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At the University of Cergy, the strategy of half-full lecture halls



Everywhere on the tables, in the lecture halls, the same alternation of red and green discs inviting to use only one seat in two. Here, at Cergy-Paris University, we took the lead, by applying from the start of the year a limit of the gauge to 50% to spare a distance, unlike some universities in the capital which have left students elbow to elbow and which today ‘hui, faced with the multiplication of clusters, are forced to apply this same measure.

→ READ. The restrictions in Paris and its inner suburbs, in the maximum alert zone

“Considering the health situation, working throughout the semester while permanently welcoming 100% of our staff seemed unrealistic to us., explains Vice-President Laurent Gatineau. We have limited the presence of students in courses with large cohorts, rather than taking the risk of closing completely. “

Standing at noon, like on vacation

A decision that has “Upset” Elie, in the second year of applied foreign languages ​​(LEA). Asked to go to class every other week and to work at home the following week, he struggles to find the rhythm. “If I am not required to be present on such and such a day at such and such a place, I am able to get up at noon, as on vacation”, he breathes, a bandana tied over his head.

Entering into a learning dynamic, avoiding the trap of disinvestment or even dropping out, is the challenge that arises in this new school year, especially in the first year. Also, the university has decided to strengthen tutoring, by peers or teachers, and to split the groups of tutorials so that all take place in its premises. However, half of the lectures must be followed remotely. “The teacher is in a lecture hall, with the other half of the group, and we follow his course as best we can from home”, indicates Inès in L1 of history. To avoid “pajama syndrome”, she found a solution: invite a friend to her home, “To motivate each other”.

The “BU” also offers a solution, as long as its gauge – also reduced by half – is not reached. “The weeks when I do not have face-to-face lessons, I force myself to go there at least twice, even if that requires me to spend three hours in public transport”, Halim says. He often works there with other students in 3e year of geography. “In video, we don’t talk for more than a quarter of an hour. When we are gathered around a table, ideas come to us more easily. “

Reverse pedagogy

In his eyes, the face-to-face-distance alternation constitutes a necessary constraint in order to be able to continue coming to university … “By feeling a minimum of security”, continues Gwendal, a second year student at LEA, who limits his social interactions to protect himself from the epidemic. According to him, the new organization leads teachers to adopt a reverse pedagogy: “They send us the course in advance. On site, we focus on the exchange, the deepening. Teaching becomes more dynamic. In half-groups, the timid speak more. “

→ INVESTIGATION. After confinement, the urgency of returning to school

From a health point of view in any case, this organization is bearing fruit, with less than ten cases per week, for 25,000 students and staff. However, Cergy-Paris University is ready, if necessary, to go down to 25% face-to-face, or even switch entirely to distance education. A measure that was imposed in master 2 of consumer law and commercial practices, for two to three weeks. This training totals five Covid cases, including its director Carole Aubert de Vincelles. “We had already created a group on Teams messaging and we were able to switch instantly to remote”, she says.

A rather successful test last year

“Luckily, the wi-fi had been installed at my place two days earlier”, testifies one of his students, Flavia. But connection isn’t everything. The young woman who, on certain days, finds herself in front of the screen “Almost non-stop from 9 am to 8 pm”, apprehends this Wednesday, because her sister, with whom she shares the apartment, will also have to work in the living room.

Halfway through the semester, the university will survey students’ feelings about distance education in an attempt to measure the consequences. In the second half of last year, the system worked well: “While usually, in L1, half, if not a third of the students drop out before the end of the year, 75% of the students were there for the exams in May”, emphasizes Laurent Gatineau.

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The latest measures in higher education

A gauge reduced by half

Since Tuesday, October 6, amphitheatres and classrooms can only be filled to 50% in higher education establishments which are located in one of the zones of enhanced or maximum alert, particularly in Paris and its inner suburbs.

Academia heavily affected by the virus

According to Public Health France, schools and universities represent a third of the clusters under investigation. Clusters with high criticality, that is to say with a high risk of transmission of Covid-19, are concentrated in higher education (42.9%).

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