N.U.S. urges strict social distancing compliance
Classes have resumed at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.), but its administration has warned social distancing in line with state of emergency orders is crucial for both staff and students.
N.U.S. President and Vice Chancellor, Professor Alec Ekeroma, made an appeal for social distancing rules to be observed during a Talanoa session which was livestreamed through the university’s Facebook page.
"When the university closed, we planned what would happen once the university opened again. We were unsure when it would be open again, maybe after four weeks," he said.
"When after four weeks and there were still no cases in Samoa, we thought of a request to the Government to open the university, but withstanding conditions so that 2,700 students wouldn’t come in all at once."
University staff met and discussed what arrangements to put in place upon the opening of the campus and whether the NUS should focus on students who have been unable to use computers to access the online learning platform Moodle.
Professor Ekeroma emphasised that social distancing is encouraged in the university and for students to wash their hands upon entering the gate.
"Social distancing is also very vital as part of the S.O.E. and we wanted to ensure that the students were two meters apart when in class, and to continuously wash hands now that we’ve installed more sinks around campus and two of those are both at the entrance gates," he added.
While policing the social distancing rule will be a challenge, Professor Ekeroma said it is important that the student body continues to be reminded.
"Ensuring social distancing is maintained amongst students will be hard, but our job is to keep reminding them, and so we also announced it on our loudspeakers so that everyone is aware. "Lecturers are maintaining social distancing amongst students as well. For instance, they would allocate only 10 students for the first hour, then another group of 10 would come in after the hour."
Professor Ekeroma added that the university has also cancelled late fees for tuition. However, they cannot reduce tuition because most students have already paid off their tuition for the first semester.
As part of the Talanoa session, the N.U.S. Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Saui’a Louise Matai’a, discussed the significance of practising social distancing on campus and how it should be done to maintain order.
She said the Faculty of Arts is encouraging students who only have one class for the day to be patient and stay home, and in the process save their money for another time.
The students were also encouraged to use Moodle but if they have more than one lecture in a day then it is best he or she goes to the campus.
The Faculty of Arts is also considering photocopying lecture notes and directly delivering them to students who don’t have devices to access Moodle.
Professor Ekeroma said he is confident that the university's different faculties have all got it under control with the restrictions, and he thanked and acknowledged N.U.S. staff and workers for working together during the global pandemic.