COVID-19 : a responsible face-to-face

UCLouvain is adopting a series of measures adapted to the evolution of the spread of the coronavirus. The measures taken by the University are listed and updated on this page. Last update: 29 July 2020.

From 29 July 2020

UCLouvain changes to the ORANGE sanitary code. What this means is detailed in the document containing the measures in force at UCLouvain.

July 29, 2020: the university activates the orange health code

To facilitate the adjustments that the university will have to make on a regular basis, a color code is now used to establish the basic rules to be followed in terms of occupying premises and working conditions for teaching, research and administrative services. In addition, a table specifies the special provisions in force in terms of health measures, assembly of persons, access to infrastructure and arrangements for travel abroad and for persons coming from abroad.

In view of the latest communication from the government, the university has activated as of Wednesday 29 July 2020 the Orange Code with the specific provisions set out in the document available here.

25 June 2020: towards a responsible face-to-face

In accordance with the transition to phase 4 of the national deconfinement plan, the university adopts from July 1 a new form of organization involving a gradual return to face-to-face exchanges. Thanks to the implementation of precise health measures, this will be done in complete safety. "After many weeks of confinement during which our personal and professional lives have been turned upside down, we can gradually return to face-to-face exchanges between people in safety", write the Rector and the General Administrator in their message to the university community, specifying in addition that a broad reflection will be carried out to draw lessons from the experience of the distance mode, both in terms of teaching methods and working mode.

3 June 2020: phase 3 of the university’s deconfinement

After the federal government announced the 8 June start of deconfinement phase 3, university authorities announced the following provisions:

  • Teleworking is highly recommended through 30 June. However, from 8 June, staff members can access any activity that cannot be performed remotely as long as they receive authorisation by their supervisor and maintain strict compliance with sanitary measures.
  • Face-to-face teaching activities will gradually resume. For this summer, this concerns certain exams, internships and thesis defences.
  • As Belgian borders will open 15 June, professional and study trips abroad will be authorised according to a schedule and specific rules depending on destination.

We are aware that there is still a long way to go to regain full freedom of movement and social contact, emphasised Rector Vincent Blondel and Director General Dominique Opfergelt by email. In the preparation of the next steps of deconfinement and in the perspective of the next academic year, our priority is to redeploy face-to-face activities in order to allow people to renew direct contacts between people and to find the best ways to fully live the UCLouvain experience in all its academic and extra-academic dimensions.

14 May 2020: confirmation of the entry into phase 2 of deconfinement

Following the Federal government announcement, the University authorities confirm the entry into phase 2 of deconfinement and announce the new measures in force at UCLouvain from 18 May (see above)

12 May 2020: creation of a website dedicated to the June session

A website specially dedicated to the June examination session is created on the university portal. Aimed at students, it contains, among other things, advice, lots of practical information and the rules to be observed in the particular context of remote examination.

In their message to the students, the university authorities and all the deans say they want that the evaluation process will be "fair, caring, responsible and adapted to the circumstances". They state that teachers will adapt the evaluation procedures and that the juries will pay particular attention to the difficult study and learning situations experienced by students.

30 April 2020: Provision of masks for staff members

University staff are informed of the availability on May 4 of fabric masks for people who may have to resume their work at one of the university's sites. They must contact their supervisor to receive their mask. Precise use and maintenance instructions are communicated.

28 April 2020: Deconfinement procedures implemented from May 4

In a message to the university community, the rector and the general administrator announce the modalities of the deconfinement which will be implemented from May 4, in accordance with the national deconfinement plan. These conditions are set out in the document "Measures in force at UCLouvain" above.

Stressing the fact that the deconfinement process will be "long and gradual", they insist on a few basic principles on which the university's approach is based. Thus, they write, "the remote mode will be favored for all activities that allow it at least until the end of June". They also specify that "during the deconfinement phases, it will be essential to limit the number of people coming to the university sites in order to be able to comply with physical distancing and other health measures that protect the health of all of us." Therefore, from 4 May, access to the university facilities will therefore be reserved exclusively for activities, other than teaching activities, which cannot be carried out at a distance.

