NUS to implement e-learning for some classes amid coronavirus outbreak

NUS to implement e-learning for some classes amid coronavirus outbreak

File photo of National University of Singapore
File photo of the National University of Singapore (NUS). (Photo: Alif Amsyar)

SINGAPORE: E-learning will be implemented for classes with more than 50 students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) from Monday (Feb 10).

The university announced this in a circular that was uploaded onto its website on Saturday.

“Students should contact their respective course instructors directly about the e-learning arrangements for their affected classes,” said the circular, signed by Professor Yong Kwet Yew, senior vice president on behalf of the university’s Crisis Executive Group.

Staff and students in class sizes of 50 and below will be allowed into class, and for the first few days, instructors will enforce temperature checks before class begins, the circular read. 

All events and activities on NUS campuses with more than 50 participants are to be cancelled or deferred until further notice, the circular said.

“Under DORSCON Orange, the virus is severe and spreads easily from person to person, However, there is no widespread transmission in Singapore and the virus is being contained,” said Prof Yong in the circular. 

“The University has ramped up precautionary measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community.”

READ: Singapore raises DORSCON level to orange; schools to suspend inter-school, external activities

READ: What you need to know about additional precautionary measures under DORSCON Orange

Singapore confirmed seven new cases of the novel coronavirus on Saturday, including a taxi driver and a private-hire car driver, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 40.

On Friday, Singapore raised the DORSCON level to Orange following several cases of novel coronavirus without any links to previous cases or travel history to mainland China.

This means the disease is deemed severe and spreads easily from person to person, but has not spread widely and is being contained. Moderate disruption is expected, due to measures such as quarantine and visitor restrictions at hospitals.

According to the circular, all NUS staff and students will have to take their temperature twice a day and declare them in an online system, and display their staff or student cards at all times on campus from Monday. 

All visitors to buildings across all three NUS campuses will also have to undergo temperature screenings.

READ: Coronavirus death toll surges past 700, exceeding SARS toll in China and Hong Kong

READ: PM Lee urges Singapore to take courage amid coronavirus outbreak, see through stressful time together

For students and staff, the first temperature declaration must be completed before they arrive on campus, and random spot checks will be conducted to ensure strict compliance, the circular read. 

The university also encouraged students and staff to take photographs of the thermometer reading with a date-time stamp and retain the images for seven days, as they may need to upload the images for verification. 

“All NUS units should start working on their business continuity plans as a precautionary measure in the event of widespread community transmission. These plans can include allowing staff to work from home or dividing the manpower into segregated teams,” wrote Prof Yong. 

“I ask that all staff and students abide by these enhanced measures for the safety and health of our community.”

READ: Five Britons in French ski resort catch coronavirus after contact with man who had been in Singapore

READ: Four overseas cases of novel coronavirus linked to Singapore: Here’s what we know

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) made similar announcements on Thursday through emails to faculty, staff and students, calling for its schools to make alternative arrangements for large lectures, such as live streaming or online access. 

The update, signed by deputy president and provost Professor Ling San and senior vice president of administration Ms Tan Aik Na, was also made available for all NTU faculty, staff and students on an intranet portal. 

In the Feb 6 update, the university called for mass events to be rescheduled or suspended until further notice, and advised organisers to implement temperature screening for events with external guests or members of the public.

“These additional measures are aimed at mitigating the potential risks of large gatherings, while enabling the university to continue with most of its academic and other activities,” read the notice, adding that NTU would continue to monitor the situation and implement further measures if the coronavirus situation escalates. 

Similarly, the Singapore Management University said in an email circular to students and staff that it will move all courses with more than 50 students online from Monday. All core and pre-assigned first-year courses will move online by Feb 17. 

In the circular, the university’s crisis executive group said more targeted courses with fewer than 50 students will be moved online if the situation escalates further. 

“We are currently reviewing the suitability of converting other courses online, especially those currently taken by our graduating cohort, and will provide updates when available. We are conscious that graduation plans should not be affected,” the circular read. 

For the upcoming mid-term assessments, all venues will be capped to a maximum of 50 people, it continued. 

SMU will also require its students and  members of staff to take their temperature and declare it online twice a day - before 10am and after 3pm.

Students who do not have their own thermometers may visit temperature-taking stations at nine spots across the SMU campus.

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Source: CNA/nh(mn)

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