USM SCENARIO PLANNING FOR COVID-19
MONDAY, 23 MARCH 2020
USM SCENARIO PLANNING FOR COVID-19
Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullah and Greetings.
May all be in peace. We are in an environment beyond ordinary, and definitely unexpected. In addition to taking a realistic approach, USM is optimistic that we will be able to deal with it and persevere. This phase requires us to make the necessary changes and adapt or we will not be able to keep up. It forces USM to change, and forces its citizens, scholars and students, to also to be adaptive to these upcoming changes.
For the first time ever, we had an open discussion on how we should adapt and how our future scenarios should be, reaching as much as 73,000 people and viewed by over 43,000 concerned parties, of which I’m assuming, consisting of parents as well. I’m sharing the outcomes, complimenting many others that we have announced earlier:
1.0 SYNERGISING THE ACADEMIC & INTERNATIONAL COMPONENTS
[A] Undergraduate Degree Programmes
1. INTRODUCING THE NEW ACADEMIC CALENDAR: This will be released by the University through the Academic Management Division (BPA) with considerations given to all critical aspects, including the need to complete industry/practical training, final year projects, KSCP and special semesters. Two versions of the academic calendar will be crafted, representing two different scenarios: a) The Movement Control Order (MCO) to end in June 2020 and b) MCO to go beyond June 2020. USM is keeping abreast with the current situation and continuously evaluating inputs from all parties while prioritizing the interest of its students and community.
2. CREATIVITY THROUGH ONLINE LEARNING: An unexpected scenario requires unexpected solutions. The University is urging our academics to be creative and to utilize a ‘disruptive’ approach in their teaching & learning practices (P&P) via online platforms and also in conducting assessments and examinations, giving consideration to open book tests and other forms of formative assessment.
The University is also prepared to consider making changes to the assessment components of a course (for example: 70% (coursework, CW): 30% (final examination, EW); 80% (coursework, CW): 20% (final examination,
EW). A change to 100% coursework (CW) is also encouraged. All these would be implemented without sacrificing the requirements of Professional Bodies for courses concerned. The University believes that the blended mode for teaching and learning would be best, as it combines online methods, face-to face and practical interactions. This will be put into action once MCO ends.
All suggestions relating to changes in course components would need to be presented to the University Senate in April and May 2020.
3. ACTIVITIES INVOLVING LABS/FIELD WORK/GROUP-BASED (THEATRE/MUSIC): Will begin after MCO has ended and to be conducted in stages, giving priority to final-year students, critical research projects and others.
4. INDUSTRIAL/PRACTICAL TRAINING FROM HOME: Will be implemented after reaching an agreement with the employers. If it is seriously affected due to MCO, the industrial/practical training could be then continued by adapting the new academic calendar and if there is a need, to be extended into the next semester.
5. SENDING OF TEACHING MATERIALS: This will be done by post to assist those who lack internet access.
6. KSCP: Can be offered starting now if there is a need.
[B] Postgraduate Degree Programmes
1. ACTIVITIES INVOLVING LABS/FIELD WORK/GROUP-BASED (THEATRE/MUSIC): Will begin after MCO has ended and to be conducted in stages, giving priority to final-year students, critical research projects and research.
2. VIVA VOCE: Will begin on 1 April 2020 via online. Theses can be submitted in softcopy format.
3. EMPOWERING ONLINE SERVICES: PPKT will prepare a comprehensive plan in the near future. The commitment would include subscription/software upgrades and other equipment purchases.
[C] International Students
1. TEMPORARY POSTPONEMENT OF IMCC OPERATIONS: This needs to be done in view of the postponement in operations of other government agencies such as the Immigration Office. Nevertheless, visa renewals could still be done online: https://imcc.usm.my/v2/visa/
2. RETURNING TO HOME COUNTRIES: The University has no objection towards students who would like to return to their hometowns within the MCO period. However, we strongly encourage that international students remain on campus until the semester ends and for students to complete the semester without facing any unnecessary risk of being affected by the outbreak of COVID- 19.
