Frequently Asked Questions as UR prepares to re-open for classes

07 Oct 2020

1- When are we starting classes at UR ?

The exact dates will be communicated by Colleges but will be before the end of October and we will give you notice.

In the meantime, you should get everything in order so that your study materials and notes are organized, and ensure that all your registration data, bank details and contact numbers are in order.

2- Has the academic calendar been revised and released ?

The academic calendar was agreed by University Senate with the inputs of student representatives. The calendar does not give dates but numbers the weeks e.g. ‘week 1’.

3- (a) Will first year new students start on the same date as continuing students, will they give us our bursary, and is the list for new students already published ?

No, they won’t as the start of the next academic year will be managed once we progress with continuing students. All times and dates that we have got used to will shift because of the pandemic. We will make up some time though.

(b) What about living allowances before reopening ; unlike usual practice, shall we receive it before joining back ?

Indeed, and for UR students there are always a number of additional pieces to line up before we start back. Nobody expects you to start back without your much-needed support. However, you must never stop learning wherever you are and whatever your circumstance ; you can always better yourself by reading, observing the world and reflecting.

4- How safe are we from Covid-19 when we get back on campus ?

UR has put in place all the safety measures recommended by the Ministry of Health such as hand washing facilities, hand sanitizers and has planned for social distancing at campuses. All students and staff will wear face masks at all times. These must be worn properly and cleaned on a daily basis. You should come to campus with at least 2 or 3 masks so that you can wash and change them.
Staff have been trained on how to support you and student volunteers will be trained too.
You must exercise considerable discipline in social spaces such as restaurants and hostels, and when standing or sitting around chatting.
Safety is a relative issue and demands responsibility and discipline and this is why we want to reduce the movements in and out of campus as much as possible. Guild will work to bring essential supplies into campus kiosks.
We value you and want you to be safe, but you have to work with us.
5- (a) Will there be compulsory screening before we are allowed back on campus ?

We will continue to use temperature screening.
(b) Are students free to leave campus anytime ?

You are required to consider the safety of your colleagues and community on campus. If you need to leave the campus you have to consider the balance of risk and the consequence of an outbreak on campus.
6- What do I do if I test positive for COVID-19 ?

Covid testing on symptomatic students will be done by competent personnel and processed in a reference laboratory. If you become sick you must identify yourself to the campus clinic staff and you will be placed in isolation until we have a definitive test result. Again, please consider the implications of an outbreak on campus.
7- I’m starting my studies at UR as a first year, will orientation/induction sessions go ahead ?

See Q3a above. Re-opening is initially for Years 3, 4 and 5 until further communication about the next phase. However, new students will always go through a welcome and orientation including touring the hostels, restaurants, sports facilities, students’ clinics, library, chapel/mosque, auditorium and such others.
8- How about students’ association activities - will they be allowed to take place ?

The University and its community will adhere to the Ministry of Health COVID-19 prevention guidelines. The desire to be with others and to gather for worship and friendship groups is almost irresistible and we depend on you to implement all advice and guidance.
9- Will students be able to attend classes in person ?

Yes, there will be some physical meetings with your lecturers. However, we are engaging in blended learning which means that much of your learning will be done using resources hosted on and through the e-learning platform.
10- What about classes that can only be taught through practical hands-on methods ?

Some laboratory classes will take place, offered in spaces that adhere to physical distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols.
We are excited at the experience in other universities of virtual laboratories and are introducing these where appropriate.
11- What will the face-to-face instruction experience be like ?

Where a lecturer wishes to meet you, they will divide the class into smaller groups and meet in classrooms where the sitting is set up for social distancing. You must turn up at the smaller group you are allocated to and not when you want to. All classes that include face-to-face instruction require you and your lecturer to wear approved face coverings.
Blended learning reduces the amount of continuous time students and lecturers spend together in the classroom.
12- Will the social distancing rule also apply in all UR campuses ?

Yes. All indoor (and outdoor) classrooms, laboratory and auditorium chairs have been labeled to maintain social distancing.
13- If I fall into an at-risk group for COVID-19, will I skip classes ?

UR has taken various measures specifically intended to minimize the spread of coronavirus. The national taskforce on COVID-19 will also continue to offer necessary support to UR whenever there is need for intervention.
If you have a medical condition that causes you to be at a higher risk than your colleagues, you must notify the Director of Students Welfare as soon as you can.
14- When will all these new arrangements be in place and ready to be applied ?

The new arrangements will apply from the day UR re-opens classes and welcomes students on campuses.
15- Are students allowed to go to the campus and use facilities such as libraries, or gather in small groups, like for a practical exam ?

