Minister for Education and Employment, Hon. Dr Owen Bonnici visited the University of Malta’s Msida campus on Thursday 8 October, to assess the measures put in place against COVID-19. He was accompanied by University of Malta Rector, Prof. Alfred J. Vella, Perit Christopher Spiteri, and Director of the Marketing, Communications & Alumni Office, Mr Pierre Cassar.
The assembly first visited the temperature hubs, or strategic areas set up across campus whereby everyone who enters university premises, will need to undergo a temperature check and wear a coloured wrist band as proof that they have successfully undergone the check. The three hubs, situated in front of Gateway Building, outside the Biomedical Building, and adjacent to the Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences Building, are manned from 06:15 until 17:00 daily, and the service will be extended once evening courses commence.
The Minister was also informed of the similar arrangements at the Valletta, Marsaxlokk and Gozo campuses as well as Junior College. They then proceeded to visiting the halls within Gateway Building which have been temporarily converted into hospital facilities, with Prof. Vella reassuring those present that should these halls need to be utilised, this would not be by COVID-19 patients, but by patients with non-communicable conditions. As previously announced, the University will be opting for a mixture of online and in-person learning this academic year, and in order to cater for students whose timetable consists of back-to-back lectures, with some happening in-person and others online, it has also reconfigured certain spaces as learning spaces where they would be able to follow their lectures remotely while still on campus.
When it comes to the venues where students will receive their education, the assembly visited both a room where the seating is fixed and necessary signage has been affixed indicating where they can sit to respect physical distancing, and another room where seating was arranged, on proper floor markings, indicating where seating is possible. The Rector told Dr Bonnici that no students without a wrist-band and face covering will be let into any lecture room. All across campus, appropriate brand-aligned signage and stickers are being affixed, indicating the maximum number of students allowed inside, including near and inside the library area, which the Minister also visited. Minister Bonnici expressed his contentment at the University’s preparedness as it is starting to welcome students for the 2020/21 academic year, also confirming the ministry’s commitment to constant engagement with the institution to gauge the students’ adaptability to this extraordinary situation.
Whilst, as Prof. Vella reiterated, it will be up to the respective Faculties, Institutes, Centres and Departments to dictate the exact lecture delivery methods depending on the particular learning environments available, Minister Bonnici also encouraged academics and students alike to make the best out of this situation and avail of the resources being made available to them to further their studies.
Source: University of Malta