Colleges not rushing to reopen for face-to-face lessons

Ready to open: UOW Malaysia KDU Penang University College staff member sanitising a computer lab as they prepare to reopen for physical classes at Anson Road. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Many institutions of higher learning are taking cautious steps in offering physical classes.

UOW Malaysia KDU deputy vice-chancellor (academic) Prof Dr Hon Wei Min said it was not going to force the matter.

“We know the sentiment. Some want to come back for physical classes while others prefer online lessons,” she said.

She added that the institution would cater to both “as there are some who need face-to-face classes, while there are others who are apprehensive.”

“We are definitely more prepared than we were last year, but we will take it slow and only consider fully reopening next year when more people have been fully vaccinated,” she said.

On Sept 5, Bernama quoted Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad as saying that the government is planning to allow students of higher learning institutions to return to campus for the 2021-2022 academic session starting next month, after being fully vaccinated.

Prof Hon said it currently has physical classes for culinary and nursing students, but this involved only a small group of people.

“And those teaching them are fully vaccinated.

“The lessons are held one-shot without days in between and we ensure strict SOP (standard operating procedure) compliance,” she said, adding that the institution would also emphasise proper ventilation.

“Currently, a laboratory that can cater to 25 students is only permitted to have 12 at any one time.

“We reduce the capacity to ensure it is not a crowded environment,” she said.

INTI International College Penang chief executive Hemalatha Murugiah said, “We will allow students to return to campus in phases and based on priorities, such as for those in their final year, or new students who have not been to campus since last year.”

“With strict SOP and cooperation from staff and students in adhering to the guidelines, we should be able to gradually restart physical classes.

“Priority will be given to those who require the use of hardware and infrastructure on campus.”

She cited the hospitality and culinary arts programmes that require proper kitchen and other facilities for teaching and learning purposes.

Hemalatha said INTI would open to fully vaccinated students and staff when permitted, with the exception of students who are sitting for the CAIE (Cambridge Assessment International Education) A Level examinations.

“A special task force has been set up to manage the international examination on campus in accordance with the guidelines.

“The student capacity on campus will be maintained at a maximum of 50% from now until the end of the year,” she added.

She said they had also created a contact tracing mechanism that requires students to scan in before they use any facility on campus.

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