Full On-line Learning for Tertiary Schools

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By Sue-Ann Wayow

WITH the closure of all educational institutions till possibly the end of December, tertiary level institutions have resorted entirely to on-line learning for the first semester of the upcoming academic year.

And administrative staff is still required to be on-site at these campuses.

One of the main measures in combating Covid-19 announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on Saturday was the closure of all educational institutions possibly until December 31 an announcement that came at the peak of registration process for the new term.

Some staff members of these institutions requested clarification on the word “closure” if it meant a total shutdown of operations or no physical attendance for classes.

Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh told AZPnews.com on Monday that no classes were to be conducted on premises but staff including administrative can be required to report for duty on location.

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The University of the West Indies (UWI) stated on its website as a result of the announcement, UWI St Augustine campus “will move to fully virtual delivery for Semester one of the academic year 2020/2021 scheduled to begin on August 30.”

UWI added that administrative, technical and support services will continue at the campus during this period and that access would be restricted to staff and authorised contractors.

UWI stated, “The Campus Principal added that Deans and Heads of Departments will now make the necessary adjustments to fully pivot to online course delivery. This refers, in particular, to those modules that would normally have been delivered in a classroom setting. For those modules that are not amenable to online delivery and require students’ physical presence on campus, Deans and Heads of Departments will arrange for suitable alternative arrangements with teaching staff, in keeping with established Covid-19 protocols.”

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Staff at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) was also informed that there will be no face-to-face classes for the first semester of the upcoming academic year.

In a letter issued to staff and published on-line, acting President Prakash Persad stated that all instructional delivery, student registration and examinations will be facilitated on-line.

As at July 28, the university had fully transitioned to blended learning (on-line and in-person) which would have continued from September. UTT had also created an on-line support system geared towards secondary school pupils and mature candidates.

And AZPNews.com was informed of correspondence from president of the College of Science Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT) Dr Gillian Paul advising staff to show up for work.

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The correspondence stated, “We are currently entering the registration period which calls for maximum support to be provided by a number of departments in order to facilitate student admission and registration at the college. We expect therefore that supervisors and staff in the academic departments and in administrative  operations such as admissions, Office of the Registrar, IT  Helpdesk, finance and security will make every effort to provide maximum coverage in order to facilitate this exercise.”

She added that the College’s finances were significantly affected by the virus and it was “critical” “to facilitate as many students as possible.

Section 3 of the new Public Health Regulations issued on Monday states:

Notwithstanding subregulation (1)(i), a public or private pre-school, early childhood education centre, primary school, secondary school or tertiary institution may provide classes to its students by electronic or other means as approved by the Minister. (4) Notwithstanding subregulation (1)(i), educational establishments may be open for the purpose of conducting– (a) the Secondary School Entrance Assessment (SEA) Exam on 20th August, 2020 or such other date as the Minister may declare; (b) the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Examination and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Examination; or (c) the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), and such establishments shall comply with all guidelines for Educational Establishments issued by the Ministry of Health.

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