Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak

© UNESCO

Precautionary actions

  • Stay at home and seek medical advice if you or any of your immediate family members have possible coronavirus covid-19 symptoms;
  • Avoid handshakes and hugs ;
  • Wash your hands very regularly with soap, or use a hydro-alcoholic solution;
  • Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or into a disposable handkerchief;
  • Stay at home in case of fever and consult a doctor;
  • Wear a surgical mask only in case of fever and cough;
  • Welcome our colleagues that have returned from a quarantine period and take all necessary measures to ensure they can normally perform their work and do not feel isolated and discriminated.

CoronaVirus Outbreak

Due to the health situation related to COVID-19, please refer to the prevention guide.

You may find all relevant information and guidance here https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus and there https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance.

Messages sent to Permanent Delegations to UNESCO on coronavirus

7 May 2020

Following the information meeting held last Thursday 30 April on the UNESCO dé-confinement plan, we would like to reiterate that teleworking remains the norm for UNESCO staff until 02 June and we encourage Permanent delegations to adopt the same approach.
On 11 May we plan to re-open both Miollis/Bonvin and Fontenoy premises for work, but only for a small number of people at a time.

We are also planning to have an on-line information meeting with all Permanent Delegations on Thursday 14 May at 3:00 pm on the post dé-confinement measures in the Framework of the COVID-19 outbreak. Meanwhile, please find attached the Host Country “Protocole National de déconfinement pour les entreprises” in case you didn’t see it before.   

That said, should you or Members of your Delegations decide to return to the premises on 11 May, we are recommending that you comply with the following measures:

1. Hygiene
• Please do not come to work if you have symptoms. Mainly: fever; cold-like symptoms; cough; muscle aches and pains; severe fatigue; loss of taste or sense of smell. In which case, stay at home and contact your doctor;
• At the reception desk, please discard the mask you have been wearing; throw your single-use mask in a closed bin or put your washable mask in a plastic bag;
• Please observe the recommended number of people in the lifts (1 person per lift);
• Please wash your hands with soap and water or with a hydro-alcoholic solution;
• Please wear a mask in situations where it is impossible for you to maintain a distance of more than 1.5 metres between two people.
• Please be reminded that the building is being deep cleaned this week. We are in close contact with the cleaning company to ensure that the required French government COVID-19 protocols are fully implemented to maintain the required standard of cleanliness from 11 May onwards, and ensure safety of all present in the place of work.
• You are strongly encouraged to keep office doors open at all times to minimize the use of doorknobs;

2. Air Conditioning /Building Ventilation: The air conditioning systems at the Fontenoy and Miollis/Bonvin sites are currently cleaned and set as to provide a maximum of air cleanliness. At this moment, there are no indications in the Host Country protocol that air conditioning systems may spread the virus. For your information, the air conditioning of the offices in Miollis/Bonvin is provided by ejecto-convectors who take their new air from the air treatment plant and it is filtered twice. The renewed air “all-new air” uses filters that guarantee an air 95% cleaner compared to the outside.

3. Catering: At least for an initial period as lockdown restrictions are eased, the restaurant services will only provide lunch bags at Fontenoy. All others cafeterias, bars and restaurants including the Miollis/Bonvin Cafeteria will remain closed.
 
4. Conferences & Meetings: In-person meetings are strongly discouraged.

However, if absolutely necessary, it is recommended that no more than 10 people participate in such meetings, provided that physical distance is practiced at all times, ensuring a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between people. This restriction will be reviewed in mid-July.

 

March 2020

We wish to recall that all measures taken by the French authorities in relation the movement of critical staff,  aim solely at mitigation of risk of COVID-19.  Decisions taken by French authorities are in the interest of all present on French territory and we are bound to  follow them strictly.

In light of these measures, the Director-General of UNESCO decided to close  the catering service  as well as the medical service in Fontenoy and Miollis/Bonvin buildings. You can reach the medical service at the following address: service.medical(at)unesco.org or by phone, during the day, at: 01 45 68 08 67.

Access to the two buildings will be authorized for persons whose presence is deemed as essential (including members of Permanent Delegations and staff of organizations whose offices are located in UNESCO buildings) and who will be in a possession of the attached certificates, duly completed and signed, as well as UNESCO badge.  We would like to remind you that the security will reduced therefore you are requested to bring your personal keys in order to get access to your offices.

