential partial extension of the distance learning measures in September. Evidently, if the health conditions allow, a return to full-time on-site learning can be envisaged.

Update 4 june

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: Measures taken by UMONS following the National Security Council on Wednesday 3rd June 2020

Dear colleagues,

On Wednesday 3rd June, in light of the encouraging health indicators, the National Security Council validated the transition to Phase 3 of the deconfinement plan, the measures of which come into force from Monday 8th June.

Now the logic of the provisions is reversed: freedom is the rule and prohibitions are the exception. Everything is allowed… except what remains prohibited.

This is, of course, a complete paradigm shift, but that does not mean that this changeover should take place abruptly. We wish to implement it gradually.

The University of Mons will therefore follow this trend, but we must not be complacent. Even though COVID-19 has been more discreet in recent times, it is still present. Therefore, it is necessary that, individually and collectively, we continue to exercise basic caution within our institution in order to avoid contributing to a revival of the pandemic.

We continue to insist on respecting basic hygiene measures, such as: the minimum safety distances between colleagues at work (1.5 m) and, if these cannot be respected, the wearing of a mask, as well as frequent hand washing, systematic ventilation/airing of the premises, and particular attention must be paid to those at risk.

On the sites of the University of Mons, the wearing of a mask is still highly recommended in all communal areas and spaces where colleagues are likely to cross paths.

As far as the internal organisation of work is concerned:

  • Returning to your office, workshop, lab, etc. is therefore now desired. Access to the buildings of the university will, however, continue to be carried out in a reasoned manner, subject to compliance with the aforementioned health and safety advice and instructions. While teleworking is no longer the default rule, it can be maintained and/or combined with physical onsite presence if it is compatible with the functions and missions concerned, subject to the agreement of the department head.
  • It is up to the department heads to determine the best way to organise the work of their teams.
  • As a reminder, in a spirit of solidarity, and in order to relieve our cleaning teams, anyone who resumes their face-to-face activities will clean and disinfect their own computer equipment (keyboard, mouse, desk, etc.). Equipment and material for this has been made available. If you have any requests or questions about this, please email di@umons.ac.be
  • Childcare leave is maintained until 30th June 2020.
  • Even though face-to-face meetings are possible, with the rules of physical distancing and protection in place, videoconferences may continue to take place.
  • Access to university restaurants remains prohibited until 30th June 2020 (departmental kitchen areas remain accessible).
  • The libraries remain inaccessible until 30th June 2020, except for when borrowing books, which can only take place under certain conditions.
  • Study rooms will only be accessible to students who have been explicitly given authorised access following a prior request made via the online questionnaire which closed on 4th
  • Only students who have to carry out research for their dissertations, and who have prior authorisation to do so from their supervisors, will be granted access to our buildings.

As a reminder, the following remains prohibited until 30th June:

 Face-to-face teaching

  • Student activities and trips.

A detailed note regarding the organisation of the 2020-2021 academic year is currently being prepared. It will consider the possibility of returning to face-to-face teaching on a moderate and controlled basis. This note will be submitted to the relevant bodies (academic authorities, union representatives and students) for discussion before being validated and sent to the whole UMONS community.

In the meantime, we are also preparing new markers for the summer break. At this stage, we can already inform you that “researcher/teacher” mobility is authorised from 01/07/2020 and that the provisions relating to “in” and “out” student mobility for the 1st semester of 2020-2021 will be made available next week.

It is essential that, individually and collectively, we implement the measures outlined above in order to return to normality as quickly as possible.

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones!

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator

Update June 2nd

Dear colleagues,

This unprecedented distance-based exam session entered its second week on Tuesday 2nd June. So far, we are happy with its smooth operation.

The establishment of an “Exam Helpdesk” at three levels of intervention has certainly contributed to making this a positive experience for our students and teachers who can use it if they have any technical or pedagogical issues.

Last week, very few incidents were reported. Broadly speaking, only one student per 150 (or 0.75%) encountered a “problem”, and the system currently has an incident resolution rate exceeding 90%.

This exceptional result is, above all, due to the flawless organisation of the IT Department and the Educational Support Unit. Forty colleagues took it in turns to run the helpdesk every day of the week between 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and received, sorted, re-directed and resolved requests submitted either by telephone (+32 65 37 23 23), via the online form (accessible via this link), or by email (2323@umons.ac.be).

One of the very happy, and unexpected, consequences of the implementation of this system is the wonderful intermingling that it has generated. All in good spirits, with the primary concern permanently focused on finding solutions, these colleagues, of very diverse statuses and who had not collaborated before, have been able to get to know each other better. We thank them for their availability, dedication and personal investment!

If you are tempted by this experience, and if you wish to broaden your professional skills, know that the Human Resources Department (DRH) is relaunching its call for volunteers in order to diversify the desired profiles, and to be able to rotate the teams until the end of the examination session on 1st July.

For the first level, calm and assertive profiles are sought in order to respond to requests addressed to the helpdesk. For the second level, those with a quick and methodical mind are sought for understanding and re-directing the requests. Finally, for the third and last level, technical and fundamental skills and knowledge of Teams, Moodle and IT are needed for “resolving” the issues.

If you are interested and would like to apply, click here. You can also offer your support by email (drh.candidatures@umons.ac.be) or by phone (065/37 37 37).

Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones!

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 20 may

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: Email to the UMONS community on Wednesday 20th May 2020

Dear members of the University,

To all of our colleagues,

Since Monday 18th May, some staff members have been able to return to the university in order to carry out necessary missions on our premises.

The gradual lifting of confinement measures and the partial resumption of activities conforms to the orders imposed by the National Security Council. Protecting everyone’s health remains our only priority.

This resumption of activities has been made possible by the behind-the-scenes work carried out over the past two weeks by motivated staff who have volunteered their services to clean, disinfect and reinstate our buildings and equipment. We thank them all for their hard work and dedication.

That said, university buildings will continue to be accessed in a reasoned manner, and only for missions approved beforehand by the department head. Teleworking should continue to be favoured in all functions and missions where possible. This can be combined with working on-site during the week. Social and physical distancing measures and basic hygiene precautions remain in force. Wearing a mask is compulsory in all collective spaces and in any areas where colleagues are likely to cross paths.

All of the aforementioned measures apply up to and including 8th June, the date on which new federal provisions will be announced. We will continue to observe the developments, and will inform you of any changes.

To our teachers and students,

We are thinking of all of you concerned by the upcoming exam session. We are wholeheartedly with our teachers, as well as with our students, who have started, or who are about to start, study leave and their exams.

We are also fully aware of the peculiarity of the situation and the difficulties imposed by the switch to distance learning. To best support our students, we remind them of the psychological support available to them via the U-Psy Unit (more info here) as well as the available material and financial assistance offered by the U-HELP Unit (more info here).

The Educational Support Unit (SAP) has made tutorial videos for both the students and the teachers which have been posted on the intranet and are available on this page. These clips give advice in order to approach this examination session as calmly as possible. The SAP is also available to students for personalised methodological or orientation support, by appointment via SAP-Etudiants@umons.ac.be.

Regarding logistics, we have loaned numerous computers and items of computer equipment (headphones, webcam, cables, etc.) and strengthened our telephone lines and Internet connections. “Only” 5% of our 9000 students reported this kind of problem to us through the online questionnaire, which closed on 4th  May,  and since then, each case raised with our services has been identified and has been the subject of a concerted solution. So, everything is gradually getting back to normal for all those who have come forward.

Another precaution that we have taken for the remote examination session is the creation of a technical help desk, which allows our students and teachers to report any problems encountered during the exams and, ideally, get them resolved by our technical and pedagogical staff.

So, from 25th May, if you encounter technical difficulties during the exams, you can contact “Helpdesk examens” in three ways:

Please note that the contact information for staff is different and will be communicated in another email at a later date from the Vice-Rector for Education.

The students and teachers will also receive instructions to follow regarding the checks to perform before the exam and the actions to be taken in the event of a problem.

This helpdesk was subject to a call for candidates (among our staff members), launched by the Human Resources Department (DRH), in order to equip it with the most appropriate and necessary staff. If you wish to volunteer your services, complete this online Mission Helpdesk form or send an email to candidatures@umons.ac.be (with “Appel à mission AM7” in the subject line). All the information on the profiles sought was indicated in the email that the DRH sent to staff on Wednesday 20/05.

To our students,

Of course, despite all of these precautions and devices in place, no one can guarantee or predict that this session will run without the slightest glitch. However, we can guarantee that all the staff concerned, including your teachers, are fully prepared and are doing their utmost to make everything go as smoothly as possible. Our exam boards are aware of the particularity of the situation, and everyone is conscious of the need to be flexible, considerate and fair on all levels.

The last piece of advice we can give you is: study! The ball is in your court. Prepare as best as you can and let’s try to make this exam session a success. We are confident that everything will be fine.

Good luck to you all! We are proud of you!

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector            Ph. Mettens, Administrator

As a reminder, all the provisions concerning the organisation of work and studies can be found at www.umons.ac.be/coronavirus


Update 15 may

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: provisions related to the partial and gradual resumption of activities from Monday 18th May (Phase 3)

Dear members of the University,

So, we have reached the end of Phase 2 of our internal plan for the gradual lifting of the confinement measures, and have therefore partially resumed our on-site activities.

For two weeks now, our technical teams have been preparing our entry into the final phase. Phase 3 will come into force as of Monday 18th May and will see some of us, namely researchers and lab technicians, return to the UMONS premises.

We maintain what was communicated to you in our email sent on 30th April (provisions can be consulted via this link) and we will continue to follow the orders imposed by the National Security Council.

At this stage, protecting everyone’s health remains our only priority.

The gradual lifting of measures and the partial resumption of activities on premises will be carried out under strict conditions.

From Monday 18th May:

Teleworking should continue to be favoured in all functions and missions where possible. This can be combined with working on-site during the week.

Videoconferences are preferred over face-to-face meetings, which should be absolutely avoided.

Access to the University’s buildings has to be for a justified reason approved by the department head beforehand.

Social and physical distancing measures and basic hygiene precautions must be rigorously observed by all returning members of staff.

Wearing a mask is compulsory in all collective spaces and in any areas where colleagues are likely to cross paths.

Staff who resume their face-to-face activities must clean and disinfect their own computer equipment (keyboard, mouse, desk, etc.) in order to reduce the workload of our cleaning teams. Equipment and material will be made available for this purpose.

Similarly, the Infrastructures Department insists that attention must be paid to the ventilation systems in our offices. For equipment set manually and individually, the occupants of the premises concerned are kindly asked to turn these off when possible, or, if this is not possible, to put them on the minimum 24-hour/day operation mode. It is also not recommended to use fans, but rather to regularly ventilate rooms by opening windows. If you experience any difficulties with this, please contact Planificateurs-DI@umons.ac.be

As a reminder:

  • Access to the UMONS canteens remains prohibited.
  • Where the students are concerned, only final-year students who have to carry out research for their dissertations, and who have prior authorisation from their supervisors for this purpose, are allowed on-site.
  • The libraries’ reading rooms remain inaccessible. The loans service will resume on Monday 18th May, but only for books reserved in advance. The terms of the reservation system are explained here.
  • Study rooms will only be accessible to students who have been given explicit prior authorisation following a request made via the online questionnaire, which closed on 4th

All of the aforementioned measures apply up to and including 8th June, the date on which new federal provisions will be announced. We will continue to observe the developments, and will inform you of any changes.

Furthermore, and again as a reminder, until 30th June, the following is prohibited:

  • Face-to-face teaching
  • Student activities and trips.

Again, we are relying on your personal and professional integrity. It is indeed essential that, individually and collectively, we respect the measures set out above in order to halt the pandemic and to be able to return to normal as quickly as possible.

We cannot finish this message without referring to a very nice solidarity initiative led by a group of researchers from our Research Institute for Health Sciences and Technology.

They have collaborated with some MUMONS graphic designers to create a website called “home stress home”, which aims to assess the level of anxiety linked to the pandemic and confinement measures among the youngest of our society (3 to 25 years old).

Feel free to share this info with anyone you think may need to use this assessment and the recommendations that this service offers.

Take good care of yourselves and your loved ones!

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 12 may

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: feedback on the online questionnaire and useful information regarding your exams.

Dear students,

As previously announced, we are now able to give you precise feedback following the online questionnaire, which we closed on 4th May, and in which you were asked to express your technical and environmental concerns with regard to the upcoming remote examination session.

The questionnaire helped identify the circumstances of 454 students, less than 5% of our total student population. And even before the closure of the questionnaire last Monday, the majority of situations had been dealt with on an individual basis by the Social Services Unit and/or the IT Department, who found a mutually agreed upon solution with the students concerned.

Currently, very few specific situations remain unresolved today, which are often because of the great geographic distance of the students concerned (Congo, Martinique, etc.) or due to students’ lack of response to emails and phone calls.

For the latter reason, please be aware that it is currently impossible to provide suitable answers; certain solutions impose orders which sometimes have a very long timeline. The students concerned who have not yet responded must therefore respond to ressource.examen@umons.ac.be as soon as possible.