Access to the buildings for students will be limited to the examination rooms for those who have received permission to take an exam on site. For those students who are not in a position to study from home, access to the university's facilities will be considered.

27 April 2020: Evaluations procedures for the June examination session

In a message to students and teachers, the Vice-Rector for Student Affairs indicated that the evaluation procedures for each exam are now available. This information is included in a cadastre of examinations showing, for each teaching unit, the general nature of the evaluation. The subject and the characteristics of the evaluation are communicated to the students by the teachers.

Stressing "the invaluable investment of the entire academic community" - in particular that of teachers and faculties - which made it possible to draw up this cadastre, the vice-rector made a point of assuring the students that the university was concerned to offer to those who need it the conditions to face this session. "As soon as the results of the survey sent to the student community on Wednesday, April 22, are available," he said, "we will get back to those who are experience difficulties to consider what to do next."

22 april 2020: Students' preparation for the June examination session

In order to best prepare students for the June 2020 examination session, the Vice-Rector for Student Affairs and the Prorector for Education and Training inform them of a series of provisions and invite them to complete a form.

The general principle of the exams is that they will be adapted wherever possible in remote mode. This is to protect everyone's health and to maintain the initial academic calendar as much as possible. The precise procedures for each of the exams will be communicated to students by April 27 at the latest. Until then, the faculties establish the procedures, ensuring that the workload is appropriate for each student.

Students are invited to fill out an intranet form for April 27 at 12 p.m. which will identify those who are not in good condition to take the exams remotely (faulty computer equipment, calm conditions, specific profiles, ...). For these students, special arrangements will be made. A list of frequently asked questions relating to exams has also been compiled.

Finally, information and demonstration sessions will be scheduled for all the tools that will be used for the on-line exams. The dates of these sessions will be announced later.

15 April 2020: extension of measures and details about the examination session

Following the decision of the Belgian federal government to extend the containment measures until May 3 inclusive, the Rector's Council has decided to extend the provisions which expired on April 19 until May 3. Furthermore, in anticipation of the measures to control the spread of the virus that will probably still be in effect in June and in order to allow everyone to organize themselves as well as possible, the restrictions on international mobility and gatherings of large groups have been extended until June 30. A summary of the provisions is given above.

The Rector's Council also gave some details concerning the organization of the examination session next June. The Council specified in particular that, by 27 April, students will be informed of the modalities chosen for each of their exams so that they can prepare as well as possible. This modalities will be decided ensuring that the workload induced is appropriate for the students, the teaching staff and the assistants. In addition, students will be contacted by the Vice-Rector for Student Affairs to identify appropriate solutions for those who do not have the necessary equipment or are not in satisfactory conditions to present their exams remotely.

3 April 2020: message of support and thanks from the rector during the spring break.

27 March 2020 : extension of measures and adhering to the academic calendar

University authorities issued a statement to the university community shortly after the announcement of new government measures. For UCLouvain, some measures already in place are being extended. The following is a brief summary measures now in force:

'The university's aim is to maintain the rhythm of the academic year, including in the lead-up to exams from 17 May to 1 June and the examination session from 2 to 27 June', Rector Vincent Blondel and Director General Dominique Operfergelt elaborated in their statement. 'We are currently examining possible approaches to holding exams. We know this is of utmost concern to all of you and we will inform you as soon as possible of the options we choose, which will depend on the health situation.'

23 March 2020: distance learning prolonged until the end of the term

Following consultation between the rectors of Belgium's French-speaking universities, the decision was taken today to prolong distance learning until the end of the term, i.e. up to and including 16 May. The rectors' motivation is to avoid prolonging the academic year and postponing educational activities to next academic year. They are aware that this measure exerts an enormous impact on certain forms of teaching that are difficult to adapt online, as is the case for some practical work and internships.