Once again we appeal to your sense of responsibility and professionalism in respecting prevailing measures within your respective offices and we remain at your disposal for any further information. 

Well-being initiatives

UN Secretary-General's wellbeing webpage

The UN Secretary-General’s dedicated webpage on wellbeing also contains some useful tips on telecommuting and general staff wellbeing: https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/wellness 

Sport 

For those staff who like to practice sport, the ISAU staff association has compiled a list of links to different sport activities that you can carry out at home.

Library and Archives on-line projects/opportunities   

The UNESCO Library and Archives is pleased to continue offering virtual services by email. We invite staff to send requests for information related to our services and collections to library(at)unesco.org and archives(at)unesco.org; we will respond within the means possible. Virtual requests are an important and dynamic part of our services. Since our doors closed due to COVID-19 on 16 March 2020, we have responded to approximately 136 email requests combined. Our online UNESDOC Digital Library and Digital Archives collections are also available for your consultation 24/7. In good times and bad, the UNESCO Library and Archives are at your service, wherever you are! 

As part of the “Digitizing Our Shared UNESCO History” Project, KMI Archives unit are seeking volunteers to help on transcribing captions on 5,000 newly-digitized photos from UNESCO's historic photo collection.  These exceptional photos, available online for the first time, show images from UNESCO's programmes and missions around the world, from 1945 to the present.

For more information visit: https://heritagehelpers.co.uk/projects/view/details/project/unesco_tagging_photos.

Messages sent to UNESCO staff on coronavirus

29 June 2020

Over the last months, we have been closely evaluating the situation and following specific country instructions with regard to the COVID-19 crisis. As you know, many countries are now progressively lifting lockdown measures, while others are in an advanced “de-confinement” phase. Although we may have the impression that the situation is stabilizing or improving in some parts of the world, we must remain careful and continue to respect the preventive measures put in place in the different locations where UNESCO is active. The situation tends to improve in Europe including France but remains critical in some other countries, and is getting worse in some regions.

As announced in our previous message dated 3 June, we do plan the beginning of a global and progressive return to the workplace as of 1st of July. Early September, we expect the majority of staff to have returned to office, assuming the sanitary situation continues to improve. 

In this context, I wish to inform you of the following measures applying to UNESCO personnel in Headquarters, from 1st of July, until further notice. Specific guidance for Field Offices is indicated at the end of this message.

Presence at Headquarters – Telecommuting

Since 15 June, the entire territory of the host county France has been classified as “green”, which means that the circulation of the virus has slowed down. Since 22 June, the host country has allowed the reopening of indoor restaurants. The crèches, primary and middle schools have reopened fully and throughout the territory. 

Staff are therefore expected to come to the workplace. However, telecommuting may be approved during the transitional phase in July and August, as follows:

  • if there is a specific need to reduce staff density in offices and provided that the tasks of the staff member can be carried-out effectively through the current telecommuting arrangements; or
  • in case of specific personal situations (for example, particular difficulties related to individual health situations, childcare etc.)

Telecommuting requests will be approved by Sector ADG or Director of Corporate Services. Staff in HQ, who telecommute must register their absence in TULIP from 1st July under “Telework/Telecommute”.

In cases where continuing telecommuting is approved, a combination of working from home, and working from the office is strongly recommended. Telecommuting arrangements (days of work at home/days of work in the office, specific tasks, distance from home to workplace etc.) will be defined between the concerned staff and the direct supervisor.

Telecommuting outside of the duty station (France) is not permitted, unless there are very exceptional circumstances, which must be approved by Director HRM. Colleagues who are currently working outside of the duty station should contact their supervisor to normalize their working situation as of 1st of July, taking into consideration these new measures.

During the Summer, HRM will finalize more precise guidelines for a new telecommuting policy applicable as of September.  

While travelling from and to Headquarters, staff should respect the measures put in place on public transport or taxis.  Preference should be given to travel during off-peak hours if possible, always, after consultation with your supervisor, therefore, office working hours will be kept flexible. Whenever possible try to explore the use of alternative means of transport. Additional bike space will be made available in the bike park, situated below building III. 