Students who have reported their situation have been offered, or will be offered, a suitable solution. This could be in the form of advice, a loan of a computer or another piece of equipment, or allowing students to study on the UMONS premises if studying at home proves difficult due to, for example, a lack of equipment or no Internet connection.

These alternatives have required specific contacts and information regarding the sanitary measures that must be observed to ensure everyone’s safety.

In addition, an external service provider will offer its expertise and a new, stronger and more stable platform throughout the study leave period and the Q2 examination session. Called “Moodle Examens”, it is specifically for the organisation of remote exams and preliminary tests. Its operation will be similar to what you are already familiar with on Moodle.

Regarding the assessments, and as a reminder, the Educational Support Unit (SAP) continues to upload video tutorials to the Intranet. Visit the “Étudier pendant le coronavirus” (“Studying during the coronavirus”) section regularly to read the valuable advice which is intended to prepare you for the upcoming examination session. Three videos on assessment methods have also been posted. They can be viewed here.

For customised methodological support and guidance, the SAP-Etudiants platform remains available to all students, on request by appointment at SAP-Etudiants@umons.ac.be.

In addition to these measures, there is also a call centre to support students and teachers throughout this period in case they encounter technical/IT difficulties with the exams and even the preliminary tests. The phone number will be communicated to you as soon as it is operational. More practical information on this subject will be communicated to you in a subsequent message and will also be published on the Intranet.

All of the abovementioned provisions are in addition to the computer loans and the strengthened telephone lines and Internet connections that had already occurred at the beginning of the confinement, before the questionnaire was sent to students, so that distance learning (online teaching) could take place.

Since the beginning of the crisis, this range of “technical” assistance has been implemented in addition to other measures which, combined, aim to consider the human factor. Such is the case with the U-Psy Unit, which provides psychological support to all those in need, students and staff included. As for U-HELP, their team have been able to provide material and financial assistance (housing, rent, food, etc.) to those in need. These two units remain at your service. For U-Psy, click here and for U-HELP, click here.

Finally, in order to complete your dissertations, a home loan service is available from the UMONS libraries from Monday 18th May. This service requires prior reservation by email or via the online catalogue. More detailed practical information is available on the libraries’ website, Intranet and Facebook page (as a reminder, the reading rooms remain closed to the public).

For the June assessment session, you are asked to submit your dissertations electronically. As for submitting paper versions (for exceptional cases), instructions and provisions will soon be communicated to you by your Faculty authorities.

In this regard, if the Students’ Course Press (PUM) resumes its activities on Monday 18th May, its premises will only be accessible under complete compliance with the strict distancing instructions and the mandatory wearing of a mask. To avoid queuing, you are requested to make an appointment beforehand and send the documents to be printed by email to offset@umons.ac.be. As a reminder, the PUM will be closed on 22nd and 23th May (the public holiday to mark Ascension Day).

We remind you that the university sites and buildings are generally not accessible to students, unless specific prior authorisation has been granted, and provided that the conditions are strictly followed. These rules can be found via this link and in our email of 30th April.

Whether remotely or on site, rest assured that our services and our staff are fully prepared, and they are doing their utmost to ensure that your study leave is well-organised and that you are properly equipped to approach the exam session as calmly as possible.

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector

  1. Demeuse, Vice-Rector for Education Ph. Mettens, Administrator

Uptade 8 may

Dear colleagues,

Since Monday 4th May, many of our colleagues have volunteered their services to restore the buildings and equipment on all the University’s sites.

These agents have been assigned tasks which include cleaning, disinfecting, restoring general infrastructure and laboratories, and posting safety and social distancing instructions all over the University.

Other colleagues have come forward to prepare, maintain and disinfect classrooms and computer rooms, so that we can accommodate any students encountering insurmountable IT-related difficulties, such as poor or no Wi-Fi connection at home, or any other conditions that do not facilitate studying at home. The staff of the crèche and our restaurants have also been working this week to provide day-care and meals for the little ones.

At the same time, 59 members of staff have also responded to our call for solidarity via the “MOB’INISATION” platform (which is still active via drh.carriere@umons.ac.be and 065-37.37.37), thus demonstrating the wonderful team spirit that characterises our institution! Thanks to these diverse profiles (scientists, teachers, administrators, technicians and manual labourers), and the behind-the-scenes “matching” from the DRH, we have already been able to set up hotlines for the clinical study on the loss of smell and taste in COVID-19 patients. This initiative has also helped provide further support to UMONS-Ecoute, helped with the organisation of the Virtual Open Day on Saturday 9th May, and has assisted the FabLab with the production of protective visors for medical staff in Hainaut.

Thank you to all of these colleagues for their unwavering dedication! In some departments, entire teams responded. Here is a link to a news article on the Intranet which explains a little more about this and the photos of some of the colleagues concerned.

It goes without saying that this clearly demonstrates the spirit of solidarity and strong work ethic that are abundant in our community, which we can only applaud!

As announced in our email to staff on 30th April, we have arrived at the end of the first of the three phases of the deconfinement timeline. As such, from 18th May, there will be the partial and gradual resumption of activities, under strict conditions, particularly with regard to research activities.

As a reminder, these conditions are:

  • Strict compliance with federal provisions
  • Precaution (health above all)
  • Our staff’s willingness to provide services that differ from their usual role
  • Department heads playing a key organisational role
  • The phasing in 3 successive stages.

The first of these phases began on Monday 4th May and will continue until Monday 11th May. Then, until 18th May, and if Belgium’s National Security Council still allows it, staff can proceed with restoring specific equipment in laboratories. So, from 18th May, it will be possible to gradually return to the premises for the resumption of research-related tasks.

Other activities not requiring the presence of our colleagues on our sites are also scheduled, but will take place remotely. This was the case for our first virtual Open Day on Saturday 9th May, coordinated by the Communications Department with technical support from the IT Department. This first edition required the virtual presence of many of our teachers, administrative staff and our students. A big thanks to them!

Then, from Monday 11th May, we will enter the second phase of the gradual lifting of the confinement measures, with the restoring of equipment in labs to allow the return of researchers and technicians from 18th May.

As previously mentioned, thanks to the dedication of our staff, these researchers can come back to work knowing their workspace is clean and complies with health and safety regulations. Indeed, they may have even previously benefited from the necessary health protection equipment provided by “U-Masks”. Thirteen members of staff volunteered their services to take on this project, which was launched on 17th April thanks to the donation of material (cotton fabric, clothes, ribbons, elastic and thread) to make 300 masks, 180 of which have already been distributed to those responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of our buildings, as well as to our early childhood professionals in the crèche. If you are interested in this initiative, please contact Projet-U-Masque@umons.ac.be.

MUMONS also continues its entertainment and popular science activities remotely for the benefit of the external public and the UMONS community. The whole team is called upon to broadcast its good vibes 💛 in these troubling times. You can start by discovering who is behind MUMONS by watching the boomerang videos of members of the team. You could then also take up one of their challenges, relax by watching a fascinating live broadcast, immerse yourself in a society where school doesn’t exist, explore nature, or listen to an audiobook to transport yourself into a futuristic world as imagined by teenagers. Visit www.mumons.be regularly for more information.

And as discussed with the director of MUMONS, an experienced astronomer, and without even speaking of total deconfinement, we can cautiously begin to consider organising these activities in the longer term.

The Sports Unit will be proceeding with the organisation of the summer camps for children of staff aged between 6 and 12, subject, of course, to the future decisions of the National Security Council. Rest assured that no risks will be taken and all health recommendations will be followed. These fun multi-activity camps will cover sports, culture and science, and are currently scheduled on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from 01/07 to 31/08, with a day-care service available 1 hour before and 1 hour after. Breakfast, snacks and hot lunches will be provided. Here is the link to the online form to register your child/children. For more information, you can also contact sport@umons.ac.be.

Finally, because it is never too early to start thinking about Saint Nicholas, please already note in your diaries that our traditional Saint Nicholas Party for the children of our staff is scheduled to take place on Saturday 5th December 2020. Via this link, you will be able to register your child/children and enter your 3 choices of toys (in the order of preference and with the corresponding numbers, otherwise the form will not be sent). For more information, contact amicale@umons.ac.be or visit www.umons.ac.be/Amicale.

As we enter phase 2 of our gradual deconfinement measures starting Monday 11th May, we ask you to take good care of yourselves and your loved ones and to continue to comply with the health regulations. Only together can we overcome this ordeal to come out the other side even stronger.

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector      Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 30 april

Dear members of the University,

The decisions regarding the deconfinement, as announced by the National Security Council (CNS) on Friday 24th April 2020, refer to a limited and gradual recovery of activities, carried out under strict conditions. This will be implemented at the University of Mons and in other aspects of daily life in Belgium.

The purpose of this email, the content of which has been subject to extensive consultation, is to outline the gradual deconfinement measures and to establish the most appropriate guidelines for their implementation.

Other emails will continue to follow as the situation evolves.

This email summarises the partial resumption of activities at the institution, in particular with regard to research activities, from 18th May.

In this context, the following have authorisation to be present on-site: senior and junior researchers, laboratory technicians and all the support staff necessary for the performance of research activities. External members of UMONS may also be permitted to come to the University, in exceptional circumstances, e.g. for the essential maintenance or repair of equipment, as long as the general rules of social distancing and wearing a mask are respected at all times.

As a reminder, the resumption of activities does not concern lessons, which will continue to be taught remotely until the exam session (this will be the subject of another email).

The presence of students in the UMONS buildings is therefore not authorised at this stage, with the exception of those whose arrival in these buildings is essential to finalise their dissertations, and provided that this visit has been previously agreed upon and authorised by their supervisor, who must send an email to this effect to the student concerned. The students concerned must be able to show this authorisation on request.

General Principles

Strict compliance with federal provisions – No internal measures will be taken which would contradict the general health security provisions taken by the federal government.

It is clear that the final decision to authorise the resumption of activities at the University of Mons will have to be confirmed by the CNS and the Prime Minister. It is therefore possible that the confinement will not be lifted, even partially, on 18th May. In any event, the instructions given in this email will apply until 30th June, unless otherwise stated.

Precaution – The resumption of activities will not be authorised if the sanitary conditions and legal provisions, as outlined in this email, are not met.

The gradual and partial resumption of activities will only be carried out under conditions that guarantee the safety of staff and the provision of sanitary material for them to use.

For this purpose, paper towels, hand sanitizer and masks have been ordered and will be made available for those who will be required to come on-site.

Like on public transport, wearing masks will also be compulsory on our UMONS sites, in any area where members of our community can meet. Although recommended, the wearing of masks is not compulsory in individual offices.

In laboratories, wearing a mask (covering the nose and mouth) is compulsory whenever social distancing cannot be consistently respected, for example during an experiment.

Reusable fabric masks must be washed by their users in accordance with recommendations in order to maintain their effectiveness.

As the law states, the employer must take responsibility for the upkeep of work and safety clothing and equipment. However, staff members may, if they so wish, take care of the maintenance of their personal equipment if this helps to reassure them.

Offering to work on site – Returning to the university buildings is not authorised until 18th May. This does not, however, apply to staff whose presence is deemed necessary for maintaining the facilities.

Any resumption of activities, even partial, will only be carried out by staff members who offer to come in, which has to be previously and explicitly agreed upon by their department head.

Flexibility in the organisation of work – Teleworking, for both level 1 and 2 agents, remains the preferred working mode until further notice, and must continue wherever possible.

Remote meetings are therefore also preferred. Face-to-face meetings, which do not allow social distancing measures to be respected, remain prohibited.

The clocking in and out procedure will ensure that both flexibility and the necessary formalities are maintained.

The Human Resources Department (DRH) will update and add the necessary days to UniWebTime.

On-site presence is, however, authorised if required.

It is also now possible to organise your working week by combining on-site work and teleworking, depending on the needs of the missions.

This organisation must be carried out in strict agreement with the department head (see below).

The essential role of department heads – It is up to the department heads to assess the relevance of the on-site presence of staff members. Members of the departments must contact their department head for this purpose. The Rector and the Administrator will intervene in case of disagreement.

Regarding this point, we insist that each department head assesses the concept of “necessary presence” and “essential missions”. It is worth bearing in mind that any presence on the premises also requires the presence of other UMONS departments, including our technical and cleaning teams.

Each department head is therefore asked to consider the risks involved before any decision to mobilise staff.

In the event of a disagreement, the Rector and the Administrator will make the final decision. Protecting the health of all our members will always remain our top priority, above any operational or scientific obligations.

Any presence on the premises must comply with the social distancing and health rules in force.

It is also the responsibility of all department heads to ensure that their staff respect these measures and rules.

We therefore ask you to read the instructions set out in the SPF Emploi guide, which is available on the Intranet via this link.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should obviously stay at home, call their doctor, and tell their supervisor and/or head of department.

Travelling to/for work

  1. Between home and the workplace: whatever the preferred mode of transport (private vehicle or public transport), staff must comply with the health measures in place.
  2. Use of department vehicles: attention will be paid to department vehicles, which should ideally be occupied by only one person.

 Phasing – the resumption of activities will occur gradually and will be based on the implementation of three successive stages, which aim to allow a partial resumption of activities on 18th May 2020 (the end of the phasing period).

