Univer­sity of Malta is­sues COVID-19 safety guide­lines for up­com­ing aca­demic year

Malta Independent - - Front Page - SHONA BERGER

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.

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