Sarawak students go home

  • Education
  • Sunday, 10 May 2020

Safety first: A firefighter sanitising the bus before students from all over Sarawak were allowed to board.

HUNDREDS of students excitedly packed their bags when it was finally announced that they were allowed to go home.

Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) sent 17 of its students back to their hometowns in Bintulu, Sibu and Kuching in three buses, as part of the first stage of student movement across the nation which started on May 1.

Students’ movement, the varsity said, had to be done in stages due to logistical factors that follow standard operating procedures set by the National Security Council and Health Ministry.

Before departing, students were briefed by security personnel and had to undergo health screenings

Buses and students’ luggages were sanitised before they boarded, and students were provided face masks and food for the journey.

Students were to be under self-quarantine for 14 days upon reaching their hometowns.

Some students chose to drive home in their own cars after they had secured the necessary release letters and police permits.

“Despite being confined in their university accommodation for more than 40 days under the movement control order (MCO), the students are all in good

health and in remarkably good spirits.

“While some students preferred to spend the rest of the semester following classes online from home, others chose to remain on campus to enjoy the better Internet connection and better focus on their ongoing online studies and upcoming semester examinations, which will also be conducted online, ” said Curtin Malaysia chief operating officer Pieter Willem Pottas.

Prof Simon Leunig, Curtin Malaysia pro vice-chancellor, president and chief executive, said the varsity reacted swiftly to the new conditions by implementing various measures in accordance with the authorities’ directives.

“This included moving all classes and other learning and teaching activities online, and implementing various measures to ensure our campus community was sufficiently supported and protected throughout the MCO.

“It has not been easy navigating the continually fluid and challenging circumstances, but we are doing everything we can to safeguard the interests of our students and staff.

“We are glad that students are gradually being allowed to return home and are doing all we can to assist them, ” he said.

The day before sending their students home, the varsity ferried home 100 Politeknik Kuching Sarawak students.

Curtin Malaysia collaborated with Politeknik Kuching Sarawak, with support from the Higher Education Ministry, Universiti Sarawak Malaysia (Unimas)

and the district police headquarters in Miri, Bintulu, Sibu and Kuching.Meanwhile, Unimas mobilised the return of 1,495 higher education institute students stuck in Sarawak to their homes in stages.

“We coordinated the transport for the programme of sending students back to parts of Sabah, Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia, after they had been campus-bound from March 18, when the MCO started.

“Students will first have to undergo a health screening while their luggage and carry-ons will be sanitised before being loaded into the transport.

“Throughout their journey home, students will be accompanied by a Unimas liaison officer and two bus drivers until they reach their destinations, ” the statement read.

The fire and rescue department helped the varsity sanitise the bus, which was provided by the Royal Malaysia Police, who ensured standard operating procedures such as social distancing and the use of face masks are observed at all times.

Students were not allowed to change their seat on the bus, the varsity said, or change their destination routes.

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