It is worth nothing that this phasing may still be adapted, extended or even suspended, if the deconfinement decisions adopted by the National Security Council are, in the meantime, reviewed, due to the possible aggravation of the pandemic.

The three phases are:

  • From 4th to 11th May: maintaining the facilities

This phase will focus on the cleaning, disinfecting and technical maintenance of the general infrastructure and laboratories. This includes, but is not limited to, functional and technical aspects (plumbing, electricity, heating, air conditioning, Wi-Fi, etc.)

During this period, any unused rooms, e.g. lecture halls, classrooms, sports halls, etc. will be closed. The number of accessible sanitary facilities will be reduced in order to carry out maintenance work with fewer staff. Information about these measures will be displayed around the University.

This phase will require the return of technical and maintenance personnel from 4th May.

These agents will be informed beforehand by their department heads of the safety instructions to be observed during any technical, cleaning and disinfecting operations, and will be provided with all the sanitary equipment necessary to perform their duties safely.

During this first phase of one week, the required tasks can be carried out on an adapted schedule, which will have been modified accordingly, in order to prevent the staff concerned from having to cross paths and to accelerate the cleaning and the preparation of facilities.

  • From 11th to 18th May: Resumption of limited laboratory activity

With strict regard to the health constraints, access to the UMONS buildings may be authorised from 11th May for department heads and any of their team members whose presence is necessary at this stage, provided that they agree to support the resumption of research activities from a technical standpoint (e.g. turning on equipment, performing functional tests, placing orders, etc.). The conditions described in the introduction regarding the role of department heads will be strictly enforced.

  • From 18th May: possibility to resume research activities and the possible return of administrative and research staff

 

As a reminder, this deadline of 18th May only applies to a partial and gradual resumption of activities, particularly research activities, under strict conditions, at the University of Mons.

Activities can only resume if the following conditions are respected:  

  • Strict compliance with federal provisions (which could evolve to new restrictions, if the pandemic experiences a resurgence)
  • Preservation the health of staff (applying social distancing measures, providing staff with sanitary equipment and material, hand sanitizer, masks, etc.)
  • Extension of the provisions in terms of work organisation and teleworking
  • Department heads decide, in prior consultation with their teams, who is and isn’t authorised to return to the workplace.

In order to relieve the maintenance staff and reduce their presence in our infrastructures as much as possible, it is suggested that, once their activities resume, each department identifies the unused rooms in order to reduce the daily cleaning load.

In the same logic, and to reduce any risk of contamination, it is proposed that each department takes charge of cleaning personal office equipment (telephone, keyboard, mouse, etc.), using disinfectant wipes or sprays.

As for deliveries and receiving parcels, arrangements will be made for all our sites so that social distancing measures can be respected.

Access to lifts will be strictly regulated and reserved mainly for those with a physical disability or technical needs. If the lifts are used, distancing provisions will apply.

A display board will indicate the rooms that are not accessible, as they have been deemed not essential for the resumption of activities. Access to buildings is possible via badge.

We thank you for respecting these instructions and recommendations, and we hope you had a lovely  bank holiday weekend!

 

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator

 

Special health provisions relating to research activities (*)

Access to premises 

  • The number of people in laboratories must correspond to social distancing measures.
  • Department heads must favour alternating presence within the department if necessary.
  • Accessible rooms which can, and need to, be cleaned must be well ventilated every day.
  • Before leaving the premises, remember to close the windows and doors.
  • Anyone outside the department who must go on site for data collection purposes (subjects of experiments) will be admitted only with the prior authorisation of the department head.

Communal areas:

  • For health reasons, cafeterias (and equivalent areas), in all departments, remain closed.

Equipment and material

  • Department heads must ensure, as much as possible, that soap is available in each area of the laboratory. Paper towels (e.g. Tork-type paper) must be available to dry hands!
  • Hand sanitizer must be visible in places if soap is not easily accessible.
  • Provision of antiseptic wipes or isopropanol for cleaning keyboards, computer mice and telephones. Common computers and telephones must be cleaned by each user after each use. Cleaning and disinfecting personal computers can be done at the end of the working day.

Personal behaviour

  • Respect the distancing measures (at least 1.5 metres)
  • Wash hands regularly
  • When?
    • Before and after removing a mask
    • Before eating
    • After blowing your nose, coughing and sneezing
    • After going to the toilet
    • Once you have arrived on site and just before leaving
    • After receiving any post or packages
  • How?
    • Wet your hands under running water.
    • Lather your hands, if possible with liquid soap.
    • Rub your hands until the soap foams. Do not forget to rub the back of the hands, between the fingers, under the nails, then the wrists.
    • Rinse your hands well under running water.
    • Dry your hands with a clean towel or, preferably and if possible, disposable single-use paper towels

(*) These specific provisions are in addition to the general provisions adopted by the University (refer to the “Precaution” section further up in this email)


Update 27 april

Dear students,

 On Friday 24th April, the Government of the French Community issued specific instructions regarding the organisation of the end of the academic year.

 We had fortunately been able to anticipate certain decisions, thanks to discussions between the different ministers, higher education institutions and student organisations, thus enabling us to remove a certain number of uncertainties.

 The situation as we know it is evolving. As announced last Friday, Belgium’s National Security Council is also implementing progressive measures, which depend on the evolution of the health situation. Uncertainty cannot be totally excluded, which will no doubt make things very uncomfortable for each of us in the coming weeks.

 As indicated in our previous messages, our actions are guided by the current health context, and our aim has always been to make the rest of the academic year run as smoothly as possible since the switch to online teaching (distance learning) on 13th March.

 This switch was not a simple technical operation; it required major adaptations from teachers, technical services and, of course, our students.  

 The situation for some of us at UMONS has been, and continues to be, particularly difficult. We are fully aware of this and, since the beginning of the confinement, we have put in place technical means, such as the provision of computers and Internet connections for students in difficulty, as well as human resources, for example, U-Help (social services), U-Psy (psychological support), and Faculty helpdesks, to try to provide the most suitable solutions for the entire UMONS community.  

 Our objective is to make sure everyone can continue to work during this period, and, along with the collaborative effort of all UMONS staff and students, the measures described below are intended for this purpose.

Adapted arrangements for Q2 assessments

In the context of remote teaching, the teachers were asked to identify the essential elements that will be assessed and to specify the form of these remote assessments. Our decision to organise only remote assessments has been carefully considered and allows everyone’s health to be protected, and for students’ learning and the work carried out by the entire UMONS community to be validated.

The problems posed by the organisation of face-to-face exams for all students, if even permitted by the national authorities, would be endless: e.g. the need to constantly disinfect the premises, managing who enters and exits the premises, providing protective equipment for everybody, constantly respecting social distancing measures in large groups of people, and travelling to the university, including by public transport… And we must not forget the risks associated with a potential return to confinement following a potential re-contamination, affecting both our students and teachers, and that this could happen in the middle of the exams. Organising remote assessments avoids all of these issues.

In accordance with the Government’s decree, you were informed of this on Monday 27th April via the ECTS course descriptions. You are therefore requested to consult the ECTS course descriptions for each Learning Activity (AA). These are accessible via the 2019-2020 online study programmes by clicking on the title of the Educational Component (UE) or Learning Activity (AA).

In addition, more detailed information can be provided by the course leaders via the online course on Moodle, or on the electronic notice boards if the course does not exist on Moodle. You are also invited to contact your teachers if you need anything to be clarified.

You will find all of the ECTS course descriptions online at www.umons.ac.be/PDC. They include two new pieces of information: (1) Organisational arrangements for the remote assessments at the end of Q2 of the 2019-2020 academic year (Covid-19) and (2) Procedures for the remote assessments at the end of Q2 of the 2019-2020 academic year (Covid-19). To have direct access to the AA descriptions, you must choose the course, then click on “afficher les AA” where you will find all the relevant information.

  • Organisational arrangements for the remote assessments at the end of Q2 of the 2019-2020 academic year (Covid-19)

You have four options:

  • Written coursework (individual or group work, essay, report, dissertation, …)

According to the teacher’s instructions, the student writes a written piece of work which they submit on the online platform. This could be:

  • A piece of work to be submitted by a certain date

or

  • During the exam session, for a specific amount of time, answer open questions written by the teacher that require developed answers

The types of supporting documents that can be submitted can be a written document, an annotated presentation, a sound production, a photo of a diagram, etc.

If the student submits a video, it is particularly important to respect the teacher’s specific instructions. These productions must be realistic, taking into account the particular circumstances resulting from confinement.

This type of assessment will not be subject to any particular remote monitoring; we are placing our trust in the students.

Plagiarism detection tools will be maintained, as usual.

  • Written exam (multiple choice, open questions)

According to the teacher’s instructions, the student logs on at a specified time during the exam session to take a written exam within a limited amount of time. Two types of questions may be proposed:

  • Multiple choice and true-false questions
  • Open questions

This type of assessment will not be subject to any particular remote monitoring; we are placing our trust in the students.

Students will be able to consult their notes for most assessments of this type.

  • Oral exam (questions and answers, presentation of an individual or group project, comment and debate on a written piece of work, …)

The student is questioned orally, at a scheduled time, either individually (one student at a time) or in a group (for example, for a group presentation or defence).

The interface provided allows the teacher and the student to interact remotely in conditions that closely resemble those of a traditional oral exam, with the possibility of hearing and seeing each other and showing a written text.

This type of exam requires a webcam, a microphone and an audio output. These features exist on most laptops and smartphones, both of which can support TEAMS, either via the application or the web version.

Oral exams are not usually recorded by the teacher, unless it is necessary to assess the performance, such as in the case of simultaneous interpretation or the demonstration of a professional practice. If this is case, the student will be informed beforehand, and the recording cannot be distributed or kept beyond the time necessary for the assessment.

  • Practical assessment (placement, excursion, visit)

Some AAs can also be assessed on the basis of practical work, such as placements, excursions, visits, lab work or projects. These are activities that the student was able to perform before the confinement began or that the confinement did not prevent. These activities can be supplemented by other assessments, such as a report.

Unfortunately, in a very limited number of cases, it has been completely impossible to organise a learning activity, even an alternative one, during the semester.

For these situations, the ECTS course description indicates “Pas d’évaluation possible au Q2 2019-2020 (Covid-19)” / “No assessment possible at the end of Q2 of the 2019-2020 academic year (Covid-19)”.

The faculty authorities and those responsible for each course will then have to make a decision:

  • either an administrative validation when the AA is not deemed essential
  • or, if the AA is essential and passing the course cannot be guaranteed without a formal assessment, postpone the assessment until next year. If the student is not in the final year of study, they will be offered a modification of their PAE for the 2019-2020 academic year to avoid them failing, meaning that their studies can continue to be subsidised.
  • Procedures for the remote assessments at the end of Q2 of the 2019-2020 academic year (Covid-19)

This section allows the course leaders to communicate the necessary details regarding the assessment methods and the subject matter of the assessments. Information on how to submit work and logging in to take an exam will be communicated at a later date.

Similarly, all teachers will be asked to organise mock exams during the coming weeks, to the extent possible and if they deem it necessary, so that the students fully understand the instructions, the exam format and how to log on correctly.

A complete and corrected test is not necessarily the objective, but rather the elements which make it possible to best prepare for the exam session. Any adjustments can be made mainly, but not exclusively, during the week of study leave (“semaine blanche“).

Taking into account personal problems encountered by students during the end of Q2 2019-2020 assessments

UMONS is particularly concerned about the situation of all its students, especially those who are at a disadvantage, and those facing difficulties in their private lives. The current circumstances have further aggravated the situation of some, and have created new difficulties and challenges for others.

While the solutions adopted for the smooth organisation of this session work for a large majority of the students, certain students are faced with difficulties which they cannot overcome by themselves.

As such, from the start of confinement, we have asked these students to contact the various support services (U-Psy, U-Help, the Educational Support Unit (SAP) and the Faculty helpdesks). Whether it concerns materials, Internet connections, psychological or social help, each known situation has been managed appropriately to support learning. As for preparing for the end-of-year exams, this same type of help remains available.

Article 11 of the Government’s decree stipulates that students must formally communicate the fact that they do not possess the adequate material in order to take their exams remotely during the assessment period of the second semester of the 2019-2020 academic year.

In response to this, UMONS has prepared a form, accessible via this link, which allows students in difficulty to formally report their difficulties so that we can suggest possible solutions. If you do not answer this questionnaire by Monday 4th May 2020 at the latest, we will assume that you are not experiencing any issues which you cannot overcome and, therefore, no specific solution will be proposed.

The data collected via this questionnaire will assess the students’ needs and consider solutions suited to their specific personal situation, taking into account the means available to the institution and, of course, any health, administrative and legal constraints.

This questionnaire is not anonymous, so that the UMONS departments can respond to each request individually. The information collected will be treated confidentially by the UMONS staff responsible for processing requests.

If a student is already a “special needs student”, they do not need to complete the questionnaire, as the arrangements made for them will be part of the support they receive from “Les Cèdres”.

An end-of-semester “as normal as possible”

 As everyone knows, it is difficult to consider that the next two months will be a “normal” time, but UMONS also understands that other difficulties should not be added to the current ones, and is intent on avoiding an extended session.

