Leuven and Brussels universities switch to Code Orange

Leuven University, KU Leuven, and the Flemish Free University of Brussels, the VUB, are joining the universities of Ghent, Antwerp and Hasselt in implementing Code Orange (amber) to arrest the spread of coronavirus.  Code Orange will apply starting Monday at KU Leuven and VUB.  It was implemented at the three other universities at the start of the academic year.

The measure will affect tens of thousands of students.

Many lessons are already being given online, but physical lessons with students present in lecture theatres will continue at KU Leuven, VUB and associated polytechnics, though capacity will be cut. 

Under Code Orange restrictions only one seat in five in a lecture theatre may be occupied, while everybody must wear a face covering.  In smaller groups one in two seats may be used still wearing face coverings.  At polytechnics too only one student in five is permitted on campus.  Practice lessons, exercises and lab exercises may proceed with everybody wearing a face covering. 

Leuven Rector Luc Sels: “Universities have an impact on the cities where they are present, especially in the case of large campuses.  We wish to give priority to obligatory education (i.e. secondary and primary) and we need to ensure that the most vulnerable in society are spared’.   

At the VUB in Brussels, Rector Caroline Pauwels says the Free University is ready to implement Code Red, but hopes Orange will suffice.  The university is already giving faculties the possibility of staging all lectures online.

The rector stresses the need to strike a balance between physical and psychosocial well-being as well as the pedagogical project.  “Codes don’t always allow an approach that is tailored to every situation.  We’re implementing Code Orange gradually and are asking lecturers to be ready for Code Red by the end of October.”

“Few infections are reported from the campus.  Students and lecturers are following the rules and reports of wild parties are few and far between.”

“All this is dreadful, but it’s even worse for the people in hospital. Pressure on care workers is immense.  I’d like to tell our students we are on their side and realise how frustrating this is, but we hope to offer a better prospects in months to come.”


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