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École Polytechnique Fully Geared for a Successful Start of an Atypical Academic Year

29 Aug. 2020

Incorporation des X2020

École Polytechnique has prepped throughout the summer to ensure a successful start of the new academic year, taking into account the evolution of the health situation linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The examinations and admission juries for our competitive entrance exams went extremely well. In a difficult and uncertain context, it was necessary to constantly reconsider many aspects of the entrance exams, adapt written exams to health conditions, grade exams under tight deadlines, innovate for oral exams and their organization outside of Paris and in Morocco, as well as decentralize medical check-ups. The School’s values of excellence and fairness have been demonstrated once again in the organization and results processes of the entrance exams. 

The mobilization of the entire School has also made it possible to adapt the
recruitment of new students in our Bachelor and Master’s programs, which were
carried out successfully.
After the incorporation of the X2020 class which started
on August 28th , Bachelors will be hosted remotely on September 7th and the start
of the MSc&T courses will take place three days later. The constraints linked to the
evolution of the health crisis are taken into account
with a three-fold objective:
to provide the best conditions for the Back-to-School period and to carry on our
activities, all while protecting everyone’s health. The School fully complies with the
latest government decisions mandatory masks wearing and on compliance with the
rules of health protection, physical distancing, and barrier gestures which continue
to be strictly observed on campus.

Capitalizing on its successes in online education, École Polytechnique, which was one
of the first French higher education institutions to launch MOOCs, ensured the digital
switchover of its academic activities from the start of the confinement period.

As the new academic year is starting, the pedagogical approach will be adapted to enable compliance with physical distancing rules, while promoting optimal student/teacher interaction. A balance will be achieved between face-to-face and distance-learning: classes held in lecture halls will preferably be taught online, while tutorials and small-class sessions will be held physically, in small groups. Innovative pedagogical models are also being considered in conjunction with the e-learning unit with the option of adopting an alternative pedagogical approach that promotes learning and interaction while respecting the health precautions in place. Physical distancing will be maintained in classrooms, which will be disinfected (as long as the health measures remain in place). Certain courses (sports, language courses, HSS) will be organized according to specific arrangements to be decided, which will be highly dependent on the health context. Students who are unable to travel to the campus will benefit from distance-learning options that, although limited, will allow them to validate their course credits. Military activities will be governed by the rules currently applicable to the Armed Forces (health rules for La Courtine camp, Personal Development and Military Training periods), and to all French officer cadets.

Regarding evaluation procedures, continuous assessment will be favored for scientific courses. Special arrangements for face-to-face examinations will be defined for ranking exams in the Cycle Ingénieur program. A system for monitoring the attendance and progress of students, both present on campus and working remotely, will be implemented by professors and the e-learning unit.

Returning to a livelier campus remains a shared goal. The activities of students and staff – and student and professional life in general – will be encouraged on campus, with the necessary adaptations, in order to offer the best and safest possible experience to all in a constrained setting.