It is for this reason that the assessment calendar will try to respect the usual calendar as much as possible. The idea is to follow the schedules, as planned by each Faculty, by maintaining the week of study leave (“semaine blanche”) and by finishing the assessments, except in special cases, by 30th June, with both the corrections of the assessments and the deliberations completed by 10th July at the latest.

Certain deadlines have been extended to suit specific arrangements, for example, the deadline for submitting dissertations. This arrangement means that the members of the specific boards now have less time to read the dissertations. Our thanks go to those concerned for accepting this extra constraint in what is an already difficult situation.

In case of difficulty resulting specifically from the situation (force majeure), extensions to the session will allow students to carry out learning activities and related assessments. Final-year Master’s or Advanced Master’s students, or those on the AESS course, will be entitled to an extension so as not to postpone their graduation and make them have to re-register the following academic year. This applies particularly to placements of the degree programmes which provide access to regulated professions (at European or federal level).

At this stage, it is still impossible to predict what will happen regarding the resit period in the summer. This information will be provided, as has been the case so far, as soon as it becomes available. Solutions will be sought, all the while considering, from a neutral standpoint, everyone’s health and the possibility of validating the work accomplished in these sometimes extremely difficult circumstances.

UMONS continues to be committed to its students, and all of its staff members. The authorities are all too aware of the implications that the decisions made can have on everyone’s lives and working conditions. Hang in there!

Take care of yourselves and each other!

Ph. Dubois, Rector M. Labie, Premier Vice-Rector M. Demeuse, Vice-Rector for Education

For all official procedures (exams, forms, etc.), as specified in the general study regulations, you must use your “UMONS” email address and consult your emails regularly.


Update du 17 april –

Coronavirus Covid-19: Extension of internal confinement provisions + solidarity and “recreational” measures during this period

Dear members of the University,

On Wednesday 15th April 2020, Belgium’s National Security Council, unsurprisingly, extended the confinement measures for the entire population until 3rd May.

While we all want to get back to normal, no one can predict the evolution of the pandemic after this date or anticipate how our federal government will adjust the health measures in the coming weeks.  We can, however, expect that we will still be called upon to be considerably limited in our freedom of movement for a certain period, which will impact the way our institution operates.

Also, for the sake of preserving your health and participating in the collective effort to limit the pandemic, the University of Mons can only extend the duration of the internal measures which were communicated to you on 12th March.

It is indeed essential that we all continue in our efforts to be careful and to behave responsibly in order to limit the duration of confinement and the spread of the virus.

Here is the list of measures that have been extended:

Until 3rd May 2020 at the earliest:

– Closure of all university buildings, with the exception of those which are needed to carry out a research activity related to the fight against Covid-19, as well as those where the maintenance of an essential minimum service must be provided.

– Working conditions adapted to the confinement measures:

  • All department heads are asked to continue to favour teleworking (including for level 2 agents), especially for those who are fragile health-wise, those who have developed symptoms, those in self-quarantine, and those who have worked closely with infected people.
  • Research activities can only be carried out under the responsibility of the unit heads and their continuation is subject to their agreement, under conditions of strict compliance with health and safety measures.
  • Face-to-face meetings are eliminated in favour of videoconferences.

Until 30th June 2020 at the earliest:

– All teaching activities planned until the end of the semester will continue remotely.

– Travel abroad (including for research reasons), as well as hosting colleagues from abroad is prohibited.

– The organisation of events (including extra-curricular student activities), colloquia, conferences or congresses organised by and at UMONS, regardless of the number of participants, is prohibited.

Beyond these strict and necessary security measures, the period of confinement that we have been facing for several weeks should not, however, prevent us from showing solidarity towards members of our community, or keep us from having a little fun, staying in shape, or learning something new, including English… as long as this is done remotely.

Making yourself useful through the “U-Masque” project

And so, the “U-Masque” project was born. We are currently reserving bulk-ordered masks for medical personnel and researchers. Therefore, we need you so that UMONS students and staff will be able to protect themselves with a mask when the deconfinement takes place at the University. Christine Boutique and some volunteers are calling for donations of synthetic fabrics (polyester), cotton and elastic, as well as more volunteers to make these masks. If you wish to help them, please complete the form HERE!

Below you will find useful links to various designs and tutorials:

As you will see, some make the masks with a jersey inner layer (mouth side) and a synthetic or cotton outer layer. Some replace the filters with cleaning wipes, coffee filters or a paper towel folded in four. Whatever your questions, the leaders of this project will answer them via Projet-U-Masque@umons.ac.be

“Mobin’isons-nous” – Call for Volunteers (reminder)

May we also remind you that, in these times of general confinement and teleworking, the Human Resources Department (DRH) has set up “Mobin’isons-nous”, a unit which aims to benefit from certain staff members’ voluntary services as, due to the current situation, they have less work than usual and thus more time to help strengthen other UMONS departments which are faced with a work overload. Information on this newly created mobility platform, designed as a system of mutual assistance for a fairer distribution of resources and tasks, is available here.

Self-development

Thanks to “MUMONS”, there are many opportunities to have fun and learn from home. Each week, MUMONS offers many activities for you to continue to understand the world and to stimulate curiosity and reflection in this peculiar period. These activities include live conferences, accessible anywhere and at any time on the MUMONS YouTube channel, a fun catapult-making competition, and the completely delusional Crazy Machine Challenge. For the curious-minded, no matter what age, there are some new award-winning audio books as well as information on some of the University’s heritage collections. And if that’s not enough, you can express your feelings through the art project “La vie en coronavirus” (translation: “life during the coronavirus”).

Improve your English

Want to improve your listening comprehension skills via online conferences (TED conferences with the option of subtitles)? How about revising basic conjugation, expanding your lexical field, or listening to podcasts in English? The Centre for Modern Languages (CLV) invites you to consult its resources available on various platforms. The activities offered on Moodle can be found under the “English Seminars for Administrative Staff” course (CLV course, under the “formations professionnelles” section). They are initially offered to PATO agents as part of the promotion/tenure examinations, but are obviously now open to all via this link, under the pages “Ressources et points de grammaire A2-B1”, “English for Starters” and “List of TED Conferences”. Also visit the CLV Intranet pages which are accessible via this link and also this link, under the “ressources et liens utiles” section. Finally, you can also listen to RADIO CLIL via this link.

Keep in shape

The sports activities organised at UMONS for staff and students may well be cancelled, but it is still possible to keep moving and to maintain physical activity at home via the UMONS Intranet. You can follow several videos offering online exercises, such as Yoga (with Sylvain Derre), gymnastics (with Maxime Gentges, student in management and member of our national gymnastics team) and Pilates (with Nathalie Dath). All the videos are on this page.

Stay informed

In order to always be informed of everything that is said about UMONS in the media, you can consult the press review published every day by the Communications Department (DCOM), which is available on the home page of the Intranet or here. You will be able to read (for free, of course) a selection of articles which are primarily about teaching and research, as well as reports (written, audio-visual and from websites) which mention UMONS.

Whatever you do during this prolonged confinement, be sure to respect the health and safety obligations.

Finally, we are proud of your efforts so far and we hope that you were able to relax a little and recharge your batteries during the Easter break.

Take good care of yourselves and each other.

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator

 


Update 16 april for Students

Dear students,

On Wednesday 15th April 2020, Belgium’s National Security Council, unsurprisingly, extended the confinement measures for the entire population until 3rd May.

While we all want to get back to normal, no one can predict the evolution of the pandemic after this date or anticipate how our federal government will adjust health measures in the coming weeks.

Faced with this prevailing uncertainty, we understand your concerns related to the end of this rather odd academic year, particularly with regard to the organisation of the end of Q2 assessments.

In this regard, the Students’ Union (ORE) recently expressed their wish for the upcoming examination session to take place exclusively in a formative and non-certifying mode.

However, we must be clear about this: we simply cannot agree to this request, for several reasons beyond our control.

Firstly, this type of decision falls under the strict jurisdiction of the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and the specific competences of the Minister of Higher Education who have not taken a position on this. Secondly, there are regulated professions which require certification at European level. We cannot therefore bypass this legislation, which, in doing so, would potentially penalise some of our students.

Although we cannot agree to ORE’s request, please be assured that the University of Mons will show understanding and kindness at all levels and will take into account the unique situation which we are all facing.

As a reminder, our desire is, and always has been, to ensure that our students are not penalised in their private or academic lives as a result of the exceptional circumstances we all find ourselves in.

As such, the assessments and deliberations will take these circumstances into account for courses, exams and dissertations.

With regard to placements, the Faculties will also show maximum flexibility, taking into account legal constraints and the specific situation of each student.

As announced in our e-mail sent on 8th April, it is clear that a remote assessment session for Q2 is the most reasonable way forward, in order to protect your health and that of your teachers.

We are well aware of the limits of this system and will take care to continue to strictly follow the following two main principles for the exams:

  1. the willingness to be flexible in organisational arrangements
  2. maintaining fairness to all students.

The modifications to the ECTS course descriptions, which will include the newly adapted course subject and examination modalities, will be available by the set deadline of 27th April.

We have asked your teachers to adapt as much as possible and, in all cases where possible, to replace face-to-face written assessments with:

  • written coursework
  • the remote organisation of a written exam
  • the remote organisation of an oral exam.

Whatever choice is made from the above options, teachers must simply transpose their usual exams in distance mode but adapt them accordingly.

Regarding the technical aspect of these remote assessments, our Vice-Rector for Education, the Educational Support Unit (SAP), the Academic Affairs Department and the IT Department have recently carried out broad market research and identified the tools most suited to our institution. These are Moodle (on the AZURE platform to optimise efficiency and stability) and Teams.

A practical guide on the technical aspects is being produced and will be sent to you soon.

As decided by the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, there will be a week of study leave (“semaine blanche”), during which mock exams will take place before the “real” exam session. This will prepare you for the new instructions and exam format, as well as help you to analyse your knowledge of the subject in question and to see if the materials you have to be able to take the exam are appropriate.

In any case, these remote assessments will be systematically considered with fairness in order to avoid exacerbating the social inequalities caused by the digital divide.

To avoid any transgressions, and to allow some of you to be properly equipped, the University has already loaned some computers on request, and has strengthened its server to allow for better remote connections.

For remote assessments, it is necessary to maintain, and even reinforce, this type of support. If you require this support, send an email to sophie.devos@umons.ac.be (for connection issues) and/or veronique.feldheim@umons.ac.be (for a computer loan).

Students who encounter insurmountable difficulties at home (overcrowded families, zero internet connection, no access to a computer, etc.), which would most likely make it impossible for them to take their exams remotely, will be able to benefit from technical solutions on our premises. These solutions will implement the means of protection necessary for the benefit of the participants.

However, this is strictly limited to those for whom this option is the one and only solution, subject to prior reservation (practical details will follow). In a concerted solidarity approach between ULB, ULiège, UNamur and UMONS, in order to avoid long trips, it is also proposed that IT rooms be shared and made available to students encountering difficulties, such as those set out above, regardless of the university at which they are registered.

If you currently have any concerns regarding your studies, we remind you of the existence of faculty helpdesks whose contact details are below:

FS-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FMP-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FPMs-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FPSE-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FTI-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FWEG-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FAU-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

ED-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

ESHS-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

If you encounter financial difficulties (housing, food or other), we remind you that you can always call the “Help-U” service via isabelle.brumagne@umons.ac.be .

Similarly, if you experience psychological difficulties related to the confinement, you can also contact our “U-Psy” service via aurelie.vilers@umons.ac.be.

Our non-profit organisation “Les Cèdres” has contacted all of our special needs students so that they can individually make the desired changes for their exam session.

Rest assured that all of our services are currently doing their utmost to ensure that the remote assessments go as smoothly as possible for you.

Despite the prevailing uncertainty, we hope that you have been able to relax a little and recharge your batteries during the Easter break.

Take care of yourselves and each other!

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 8 april for Students

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: measures taken by the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation regarding the June assessments

Dear students,

On Tuesday 7th April 2020, on the initiative of the Minister of Higher Education, the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation adopted a series of provisions which define the general guidelines for the end of this academic year.

They have decided to maintain the examination session in June for higher education.

The two main principles underlying these general provisions, which UMONS has strictly followed since the beginning of this crisis, are:

  1. the willingness to be flexible in organisational arrangements
  2. maintaining fairness to all students.

We understand your concerns, especially regarding the practical organisation of the assessments.

The University of Mons will show understanding and kindness at all levels and will take into account each person’s unique situation.

In this regard, our will is the same as that of the Government: to ensure that you are not penalised in your private or professional lives, as a result of the exceptional circumstances we all find ourselves in.

As such, the assessments and deliberations should take into account these special teaching and assessment circumstances.

At this point, we do not have all the answers to your questions. We ask you to be patient, and we promise to communicate regularly and transparently, and to keep you informed of any developments.

More precise information on the practical points mentioned below will be sent to you after the Easter holidays.

We are well aware that the upcoming exam session will be very peculiar. However, we ask you to approach this collective challenge together, with confidence and in a spirit of solidarity in order to overcome it.

