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

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.”

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.

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.”

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.


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