Given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s premiere learning institution, the University of Guyana (UG) has deferred the opening of on-campus classes tentatively to May 30, 2020.
Below is the full press statement from the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Philanthropy, Alumni and Civic Engagement (PACE), UG
UG Understands Constraints to Online Education in Local Context and Continues to Adapt Rapidly in “safe mode” Despite Challenges
Georgetown/Guyana April 29, 2020 – It has been less than 2 months since the University has moved to working online in “safe mode” on March 11. The University of Guyana continues like most other tertiary institutions in the world with the challenge to keep working and to keep on educating the nation’s brightest while providing solutions to Guyana’s problems.
Theorizing very early, that the novel coronavirus might have had a long recovery tail, the institution recognised that the possibility of an extended “safe mode” period was more than 65%. It therefore determined to do as much as it could to keep working especially for its final year students graduating this year.
As the situation unfolds, the University has continued with variable success to employ data driven rapid adaptation measures to keep its focus and to perform in emergency mode. The entity says it faced two choices: either to hide for an indefinite period or to figure things out as they forged ahead.
They felt as the nation’s thought leaders, the latter was the only option, though they understand the severe challenges of taking that hard choice. Working with a slew of persons including faculty, staff, students, local and international partners as well as local businesses, UG has been rolling out an array of emergency policy measures and technology driven applications in its dogged bid to keep going. These include among others:
1. Zero-rated data use for any staff or student using a site with a UOG URL. This means thanks to negotiations with local telecoms giant, GTT, UG staff and students do not pay now for going online using UG dedicated systems to learn.
2. A deployed response email firstname.lastname@example.org interface for processing unusual requests which could not be accommodated by the present software applications for students and lecturers to report issues not captured in the questionnaire which needed to be addressed.
3. Introduced several flexible pathways for students struggling in these circumstances to manage academic and other challenges.
4. Deferred payments of outstanding fees in response to requests from students twice as an early mitigation measure.
5. In response to prevailing conditions, Faculties began work to reform assessments, final exams, practicum, field trips, labs and internships. This refined UG Emergency assessment policy is expected to be in place by May 15.
6. Based on modelling and assessments return to physical campus is now tentatively rescheduled to May 30, 2020.
7. As such UG’s Academic Calendar is revised so that end of semester is extended to June-July. A rolling registration will continue to account for CXC decisions about its CSEC and CAPE exams for 2020. It is expected that two possible commencement of new semester dates could be contemplated October 2020 and February 2021 and that a possible choice of online, F2F or blended could be offered to students in the future.
8. Graduation may still be possible for final year students in most disciplines in December 2020 and /or January 2021. All matters for these final year students are to be prioritized to enable their graduation.
9. Advanced actions have been taken to source and resources for the 20-25% of UG staff and students who are capacity and resource challenged to continue their education online.
10. Action Assessment Project “UG Cares” will provide modest material and psychosocial to UG staff, students and alumni with philanthropic, student and volunteer resources. Key partners for this project are: ExxonMobil and its partners, GTT and UG’s Student Support Fund.
11. On the nCoV19 specifically, UG continues to work with our national and internal scientists and geneticists on long term solutions on the testing, prevention, management and curative aspects of managing of the disease.
12. On the physical side, though practicing safe mode and physical distance the campuses have not been abandoned. Small teams of essential staff have continuously ensured security, cleanliness, fumigation and maintenance of labs and centers running sensitive and continuous processes.
13. UG also created and shared 7 one minute “How to Protect Yourself Against Cov19
videos” for the general public. These were widely disseminated internally, in the Diaspora and internationally. They can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gq-nZIQ6AUQ&list=PLIGPT-M7wJjUCi7keJS4qlpxaDAoVU6in&index=7&t=0s&fbclid=IwAR2pFzKNP6TIBugRWOyknxoLg40tFpUj4CVH_zj9Siq7KWVmx251OvWSpCQ
Despite this UG knows that about 25% of our students will not be able to immediately respond well to an online environment. These fixes are currently being addressed but will take a few weeks to be sorted.
However, the national University maintains that despite being totally unprepared for this pandemic, and though the challenges are real and stubborn in some cases they are not insurmountable and UG has not stopped functioning for one single day.
This is a testament of the goodness, resilience and innovative spirt of the men and women who make up this great national institution. Emergency mobile numbers for each department (50 in total) can be found on the University’s website UoG, ed.gy and all email addresses remain functional and doing business between 10am and 2pm daily.