Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

Virus clusters at French universities give Europe a lesson

Virus clusters at French universities give  Europe a lesson

PARIS- Can mandatory masks offer enough protection in lecture halls so packed that late arrivals have to sit on the floor?
That’s what worries many students at the centuries-old Sorbonne University in Paris as the coronavirus is on the rebound across France.
At least a dozen COVID-19 clusters have emerged since French campuses and classrooms opened this month. The clutches of cases are a warning sign for countries elsewhere in Europe, where most universities are readying to resume teaching and research in coming weeks.
“We go back to university in conditions that are a bit extreme, and we fear we might get COVID-19,” Elise Gilbert, 20, who is studying literature at the Sorbonne, said of the overcrowding students encountered.
France’s experience so far stands in contrast to what’s happening in Britain, where virus-driven changes on campuses mean university life will look a lot different this term. Germany and Italy are also adapting their delivery of higher education in response to the pandemic.
The French government was determined to get people back to classrooms to bridge education inequities that the pandemic has exacerbated. The government also urged workers to return to offices and job sites to resuscitate the economy and to “learn to live with the virus.”
At universities, the main change this year is mandatory mask-wearing at all times. But keeping physical distances appears impossible in many places.

The surge has prompted some universities to send students home and cancel in-person instruction for the rest of the term. U.S. officials are urging against that approach, saying it could spark outbreaks elsewhere. Instead, universities are being urged to keep students where they are and temporarily move classes online. (AP)