Universities take precautions amid reopening

Safety first: The APU safety ambassadors are seen guiding students in practising the requisite social distancing in addition to other measures.

PETALING JAYA: As higher education institutions (HEIs) once again welcome their students and staff back to campus, they are taking precautionary measures to prepare for the reopening after months of closure to curb the Covid-19 contagion.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia deputy vice-chancellor (student affairs) Prof Datuk Dr Othman A. Karim said when students arrive at the campus, they would have to report at a specified drive-through station where necessary documents would be verified, such as their health declaration form and double dose vaccination certificate.

“The students will be given a Covid-19 rapid test kit (RTK) and upon completing the test, they will drive to the designated parking area while waiting for the RTK result,” he said.

“If it is negative, the student will proceed to the residential college for the next process. If it is positive, they will be brought to the University Health Centre for further assessment and later to the designated quarantine centre.

“Although the tests will be carried out when the students arrive at campus, we encourage them to also do them before they depart from their homes.

“This is so that if they are positive, they can then postpone their return and get the proper treatments first.”

The university will be welcoming them back in batches: the first group from today to Sunday; second group from Oct 30-31; third group from Nov 13-14; and fourth group from Dec 4-5.

Prof Othman said they were keeping the capacity at about 40%.

“The faculties decided that students who should be on campus are those who need the labs and are doing clinicals and final-year projects.

“The rest will continue their lessons 100% online but those who need to come back because of poor Internet connectivity and whose homes do not provide a conducive learning environment can apply to the Students Affairs Centre (HEP),” he said.

Campuses across the country reopen today in stages only for fully vaccinated students and staff.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad said on Sept 14 that the admission of fully vaccinated students into HEIs involves all categories of students in all National Recovery Plan phases with priority given to students in need.

Students in need include those who are required to do clinical or practical training, or must have access to facilities available only on campus.

The numbers allowed depend on the campus’ capacity.

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) would conduct stringent checks at its campus entry points to ensure that only those who are fully vaccinated are allowed on campus, its chief executive officer Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh said.

He said the varsity had made arrangements for physical distancing within the campus and comprehensive sanitisation.

“Our team of safety ambassadors will be on hand to monitor our campus community for standard operating procedure compliance.

“We are fully prepared and excited to welcome our students back to campus,” he said, adding that their students would be returning in stages starting Oct 18.

Sunway Education Group chief executive officer Prof Elizabeth Lee said students would submit their digital health declaration form, display their MySejahtera fully vaccinated status and get their temperatures checked.

“Students returning to campus (today) will be greeted by volunteers and a cup of coffee from Nescafe.

“We hope this bit of personal touch will help brighten up their first day back to campus.

“We have missed our students and are eager to have them back for face-to-face classes,” she said.

The National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei) president Elajsolan Mohan said for the past two weeks, HEIs had been reorientating their staff back to campus by having training sessions on the use of technology application to support hybrid classrooms as part of their preparation.

“Some colleges have set up a team of safety ambassadors comprising students and staff who will be guiding and reminding students on practising safe physical distancing on campus.

“These safety ambassadors will also check each student’s MySejahtera status at the entrance and assist in registering the student’s vaccination status.

“At student accommodations, some universities have allocated hostel rooms to be quarantine centres for fully vaccinated international students who have opted for home quarantine,” he said.

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