In these difficult times, our thoughts are with those in our community who have been affected, directly, or through one of their loved ones, by the coronavirus. We are also thinking of those of you who are working in research and in collaborative initiatives to fight the epidemic. We are extremely grateful.

Take care of yourselves and each other!

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator

Assessment Methods

In their note of 7th April 2020, the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation grants autonomy to higher education institutions regarding the practical organisation of the June session.

No one can currently predict how the health situation will develop in the coming weeks. One thing is certain: we will be obliged to comply with the most up-to-date public health security orders issued by the National Security Council.

This uncertainty forces all higher education institutions (including ours) to start preparing for our June assessments now. Indeed, all the exams may have to be sat remotely if the confinement measures are extended and no physical presence is allowed on the University’s premises.

Face-to-face exams can be considered only if the confinement measures are lifted and strict compliance with public health security and social distancing conditions can be guaranteed.

As such, our authorities have asked your teachers to adapt as much as possible and, in all cases where possible, to organise written and oral assessments remotely and to replace the originally planned written exams with written coursework.

Supported by the expertise of the Educational Support Unit (SAP) and the IT Department, our Vice-Rector for Education is currently identifying the remote assessment tools most suited to our institution.

Remote assessments will be systematically considered with fairness in order to avoid exacerbating the social inequalities caused by the digital divide.

Choosing a subject and adapting to the assessment methods must be done systematically with flexibility and kindness towards the assessed students.

Particular attention will be given to international and special needs students.

The modalities of the examinations will, in all cases, be subject to consultation with the academic staff, the students and administrative staff.

It should be noted that, in order to maximise your chances of passing the assessments, a week of study leave will take place between the end of teaching and the start of the assessment period.

Government Deadlines

The calendars initially announced by the Faculties for the end of teaching and the examination sessions will be maintained as far as possible, but will be adapted to the new forms of assessment.

Detailed modalities for the examinations are currently being developed. They will be subject to consultation with the Students’ Union (ORE). The Faculties will then communicate these terms to you. The deadline for this, set by the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, is 27th April 2020.

Therefore, by this date, all students should ideally be informed of the content of each assessment, adapted accordingly, as well as the practical conditions of the assessments. Students should also have access to the ECTS course descriptions, which you should update and modify accordingly, and their assessment schedule.

In this particular context, the University recommends that all teaching teams and the board show kindness and fairness in their assessments.

Finally, the Government has planned for higher education institutions to extend the end of the second semester to 10th July at the latest. Like the other FWB Universities, UMONS will only activate this possibility if really necessary. The goal is to respect the initial schedule and to have minimal impact on students.

Placements

Regarding placements, the measures taken by the Government are as follows:

  1. Traditional placements: if possible, replace or supplement the placement with alternative educational activities.

If this is not possible:

  • Postpone the placement, or part of it, to the summer holidays (after the second semester)
  • Postpone the placement, or part of it, to the first semester of the 2020-2021 academic year
  • Postpone the placement, or part of it, to the next academic year (2020-2021),
  • As a last resort, students who have already successfully completed at least 75% of their placement, as stated in the regulations, can be exempted for the rest by the Board.

These guidelines will be used as a reference to develop the regulatory procedures that will allow us to receive requests, analyse them and make the necessary decisions on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Placements for regulated professions: for professions whose requirements are defined in European directives (e.g. doctor, pharmacist, architect), the European Commission has recently indicated that the standards in force must be strictly maintained.

For placement locations that remain accessible, it is advisable to maintain or resume the placement, if possible and with precaution, giving priority to final-year students.

The goal is to not delay your integration into the professional world.

For placements that cannot continue, the following possibilities are proposed:

  • For all years, except the final year: recuperate certain placement hours not worked once studies resume
  • Carry out the placement in the summer holidays (after the second semester), making sure the two assessment periods are maintained
  • Increase the number of daily hours that the student can work in order to more quickly compensate for the hours of placement not worked
  • As a last resort, postpone the placement.

Again, our institution will consider these possibilities and shall issue the regulations necessary for their implementation.

For those of you who have volunteered to support health care facilities, it is up to the boards to consider the possibility of validating the skills acquired during the period of voluntary work as training hours, in whole or in part, in full compliance with European regulations.

A balance between the nature of the tasks performed on a voluntary basis and those provided for by the legislation relating to obligatory placements, must be demonstrated, as must the reality of educational supervision. If one of these two elements cannot be demonstrated, the voluntary work cannot be validated as training hours.

Dissertations 

The measures taken by the Government regarding dissertations are as follows:

Dissertations are maintained.

However, adaptations to the content are desirable, such as:

  • Modify the objective of the dissertation so that the practical/field work is no longer necessary
  • Favour more theoretical work
  • Favour a theoretical analysis of the possibilities of the different experimental approaches
  • When the students submit their dissertations, ask them to also submit a small summary explaining how the current crisis may have had an impact on the realisation of their work, so that the Board can take this into account in their assessment.

The Faculties may also:

  • Extend the dissertation submission deadline
  • Propose an open session in the first session
  • Suggest that dissertations are submitted in the second session.

If, despite the information provided, you still have questions, please send them to your Faculty’s or School’s helpdesk via one of the following email addresses:

FS-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FMP-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FPMs-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FPSE-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FTI-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FWEG-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

FAU-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

ED-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

ESHS-Helpdesk@umons.ac.be

For up-to-date information on the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19, please visit www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS

Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force.


Update 8 april for Teachers

Subject: Coronavirus Covid-19: measures taken by the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation regarding the June assessments

 Dear members of the University,

Dear teachers,

On Tuesday 7th April 2020, on the initiative of the Minister of Higher Education, the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation adopted a series of provisions which define the general guidelines for the end of this academic year.

They have decided to maintain the examination session in June for higher education.

The two main principles underlying these general provisions, which UMONS has strictly followed since the beginning of this crisis, are:

  1. the willingness to be flexible in organisational arrangements
  2. maintaining fairness to all students.

We understand the legitimate concern that our teachers and students have, especially regarding the practical organisation of the assessments.

The University of Mons will show understanding and kindness at all levels and will take into account the exceptional situation which we are all facing.

In this regard, our will is the same as that of the Government: to ensure that our students are not penalised in their private or academic lives as a result of the exceptional circumstances we all find ourselves in.

As such, the collective objective that our teachers will pursue is to preserve, above all, the essentials of learning. The assessments and deliberations should take into account these special teaching and assessment circumstances.

At this point, we do not have all the answers to your questions. We ask you to be patient, and we promise to communicate regularly and transparently, and to keep you informed of any developments.

More precise information on the practical points mentioned below will be sent to you after the Easter holidays.

We are well aware that the upcoming exam session will be very peculiar. However, we ask you to approach this collective challenge together, with confidence and in a spirit of solidarity in order to overcome it.

In these difficult times, our thoughts are with those in our community who have been affected, directly, or through one of their loved ones, by the coronavirus. We are also thinking of those of you who are working in research and in collaborative initiatives to fight the epidemic. We are extremely grateful.

Take care of yourselves and each other!

Ph. Dubois, Rector          M. Labie, First Vice-Rector          Ph. Mettens, Administrator

Assessment Methods

In their note of 7th April 2020, the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation grants autonomy to higher education institutions regarding the practical organisation of the June session.

No one can currently predict how the health situation will develop in the coming weeks. One thing is certain: we will be obliged to comply with the most up-to-date public health security orders issued by the National Security Council.

This uncertainty forces all higher education institutions (including ours) to start preparing for our June assessments now. Indeed, all the exams may have to be sat remotely if the confinement measures are extended and no physical presence is allowed on the University’s premises.

Face-to-face exams can be considered only if the confinement measures are lifted and strict compliance with public health security and social distancing conditions can be guaranteed.

As such, our authorities have asked your teachers to adapt as much as possible and, in all cases where possible, to organise written and oral assessments remotely and to replace the originally planned written exams with written coursework.

Supported by the expertise of the Educational Support Unit (SAP) and the IT Department, our Vice-Rector for Education is currently identifying the remote assessment tools most suited to our institution. You will receive an email about this in the coming days.

Remote assessments will be systematically considered with fairness in order to avoid exacerbating the social inequalities caused by the digital divide.

Choosing a subject and adapting to the assessment methods must be done systematically with flexibility and kindness towards the assessed students.

Particular attention will be given to international and special needs students.

The modalities of the examinations will, in all cases, be subject to consultation with the academic staff, the students and administrative staff.

It should be noted that, in order to maximise the students’ chances of passing the assessments, a week of study leave will take place between the end of teaching and the start of the assessment period.

Government Deadlines

The calendars initially announced by the Faculties for the end of teaching and the examination sessions will be maintained as far as possible, but will be adapted to the new forms of assessment.

Detailed modalities for the examinations are currently being developed. They will be subject to consultation with the Students’ Union (ORE). The Faculties will then communicate these terms to you. The deadline for this, set by the Government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, is 27th April 2020.

Therefore, by this date, all students should ideally be informed of the content of each assessment, adapted accordingly, as well as the practical conditions of the assessments. Students should also have access to the ECTS course descriptions, which you should update and modify accordingly, and their assessment schedule.

To do this, teachers will have access to the computer system beforehand to encode the expected changes using a template that will be sent to them to facilitate these operations. A notification will follow!

Teachers are requested to report their intentions, and any difficulties encountered, to their Faculty or School following the procedures which will be indicated to them by their Dean or President. The procedures are being put in place in order to ensure consistency and to allow those responsible for organising schedules to anticipate the impact on the practical organisation of the assessments.

In this particular context, the University recommends that all teaching teams and the board show kindness and fairness in their assessments.

The Government has planned for higher education institutions to extend the end of the second semester to 10th July at the latest. Like the other FWB Universities, UMONS will only activate this possibility if really necessary. The goal is to respect the initial schedule and to have minimal impact on students.

Regulatory procedures will soon be specified in order to achieve this goal and will be made public as soon as possible.

Placements

Regarding placements, the measures taken by the Government are as follows:

  1. Traditional placements: if possible, replace or supplement the placement with alternative educational activities.

If this is not possible:

  • Postpone the placement, or part of it, to the summer holidays (after the second semester)
  • Postpone the placement, or part of it, to the first semester of the 2020-2021 academic year
  • Postpone the placement, or part of it, to the next academic year (2020-2021),
  • As a last resort, students who have already successfully completed at least 75% of their placement, as stated in the regulations, can be exempted for the rest by the Board.

These guidelines will be used as a reference to develop the regulatory procedures that will allow us to receive requests, analyse them and make the necessary decisions on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Placements for regulated professions: for professions whose requirements are defined in European directives (e.g. doctor, pharmacist, architect), the European Commission has recently indicated that the standards in force must be strictly maintained.

For placement locations that remain accessible, it is advisable to maintain or resume the placement, if possible and with precaution, giving priority to final-year students.

The goal is to not delay the students’ integration into the professional world.

For placements that cannot continue, the following possibilities are proposed:

  • For all years, except the final year: recuperate certain placement hours not worked once studies resume
  • Carry out the placement in the summer holidays (after the second semester), making sure the two assessment periods are maintained
  • Increase the number of daily hours that the student can work in order to more quickly compensate for the hours of placement not worked
  • As a last resort, postpone the placement.

Again, our institution will consider these possibilities and shall issue the regulations necessary for their implementation.

For students who have volunteered to support health care facilities, it is up to the boards to consider the possibility of validating the skills acquired during the period of voluntary work as training hours, in whole or in part, in full compliance with European regulations.

A balance between the nature of the tasks performed on a voluntary basis and those provided for by the legislation relating to obligatory placements, must be demonstrated, as must the reality of educational supervision. If one of these two elements cannot be demonstrated, the voluntary work cannot be validated as training hours.

Dissertations 

The measures taken by the Government regarding dissertations are as follows:

Dissertations are maintained.

However, adaptations to the content are desirable, such as:

  • Modify the objective of the dissertation so that the practical/field work is no longer necessary
  • Favour more theoretical work
  • Favour a theoretical analysis of the possibilities of the different experimental approaches
  • When the students submit their dissertations, ask them to also submit a small summary explaining how the current crisis may have had an impact on the realisation of their work, so that the Board can take this into account in their assessment.

The Faculties may also:

  • Extend the dissertation submission deadline
  • Propose an open session in the first session
  • Suggest that dissertations are submitted in the second session.

If, despite the information provided above, you still have questions, we remind you that you will soon receive more details and updates, and we advise you to contact the Dean/President of your Faculty/School.


Update 02 april

Subject: Anonymous questionnaire on the impact on students of the measures adopted to combat COVID-19

Dear students,

Following the exceptional circumstances that we are currently experiencing, all UMONS courses are now taught online.

We are trying to meet your needs as best as possible. To help you in the event of any difficulties caused by this situation, we are asking you to take a short survey, which will help us measure your satisfaction / dissatisfaction.

This survey covers the same themes as those launched by the FEF a while ago, but this time it is intended exclusively for UMONS students.

Since we are constantly striving to improve the University’s educational services, we will get back to you again with a similar questionnaire in the future, so stay tuned!

In your interest and that of UMONS, we therefore strongly encourage you to participate by simply clicking on this link.