Office space

The return of staff must be carefully planned in order to ensure that preventive measures are duly respected. The guiding principles that will apply are that each staff member should respect a physical distance of 1,5 meters in all conditions, in offices, open spaces, meeting rooms, workshops, etc. Managers are responsible for ensuring that these measures are applied and colleagues from the Division for Operations (ADM/OPS) are available to assist with optimizing office spaces. Managers should facilitate the arrangement of rotational working schedules or allowing flexible office hours for staff that share offices, where the 1.5 meters distance cannot be respected.  

Visitors to Headquarters

External visitors will be allowed as of 1st of July. In order to allow tracking, all visitors will be registered at the entrance.  The library and archives reading room will open early July (some precautionary measures still have to be put in place) but will follow strict protocols of the host country. As usual the library will be closed in August.

Visitors will be required to wear masks, and if possible be received by the person they want to meet at the reception counter. The staff member/s receiving the visitors must also use a mask at that time. Please avoid unnecessary visits, take the shortest way to and from your office. No temperature checks are envisaged.

The crèche has opened since 22 June.

Ensure secure work at Headquarters

Every time staff enter the Office premises they should wash their hands. Sanitation gel is available at key points of the building. 

Re-useable masks are  available for staff (all types of contracts) at the Mail Service (Situated at the Delivery Area Fontenoy) during working hours. The use of a mask is needed when physical distancing measures cannot be applied. Please read the notice provided with the mask. 

Catering facilities will progressively increase during July – August, adapting to the increased staff presence. 

Ad hoc meetings or gatherings in corridors or internal or external common areas should be avoided.

The use of elevators is discouraged, unless necessary. Try to take the elevators to go up, and the stairs to go down. In the staircase, please remain on the right. 

Cleaning services have been reinforced. During Summer, a new system of selective waste treatment will be set in place.

In order to have cleaner air in staff offices, you could use the air-conditioning, or consider keeping your office doors and windows open during the day. Do not use stand-alone ventilators.

Medical service can be reached by phone throughout the summer via 01 45 68 08 67. All staff having flu symptoms or fever over 37.5 ° should stay at home.

The external spaces (Jardin Japonais, smoking tolerated zones) can be accessed, provided that the physical distance is respected. 

Sports facilities in Miollis can be used again as of September, providing respecting the protocols of the different sports and the overall preventive measures.

The use of gloves will only be recommended for a small number of personnel based on their function, such as staff handling ID documents, bags or other items from visitors or staff.

209th session of the Executive Board (29 June – 10 July)

The 209th session of the Executive Board will take place “in presentia” from Monday 29 of June until Friday 10th of July. Meetings will take place in rooms I, X and XI, respecting the protocol of the Host country. Representatives from the secretariat in the meeting rooms will be limited to maximum 2 persons per Sector/Bureau/Division. Other staff members will be able to follow the debate through the usual webcast. As this session will be the first large meeting during this post-confinement phase, we urge colleagues to respect scrupulously the different preventive measures put in place to reduce the risk of a Covid-19 spread from or within the Organization. The use of masks is mandatory for all delegates and staff participating in the meetings.

Small Meetings

Small Meetings are meeting held outside of meeting rooms managed by ADM/CLD. 

Meetings and gatherings on premises can only take place if the requirement of 1.5 meter physical distance can be applied. Where possible, internal meetings should continue to take place online. If a face-to-face meeting is to take place, please limit the number of participants and the duration to hour to avoid long face-to-face meetings.

Meetings, conferences and missions

At Headquarters, governance meetings, such as those of the Executive Board, may be held physically in July and August. Other physical meetings may be authorized by ADG/ADM, on a case by case basis. Participants will be required to respect physical distancing practices, and wear masks if this cannot be assured. All other meetings will continue to be held online until further notice. The reservation of meeting rooms at Headquarters is already possible for meetings or events taking place after 7 September. 

Missions may resume, on approval of the ADG/Director of the Sector/Bureau. 

Leave

As indicated in our previous message, we expect the period from September to December to be very intense. Statutory meetings will be rescheduled and the autumn Executive Board session is expected to take place as foreseen, in early November. Therefore, we strongly advise staff and supervisors to plan annual leave in July and August, and we expect all staff to take a minimum of 3 weeks of annual leave during this period, this is however not mandatory. While it may be difficult to plan a “normal” vacation at this time, staff and supervisors should recognize that the period of confinement has been (and continues to be) intense work-wise and stressful. Combining leave and telecommute is not encouraged. 