2.0 PRIORITY FOR STUDENTS : STUDENT DEVELOPMENT AFFAIRS
[A] Student Welfare
1. RETURNING TO THE CAMPUS: Will be done once the MCO ends and in stages, in order for them to conduct final experiments at the laboratories or to clear out their rooms.
2. CURRENT FOCUS: Throughout the MCO period, the University will ensure the welfare of all students staying on campus, such as through:
a) Free provision of food and drinks. However, this provision is currently set for 10 days only (beginning 21 March and ending 30 March).
b) Monitoring of students’ health by Pusat Sejahtera.
c) Monitoring and control of entry and exit of students and the public to avoid the risk of spreading COVID19.
d) Financial support by Pusat Islam to all B40 students.
3. STUDENTS WHO ARE INVOLVED IN PART-TIME JOBS: In order to ensure that the health of all in USM is cared for, the University has decided that students who do part-time jobs off-campus a) MUST STOP doing so until the end of MCO, or b) can continue doing their part-time jobs, but are NOT ALLOWED to stay on campus. This is important in breaking the transmission chain of COVID- 19.
4. EXTERNAL PARTIES COMING INTO THE CAMPUS: It is now capped at 50 people daily at all campuses.
3.0 EMPOWERING THE STAFF: STAFF AFFAIRS
1. REVIEWING THE JD: Non-academic staff members who Work From Home (WFH) are requested to review their respective Job Descriptions (JD) and work processes within the scenario of Work From Home.
2. COMPUTER EQUIPMENT AND ACCESS: The University will facilitate the process of bringing home equipment from the office and ensuring access to the system – EFAS, SMUS, SMUP and others in order to do Work From Home (WFH).
3. PROMOTIONAL EXERCISE FOR ACADEMIC STAFF: It will be implemented through online interview sessions. We will begin with the Clinical and Teaching tracks involving the promotional exercise for Senior Lecturers and Associate Professors.
4. RETURNING TO WORK: Will be done in stages when the MCO ends. Those 50 years and above, having critical illnesses and pregnant women will be the last group to return to the campus.
5. SPECIAL INITIATIVE: Consideration would be given on providing a COVID-19 Special Allowance to health frontliners at RM400.00 a month. Meanwhile, for non-health frontliners, a COVID-19 Special Allowance of RM200.00 would be given per month. The allowance would be given for the month of March until May 2020 to acknowledge the sacrifices of the above said group.
4.0 ADDITIONAL INITIATIVES
1. COVID-19 SPECIAL FUND: An estimated target amount of RM1 million to support Covid-19 related operation. This fund has a broad Terms of Reference (TOR) to ensure the welfare of affected students and staff as well as to increase the capability of the University during this challenging period. The bulk of the fund will be through voluntary contributions from the staff via salary deductions (beginning April - June 2020).
2. NEED FOR FIRST AID AND ‘OVER THE COUNTER’ MEDICATION: Will be provided at all Desasiswa in all three campuses.
3. PRODUCTION OF SANITIZERS: It would be coordinated based on the capability of the respective PTjs.
4. COOPERATION BETWEEN USM – SERVICE PROVIDERS (TELCOS): The University will communicate with service providers (Telcos) all over the country to provide access to USM e-learning for students through their smartphones at no cost/discounted rate.
5. WELCOMING EXTERNAL CONTRIBUTIONS: Especially cash contributions, dried foodstuff and equipment that could be utilised by students and staff, particularly frontliners.
6. CURRENT CONTRIBUTIONS: RM11,366.11 (53 contributors). The COVID- 19 Fund account statement will be presented regularly to ensure transparency.
7. The University is also giving special consideration to the following aspects:
a) Co-curricular and student activities
b) Planning for Final-Year Project (FYP) and Industrial/Practical training, with the assumption that MCO will continue until June/July 2020.
c) Registration for new students and for the upcoming session.
d) Preparation and training for volunteer frontliners if the outbreak persists.
e) Students in the Clinical phase at the School of Medical Sciences and School of Dental Sciences.
PROFESSOR DR. FAISAL RAFIQ MAHAMD ADIKAN
23 March 2020/12.00pm