Although HSE returned to campus in September, some groups of students and even whole degree programmes have been quarantined and are temporarily studying remotely. Anna Korovko, Senior Director for Full Degree Programmes spoke with HSE University Life about circumstances in which students are transferred online, how long the distance learning measures will last, and what should be done if an HSE student gets sick.
Students have to transition to online learning if the university receives official notification about their having come into contact with a student or employee who has tested positive for COVID. Depending on how many people the infected person has come into contact with, a decision is made about who must transfer to online study. It could be several students on an entire degree programme.
An alternative to having select programmes and groups move to online coursework is full quarantine.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, whenever the University received information from Rospotrebnadzor (Russian Chief Sanitary Office) about a detected case of a dangerous infection (for example, measles or tuberculosis), we imposed quarantine restrictions. This is standard protocol for dealing with these kinds of situations.
In the spring of 2020, it became possible to continue teaching and studying in these situations since we learned how to teach online effectively.
Therefore, now, when cases of infectious diseases are identified, we do not go into complete lockdown, but rather transition to online learning. Thus, we reduce the risks of spreading infection.
Two weeks from the date of the last contact of the infected person with students and university employees or from the date specified in the official notification from Rospotrebnadzor. These two periods can overlap for the same student—for example, some periods of online study can last, for example, three weeks, as the university must comply with the requirements of the supervisory authority.
The university conducts select checks in the dormitories. Study offices enquire after the students’ health, students themselves inform programme managers about identified cases of infection.
If you feel sick, please contact your programme manager or group leader. Recall what students, faculty, and office staff you have interacted with in the past two weeks. For example, who did you sit next to in class? Exactly what classes did you attend?
This information will be needed if an official request from Rospotrebnadzor arrives: any organization is obliged to provide a list of individuals who have been in direct contact with the infected person, indicating their contact information and current residential addresses. If you can remember who you sat next to, you will help the university avoid requiring an entire cohort or degree programme to transition to online learning.
The number changes daily. As of yesterday (September 22), the number of students studying remotely due to having come into contact with an infected individual was more than 1,500. Today (September 23) it is around 1,300. So far, there have been no outbreaks of the disease among isolated students. This means that so far the measures taken have been effective—students and university employees self-isolate and then return to campus—all without causing any disruptions to the educational process.
Based on the analysis of the timetables, one third of HSE students and staff are now studying and teaching remotely. Four degree programmes out of more than 180 in Moscow have opted for full online education for everyone—there are many foreign students enrolled in these programmes who were unable to enter the country.
But we haven’t gone fully online just yet. We are able to learn, communicate, and meet in person. This is all thanks to the effective preventive measures take at the university. If the situation becomes critical, the University is prepared to take necessary measures.