Supervisors should organize their services, and the leave planning of their colleagues, taking into consideration the plan of work for their office/sector throughout the summer. Noting the disruption the confinement has caused to leave plans earlier in the year, we have also decided, on an exceptional basis, to allow staff to carry forward up to an additional 15 days (above the existing 60 days), to be used by end 2021. Leave plans for Institutes and Field Offices would need to follow specific local conditions and local context, but supervisors should also allow staff to take the necessary annual leave.

Presence in Field Offices and Institutes outside France

As indicated in our previous message of 29 May, some staff will continue telecommuting after 1st of July and until further notice, Heads of Field Office shall plan return to work in close consultation with host governments and the UN Country Team, consulting Headquarters as necessary. Staff, in Field Offices, who continue to telecommute must register their absence in TULIP under “Absence from office for sanitary reasons”.

Specific guidance, including the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) will depend on the office and the specific country or regional circumstances. General guidance is to follow the lead of country, and UNCT. Physical distancing and regular handwashing continue to be the most effective precautionary measures; it is also widely considered that the use of masks serves to protect others around the wearer, and therefore where advised, masks should be used. We discourage the use of public transport. 

As always, you can reach the coronavirus coordination team at coronavirus.coordination(at)unesco.org for any questions you may have.

 

3 June 2020

Over the last months, we have been closely evaluating the situation and following specific country instructions with regard to the COVID-19 crisis. As you know, many countries are now progressively lifting lockdown measures, while others are in an advanced “de-confinement” phase. 

Although we need to maintain the different preventive measures, we must also start planning a gradual, yet progressive return to work. 

In this context, I wish to inform you of the following measures applying to UNESCO personnel in Headquarters, from 8 June until further notice. 

Presence at Headquarters 

In line with the recent measures announced by the French Government, telecommuting will continue to be the general practice during the month of June.  Managers are invited to examine carefully the staff that would be returning to work onsite taking into consideration individual difficulties of the staff related to schools, crèche, transport, individual health situations etc. Staff who wish to return to work on a voluntary basis may do so after consultation with their respective managers. 

The return of staff must be carefully planned in order to ensure that preventive measures are duly respected (all people onsite will be required to keep 1.5 meters apart). To the extent possible, managers will identify individual office spaces for staff who normally share office space. 

Masks will be made available at the Reception desk in the Fontenoy building.

In keeping with the host country’s instructions concerning public transportation, managers will provide staff with a certificate allowing them to travel during peak hours.  Preference should be given, however, to travel during off-peak hours if possible.

External visitors will only be allowed upon appointment until the end of August. The library and the shop remain closed. The crèche will reopen as from 22 June on a capacity-limited basis. Catering facilities will initially remain limited and progressively increased during the summer. 

Staff who continue to telecommute must register their absence in TULIP under “Absence from office for sanitary reasons” (until 30 June).

Presence in Field Offices and Institutes outside France

As indicated in our last message from 29 May, most staff will continue teleworking after 2 June and until further notice, Heads of Field Office shall plan return to work in close consultation with host governments and the UN Country Team, consulting Headquarters as necessary. 

Specific guidance, including the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) will depend on the office and the specific country or regional circumstances. General guidance is to follow the lead of country, and UNCT. Physical distancing and regular handwashing continue to be the most effective precautionary measures; it is also widely considered that the use of masks serves to protect others around the wearer, and therefore where advised, masks should be used. We discourage the use of public transport. 

Meetings and missions

At Headquarters, only governance meetings, such as those of the Executive Board, may be held physically in June and July. Participants will be required to respect physical distancing practices, and wear masks if this cannot be assured. All other meetings will continue to be held online until further notice. The reservation of meeting rooms at Headquarters is accepted for meetings or events taking place after 7 September. Meetings and conferences planned should take into account the fact that host country rules and additionally UNESCO guidance may be modified progressively. 

