No go for red zone students

PETALING JAYA: Higher education institutions are not taking any chances with the health and safety of their students, as the majority of them are set to return to campus next month.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor says the university administration was taking a stricter approach than what was recommended by the Higher Education Ministry to prevent the university from becoming another Covid-19 cluster.

“Only students from green zones are allowed to register and a designated block will be allocated for quarantine, ” he said.

UKM is spreading out the student registration process over two days – Oct 3 and 4. Previously, the process was held for a day.

“This is a measure to prevent congregation and to allow physical distancing, ” he said.

“I understand that students, their parents and the community alike are worried about this situation.“UKM has looked into this matter and has planned meticulously on Covid-19 prevention and security, ” he said, referring to the areas previously designated green zones were now becoming red zones.

There are now five red zones in Malaysia – Kota Setar, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad said all higher education institutions had been requested to postpone face-to-face registration of new and old students from red zone areas at their respective campus, which is scheduled to start next month.

She added that these students, both new and current, would be required to register for their semester online.

These students, she said, could only return to their campus following standard operating procedure (SOP) once the Covid-19 situation at their hometowns had recovered.

Noraini said students who were not residing in red zones could return to campus as normal based on their institution’s academic calendar.

“The ministry reiterates that all higher education institutions were instructed to ensure that academic activities on campus are carried out in full compliance with the SOP and prioritise safety measures, ” she said.

Sunway Education Group chief executive officer Dr Elizabeth Lee said the ministry’s directives and advice for the safety of students and staff would be complied with.

“We are offering dual mode learning to allow those who are not on campus to follow their lessons in real time, ” she said.

She also said that this would help those affected by unstable Internet connection or in different time zones access the uploaded lessons and their lecturers on demand.

National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Assoc Prof Elajsolan Mohan said the members understood the rationale of the latest development in view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases.

“With the latest announcement, institutions have been prepared for the last few months to run classes through hybrid mode face-to-face as well as online, ” he said.

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