Newsletter from the President of Aix-Marseille University to the entire university community.
Monday 31st August 2020,
Dear all of you,
We are ready for this new academic year. Unfortunately, as you know, we have prepared for it in a tense and ever-changing health context. The Covid-19 virus is still actively circulating in France and particularly on our territory. However, as I announced to you at the end of July, the start of the new academic year will be face-to-face this week for all students. It will also be face-to-face for the staff, but in a reasoned way in order to ensure the necessary social distancing. If it is not possible to respect this, it will be necessary to envisage, with the agreement of the N+1 and the person in charge of the structure, an alternating presence of colleagues in the offices.
A new instruction is necessary: the wearing of a barrier mask is compulsory for everyone, inside our sites as well as in the outside areas when two or more people are in contact with each other. This is a national framework to which we must absolutely subscribe.
In addition, we have developed new protocols in accordance with the recommendations and rules of the health authorities. You will find them online on our web spaces. I am counting on you to respect them in order to protect us and the health of your loved ones, as we have done over the last six months.
The summer break was not a restful or joyful one for our community, which twice mourned in tragedies abroad. We will not forget the victims.
Despite everything, the strength of our collective and our scientific results have made Aix-Marseille University shine in the Shanghai international ranking of August 15, which places us 116th among the best universities in the world.
Difficulties and adversity must not hinder this dynamic and our desire to progress, which aims, above all, at improving living conditions within AMU within the framework of a reasoned, sustainable, attractive and human wealth-based global policy.
Thus, the evolution of our organization continues: support for new pedagogies, active support for research, innovation and the creation of values, the enhancement of culture and our heritage, digital transformation and the improvement of the quality of campus life are ongoing.
I would like to assure you once again of our full commitment, mine and that of my teams, to guarantee you a peaceful return to work. We remain and will always remain attentive to the evolution of the health situation to protect you as well as possible, within the framework of a constant social dialogue. To succeed, we need you. Respect the wearing of masks and all barrier gestures, first and foremost social distancing and regular hand washing. Let us remain positive and always willing to contribute to the dynamism of our dear university.
I wish you a very good start to the new school year.
1. A new school year to be adapted in an exceptional context
The first semester of 2020 put students and teaching teams to the test. We all hoped that the start of the new school year would be under better auspices. However, it is clear that this is not the case.
On the one hand, the summer break was the cradle of a reactivation of the virus circulation. On the other hand, the unprecedented success rates (particularly in the baccalaureate) have led to an increase in student numbers. Moreover, these students have not had face-to-face classes for months and they have to take the plunge between secondary and university education.
We are therefore faced with a challenge: to preserve the health of each and every one of us by not pedagogically sacrificing this new generation. To take up this challenge, we have been acquiring emergency resources since June.
The Zoom broadcasting solution has been deployed in a new format on our internal servers. Video capture systems have been purchased and will gradually be installed in the lecture theatres. To combat the digital divide, computers are once again being purchased for the most vulnerable students. This non-exhaustive list of resources is made available to the teaching teams in order to respond as closely as possible to this challenge.
We are convinced that proposing a single solution emanating from governance would be inadequate. Only local, concerted and context-specific solutions will be relevant. We will strongly support them by removing administrative barriers and providing the means, as far as we can, as we did in the previous six months. The pre-entry period is a perfect illustration of this. Depending on the components and the training courses, some have decided to carry out the entire course remotely, while others have decided to spread it out in face-to-face sessions or in hybrid mode.
We are therefore going to cross, together, a new zone of turbulence and uncertainty. We will have to be imaginative, united and caring once again, in the sole interest of our students.
2. Wearing a mask is mandatory and general health instructions
Wearing a mask is mandatory for all colleagues and students, both inside the sites and in the outdoor enclosures. Attention, wearing a mask does not replace the application of other barrier gestures: regular hand washing with soap or hydroalcoholic gel, respect for social distancing, respect for the direction of traffic, regular ventilation of enclosed spaces, careful cleaning with a disinfectant product of the keypads, photocopiers and other collective equipment... You will find on line health measures which are binding on all of us. I thank you for scrupulously ensuring their strict observance.
3. 3. Solidarity measures and exemption from tuition fees for Lebanese students
To guarantee maximum health protection, we are going to equip the most precarious students on our sites with barrier masks, according to social criteria. Food aid is also continuing on our sites.
As you know, the deadly explosion in the port of Beirut on 4 August left the city bloodied and thousands of Lebanese families in distress. In the face of this tragedy, we wished to take an exceptional measure this year by totally exempting Lebanese students from university registration fees. This concerns about 150 students. In addition, we plan to offer the university community in Lebanon support mechanisms and the delivery of scientific equipment to enable them to continue their activities.
4. Upcoming deployment of teleworking
The working group on the widespread deployment of teleworking is continuing its work at a sustained pace (three meetings between July and September). In the autumn, I would like to propose concerted solutions to you on new modes of collaboration that are efficient, satisfactory and coherent with our AMU development policies. In the meantime, the health context requires us to manage our workspaces in a reasoned manner. Also, distance working may be authorised on a rotational basis for staff working in offices where promiscuity may jeopardise compliance with health regulations (e.g. offices with more than four agents or open spaces).
This decision will be taken in a written agreement between the staff member and his N+1 with a final decision by the head of the structure (component, central service or joint service).
However, digital work tools and equipment will not yet be available until telework is officially deployed.
The staff who have benefited from this measure will obviously be given priority in the generalised deployment of telework within our university.
5. Establishment of the RETEX group
As I told you, the return on experience (RETEX) is valuable in improving our crisis management. Our organizational processes were quickly adapted, often streamlined, during the crisis. What are the agents' feelings on different levels? What new efficiency can we gain from this? A steering committee will meet this week to ratify a working structure and to allow work to begin.
6. Setting up the RETEX group
Rapid mastery of digital tools is an important integration factor for any new student. "Practicea" is a new service offered online to new students so that they can appropriate their ENT, AMeTICE resources, messaging, access to timetables... Easy to access and understand, videos, tutorials and practical exercises are made by student tutors to help them get familiar with their new environment. More than 4,500 students have already registered. For a serene start to the school year, do not hesitate to join them: http://url.univ-amu.fr/practicea.
AMU will know how to be reactive according to the evolution of the health situation, to protect you as well as possible. On the basis of our values, we remain attentive to it. A very good start to the new school year to all of you.
President of Aix-Marseille University
Other issues of AMU Info
You will find all the issues of AMU Info on COVID19 by going to this page