Leave

If all goes well, we expect the period from September to December to be very intense. Statutory meetings will be rescheduled and – for the moment - the autumn Executive Board session is expected to take place as foreseen, in October. Therefore, we strongly advise staff and supervisors to plan annual leave between June and the end of August, and we expect all staff to take a minimum of 3 weeks of annual leave during this period. While it may be difficult to plan a “normal” vacation at this time, staff and supervisors should recognize that the period of confinement has (and continues to be) been intense work-wise, and stressful mentally. 

Anticipating that as of September, we expect that activities fully resume and all services would need to be operational, we therefore strongly encourage staff to avail of leave.  

Supervisors should organize their services, and the leave planning of their colleagues, taking into consideration the plan of work for their office/sector (and the possible 209th session of the Executive Board towards the end of June). 

Noting the disruption the confinement has caused to leave plans earlier in the year, we have also decided, on an exceptional basis, to allow staff to carry forward up to 15 days (above the existing 60 days), to be used by end-2021. 

Leave plans for Institutes and Field Offices would need to follow specific local conditions and local context, but supervisors should also allow staff to take the necessary annual leave.

Travel

Mission travel remains suspended. Recognizing that some staff may soon be travelling for personal reasons, we are including a short travel advisory. Please do also bear in mind that the situation with respect to travel continues to evolve rapidly, and we recommend that you check carefully before undertaking any travel. 

Telecommute

These exceptional times have challenged us to discover also new ways of working. Most of us are now familiar with online meetings, and most colleagues have been able to telecommute successfully. This new working modality presents an opportunity for staff and managers to adapt the way in which we work. 

Telecommuting will be further mainstreamed, and embedded in the policies and practices of the Organization, in order to improve professional/personal life balance as well as to take advantage of substantive benefits of working from outside the office. Further guidance on the practical modalities are currently under review and is expected to be published before the end of June.

Until then, we would like to ask supervisors and managers, at Headquarters and in Field Offices and Institutions outside France, to consider implementing measures to optimize conditions for all those working from home. These include avoiding internal online meetings between 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. and after 5:30 p.m., to allow colleagues to take meals and disconnect. They also include avoiding work-related communications between 6:00 p.m. on Friday and 8:00 a.m. on Monday.

As always, you can reach the coronavirus coordination team at coronavirus.coordination(at)unesco.org for any questions you may have.

 

29 MAY 2020

I hope you and your family are in good health and coping with the present situation. As you know, many countries are now moving to a progressive “de-confinement” phase and some UNESCO colleagues are back into the offices. We learned today that Beijing Office will resume normal operations on June 1st, with all staff returning to office, maintaining physical distancing and other preventive measures.

Yesterday, UNESCO Headquarters’ host country confirmed that the situation in France is improving and announced the next phase of the deconfinement process, which will come into effect from Tuesday, 2 June.

The ADM Sector is currently reviewing these guidelines, with a view to establishing the relevant protocols to ensure the safe return of staff to Headquarters. Teleworking will therefore continue as a general rule, until further notice (kindly register your absence in TULIP under “Absence from office for sanitary reasons” until 5 June, for now)

Presence in Field Offices and Institutes outside France

Most staff will continue teleworking after 2 June and until further notice, Heads of Field Office shall plan return to work in close consultation with host governments and the UN Country Team, consulting Headquarters as necessary.

Specific guidance, including the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) will depend on the office and the specific country or regional circumstances. General guidance is to follow the lead of country, and UNCT. Physical distancing and regular handwashing continue to be the most effective precautionary measures; it is also widely considered that the use of masks serves to protect others around the wearer, and therefore where advised, masks should be used. We discourage the use of public transport. 

As always, you can reach the coronavirus coordination team at coronavirus.coordination(at)unesco.org for any questions you may have.

 

5 MAY 2020 - UNESCO "de confinement" measures

At Headquarters, we have now been teleworking for close to two months. Telework is also the rule at most, if not all, UNESCO field offices. Our achievements during this period have been remarkable, and widely recognized – this is a great credit to all UNESCO staff.

Our main concern continues to be the wellbeing and safety of all team members, independent of their location.

In some countries, governments have started to relax lockdown measures, but questions remain. In particular, how can we prevent an increase in COVID-19 cases once people resume more normal lives? Currently, measures to mitigate this risk include mass testing (to locate clusters) and preventive actions, such as physical distancing and hand hygiene.