For Years 3, 4 and 5 practical lessons, exams and support for vulnerable students are all planned, and will be communicated to you once you start back.
16- Am I allowed to delay my tuition fee payment ? (Privately sponsored students)

Students still need to pay tuition fees on time. If any student has a financial constraint, for example because their part-time income has stopped, they must communicate this in writing and submit this to the UR finance office at campuses. We often fail to communicate difficult situations and we can only advise you when we know of your situation.
17- If a student suspects they might be infected, should all their hostel mates stay at home ?

If someone they live with has a fever or shortness of breath. This also applies to housemates who don’t have any symptoms themselves. They must contact the campus clinic and student welfare office for advice and intervention.
It is going to be difficult but social distancing measures will apply in all UR hostels.
18- Will sports facilities be used by students for training and competition ?

Sports activities on campuses will be conducted but in line with national guidance. Currently indoor gymnasiums are not being accessed.
19- Will the university update and install a strong internet in the campuses

Yes, UR has invested considerable resources to improve internet connectivity on its campuses.
The new version of the e-learning platform now allows you and your lecturers to work offline too.
20- Does reopening concern those who are in clinical clerkships ?

Some of you need to learn in workplaces and this includes those of you training to be schoolteachers. Your Colleges will communicate arrangements for this however, the pandemic response is a national effort and we will not be back in internships and work placements until cleared by all authorities to do so.

21- It is said that we will have a blended learning. True or false ?


22- It was made known that we’ll be back in batches ; what about those who will stay home without capacity to access e-learning ?

This is a concern for students around the world. We do not want to crowd our campuses and we want to make sure that we maintain the flow of competent graduates into the world of work. We will be doing things very differently and so want to work with those of you who have been studying longer and may be able to adapt to blended learning alongside your lecturers as they adapt too. This is a pragmatic decision.
Those of you who are going to return to studying in the next phase should engage with learning materials and exercise your minds as much as you can. Where possible link with colleagues through social media groups.

23- Will all students get accommodation in the University hostels – do the numbers of available hostel rooms and returning students match ?

For the majority of campuses this will work. Again, your Colleges will communicate about the arrangements for your return to studying.

28- What will happen to students from countries still in total lockdown where flights are not yet allowed ?

A small number of you will be affected in different ways. The University does not wish to cause detriment to those of you who for legitimate reasons cannot return physically. Again, you must communicate with your College if you live overseas.

29- When will the academic year end ?

Please see the calendar. The awards of degrees will not happen until you have completed all credits.

30- Shall we study all the modules of semester two and semester three in 3 months when we reopen ?

This depends on the needs of different programs but essentially, yes.

31- When will the next graduation take place ?

It is anticipated that the next graduation will be virtual and will take place as soon after you complete your degrees as is possible. We do not plan to wait for an annual ceremony in November of each year.

33- We used to have big classes for some modules, how are we going to respect physical distancing in classrooms ?

To respect physical distancing in classes, big classes will be divided into small classes and where possible some learning activities will be done online. Also, classes will be organized in shifts to allow a safe number of students in class.

However, we will not return to old ways of teaching.

32- When will school attachments resume, and when will they finish ?

School attachments will resume when secondary schools are in a position to support you. Students who were on school attachment before the outbreak of the pandemic will cover the time that was remaining for them to complete school attachment.

34- Some or many of us had paid for accommodation before the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. If social distancing is going to be applied in hostels, what is the plan of catering for those who will find themselves surplus ?

Those who have already paid the total amount of accommodation fee will not pay again. Those who did not pay at all and those who paid part shall be required to pay.

The management of people’s personal finances and who owes who what amount is always a sensitive and fraught issue. At this time, we all have to exercise supreme patience.

35- Travelling from home to the campus is one way that the virus can come to the campus ; how will the transport of students be managed ?

Transport will be well organized for safe travelling of students to the campus working with service providers.

36- Will male and female students share the same hostel blocks ; on what criteria will rooms be allocated ?

Gender specific allocation will always be in place.

37- What about students with exams to re-take and are in final year

There is provision for all students. Universities around the world will not disadvantage students whose academic trajectories were interrupted by the pandemic. Your Colleges will guide you.

38- What is UR planning for postgraduate students ?

Our postgraduate students learn in a very different way and many are on self-directed learning journeys that involve research and scholarship. Many of our postgraduates have continued to learn and are in contact with Colleges.

39- How will student restaurants serve food while observing physical and social distancing rules ?

The Guild Councils have been working with the UR management and restaurant providers to manage this. However, you need to exercise caution and reasonable behavior when using these facilities.

40- Will borrowing books from the library be accepted, as we minimize physical contact

Books can be used and again we minimize risk by handwashing and using face masks in the libraries.

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