That's what worries many students at the centuries-old Sorbonne University in Paris as the coronavirus is on the rebound across France.
At least a dozen COVID-19 clusters have emerged since French campuses and classrooms opened this month. The clutches of cases are a warning sign for countries elsewhere in Europe, where most universities are readying to resume teaching and research in coming weeks.
“We go back to university in conditions that are a bit extreme, and we fear we might get COVID-19,” Elise Gilbert, 20, who is studying literature at the Sorbonne, said of the overcrowding students encountered.
France's experience so far stands in contrast to what's happening in Britain, where virus-driven changes on campuses mean university life will look a lot different this term. Germany and Italy are also adapting their delivery of higher education in response to the pandemic.
The French government was determined to get people back to classrooms to bridge education inequities that the pandemic has exacerbated. The government also urged workers to return to offices and job sites to resuscitate the economy and to "learn to live with the virus."
At universities, the main change this year is mandatory mask-wearing at all times. But keeping physical distances appears impossible in many places.
Some students are raising their grievances on Twitter, using the hashtag #Balancetafac (“Squeal on your uni”) to share pictures of packed classrooms and corridors.
They describe situations where there's no soap to wash their hands and where rooms, sometimes with no windows to provide fresh air, are not being disinfected between lectures.
“We are doing our best to respect social distancing, but sometimes we can’t,” Corentin Renoult, a 20-year-old Sorbonne journalism student, said.
Nevertheless, the Sorbonne is maintaining in-person classes for the time being.
“It’s quite hard at the moment because we haven’t got any extra means," Franziska Heimburger, assistant director of the university’s English department, said. ".We don’t have any more teachers, we don’t have any more space, so we basically have to teach as best we can.”