No decision has yet been taken at UCLouvain concerning the June examination session. However, the university wants to anticipate the possibility that some travel and gathering restrictions could still be in place between now and the examination session as well as during the examination session. UCLouvain has therefore taken the decision to prepare, as of now, for all possible scenarios, in order to offer the most appropriate educational, technological, and logistical stratgies for dealing with the health situation in Belgium beyong April.

17 March 2020: UCLouvain closes access to buildings

In accordance with the Belgian government's announcement on Tuesday 17 March at 8:30 pm, new limits on travel will enter into force on Wednesday 18 March at noon.

Consequently, the Rectoral Council has decided to close access to all UCLouvain buildings (auditoriums, offices, laboratories, libraries, computer labs, meeting rooms) from Wednesday 18 March at noon. Only minimal service will be maintained, in accordance with arrangements that will be announced Wednesday 18 March. This new measure will be applied until 5 April 2020.

The university will continue distance learning and teleworking activities.

The Student Support Service, like most other university departments, will be accessible by email and/or videoconference. Students who do not have Internet access at home can contact the Help Desk on Wednesday 18 March (via aide-sante@uclouvain.be) to consider distance learning options. Computer labs will remain open on until noon on Wednesday 18 March.

Arrangements will also be made for people who are unable to carry out their activities through telework. These arrangements will be communicated on Wednesday 18 March.

The document 'Current Overall Measures' accessible via this website will be updated on Wednesday 18 March in order to specify the new practical arrangements in greater detail. The university community will be notified when the updated document is available.

The university reminds all members of the university community of the crucial importance of social distancing outside academic buildings, especially on and surrounding campuses. These social distancing measures are crucial to curbing the spread of the coronavirus. 'It is everyone's responsibility to protect the health of all, especially the most vulnerable.'

13 March 2020: Distance lessons and suspension of research activities

Further to our communication on 12 March and the measures announced by th, e federal government the same day at 10:20 p.m., the Rector's Council made the following decisions:

> As of Monday, March 16, all face-to-face teaching activities will be switched to remote mode, or postponed or cancelled. The modalities chosen for distance education will be communicated by the course holders.

> Teleworking should be extended wherever possible throughout the university.

> Research activities that cannot be carried out remotely must be suspended.

These measures are valid until 19 April 2020 inclusive.

The practical details of the implementation are detailed in the document "Coronavirus - Measures in force within UCLouvain"

These measures are subject to change. We will keep you informed of these developments.

12 March 2020: Teaching activities suspended for this Friday, March 13. Distance lessons begin on Monday, 16

UCLouvain has taken a series of new measures to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.

> All teaching activities scheduled for this Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14 are suspended.

> As of Monday, March 16, all face-to-face teaching activities will be switched to remote mode, postponed or cancelled. This measure is valid until April 19, 2020 inclusive.

> This applies to all teaching activities, including lectures, practical work, seminars and evaluations. Distance learning activities will replace face-to-face teaching activities.

> UCLouvain is not closing its doors but is taking steps to de-densify its campuses. Students who have the opportunity to do so are strongly advised to return home.

> UCLouvain's libraries, canteens and computer rooms remain open until further notice but restrictions will be applied as to the number of people who can be present at the same time in order to guarantee the recommended physical distance between people.

12 march 2020: Extra-academic activities cancelled

For students at UCLouvain, from 12 March 2020, the following measures concern all the sites of UCLouvain:

> The student event areas managed by student associations remain closed night and day until at least 19 April. This means that all activities in these areas are cancelled.

> Extra-academic activities taking place in UCLouvain buildings (conferences, course dinners, recruitment dinners, meetings, rehearsals, etc.) are cancelled until at least 19 April.

> Extra-academic activities organized by student associations outside UCLouvain buildings, whether it's on land owned by the university or not, are also cancelled until at least 19 April.

> Extra-academic student sports activities, organized by the Sports Service, sports kots or other entities, are cancelled until further notice. This does not, of course, apply to individual physical activities carried out privately and in the open air. These are even recommended for your mental and physical well-being.