At Headquarters and in the field, the return of all staff to offices will depend on the evolution of the situation and measures put in place by national governments. The return to work will therefore be cautious, flexible and will consistently keep the health and safety of staff members as a top priority. This situation may only stabilize after August.

Most of the following information is specifically for Headquarters. However, similar planning is taking place in field offices, in close consultation with host governments and other UN organizations. Specific guidance on preventive measures and cleaning/disinfection for field offices will be available shortly.

Staff density at Headquarters

On 28 April, UNESCO headquarters’ host country announced that it would gradually relax lockdown measures, starting on 11 May. However, it also recommended that teleworking continue until 2 June for now.

Until 2 June, teleworking remains the norm for UNESCO staff, after which, the situation will be reassessed in accordance with the host country’s guidelines. Only when the health situation becomes clearer will UNESCO invite more staff to return to the office. We plan to re-open buildings for work, but only for a small number of people at a time.

To determine who is coming into the office, each sector is consulting with managers and staff.

  • Managers who need to ask colleagues to be physically present at work are invited to take into consideration individual staff difficulties, including school and crèche hours, transport, individual health situations and willingness to work from home.
  • Staff members who need to be physically present at work to resume their duties will be required to obtain authorization from their managers.

Only a small number of staff are expected to return in the week of 11th May, ADGs will confirm which are these staff. We would also ask supervisors to plan, for those colleagues that need to come in, a staggered return.

Hygiene measures

Staff are strongly encouraged to keep their office door open at all times to minimize the use of doorknobs.

Please be reminded that the building is being deep cleaned this week. No staff will be allowed to enter except security personnel on duty. We are in close contact with the UNESCO cleaning company to ensure that the required French government COVID-19 protocols are fully implemented to maintain the required standard of cleanliness from 11 May onwards, and ensure safety of all present in the place of work.

The air conditioning systems at the Fontenoy and Miollis sites are currently cleaned and set as to provide a maximum of air cleanliness. At this moment, there are no indications in the Host Country protocol that air conditioning systems may spread the virus.

More information on hygiene measures at the work place can be found in the attached guidelines.

Masks and Hydro alcoholic gel

The most important personal protection measures are frequent hand-washing, physical distancing and the use of masks. From 11 May onwards, UNESCO will provide masks to staff when they return to work, and will require any staff who cannot observe strict physical distancing measures to wear masks. The attached guidelines provide more  information on how to wear masks and when to change and dispose of them. These guidelines may be reviewed depending on the evolution of health advice and the availability of masks for purchase by staff.

Hydro alcoholic gel dispensers will be available in the buildings.

Conferences, Meetings and Missions

Conferences, meetings and visits on the premises have been cancelled until  2 June. This measure will be reassessed closer to the deadlineWe strongly recommend online meetings, which many staff have successfully participated in during lockdown. A memo was sent outlining the current options and procedures for organizing online meetings. We would be grateful if you would follow these guidelines. Events need to be registered in NICE (and CRM afterwards) so they can be added to the Calendar of Events. Please use the G-meets application when planning online meetings to request services and logistical support. This will help CLD with event support, by ensuring that quotes can be made earlier and that support costs such as IT can be better anticipated and provided for.

In-person meetings are strongly discouraged. However, if absolutely necessary, it is recommended that no more than 10 staff members participate in such meetings, provided that physical distance is practiced at all times, ensuring a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between staff members. This restriction will be reviewed in mid-July.

Mission travel shall be suspended until further notice. Any exception will have to be approved by the Sector ADG.

Leave

Staff is encouraged to take time off work, even during lockdown. Managers are encouraged to plan leave carefully, balancing the needs of staff with the need to continue work. Careful planning is necessary on the part of managers to avoid the risk of too much leave being taken in the second half of the year.

Staff will be able to carry over unused leave to next year within reasonable limits. Further details in this regard will be made available in due course.

Cafeteria

The Secretariat agreed with Sodexo that for the first three weeks after May 11, only lunch boxes would be served.

A protocol (including for physical distancing) adapted to UNESCO's configuration and its needs is being developed; this will include extending the opening hours of the cafeteria, recharging the payment card online to avoid long queues, using the smart flow application to order meals in advance, etc. The Secretariat is currently working on a new protocol to be implemented in the first three weeks after 11 May.

On-site training of Sodexo staff on the new protocol will also be organized.

