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Coronavirus Pandemic

Covid tests, 'mostly online' classes: Dubai varsities spell out reopening plans

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on August 11, 2020 | Last updated on August 11, 2020 at 11.06 pm
Covid tests, mostly online classes, Dubai varsities, spell out, reopening plans

(Alamy Image)

Educational institutions are installing thermal cameras at every exit and entry point, sanitising stations and creating secure bubbles.

Mandatory Covid-19 tests for students and education being offered 'mostly online' are among the safety measures universities in Dubai will roll out when they reopen in September. Dubai's Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) had issued a 14-page document of guidelines that higher education institutes must follow when they reopen.

Students returning to the SP Jain School of Global Management - Dubai campus will have to undergo a compulsory PCR test organised by the university.

Dr Arindam Banerjee, associate professor and deputy director - Global MBA & Master of Global Business, SP Jain, said: "This PCR test would be additional to the test that anyone undergoes on arrival at the (Dubai) airport."

Dr Vajahat Hussain, Amity Education ME CEO, said returning students are required to get tested prior to departure from their home country and upon arrival in the UAE. "Therefore, we have set up isolation rooms in the hostel dorm for students to stay in, until they receive their test results," he said.

E-learning continues

It looks like e-learning will continue to be a vital part of the education system. Some educational institutions will have 'asynchronous sessions' - where students will be provided with a variety of course materials to learn at their own pace.

Yousef Al Assaf, president, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), said: "Our priority is the safety of our students and staff. Because of the uncertainty of the Covid-19 progression, we decided to conduct most of our courses to be online except for the few laboratories that require attendance to campus till the end of October.

"These labs will be conducted in a way that all necessary precautions are taken into consideration, including social distancing, temperature measurements and sanitisation at the entry to campus. Since we will be online, the housing for our students will not be needed for the time being."

While educational institutions are installing thermal cameras at every exit and entry point, sanitising stations and creating secure bubbles, regular tests to check the efficacy of these measures are also in place.

Dr Vajahat Hussain said: "Health and safety officers have been nominated and appointed, and faculty and staff will receive periodic briefings to ensure that they have a complete understanding of the policies. Isolation areas and bubbles have also been set up for students that might be experiencing any symptoms."

Safety at hostels

Even as universities reinforce all available precautions to ensure that the in-person environment is secure for its students and staff, varsities are especially customising hostel areas to meet the demands of the 'new normal'.

Dr Hussain said: "Our student residences continued to remain open throughout the pandemic. We hosted students who could not travel to their home countries. Fortunately, there were no cases detected."

Dr Banerjee said SP Jain school's hostel will be equipped with two-specially designed isolation rooms with a 24x7 facility helpline provided by the university. Each hostel room here is being upgraded and equipped with separate washing machines that will facilitate "complete hygiene" among the students.

"Additionally, each unit comes with basic cooking/toasting/oven facilities that would ensure students can manage their food on their own without major reliance on outside food. As a new policy, hostel rules also come with complete restrictions on outsiders visiting the facilities," added Dr Banerjee. 

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