Thank you for your cooperation,

The ORE Students’ Union, in collaboration with the University Management Team


Update 31 march

Dear students,

On 12th March, Belgium’s National Security Council decided to move to the federal phase of the risk management plan to limit the spread of COVID-19. On this occasion, the Prime Minister announced that all citizens, private companies (except those carrying out activities essential to the crisis effort) and public institutions, including education, were forced into confinement. This measure was applicable throughout Belgium, from midday on 13th March 2020. At their meeting on 27th March, the National Security Council decided to extend lockdown until at least 19th April.

In addition, the Council of Francophone Rectors decided to prolong online teaching (distance learning) until the end of the semester.

Since the Prime Minister’s initial announcement, the Universities have requested that their students, residing in student accommodation, return home in order to respect federal provisions and, of course, protect their health. It should be noted that the Universities have never ordered students to leave their student accommodation, as we are aware that this may not be feasible for some students. To date, around a hundred students continue to occupy their accommodation, as provided by the University, while ensuring compliance with the conditions of confinement and social distancing. Similarly, student rooms which are currently being rented out remain accessible to the tenants, so as to allow them access to their personal belongings, course notes, etc. which may have remained on site. The same conditions of confinement and social distancing apply.

However, we have received requests regarding the payment of rent for these rooms during this period, the duration of which remains undetermined.

After consultation with all of the Francophone Rectors, and in view of the above, we have decided to maintain the rents for the months of April, May and June, but completely revoke the sum required for utilities as stated in the rental lease. This, therefore, will automatically impact the rental amounts for these months. The rent for the month of March is due in full, as the Prime Minister’s declaration was made late into the month.

It remains to be said that your contract gives you the freedom to terminate your lease, but, if you chose to do so, this must be done in strict compliance with the provisions of the regulations and the signed leases (notice period). Furthermore, during the current confinement period, we will not authorise any move, which would result in the inappropriate mobilisation of our employees, especially those in charge of exit inventories and those responsible for access and security. Students and their parents are also prohibited from performing this type of non-essential task.

We take this opportunity to remind you that our Social Services Unit remains available to students who may, in these circumstances, face particular difficulties. If this applies to you, please contact Mrs. Isabelle Brumagne (isabelle.brumagne@umons.ac.be) whose team will assist you at best.

The University has a specific “social” budget, which makes it possible to help the most disadvantaged students of our Institution. This budget offers discreet but effective initiatives of solidarity for the benefit of those who need it. The revenue from the rent of our student accommodation feeds this social fund, and consequently helps us to solve many difficulties our students face.

UMONS must continue to rent out its buildings to students, just at a much lower price than those on the private housing market. If we renounce the income from these rents, we would be doubly penalised, since, in addition to the evident financial shortfall and the consequent impact on our social budgets, we would be faced with a debt vis-à-vis our own landlords.

To conclude, we hope that everyone understands that these decisions have no other objective than to respect legal constraints, and that we continue to implement our social policy for the benefit of the students most affected by the current crisis.

Ph. Dubois, Rector                 M. Labie, First Vice-Rector             Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 27 march

Dear members of the University,

As you have probably heard by now, our government has, unsurprisingly, decided to extend the confinement period until 19th April in order to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Please respect the measures scrupulously. This is in your interest and that of your loved ones.

It is essential that everyone adopts the precautionary and necessary behaviours which are intended to limit the pandemic in order to avoid blocking our health system and, ultimately, to protect the most vulnerable people in the community.

We have experienced some very trying days, with the skills of many UMONS members, both in our Faculties/Schools and in our general services, having been put to the test. They have all made a considerable effort, often remotely, to ensure that our institution continues to run smoothly.

Please know that we are fully aware of, and are extremely grateful for, your dedication. Thank you once again!

Our main focus has been on implementing the tools necessary for distance learning to take place. This has not, however, prevented us from working hard to also accomplish our missions of research and services to society.

Since the start of the crisis, UMONS has fully assumed its scientific role in the fight against the pandemic. It is with great pride that we are able to share with you a list of just some of the research projects which are currently being carried out within our walls and/or in collaboration with external partners (see below).

As you will read, and many media outlets have talked about it, all fields are concerned by the activities carried out by our researchers.

This proves, if proof were needed, our community’s commitment to crucial values, such as mutual support and generosity, which are all the more precious in these complicated times. To anyone who is in a teaching, research, technical or administrative role at UMONS, thank you for your contribution.

If you wish to help the teams of researchers and caregivers in our province, you may do so through the fundraiser launched by the Fonds pour la Recherche Médicale en Hainaut (Fund for Medical Research in Hainaut – FMRH), which depends on UMONS. The purpose of this fundraiser is to support fundamental, clinical and medical research. In this period of crisis, which has hit Hainaut with full force, the FRMH has decided to launch a fundraising campaign for medical teams. The medical field has urgent needs. Through the Koalect application, you can make a donation (tax deduction from 40 euros) in just a few clicks via this link. The FRMH management committee will ensure that the sums collected are allocated as equitably as possible between the hospitals in Hainaut.

Take good care of yourself and your loved ones!
Ph. Dubois, Rector M. Labie, First Vice-Rector Ph. Mettens, Administrator

First COVID-19 screening platform in Hainaut
Operational since the beginning of the week, this federally accredited screening platform is a huge contribution to the vital effort in fighting COVID-19. Developed by UNamur and transferred to UMONS with the help of our UMONS Innovation Center, Materia Nova, the screening device housed in the Pentagon (Plaine de Nimy campus), is able to process more than 400 tests per day for hospitals in the region, their in-patients and their staff. This greatly contributes to the increase in national screening capacity. Teams from the platform, led by our Vice-Rector Ruddy Wattiez, are composed of approximately 40 volunteer researchers and logisticians from laboratories of the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy. They take turns, seven days a week, to carry out this capital operation, which was set up in record time.

A Survey on Anosmia and Taste Disorders in Covid-19 Positive Patients
A prospective study into smell and taste disorders has just been launched by UMONS under the initiative of Professor Sven Saussez (FPMs) and Professor Jérôme Lechien (Foch Hospital – Paris), both ENT specialists. In recent weeks, several experts in countries affected by the epidemic have found that anosmia, hyposmia (smell disorder) and dysgeusia (taste disorder) manifested in certain infected patients, in the absence of other respiratory diseases. These patients could be properly screened and isolated from the general population. It is in this context that the questionnaire by Saussez and Lechien was created in order to collect as much scientific data as possible. Such information could have a major impact on screening for the COVID-19 infection. A call centre has also been set up. The questionnaire is answered anonymously, on a voluntary basis, and either by telephone or online via this link. Please note, it is only for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 (who are not in intensive care), those told to stay at home by their doctor or a specialist doctor based on symptoms (without being tested), or patients with symptoms of anosmia since 1st March (therefore excluding patients with chronic sinusitis, those who have had sinus surgery, and those with anosmia prior to 1st March).

Development of a rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test
This project is the result of a collaboration between the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, the Health Research Institute and Magnetrap. Its target audience is front-line users: paramedics, general practitioners, retirement home staff, home healthcare workers, etc. It aims to develop a COVID-19 rapid diagnostic test based on technology initially co-developed by Magnetrap and the University of Lyon 1 to detect malaria. Its primary qualities are portability, speed, sensitivity, quality and ease of use. Magnetrap’s teams benefit from UMONS infrastructure and its expertise, which is also reinforced by partnerships established with the spin-off B-SENS and the Liège-based company LACAR.

Decontamination of masks using plasma
Emergency service personnel currently use 40 to 50 medical masks per day for each patient they treat. Since we are aware of the current shortage of masks for healthcare staff, it is essential to study the possibility of decontaminating this equipment in order to reuse it. In recent years, plasma technologies, co-developed in Mons by UMONS and MATERIA NOVA (one of our UMONS Innovation Centers), have often been highlighted for their ability to modify and improve the properties of surfaces of all types of materials. With regard to the current health crisis and the shortage of medical equipment, a task force has been set up by Ministers Borsu and Morreale to study ways of producing masks and reusing used ones. As for the reuse of masks, the expertise from Mons intervenes at the assessment stage, to assess the ability of plasmas for the effective decontamination of masks. This strategy has been studied for several years around the world and, until now, has mostly concerned highly valuable medical objects (catheters, scalpels, …). The UMONS and MATERIA NOVA teams have been collaborating with the Centexbel research centre, which specialises in textiles, ULiège and the University Hospital (CHU) of Liège. The first trials began this week to test technology that is applicable on a large scale to objects such as surgical masks.

Study on the confinement and its impact on couples and families
A collection of data on marital and family relationships and couples’ experiences during confinement is being produced by the Child and Youth Clinical Psychology Unit (Professors Sarah Galdiolo and Justine Gaugue). A digital survey has been launched for this purpose. Data will be collected 4 times over the next few weeks. Confinement is indeed an exceptional situation which leads many couples and families to stay together 24 hours a day. Experiences of the marital couple and experiences of the couple as parents will be the dimensions studied in light of the different conditions of confinement and the various family setups. Experts hope to better understand the feelings of couples during this confinement, in order to reflect on the assistance and support devices that may be needed. In collaboration with other partners, the Unit is already considering the matter of coming out of confinement for children. Link to study.

The mental health of Belgians facing the Coronavirus crisis
The Psychodynamic and Systemic Clinical Psychology Unit (led by Jennifer Denis and Stephan Hendrick) has launched a study which aims to shed light on how Belgians are coping psychologically with the Coronavirus crisis. A short questionnaire was designed at the beginning of this week. Several questionnaires will be put online in the coming weeks and months to assess the evolution of the psychological experience of a large proportion of the Belgian population facing COVID-19. The aim will be to offer targeted recommendations for supporting people suffering from psychological distress. Over 1400 people have already answered the first questionnaire. Link to questionnaire.

A psychological support unit for staff and health professionals
On 24th March, we announced the launch of a psychological helpline for UMONS staff members who may be feeling uneasy due to the current health context and who feel the need to talk (email: UMONS-Ecoute@umons.ac.be). Since the announcement, this helpline has been expanded to cover hospitals in the region and their nursing staff, who may be under significant stress in their job. The Psychodynamic and Systemic Clinical Psychology Unit (led by Jennifer Denis and Stephan Hendrick) is currently working to support the helpline’s efforts and is also carrying out research on the matter.

Artificial intelligence for lung X-ray analysis
The Faculty of Engineering and Dr Sohaib Laraba are developing an artificial intelligence system based on “Deep Learning” so that COVID-19 can be detected automatically using chest X-ray images. This method helps to locate the infected area of the lung and could, with the help of an expert, deduce both the progression of the disease and the stage of infection. Although the results appear to be very promising, the system has yet to be validated by health specialists. It must also be tested with a larger database in order to generalise the conclusion. Data collection is currently underway.

Visors for face masks designed at FabLab UMONS
In collaboration with Fab-c (ULB Charleroi), FabLab UMONS is currently working on the production of visors for hospitals. These visors will be used to extend the life of the masks by preventing them from being contaminated.

Bioprofiling
The Bioprofiling platform, bringing together NMR and mass spectrometry technologies, will be involved in a study to identify predictive biomarkers for the diagnosis of COVID-19 and to monitor patients’ progress. Moreover, these biomarkers can also be used to determine the patients most at risk of developing a severe form of the disease. The Health and Biosciences Research Institutes are heavily involved in this project.


Update 26 march – For Staff

Dear colleagues,

We would like to communicate the latest decisions made by our authorities.

Creation of “helpdesks” for students

As announced by email on Tuesday 24th March, with contributions and assistance from different UMONS departments, the IT Department has finished setting up “helpdesk” type email addresses for each Faculty and School. These addresses will function as single points of contact which students can contact directly for any difficulties encountered regarding their online learning.

Initiated with the support of the Deans/Presidents, this approach aims to further strengthen interactions with our students during this complicated period. Therefore, students who may encounter difficulties in contacting our teachers, or in implementing the recommendations made by them, will be able to communicate their difficulties via these addresses. Students’ messages will be received by those responsible for organisational aspects within the faculties (various addresses linked to the dean and secretariats) who will then get in contact with the teacher(s) concerned and find solutions to the problem(s) encountered.

The purpose of implementing this system is to help you overcome the stress you may be experiencing as the end of this academic year approaches.

So that things are clear regarding the set-up of the helpdesks, we would like to share the message we sent to our students which you can find at the end of this email.

Maintaining pedagogical contact during the Easter holidays

In our message sent on 23rd March, teachers were asked to maintain contact with you, including during the Easter holidays. The concept of maintaining pedagogical contact needs to be clarified: teachers will not continue to teach their courses or provide students with new material during this period. They are simply asked to be available so that you may contact them, if necessary, to answer any course-related questions. If this is the case, you should send these questions via the usual communication tools (forums, Moodle). As a reminder, we can assure you that no graded assessments will take place during the confinement period.

