The UPC approves a range of additional measures to ensure a safe start to the new academic year

These additional measures complement the measures set out by the Governing Council on 2 July on the reopening stage of the lockdown easing plan and have been approved by the Standing Committee of the Governing Council at an online meeting on 8 September.

Sep 17, 2020

The Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC) is getting ready for the start of the 2020–2021 academic year focusing on the current health situation and health authorities’ advice. It has thus approved a range of additional measures to the protocols approved by the Governing Council on 2 July for the reopening stage of the lockdown easing plan at the University.

In general terms, the UPC will continue to deliver face-to-face activities for practicals, workshops and laboratories. The University will also prioritise face-to-face induction support to new students. Therefore, first-year students will have as much face-to-face teaching as possible, especially for practicals or laboratory activities. Additionally, the UPC will offer mentoring and other teaching tools to help students to transition successfully from secondary school to university. Over half a million euros has been invested in such measures to support student induction and performance at the beginning of the academic year.

Wearing a mask on UPC premises is now compulsory. It is compulsory to wear a surgical mask or a reusable cloth face mask at all times when engaging in any activity on UPC premises, regardless of the physical distance between those involved. The UPC began distributing reusable masks to its staff members in July and now students can pick up theirs at the library on their campus. However, anyone who must be physically present on a UPC campus is personally responsible for ensuring that they have a face mask and using it in the manner prescribed by the relevant authorities at all times.

For this measure to be effective in face-to-face teaching activities in the classroom, the UPC has asked professors to avoid moving around the classroom and always stay at least two metres away from the first row of students. The UPC also recommends that whenever possible the professor should be the last person to enter a classroom after students have taken their seats and the first to leave at the end of the class.

In accordance with the protection measures and work instructions defined in the protocols developed by the UPC’s Occupational Health and Safety Service, when UPC staff conducting laboratory practicals cannot maintain a safe distance from students, the University will provide them with an FFP2 or equivalent face mask.

UPC administrative and service staff and teaching and research staff members may exceptionally remove their face mask when they are at their workstation (seated and/or performing a task that does not involve moving around) and all necessary measures are being taken, though it is recommended that they keep it on. Staff members who are in their own individual office with the door closed do not need to wear a face mask. However, if someone else comes to the office, face masks must be worn.

Contact tracing. In the event of an outbreak, contacts will be traced based on the list of students enrolled in the affected subject. However, it is recommended that schools introduce additional attendance control measures to facilitate more effective tracing of individuals who might be infected, and that they assign specific seats to students for the duration of the semester to minimise the risk of transmission. Consultations, tutorials and other direct interactions between professors and students should be carried out by remote means whenever possible.

The UPC has been adapting its physical setting in the last months
to ensure that entering classrooms and common spaces can be done in a staggered manner and avoiding crowding. Further steps have been taken to ensure that students and other members of the UPC community are kept informed on this point through the campaign THE UPC PROTECTED. EVERYONE IS COMMITTED. To support the achievement of this objective, students will be required to sign a declaration of responsibility (Appendix I, page 6), in which they will be provided with instructions and informed of the measures to be followed in the event of an outbreak linked to an activity at which they were physically present.

Safe classrooms. As for classrooms, the University has determined that, whenever possible (and provided a forced ventilation system is not being used), face-to-face teaching activities will be conducted with doors and windows open. When this is not possible, opening of windows between classes will be encouraged to allow for air exchange. It is also recommended that students are assigned specific seats in the classroom. Additionally, study rooms must be booked 48 hours in advance, and requests must include a list of everyone who will be present in the space.

Over the last months, the UPC has integrated multimedia technologies into a large number of classrooms to support remote teaching
. The allocation of a budget item of 800,000 euros for classrooms to be adapted and ICT developments to be implemented was approved before the summer break (further information: The UPC has planned the start of the 2020–2021 academic year and has approved a range of initiatives to adapt activities to new needs).

According to the measures approved on 8 September, Les mesures schools will designate spaces to isolate anyone who shows symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while at the University. If a suspected case is detected, the corresponding protocol will be activated immediately. At least at the beginning of the academic year, meetings at the UPC will continue to be held by videoconference whenever possible to prevent participants from travelling from other campuses.

At least at the beginning of the academic year, meetings at the UPC will continue to be held by videoconference whenever possible to prevent participants from travelling from other campuses.

Activities organised by students
. Requests for authorisation of an activity must specify the protection measures planned (based on the current situation with respect to the pandemic) so that their viability can be assessed. In general, and in light of the transmission risk, activities will be suspended if they involve a high concentration of people and compliance with self-protection measures at all times cannot be ensured. Activities such as human tower building (castellers), festivals and communal meals, for example, will not be authorised.

Measures additional to action protocols in the event of an outbreak. The approved document stresses that the UPC will be subject to any measures or precautions established by health authorities in the event of an outbreak, and to any recommendations or requirements they may establish, which may result in the temporary suspension of activities in specific spaces or buildings. However, independently of any guidelines issued by health authorities, the UPC has set out a range of measures that will apply to all schools and units, provided they do not conflict with health authorities’ guidelines. Click on this link to see Appendix 2, page 7.

COVID-19 officers at the UPC. Units and services will communicate the contact details (e-mail and telephone number) of the person assigned to manage preventive measures in their school or service. This is particularly important to ensure that incidents and actions related to any cases detected or to the process of identifying possible contacts are dealt with quickly and effectively. COVID-19 officers will act as interlocutors with health authorities and management. They will also be responsible for ensuring that the information communicated internally in their unit or service is up-to-date. Therefore, they will be provided with all the information on the UPC and health authorities protocols of action in the event that a suspected case is detected or a positive case is confirmed.

The UPC will post a list with the COVID-19 officer for each unit on its pandemic information web page (COVID-19 portal).

Bars and restaurants at the UPC
. The approved document specifies that university bars and restaurants will be subject to the regulations in force in the municipality where each concession operates. The activity of sports facilities and libraries will be conducted in accordance with regulations in force.

Apps for better management.
Finally, remember that the UPC encourages all members of the university community to use the RADAR COVID app to facilitate more effective management of the epidemic in addition to the mechanisms provided and recommended by the University, such as the UPC Students app. Download the UPC Students app on the App Store and Google Play.

Quick guide to COVID-19 measures

Consult the quick guide on the measures to be followed on the University's campuses to make them safe and the actions to take if you have tested positive in a PCR test or you have been in contact with someone who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive.