#Coronavirus Pandemic: École Polytechnique Lends a Hand
As France continues to face an unprecedented health crisis, École Polytechnique, through its administration, researchers, and students from all programs, continue to show their solidarity in lending a hand during this time of need. Multiple initiatives to give back to the community have already been implemented: digital tutoring for high school students, equipment donations, or research projects to contribute this enduring combat against the COVID-19 epidemic.
Rallying the Troops in Support of the “School at Home” Initiative
The “School at Home” initiative implemented by the French Ministry of National Education has already demonstrated its effectiveness thanks to the remarkable involvement of professors. During this enduring quarantine period in France, many high school students feel they are lacking in family support when it comes to learning lessons on their own at home. This is either because their parents are directly implicated in the current pandemic, or because their parents may not have the academic level necessary to help. For this very reason, when called upon by their program administration, more than 325 students from École Polytechnique volunteered to support this initiative, by donating one hour of their time per day during the quarantine period to help high school students prepare for their French baccalaureate exams via remote tutoring. In addition, 25 English-speaking students from the Bachelor of Science program at École Polytechnique offered their help for English tutoring lessons. Students that can benefit from this initiative are final year high school students whose parents are highly involved in the fight against the current pandemic: medical professionals, military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and more. École Polytechnique relies on its ties with the French Ministry of Armed Forces, the Academy of Versailles, and the sub-prefecture of Palaiseau to help identify and put students in contact with high schoolers in need. One-hundred high schoolers are already being tutored by École Polytechnique students and new tutoring pairs are continually being put in place.
Within Institut Polytechnique de Paris, ENSTA Paris is also actively involved in this initiative and has already recruited 50 tutors to date.
Unwavering Ties with the French Army Corps
In large numbers, students from the Cycle Ingénieur Polytechnicien program are coming together for other causes related to COVID-19. First-year engineering students, whose classes are scheduled to resume (via e-learning) beginning of April 2020, are wrapping up their Personal Development and Military Training period, a unique characteristic of this program’s curriculum at École Polytechnique. A significant portion of these students, who carried out their training period in different army corps, have already been identified in reserve by their regiments. Other students, who have served several months in the Paris Fire Brigade (BSPP in French), have now decided to extend their engagement during this time of need, thanks to the qualifications they have already acquired. During the month of April, all of these students will remain at the disposal of different army corps while following their courses online. Also committed to fighting the current health crisis, 25 second- and third-year students have offered to lend a hand to the Paris Fire Brigade (BSPP).
Equipment Donations to French Hospitals in Need
To participate in the collective effort, École Polytechnique and its laboratories have donated 1,500 FFP2 masks to the Percy Army Teaching Hospital. The school’s laboratories have also answered promptly to the donation request for equipment coordinated by French research organizations including the CNRS, Inserm, the CEA, INRAE, and Inria. They have risen to the occasion and are working on producing hydroalcoholic solutions for hospitals as well as creating models of the pandemic to better anticipate its development and help to fight it.
Upon the initiative of the AX-Chine Group, and with the support of the École Polytechnique Alumni Association (AX) in cooperation with various alumni associations of Chinese universities and French higher education institutions, a collection of funds and medical equipment has been put in place. In partnership with the AP-HP Foundation, the fundraising will be entirely dedicated to buying equipment (masks, respirators, etc.) or paying for the transportation of equipment bought in China and sent to partner hospitals in France.
To access the donation page and see the progress already made: Click here.
Government-Supported Research Projects
A number of research projects have already been launched by students, researchers, and school staff in order to contribute to the country’s current challenges, in addition to their usual daily work. Researchers and students are taking action in order to respond to project requests such as the ones set up by the French Ministry of Armed Forces, launched by the Defense Innovation Agency (AID), aimed at collecting innovative proposals to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, or other project requests put in place by the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MESRI).