Exactly one year ago, on March 7, 2020, HSE University introduced its first anti-COVID measures. We decided to browse our photo archive and look back on life at HSE during the past year.
March. On March 7, 2020, an order ‘On protective measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus’ was signed at HSE University. Work-related international travel and international mobility was suspended. Staff and students who had returned from abroad were obliged to spend two weeks in self-isolation.
Just ten days later, on March 17, HSE University switched to remote learning. Teachers had to master the new online learning tools in no time. To help them, the Digital Assistants project was launched. HSE students advised teachers and staff and helped them master the new online services.
Not only students switched to remote learning, but also many staff members started working from home. HSE University had to adjust the ways in which paperwork was processed, the work of the HR Office, the Accounting Office, and other departments. Online meetings and even Academic Council sessions over Zoom quickly became a common practice.
How HSE University went through the lockdown
April. By April, many processes were set in motion, and we started to get used to working and studying from home. It was a month when HSE University started to organize events again, but this time, online. For example, the traditional April Conference took place online for the first time ever.
April also became a month of mutual aid. The Centre of Psychological Counselling launched Mental Health Spring — 2020, a series of events in which the Centre’s psychologists helped everyone interested to adjust to the new conditions and take care of themselves. At the same time, the Alumni Centre launched an online marathon, and the Student Development Office opened an online camp for kids of staff members, which allowed parents to work in peace, at least for some time. Events were available for everyone in the comfort of their apartment, cottage, or dorm – anywhere where the members of HSE family had to stay in self-isolation.
May. Desperate times called for desperate measures: the students re-built the Pokrovka campus once again, this time in Minecraft. The project appeared in mid-March, when HSE University switched to remote learning, and in May, all 13 virtual buildings were ready. Minecraft Pokrovka has become the fifth campus on the university website, and the project team has already started on building the other venues.
June. The traditional graduation ceremonies had to be cancelled in 2020, so all the graduates could do was take pictures near their study buildings. The 2020 graduation party was also held online, but this time, with participation of HSE’s most wanted celebrity, Valery Meladze.
July. Although the University started to lift the remote work regime in June, many staff members continued to work online, and the university buildings remained unusually silent.
August. The University started to revive again. Dorms waived the obligatory isolation for arriving students; mobility was partly restored; the University was preparing to welcome new students. On August 24, administrative staff whose operations are related to educational departments and study offices started working on-site.
September. HSE University started the new academic year in a hybrid format: online lectures + on-site seminars.
Wearing masks became obligatory for students and staff. Reusable masks became available at the university shop, or as a competition prize.
In September, seasonal flu vaccination campaign started. Students and staff were able to get a vaccine right on campus.
October. Despite all the measures, the epidemiological situation in Moscow worsened, and in October, it was decided to have some staff go back to remote work. First and foremost, this decision concerned staff members classified as high risk.
Also, certain programmes had to transition to remote learning for two weeks from time to time. It happened when the university received information that there was contact with an infected student or staff member.
November. On November 16, a decision was made to return to online instruction. However, the buildings remained open, so that students and staff could visit the buildings, including libraries and co-working areas. Of course, they had to wear a mask on the premises.
Obligatory online consultations were introduced at the University in order to maintain the opportunity to talk to teachers after classes. All teachers had to be available for consultations for at least four hours a week.
By the end of the month, the Academic Council decided to cancel the 2020 Golden HSE ceremony, since it’s impossible to preserve its purpose and spirit in an online format.
December. It was hard to maintain the holiday spirit in December 2020, but, in spite of everything, a Christmas tree appeared in the atrium at Pokrovka! It was also decided that the third module would start remotely.
January. Although the academic year started with distance learning, students and staff had another reason to visit HSE University in January: COVID-19 vaccinations began to be administered in the Pokrovka building. They could register for the shot and choose a convenient date and time in their MyHSE account.
By the end of the month, students heard some good news: HSE University would return to hybrid format starting March 29.
February. HSE University buildings are covered with snow, but spring and on-site learning will soon be here. Events are returning to the University (and for the first time in a year, not online ones!)
In just a month, students and teachers will return to HSE University.
We miss you and look forward to seeing you soon!