University of Malta issues COVID-19 safety guidelines for upcoming academic year
The University of Malta has released its advice and guidelines on the procedures to be adopted in response to COVID-19, stating that the senate has agreed that the academic year will proceed, as far as possible, as usual with in-person teaching on campus.
The university will adopt multiple approaches to lecture delivery, with physical, online and hybrid options being considered.
The presented guidelines also include G.F. Abela Junior College, except in instances where otherwise indicated.
“At the time of the publication of these guidelines, there is a spike in community transmission, therefore the University will be relying more heavily (but not entirely) on virtual teaching until the situation improves.”
First Year students will be given the priority for in-person lectures in order to give them the opportunity to experience University life first-hand, to meet their lecturers and to establish contact with their peers.
Study-units which require the use of labs and clinics will continue to take place on campus or other venues as applicable.
Individual Faculties/Institutes/Centres/Schools (FICS) specific to particular learning environments will be issuing a number of protocols separately.
These protocols will be published on the respective websites for the university, and by the College for the Junior College where necessary.
In some cases, the P-R mode (P = physical presence; R = remote teaching) of teaching will be adopted, whereby either in-person lessons will take place whilst some students are following remotely via Zoom, or online lectures will be streamed in real time or using recorded material, or a blend of both types.
The guidelines highlighted that where the P-R system is adopted, students following lectures remotely will join as observers and may not have the opportunity to interact with the lecturer.
Temperature will be taken for all staff and students who are present on campus, and everyone must adhere to basic mitigation measures including: physical distancing, wearing of face coverings and hand hygiene.
Staff-student and student-student physical interactions will be limited to what is essential, and virtual meetings will be very much encouraged.
Staff and students are expected to stay away from campus if they experience any symptoms.
In addition, the guidelines recommend that classes which involve a large number of students should adopt to a method of teaching based entirely on remote methods as it may be the most practical.
This will also serve as a “backup measure”, so as to ensure that disruptions to teaching schedules caused by incidences of COVID-19 which affect groups of students and/or their lectures are minimised.
Lecturers in quarantine who are ill will not be expected to deliver classes online and remedial measures will be taken where necessary to cater for the needs of the students.
For international students attending the University of Malta, the document outlines that special arrangements will be made for these students who cannot physically be present on campus due to travel restrictions.
With regard to the venues used for delivering lectures, the document highlights that in order to increase space, UM is considering making use of Junior College premises after 5pm.
If students have a lecture on campus and another lecture soon after but held online, the UM is making arrangements so that additional space is made available on campus for such students.
Maximum efforts should be made to maintain an adequate physical distance of 1.5 metres between students in lecture rooms and a distance of 2 metres between staff as well as between staff and students during short meetings and encounters in offices, hallways and in open spaces.
“The use of masks and/or visors in closed community public spaces is mandatory. This includes lecture rooms, laboratories, clinics, workshops etc.”
With regard to hygiene and sanitisation measure, the UM is strongly recommending that everyone ensures proper and rigorous hand hygiene and avoid personal physical contact with others.
Lecture venues will be cleaned every morning and at a suitable time during the day.
In addition, if staff and students are feeling unwell or are ill and staying at home, the university will assign a person from their Human Resources Management and Development department as the COVID-19 Contact Person for Staff and students.
The telephone number of the
Contact Person for staff is 2340 3030, whilst the Contact number for students is 2340 4000.
With regard to the students’ attendance, it is imperative that lecturers keep an accurate record of student attendance because it will facilitate any action related to contact tracing in case of need. This applies for both in-person and P-R teaching.