Distance learning and live conferences on the MUMONS YouTube channel

MUMONS has launched a series of initiatives to take your mind off things. On Thursday, Professor Bruno De Lièvre (FPSE) gave a presentation, in French, entitled “Enseigner à distance : des outils et des taches(“Teaching from a distance – tools and tasks”), which was for all teachers, including those who are not part of the UMONS community and for those who teach in secondary schools. For more information on this conference, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/umons/permalink/10163369075640191/ and/or https://mumons.be/activites/les-directs-enseigner-a-distance-des-outils-et-des-taches/. Please also visit their YouTube channel. In all cases, it is recommended that the teachers prioritise the available institutional tools and follow the internal recommendations by using the tools offered by our techno-pedagogical teams.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be

For up-to-date information on the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19, please visit www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS

 Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force.

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

We are relying on your sense of civic responsibility to respect these measures and to participate in this collective effort which is necessary to overcome this crisis.

Take good care of yourself and your loved ones!

Ph. Dubois, Rector M. Labie, First Vice-Rector Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 26 march – For Students

Dear students,

We would like to communicate the latest decisions made by our authorities.

Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force, as well as the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19 via www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS.

Creation of “helpdesks” for students

As you know, the public health measures in place throughout the country oblige us to organise the entire semester’s courses online. This isn’t our preferred method, but we are doing our best to ensure that the current situation does not jeopardise your studies this year.

Despite all the efforts of your teachers, you may be faced with certain difficulties. This is why all the Deans/Presidents of the UMONS Faculties/Schools have decided to launch helpdesks so you can seek assistance.

Feel free to report any difficulties related to the organisation of your courses to the correct email address (see below) with the subject line “Helpdesk + name of course/learning activity concerned“. Your email will be redirected to the appropriate person within your Faculty/School, who will be sure to follow up with you.

Here are the email addresses of the 9 helpdesks that have been set up:

We realise that organising yourself under the current circumstances may be a real challenge. Therefore, we hope that these helpdesks make things easier for you. The purpose of implementing this system is to help you overcome the stress you may be experiencing as the end of this academic year approaches.

Maintaining pedagogical contact during the Easter holidays

In our message sent on 23rd March, teachers were asked to maintain contact with you, including during the Easter holidays. The concept of maintaining pedagogical contact needs to be clarified: teachers will not continue to teach their courses or provide students with new material during this period. They are simply asked to be available so that you may contact them, if necessary, to answer any course-related questions. If this is the case, you should send these questions via the usual communication tools (forums, Moodle). As a reminder, we can assure you that no graded assessments will take place during the confinement period.

Finally, may we remind you that we have created a page on the Intranet aptly titled “Etudier pendant le Coronavirus(“Studying during the Coronavirus”). For advice related to distance learning, please click here.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

We are relying on your sense of civic responsibility to respect these measures and to participate in this collective effort which is necessary to overcome this crisis.

Hang in there!

Take good care of yourself and your loved ones! And in spite of everything, enjoy the spring!

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector        Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 24 march – For Staff

Dear staff,

First of all, we would like to sincerely thank you for the unfailing commitment to our institution and its smooth functioning that you have shown since the start of this crisis, despite the distance imposed by the overall measure of teleworking.  

Your responsiveness means a lot to us. It has also allowed us to carefully solve every problem, even the most unpredictable, as they have arisen.

We would also like to take this opportunity to express our immense pride in all of our research teams, who are working tirelessly to limit the spread of the pandemic and its effects within our population.

The media has already considerably echoed this: the first screening platform for the COVID-19 coronavirus in the province of Hainaut was launched at UMONS on Tuesday 24th March 2020 (see the news on our site via this link). A real feat in such a short time!

You should know that other initiatives of the same kind will be launched in the next few days, particularly for diagnostic assistance and support. We will certainly keep you informed about this.

Know that these initiatives comfort us with the feeling that all of us are lucky to belong to a united and generous community. Thank you all again!

Here is the information we wish to share with you today:

The launch of a “UMONS-Ecoute” unit

UMONS staff members who feel uncomfortable with the current health situation in which we find ourselves, and who feel the need to talk about it, can now do so via a psychological helpline. In order to comply with the social distancing instructions, “UMONS-Ecoute” is there to support you in exchanges by videoconference or by telephone. If you’d like to contact us, send an email to UMONS-Ecoute@umons.ac.be. A clinical psychologist will contact you as soon as possible. It is essential that you leave your phone number or videoconference address so that they can call you back. Total confidentiality is, of course, guaranteed.

MUMONS to take your mind off things (a little)

Our MUMONS team has launched a series of initiatives to take your mind off things. It starts Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. with a live conference by Francesco Lo Bue about our solar system! A virtual meet-up will take place every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. This Thursday, Bruno De Lièvre, Head of the Pedagogical Engineering and Digital Education Unit (FPSE-UMONS) will help confined teachers, by giving a presentation, in French, entitled: “Enseigner à distance – des outils et des tâches” (“Teaching from a distance – tools and tasks”). These meet-ups will include conferences, virtual exhibitions, educational tools and precious online resources. To not miss out in these times of confinement, visit the MUMONS website regularly, as well as their YouTube channel and Facebook page.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be

For up-to-date information on the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19, please visit www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS

Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force.

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

We are relying on your sense of civic responsibility to respect these measures and to participate in this collective effort which is necessary to overcome this crisis.

Take good care of yourself and your loved ones!

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector            Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 24 march for Students

Dear students,

First of all, we hope that you are well and that you are taking good care of yourself and your loved ones in these strange and difficult times.

The measures below apply to you. Please read them carefully.

 Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force.

For up-to-date information on the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19, please visit www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS

Psychological Well-Being

If you have been concerned about your well-being since the beginning of this health crisis, the UMONS authorities inform you that the U-Psy Unit is available to students who feel unwell and need some support. To limit the spread of the virus as much as possible, and in view of the current situation, U-Psy has obviously had to switch to consultations by videoconference (Skype, Facetime or WhatsApp). Videoconferences of small groups to discuss various subjects, and to have the point of view of other students (around 5 people), could also be organised if desired. These will take place via Microsoft Teams and by appointment. U-Psy also remains available for telephone appointments (requests for which should be made by sending an e-mail to aurelie.vilers@umons.ac.be). For more information, click here.

Halls of Residence

We have had a number of requests from some of you regarding the payment of rent for our halls of residence. We must remind you that the confinement measures imposed on you (with recommendations to return home for students who can do so) have only one objective: the preservation of the health of our students. This is about saving lives. Our Social Services Unit is available to all our tenants who may be faced with significant financial difficulties. You can send an email to service.social@umons.ac.be.

Library Resources

The UMONS libraries are closed until further notice, but electronic resources remain accessible via a remote desktop server or a VPN connection. Due to the confinement measures, access to certain electronic resources has been widened and the resources on offer may change. You can follow this development and get all the useful information via the Libraries’ Intranet or their Facebook page. Our librarians remain at your disposal to answer your questions. Do not hesitate to contact them by email.

Special Needs Students

Protecting students with disabilities from COVID-19 has been the top priority of Les Cèdres. Its teaching team are using all means to check in on these students and to give them individual explanations of online courses, by email, by phone, by Skype, or by videoconference (with or without sign language interpretation) depending on the specific needs of each student. Course materials and academic work continue to be sent to them in files suitable for students with or without visual impairment. The team’s objective is to ensure that any student with a disability can benefit from the best possible follow-up in the current situation of confinement. Les Cèdres remains at your disposal for any follow-up of the various dossiers taken on by its pedagogical team. For more information, please send an email to: lescedres@umons.ac.be

Repatriation costs for students abroad

A procedure has been put in place by the International Relations Office for the reimbursement of travel expenses in the context of emergency repatriation of UMONS students stranded abroad. For more information, please click here.

Creation of Faculty “helpdesks”

The IT Department is currently busy setting up “help desk” type email addresses for each Faculty and School. These addresses will function as single points of contact which students can contact directly for any difficulties encountered regarding their online learning. We will get back to you with more information on this very soon.

REMINDER

Placements, dissertations and exams

As already communicated, we are well aware of the many unanswered questions regarding these matters. Discussions are still being held with the cabinet of the Minister of Higher Education to further define the practical arrangements for the organisation of all types of assessment. We will certainly keep you informed.

Provision of computer equipment and strengthening our means of telecommunication

In order to guarantee remote access to resources, may we remind you that UMONS has taken the following measures:

  • Students who do not have any computer equipment are asked to contact feldheim@umons.ac.be. A computer loan system has been set up thanks to a collaboration with the “Jeunesses Scientifiques de Belgique”, in addition to the purchase of new computers by our University.
  • Students who do not have a Wi-Fi/network connection at home , and who therefore do not have satisfactory access to remote resources, can contact devos@umons.ac.be. A partnership has been set up with our operator Proximus so that additional technical solutions can be implemented in the event of a faulty network connection. For all questions relating to costs incurred during this period, we will get back to you in due course to see to what extent they could be covered by UMONS.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

Take good care of yourself and your loved ones!

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector            Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 23 March 2020

Dear members of the University,

A videoconference bringing together the heads of higher education institutions and Minister Valérie Glatigny was held on Monday afternoon of 23rd March.

Following this meeting, the Conseil des Recteurs francophones (Council of Rectors in Francophone Belgium – CRef) issued the following press release:

The universities’ management of the coronavirus crisis has a threefold objective: to be fully committed to the measures in order to contain the pandemic; to apply all their medical, scientific and technological capacities to crisis management; and to continue to provide training for their students. These objectives have been decided mutually.

A key measure taken in this context was the widespread transition to virtual education as of 16th March, which has been more successful than expected. Now arises the question of the continuation of the semester beyond 5th April. Even taking into account the Easter holidays, which takes us up to 19th April, it is already highly likely that bringing large groups of people together will not be recommended for several weeks following the end of the current period of restriction.

After the coordination meeting organised by the Minister of Higher Education, the Universities have unanimously decided to continue distance learning until the end of the semester. In this they join the position of the Flemish universities. As well as the protective aspect of the measure, it allows us to calmly plan our teaching activities, and allows us to avoid prematurely considering when face-to-face teaching should resume.

In addition, removing uncertainty about the organisation of our lessons allows us to focus on more delicate matters that have still not been resolved by our system of virtual education. It is still premature to make decisions on the organisation of exams, but all universities have set themselves the goal of finishing the second semester, including the assessments, without significantly departing from the originally planned schedule. This will allow us to maintain the calendar for the resit period (second session) and start the 2020-2021 academic year with the current problems behind us.”

From this mutual standpoint, it has therefore been decided, within UMONS, to:

  • Extend the widespread use of distance learning until the end of the semester
  • Continue to favour flexibility within our institution for the organisation of these distance courses. To this end, teachers are asked to maintain pedagogical contact with the students (including during the Easter holidays) and to continue to show kindness and understanding, with regard to the exceptional situation in which we find ourselves.

We are well aware of the many questions about placements, dissertations and exams. Discussions are being held with the Minster’s cabinet to further define the practical arrangements for their organisation. We will certainly keep you informed.

In order to guarantee remote access to resources, may we remind you that UMONS has taken the following measures:

  • Students who do not have any computer equipment are asked to contact feldheim@umons.ac.be. A computer loan system has been set up thanks to a collaboration with the “Jeunesses Scientifiques de Belgique”, in addition to the purchase of new computers by our University.
  • Students who do not have a Wi-Fi/network connection at home, and who therefore do not have satisfactory access to remote resources, can contact devos@umons.ac.be. A partnership has been set up with our operator Proximus so that additional technical solutions can be implemented in the event of a faulty network connection.

Students/researchers abroad

After all the individual contacts made by the International Relations Office and the faculty coordinators, 24 members of UMONS (22 students and 2 researchers) expressed their wish to return to Belgium. Their identities and contact details have been communicated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to organise their repatriation. We are following their individual situations very closely.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be

For up-to-date information on the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19, please visit www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS

Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force.

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

We are relying on your sense of civic responsibility to respect these measures and to participate in this collective effort which is necessary to overcome this crisis.

Ph. Dubois, Rector       M. Labie, First Vice-Rector            Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 18th March 2020

Dear members of the University,

Based on recommendations issued by the National Security Council (which are based on the opinion of scientific experts), the federal government decided, on Tuesday evening of 17th March, to impose generalised containment measures on the whole country and the Belgian population in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

These severe measures, which are in line with what UMONS had already anticipated in recent days, will apply everywhere, to everyone, to all organisations, including our institution, from midday today (18th March 2020). They also apply to the entire UMONS community until 5th April 2020.

We are obliged to apply them rigorously, and are more than willing to do so, as these measures are clearly consistent with the preventative actions that we have put in place since the beginning of the crisis. In practical terms, the physical presence on the UMONS premises is now strictly and exclusively limited to those whose missions are considered essential/urgent for the institution and approved by the authorities.

To put it more clearly: no one is permitted to use our facilities from this Wednesday 12 p.m. until 5th April, except for the personnel, designated by the authorities, in charge of safety and the essential maintenance of the UMONS infrastructures who must monitor equipment which cannot be shut down (for this purpose, department heads, whose scientific activities may present dangers or require specific maintenance, will take the appropriate measures in strict consultation with the authorities).

If physical presence in the workplace is absolutely essential, strict compliance with the safety distance between colleagues must be observed.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, as recalled by the CREF press release issued on Tuesday evening, “Universities are acting vigorously to slow the progression of the pandemic. Their staff are prepared, and their research contributes to the understanding and the management of the pandemic. They shall strictly apply the new measures taken by the federal government. Fortunately, courses can be maintained and taught remotely. Our goal is for this period of confinement to be viewed by our students as a learning experience, which is certainly a special, but effective, case.”