UNESCO Day Nursery and Children's Club (JCU)

Subject to the decisions of the French authorities concerning the opening of crèches, the Director of the UNESCO kindergarten is consulting with the parents’ committee and HRM to determine how to reopen the structure. Several issues are under consideration, including reception, the protection of children and caregivers, cleaning and educational approaches. Further information will be provided in due course.

At this stage, the crèche will remain closed until 29 May included.

Pension fund

Following concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on the financial health of the UN staff Pension Fund, we have received reassurances that, in spite of financial market volatility and an overall drop in the value of pension fund investments, the Fund remains financially sound, and operations are continuing as normal. A letter from the UN Secretary General is attached for further information.

Vegetable garden

On the bright side, we are pleased to inform you that UNESCO and Noocity are creating an educational vegetable garden at UNESCO’s premises in the heart of Paris. This garden, which was planted shortly before lockdown, will give UNESCO’s staff and chefs the opportunity to buy fresh, seasonal vegetables, herbs and fruit (tomatoes, carrots, cabbage, radishes, basil, mint, strawberries and more). We hope that you will be able to taste these fruits and vegetables very soon.

In closing, I would like to remind you that the uncertainty linked to the COVID-19 situation will probably continue until the end of the year, and precautionary measures may change. We must be particularly attentive towards colleagues who have contracted or will contract the disease, and avoid stigmatization.

As always, you can reach the coronavirus coordination team at coronavirus.coordination@unesco.org  for any questions you may have, and consult the COVID intranet site, which is updated on a daily basis. 

I also take this opportunity to remind colleagues that Friday, 8 May, is a holiday at Headquarters!

 

30 APRIL 2020

Following the French government announcement for a gradual relaxation of confinement, starting 11 May, staff will be informed of the planned UNESCO “deconfinement” timetable, and special measures.

In order to ensure optimal safety to staff, the Secretariat will reinforce hygiene measures in the buildings. In this context, we would like to inform you that there will be a deep cleaning of the buildings. 

This cleaning will take place in Fontenoy building from 4 May. Please be aware that during the week of 4 May no persons will be allowed to enter the premises, other than the Security personnel on duty. 

For any questions you may have, you can reach the coronavirus coordination team at coronavirus.coordination@unesco.org.

 

10 APRIL 2020

As you know, we are living through  an unprecedented situation, which calls for our concerted efforts, both personal and professional. Confinement measures have been strengthened in many countries in order to combat the spread of the virus. Both at Headquarters and in field offices, procedures have been adapted, and UNESCO has been working closely with other United Nations system partners to ensure that the strictest possible measures are taken to safeguard all UN personnel, while maintaining support to host governments – at a time when many are looking for exceptional support.

Meanwhile, UNESCO continues to play its essential role. New initiatives in the fields of education, science, culture and communication, many of them related to COVID-19, show how important it is that we stay mobilized. To discuss UNESCO's response to the pandemic, the Director-General held a virtual meeting with Member States this morning, which was well received by them. 

These discussions are available at: https://srvarcstream3a.unesco.org/ksastream/video/Reunion_avec_la_DG.mp4

We know that that a few staff members have been infected by the virus and have hopefully now recovered. Some 40 staff have reported COVID-19 symptoms to the medical service, however, only 3 cases, based on current information, have tested positive. One staff member was hospitalized, but has now been discharged. We also note with sadness the death, in Kinshasa, of the Deputy Permanent Delegate of the Democratic Republic of Congo, attributed to COVID-19. A former contractor (a supernumerary who worked within KMI) also recently passed away, but this death was due to other causes.

During confinement, some of us may find it difficult to balance professional and private life, especially when schools and nurseries are closed and children demand more attention and care. If you are in a difficult situation due to family constraints, do not hesitate to ask your supervisor to adapt your working hours. 

On this point, I am asking supervisors to exercise maximum flexibility and understanding – we each face challenges in these unique times. This is an opportunity for supervisors to manage staff creatively. They should be aware of each staff member’s needs when teleworking, and manage teams appropriately, whether by encouraging flexible working hours, or by avoiding meetings that are late in the day or that may conflict with childcare. Where staff have competing demands on their time, supervisors should adapt working methods, and jointly define expectations and outcomes. If staff are unable to work at 100 per cent, please determine what is possible, so that they are empowered to contribute to UNESCO’s work during this crucial time, while managing challenges. Staff members who wish to disconnect completely should take annual leave. These are not normal “working from home” conditions. For some staff, the situation is more “at home, trying to work”. 

