This document gives broad outlines of the main response of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) to the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. The description of the many measures undertaken in regards to research, solidarity and communication can be downloaded here.
COVID-19 : instructions to the CNRS personnel
Messages from Antoine Petit, CNRS Chairman and CEO
27 March 2020
The health crisis sparked by the COVID-19 coronavirus has had a profound effect on our personal and professional lives. I know that you are all striving to ensure that the CNRS continues functioning in all of its many ways, and are doing so with great professionalism. In this disruptive context, I am well aware of how important it is to maintain interaction among teams, services, units, departments, management, and more generally among ourselves. Sharing information is crucial in this regard.
This is why we have decided to reinforce our internal communication by creating a Special COVID-19 newsletter that will be published twice a week. It will include all internal decisions made in connection with the health crisis: measures relating to human resource management, assignments, and competitive entrance examinations, as well as a section for frequently asked questions (FAQs), among other things. These guidelines, which are issued at a given moment in time, are designed to adapt as the situation evolves. We are aware that they will not address all individual cases, which are inevitably numerous in an organisation of the CNRS’s size. Our regional offices and their services, which have been mobilised since the beginning of the crisis with great dedication, will remain your local point of contact.
Because scientific life must continue, you will also find “routine” information—if I may use the word—such as that usually featured in CNRS Hebdo.
The laboratories of the CNRS and its partners are heavily engaged in the attempt to formulate scientific answers as quickly as possible, as well as to help curb and stop the pandemic. All sciences are contributing to this struggle: biologists to understand the virus and its physiopathology, as well as to devise treatments; chemists to discover new molecules of pharmaceutical interest and new materials; specialists in the human and social sciences to evaluate, among other things, the short- and medium-term consequences of confinement; mathematicians to develop new predictive models; computer scientists to analyse the available data using methods such as artificial intelligence…We are also envisaging the creation of new tests that are both speedy and personalised, techniques for producing or reusing masks, and the design of respiratory system modules using 3D printing techniques.
Scientific work is fundamental in times of public health war as well as in times of peace, and must therefore be pursued. This is why I have decided, as President of the CNRS Foundation, to keep to the scheduled timetable: the Foundation’s website will therefore be opened, and accessible for donations.
Many of you have volunteered to assist healthcare establishments, or to implement and monitor clinical trials. Laboratories have offered material support, ranging from reagents to masks and access to equipment. All of this will continue in the days and weeks ahead, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all, for this surge of solidarity is a credit to the CNRS.
CNRS Chairman and CEO
20 March 2020
As this first week of confinement comes to an end, I want to reach out to each and everyone of you.
Thanks to your commitment and devotion, we have been able to quickly implement distance working and activity continuity plans (ACPs) across our laboratories, regional offices, service departments and institutes, as well as to pursue those activities that do not fall under the remit of ACPs and require physical presence – especially those related to research on the Covid-19 outbreak or similar epidemics.
For this, I want to thank each and everyone of you.
On the whole, we are operational and must now adopt a new way of working while the crisis lasts. Each entity, from research units to service departments, must use their best endeavours to build new forms of collective living, while ensuring that those who cannot, for whatever reason, work remotely are not left on the wayside. We must do everything we possibly can to maintain all those activities that can be performed in these difficult conditions. Working hand in hand is also a way of keeping spirits up and not becoming isolated.
Research is essential to our nation. It cannot and must not stop. Now more than ever, we must also provide our fellow citizens with reliable scientific information in these troubled times. We are making every effort to do so.
We are also going to make an inventory of all our available human and material resources, which many units have spontaneously offered and that may be of help to healthcare institutions and personnel. The goal is to ensure that our offer meets the needs and requirements of university hospitals and regional health agencies.
I am fully aware of the difficulties that each and everyone of you, at their own level, is going through and will continue to go through. It is by standing together, shoulder to shoulder, that we will be able to overcome the current crisis. We must all be able to rely on one another. It is the very foundation of a team. And the CNRS is indeed a team, a great team!
All the best to you all!
CNRS Chairman and CEO
16 March 2020
As of today and until further notice, all missions are suspended in France, Europe and outside Europe.
Exceptions will be examined by the CNRS regional offices, in liaison with the relevant unit director, as regards laboratories involved in research related to the COVID-19 epidemic, or similar epidemics, or concerning certain research laboratories when the interruption of manipulations would result in the loss of scientific data that is essential, sensitive or particularly complex or difficult to reorganise.
All agents who are currently on a mission abroad are advised to return to France in so far as possible, and depending on the possibilities offered by airlines or other transportation companies.
15 March 2020
Our country is going through an exceptional event. The French government has called on us to implement strong and determined measures, in the interest and for the protection of each and every one of us. The first of these measures involves social distancing and the observance of hygiene precautions to prevent the virus from spreading throughout French society.
It is our responsibility to simultaneously ensure that the activities of the CNRS, and scientific life in general, can continue in new and appropriate forms.
As a result, the CNRS is proceeding with the immediate and full implementation of all activity continuity plans (ACPs). This protocol applies to all institutes, regional offices, service departments, and units. Concerning the latter, dialogue will be initiated with host institutions.
Monday 16 March must firstly enable the operational implementation of ACPs by the management teams of the various entities. These teams must also identify potential activities that do not fall under the remit of ACPs, and for which work involving physical presence must continue (for instance in the laboratories engaged in research on the COVID19 epidemic or similar epidemics, or in laboratories where the interruption of manipulations would result in the loss of scientific studies that are essential, sensitive, or particularly complex or difficult to reorganise).
In light of these considerations, I advise CNRS personnel whose presence is not indispensable not to go to their place of work, and to await instructions from the entity in which they conduct their activity.
Anyone of you can request to work from home simply by sending an email. In exceptional cases where this request is refused, a justification will be provided. In the event that distance working is not possible (notably due to a lack of suitable computing equipment), you may be granted a special leave authorisation (ASA). Your hierarchy will provide supporting documents as soon as possible. An ASA does not result in an unpaid day.
I am counting on your solidarity and civic-mindedness. Additional details and further instructions will be issued as the situation develops.
CNRS Chairman and CEO
15 March 2020
Message to candidates and jury members for competitive entrance examinations
As per the instructions provided on Saturday, 14 March by France’s Prime Minister, the CNRS has decided to postpone all competitive entrance examinations for researchers until further notice.
Candidates and jury members must therefore await a new notification once the situation in our country allows for holding such examinations.
CNRS Chairman and CEO