As such, UMONS is proud to announce that it will play a frontline role in the fight against the pandemic, with several of our researchers already involved in the establishment of a Coronavirus detection cell in Hainaut, the purpose of which is to increase the capacity for analysis and thus reduce response time. We will get back to you shortly on the implementation of this detection platform.

In the meantime, please comply with the orders issued by our federal government. They serve only one purpose: to preserve our health system as much as possible from the current crisis, so as to protect the most vulnerable among us.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be.

For up-to-date information on the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19, please visit www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS

Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force.

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

We are relying on your sense of civic responsibility to respect these measures and participate in this collective effort which is necessary to overcome the crisis.

Ph. Dubois, Rector      M. Labie, First Vice-Rector             Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 17th March 2020

Dear members of the University,

First of all, we would like to thank you for the respect displayed enormously by each and every one of you with regard to the instructions given so far within our institution.

It is only individually and collectively that we will make an effective contribution in order to limit the spread of the pandemic. Every action counts!

Access to Buildings

In order to avoid intrusions and thefts on our premises, since Tuesday 17th March 2020, and until further notice, UMONS buildings can only be accessed by badge during this period of reduced activity.

May we remind you that the presence of staff on-site must be limited to only those whose activity has been defined as essential to the institution by the authorities, or for the preservation of the safety of our equipment (on-going scientific experiments requiring supervision, for example).

Teleworking and IT resources

We remind staff that teleworking is preferred in all cases. Be sure to follow the remote connection instructions provided for this purpose on the Intranet by our IT Department.

Please note that internal and external initiatives (notably with the Jeunesses Scientifiques de Belgique), which provide IT equipment to those who require it, are currently in place for our staff and students.

Students who do not have access to a computer are asked to notify their Faculty/School secretary who will gladly help them.

Organisation of Courses

We are aware of the uncertainties currently posed by the pandemic regarding the suspension of face-to-face courses. At this stage, however, it is essential for us to focus the efforts of the institution with the sole objective of limiting COVID-19.

We urge you to believe that, in time, and with the political decision-making authorities, we will resolve the difficulties encountered in individual academic paths.

Students Abroad (Erasmus, work placements, etc.)

We are aware of the difficulties that may be encountered by some of you. We remind you that UMONS undertakes to cover the repatriation costs of those who wish to, and can, leave their host country and return to Belgium. However, please inform yourself beforehand of the best attitude to adopt in your case by visiting SPF Affaires Etrangères (Federal Public Service for Foreign Affairs) via this link and getting in touch with the Embassy of your host country. Your faculty coordinator, whose contact details you will find via this Intranet link (log in required!), is also available. The International Relations Office is also at your disposal via relint@umons.ac.be for any specific advice.

Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be.

For up-to-date information on the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19, please visit www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

We are relying on your strict cooperation.

Ph. Dubois, Rector     M. Labie, First Vice-Rector            Ph. Mettens, Administrator


Update 16th March 2020

Dear members of the University,

It is our collective and individual duty to contribute effectively to the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

We can do this by very strictly applying the measures of social distancing recommended by the political and health authorities.

This is why we have decided to limit the physical presence of our students and staff on the University’s premises.

It’s very simple: avoid coming to the University as much as possible!

Concretely:

  1. For staff:

Teleworking is established for ALL categories of personnel: levels 1 and 2, and all manual labourers and administrative and technical staff (“PATO” staff), as well as researchers.

Presence on our premises must now be strictly limited to the tasks essential to maintaining a minimum functioning of the institution.

Department heads have been asked to define these missions, so as to identify a minimum required service. This is particularly the case with scientific activities. Activities that can be put on hold, must be. Those that require an essential presence to maintain their scientific activities may come on-site, but must strictly adhere to social distance guidelines.

  1. For Students :

We ask students not to come to the University.

Access to our buildings is restricted from Tuesday 17/03/2020. The University’s restaurants, libraries and study rooms are now closed in order to strictly comply with social distancing guidelines.

University halls of residence remain accessible only to those who live there and do not have other accommodation options. Solutions to ensure the continuity of accommodation will be implemented for these people. All other tenants in our halls of residence are asked to return to their homes and respect the recommended distancing measures. Any appearance of suspicious symptoms (fever, cough, breathing difficulties…) must be immediately reported by phone to a doctor, as well as by email to the Housing Office at cites@umons.ac.be.

As a reminder, the implementation of distance learning will be gradual. The arrangements will be communicated to you regularly via the intranet and Moodle. Remember that, from now on, protecting our health is THE priority and that controlling the spread of COVID-19 must inspire our actions.

Even though we understand that it is natural for students to want to meet up and be social, we can only strongly advise you to minimise human contact, even in your private lives. Avoid private gatherings. What is dangerous right now is being around large amounts of people in close proximity. Everyone is at risk (even young people) and, above all, at risk of putting others at risk, particularly the most fragile (the sick and the elderly), without even realising it.

In other words, it is essential that we all adopt sensible behaviours designed to limit the spread of the pandemic, to prevent blocking our health system and, ultimately, to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be.

For up-to-date information on the measures taken by UMONS in relation to COVID-19, please visit www.umons.ac.be/CORONAVIRUS

Check your emails and the UMONS Intranet regularly in order to be constantly aware of the latest recommendations in force.

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

We are relying on your strict cooperation.

Ph. Dubois, Rector      M. Labie, First Vice-Rector             Ph. Mettens, Administrator


UPDATE – March 12th

Following the Council of Francophone Rectors meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday 12th March 2020, all Francophone universities of Belgium have mutually decided to switch to online teaching in order to maintain the continuity of academic activity, while helping to slow the progression of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The exact modalities will be determined by each institution based on their specific situation. It is expected that the switch to online teaching (distance learning) will begin without delay and will be fully effective as of Monday 16th March 2020.

Following this collegial decision of the rectors, the following measures have been decided regarding UMONS.

  1. Adapting teaching methods

Face-to-face courses are suspended as of Friday 13th March. This is so that teachers have some time to be able to set up their courses online.

The Vice-Rector for Education will send an email to all teachers to clarify the practicalities. Teachers must then pass on the specific modalities for each course (learning activity) to the students concerned. 

  1. Travelling abroad

2.1. Study trips organised by the UMONS Faculties/Schools are postponed until after Sunday 19th April 2020.

2.2. All professional trips abroad by staff members are prohibited until after Sunday 19th April 2020, except in extenuating circumstances which must be duly justified and approved by the Faculty Dean/President, regardless of the length of the trip.

2.3. All Erasmus/Fame-Mercator student mobility departures scheduled for before 19th April 2020 must be postponed. 

  1. Receiving and hosting people from abroad

3.1. Receiving and hosting people from abroad, both members of our staff and those from other institutions, is not authorised until after Sunday 19th April 2020, unless duly justified by the authorities.

3.2. For incoming mobility students who are already at UMONS, and for those who are guests in Belgium, it is important to ensure that you have all the official information on the measures taken to limit the spread of the virus, and that you know how to access healthcare in Belgium. We rely on everyone’s cooperation to help make this information accessible. 

  1. Adapting working conditions

Unlike face-to-face teaching, research activities are maintained.

However, the final decision on this lies with the heads of department/unit, who must stipulate if research activities can continue, and must specify the conditions under which the research can be carried out.

All department/unit heads are also asked to consider teleworking as much as possible (including for Level 2 staff), particularly for the frail, those who develop symptoms, those in self-quarantine, and those who have been in close contact with infected people. 

  1. Non-essential meetings

It has been decided that non-essential meetings are/will be cancelled or postponed, and that remote meetings should be favoured until 19th April 2020. 

  1. Flexible schedules for staff

For those who are required to attend the university, they are asked to make other arrangements as far as possible in order to avoid using public transport during rush hours. 

  1. Mass events and symposia

It has been decided that all types of mass events/conferences/symposia organised by and at UMONS are/will be cancelled or postponed, regardless of the number of participants. This includes, but is not limited to, activities such as the Journée Portes Ouvertes (open day) of 28th March, the Printemps des Sciences, and Journée Math-Sciences (maths-science day). This decision is valid until 19th April 2020.

We will be sure to inform you of any further developments.

It is essential that everyone adopts the precautionary and necessary behaviours which are intended to limit the epidemic in order to avoid blocking our health system and, ultimately, to protect the most vulnerable people in the community.

If you have any questions, please send an email to: info.coronavirus@umons.ac.be

 

 



Update 10th March 2020

You are already aware that the outbreak of the COVID-19 Coronavirus has been progressing significantly in our country in recent days.

Although no cases have been detected at our University so far, we are prepared to deal with this eventuality. All measures have been, and will continue to be, taken to protect students and staff members, whether they are currently in Belgium or abroad.

In this respect, it is everyone’s responsibility to take an active part in the effort to limit the spread of the epidemic.

Several decisions have been taken to this effect since Tuesday 10th March 2020.

  • First of all, it is once again recommended that staff and students scrupulously respect basic hygiene instructions, such as washing their hands regularly, and contacting their doctor and staying home in the presence of symptoms such as fever, coughing and/or breathing difficulties.
  • Until further notice, we strongly recommend that the UMONS community avoid handshakes and greeting each other the “Belgian way” with a kiss on the cheek, with a preference for cordial greetings from a distance, avoiding physical contact.
  • A meeting between the six rectors of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation was held on the evening of Monday 9th March in order to share information and exchange good practices, as well as to consult on useful initiatives. During this meeting, it was agreed to cancel, as of today and until further notice, any student evenings/events taking place in the University buildings. We also ask the student leaders to extend this decision to other parties they are organising that are not held on the University premises. The Rectors are of course aware that this decision has an impact on student life with its festive component. Nevertheless, they are convinced that these restrictions are a reasonable and proportionate measure that can help to contain, or at least slow down, the progression of the COVID-19 virus and, in so doing, preserve the essential activities of the University as much as possible, that is to say, teaching.
  • Courses continue as usual, but the UMONS authorities remain attentive to the evolution of the recommendations made in this respect by the Federal Public Service for Health (SPF Santé) and the Ministry of Higher Education.

As we have already pointed out, we ask you to keep yourself regularly informed of the evolution of the situation via the Intranet page dedicated to the Coronavirus.

Please also consult the official information sites which provide instructions in terms of safety, hygiene and travel/stays abroad depending on the destination.


3 March

​​​​​​​Recommendations from the UMONS authorities to staff and students

In order to respond to questions from the community about the spread of the coronavirus, the University of Mons (UMONS) would like to inform its staff and students that the situation is under constant review by the authorities.
​​​​​​​In this case, UMONS takes care to comply with the recommendations issued by the Federal Public Services (SPF) for Heath and for Foreign Affairs and encourages members of its community to do the same.

No unnecessary risks will be taken towards members of our community. UMONS is adopting appropriate measures to protect its students and staff, whether they are currently in Belgium or abroad, which has been the case since the beginning of the epidemic in China. In addition, UMONS will make every effort to ensure that courses are not impacted by the uncertainties of the current situation.

In order for you to have factual, moderated and constantly up-to-date information, please visit the official information sites which provide instructions regarding safety, hygiene, travel, and stays abroad depending on the destination (see list of websites on this page).

  • If you are a student currently abroad, in an area or country considered to be at risk, and you wish to return (and are not subject to confinement or quarantine), UMONS will cover the costs of your repatriation. This early return will have no negative impact on your academic journey. UMONS will take measures so that an alternative solution can be found by your Faculty/School.
    Since it is impossible to predict the evolution of the situation and the extent of the measures taken by local and international authorities (WHO), which could potentially impact your future mobility placement, UMONS strongly advises students, who are soon carry out their mobility placement, to not go to an area potentially affected by the epidemic such as, for the moment, China, Italy, South Korea and Singapore (refer to list regularly updated by SPF Foreign Affairs). Please contact your faculty coordinator whose contact details you will find via this Intranet link (log in required!) in order for you both to discuss the terms of withdrawal and an alternative solution, which would have no negative impact on your academic journey.
    If you are a member of staff (PATO, teacher, researcher) about to go abroad, we recommend that you take note of the risks incurred by consulting the official information sites listed below. For any specific advice regarding your situation, please contact the International Relations Office at relint@umons.ac.be or on 065373726 / 065373742.
    If you are a member of staff awaiting the arrival of a foreign colleague (or colleagues) from one of the at-risk and constantly reassessed areas, please be aware that, with the assistance of the health authorities, UMONS will assess each of these arrivals on a case-by-case basis, taking into account, for example, certified state of health, geographical origin, length of stay, and prior agreement of the reception service, until the security measures in the countries concerned have been completely lifted.

Finally, in case symptoms appear (fever and breathing difficulties), if you have visited one of the countries affected by the epidemic, or if you have been in close contact with a person declared sick and who has returned from one of these countries, stay at home and call your doctor (general practitioner / family doctor) to explain the situation and your symptoms. DO NOT go to the doctor’s surgery and wait in the waiting room, DO NOT go to the hospital (A&E / the ER), and AVOID public places!