Since my last message, we have all done our best to maintain business continuity. UNESCO colleagues have adapted wonderfully to teleworking. By now, we have all participated in many virtual meetings and training sessions, and are making the best of a difficult situation. The COVID-19 intranet site has recently published useful tips on how to efficiently manage a virtual meeting and we strongly encourage you to apply them: https://hbr.org/2020/03/what-it-takes-to-run-a-great-virtual-meeting.

As always, the coronavirus coordination team is available whenever necessary at coronavirus.coordination@unesco.org and the COVID-19 intranet site is being updated on a daily basis. During these difficult and stressful times, it is important to refrain from sharing fake news and rumours. In times of crisis, we need to rely on accurate and reliable sources of information.

We sincerely hope that the public health situation will soon improve, so governments will be able to start relaxing confinement measures. All UNESCO offices will need to make the necessary arrangements when this happens – in coordination with host governments and UN system guidelines, as appropriate.

I would like to wish you all a Happy Easter and Pessah – may these celebrations be an opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones in these exceptional circumstances.  

Last but not least, for colleagues in Paris, do not forget that next Monday is a holiday… which we all deserve to enjoy! 

 

26 MARCH 2020

As I write to you today, most of us are teleworking and adapting to this new life. 

Working from home creates new challenges. How do we stay alert? How can we be productive while balancing private and professional life? How do we keep in touch with colleagues? How do we deal with the stress caused by this unique situation?

We do not yet have answers to all of these questions. However, we are doing our best to support the transition, by resolving any technical issues and sharing information and best practices. On Monday, you received a UNESCO update on new initiatives and forums on the intranet to communicate with colleagues through Yammer and share news or videos. AIPU colleagues sent some helpful links to practice exercises and keep in shape.

The medical service is available to assist you should you need guidance or medical care, at the following email address: medical.service(at)unesco.org. Similarly, Christine Goletto, UNESCO’s social worker, will make every effort to help you should you need personal support of any kind.

In addition to carrying out our daily tasks, we can also use this opportunity to finalize administrative work from home, put in place new working methods, discover new communication tools, and take part in training. HRM offers several e-learning modules that you can access remotely: just click on the “My learning” icon in the intranet “top apps”. KMI has also invited colleagues to participate in webinars on various Microsoft tools. In this way, you can improve your knowledge and develop skills in different areas, while boosting your career prospects.

During these difficult times, it is important that we rely on accurate information, and refrain from sharing fake news and rumours. You can also write to coronavirus.coordination(at)unesco.org.  

For staff at Headquarters, the French Government has recently issued a new form for personal trips taken outside the home. You will find it attached to this message.  

UNESCO continues to play an essential role, at Headquarters, in the field, and at home – despite the Coronavirus crisis. 

Best wishes to everyone, and keep safe.

 

18 MARCH 2020

As part of the measures for mitigating the risk of COVID-19, the Director-General has decided to step up precautionary measures at the UNESCO Secretariat by requesting all staff to telework until further notice. Colleagues in the field are to follow the instructions of the Host country that are communicated by their respective UN country teams/Resident Coordinators.

Only staff members, whose presence is considered necessary by their ADG or Director, will be authorized to access their office. This includes staff responsible for key functions such as security and the implementation of the COVID-19 crisis response. The catering services at Miollis and Fontenoy will be closed.

The remaining public spaces that have been open for the past few days are now closed. Visitor badges will no longer be issued. The security service will ensure that this is strictly adhered to.

All March/April meetings are postponed/cancelled, except for meetings between staff members whose presence in the Secretariat is deemed essential. In this case, precautionary measures (in particular distance between people) must be respected. Other exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

All measures apply to the Fontenoy and Miollis/Bonvin sites.

We encourage staff to keep in touch with colleagues who feel vulnerable or isolated. At times like this, it is especially important to demonstrate even more support and care than usual.

Over the next few days and weeks, we will depend more than ever on everyone's sense of responsibility and professionalism. We have the utmost confidence in the commitment of our staff to ensure each other's safety.