> UCLouvain strongly encourage student associations to refrain from any events involving students and/or members of the university community organized outside the UCLouvain sites.

11 March 2020: Preparing for distance learning and telework

To limit the spread of the virus, UCLouvain decided to reinforce the precautionary measures applicable to students and university staff (valid until 19 April 2020 at the earliest).

> Concerning travel abroad, study trips organised by UCLouvain faculties must be postponed or cancelled. All professional travel abroad by staff members is prohibited, unless there are compelling reasons. All scheduled Erasmus/Fame-Mercator student mobility departures before 19 April 2020 must be postponed or cancelled.

> Receiving international visitors before 19 April 2020 is not recommended. If such travel is essential, reception is subject to conditions (authorisation to travel by institution of origin; travellers must be made aware of the degree of spread in Belgium and agree to assume contamination risks; absence of symptoms at time of departure, etc.). The community is called upon to ensure that incoming mobility students or international visitors who are already at UCLouvain have all institutional precautionary information and know how to access care in Belgium, if necessary.

> Staff working conditions will also be adapted. Arrangements to maintain a physical distance of one meter between individuals are encouraged. Vulnerable, symptomatic, and quarantined individuals, as well as those who have worked closely with infected persons should contact their supervisor regarding telework possibilities.

> Adaptation of teaching methods: professors are encouraged to familiarise themselves with distance learning options. From now on, professors can take the initiative to teach lessons remotely.

> Non-essential meetings should be avoided as much as possible and replaced by telephone calls or collaborative IT tools such as the UCLouvain Teams platform. If in-person meetings are unavoidable, limit their duration, allow virtual participation, and/or use larger premises in order to maintain sufficient distance between participants.

> Flexible working hours for staff are encouraged, as federal authorities requested in order to avoid overcrowding in public transport during rush hour. Supervisors must determine the degree of flexibility relative to department requirements.

> Any indoor activity organised by a UCLouvain entity that involves 1,000 or more persons must be postponed or cancelled. Postponing or cancelling UCLouvain colloquia, conferences and congresses, regardless of the number of participants, is also recommended.

9 March 2020 : Student events suspended

During the night of Monday to Tuesday, university authorities announced that ‘one confirmed case of infection and one suspected case’ had been reported in the Louvain-la-Neuve student community. In a statement, Vincent Blondel and Dominique Opfergelt emphasised, ‘These two cases are not related to the case identified yesterday. Other cases will probably be detected in the coming days.’

According to the statement, ‘A new preventive measure will apply to UCLouvain beginning Tuesday 10 March: we are suspending all club, association, and kots-à-projet events in student entertainment venues. Because such events draw large numbers of individuals into close physical proximity, they risk spreading the virus. We realise this will cause disappointment, but we hope we can count on your understanding and awareness of the fact that progressively stricter measures must be taken to limit the spread of the virus.’

Still more stringent measures will be announced in the near future, the statement read. ‘We are responding to the confirmed cases with actions (monitoring, professionally cleaning relevant teaching and work places) which we realise are of a targeted, temporary nature. In order to limit the spread of the virus while preserving access to educational and work activities, we will likely have to take additional collective measures that will be implemented incrementally.’

8 March 2020 : First case on the university campus

On Sunday evening, a first case of infection at UCLouvain was reported to the university authorities. It concerns a Faculty of Bioengineering teaching assistant who had been in contact in the context of private life, with persons returning from Italy. The person is in good health and has been in quarantine since the first symptoms appeared.

The university authorities have taken several measures to limit the spread of the virus:

  • Everyone who was in contact with this person is being monitored.
  • The person's teaching and work premises have been identified and, along with other relevant spaces, are being professionally cleaned.
  • Cleaning is a precautionary measure, as studies show that virus survives outside the human body a few hours at most.
  • Classes and scheduled practical work have been relocated until cleaning is complete.

University authorities reiterated hygiene instructions 'which remain the best way to protect oneself', wrote Rector Vincent Blondel and Director General Dominique Opfergelt in their message to the university community on Sunday evening.

Prior to the declaration of this first case, UCLouvain had already taken measures such as creating a coronavirus management unit, providing points of contact to address the university community's questions, and posting hygiene instructions.

5 March 2020 : Extension of the suspension of face-to-face classes to the whole of Italy

Universities all over Italy have now suspended their face-to-face teaching activities. The Faculties of UCLouvain are in contact with our students on site. The same instructions we gave a week ago for Northern Italy prevail: students can return and resume their training activities in Belgium or follow the distance learning courses organized by the Italian universities. For those who wish to stay in Italy, it is important to strictly follow the instructions of the universities and local authorities.

1 March 2020 : Message from the UCLouvain authorities

On Sunday, shortly after the announcement of a second case of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the rector of UCLouvain, Vincent Blondel, and the general administrator, Dominique Opfergelt, sent a message to the university community to recall the measures taken.

They indicated that a Coordination Unit had been set up within the University to ensure permanent monitoring of the situation for weeks. Since January, two email addresses have also been used to answer health questions related to COVID-19.

In addition, to ensure fast and effective communication to the community, a UCLouvain web page (right here) has also been set up with regular updates as the situation evolves.

The authorities pointed out that in recent weeks the University has taken measures with regard to student mobility to certain destinations, in coordination with the Faculties which constitute the point of contact for mobile students. The basic rules on hygiene (see opposite) were also recalled.

The letter is also addressed to those returning from an area with a high spread of the virus or who are in contact with people coming from such an area. "The important thing here, too, is to keep a close eye on the possible appearance of symptoms. It is useless to be tested without symptoms; the Belgian reference centres refuse to carry out the tests in this case. If symptoms do occur, follow the simple rule of staying home and calling a doctor”.

27 February 2020 : Student mobility in Italy

Following the detection of cases of contamination by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), several universities in the North of Italy have temporarily suspended their courses and are gradually setting up alternative training arrangements (e.g. online courses).

Thirty students have an Erasmus mobility stay in the North of Italy this quadrimester (notably in Bologna, Milan, Turin, Siena, Parma, Padua). The Faculties of UCLouvain are in individual contact with their students to see on a case-by-case basis the best options to follow. The Belgian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, to date, does not advise against travelling to Italy. Some students wished to stay in Italy by following the distance learning courses organized by the universities, others postponed their trip, and still others preferred to return to resume classes at UCLouvain.

The University is monitoring the situation in Italy and other countries affected by the COVID-19 virus on a daily basis in order to take appropriate measures.

3 February 2020 : Instructions in case of possible symptoms

Anyone who shows flu-like symptoms and who has either just returned from China or has been in close contact with an infected person is advised to consult a doctor (general practitioner) as soon as possible. To limit the propagation, people with flu symptoms are advised to call the doctor in advance (to avoid waiting in the waiting room) and to cover their nose and mouth with a surgical mask or tissues when in contact with other people. All doctors in Belgium have been informed and will indicate the precise steps to take in case of infection.

If the persons here referred to need help to access a doctor, they can contact:

People who have returned from the city of Wuhan and do not present flu-like symptoms are advised to remain vigilant with regard to the potential development of flu-like symptoms. As soon as the first symptoms appear, they are advised to consult a doctor as indicated above.

The usual measures to prevent the spread of a viral infection must obviously be applied, in particular regular hand washing. The instructions given above are consistent with the current state of affairs and the recommendations of the health authorities. They are subject to modifications/adaptations according to the evolution of the situation. A website with all the latest information on the coronavirus (including answers to frequently asked questions) has been set up by the Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) for Public Health.

24 January 2020 : Travels to China

Given the uncertain evolution of the health situation in China (Coronavirus) and the current state of information available to UCLouvain, the university wishes to inform the staff and the student community of several provisions:

  1. In order not to jeopardize the success of a semester in uncertain circumstances, steps are being taken to redirect students who had planned to travel to China.
  2. Staff members who intend to travel to China are advised to comply with the recommendations of the the Foreign Affairs services.

Published on July 29, 2020