In an effort to curb the Covid-19 from spreading, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has announced that all its campuses will be going through a temporary lockdown for three weeks starting from today (17th of March) to 5th of April 2020. This lockdown is an immediate action taken by the USM authorities to ensure the current situation of Covid-19 does not escalate further.
According to the announcement on USM’s official Facebook page, the temporary lockdown will be implemented in stages. The lockdown plan was steered by USM’s vice-chancellor, Professor Dr Faisal Rafiq Mahamd Adikan before being implemented. According to the phase by phase plan, staff at all Schools and Academic/Research Centres will be required to work from home from today (17th of March) until 22nd of March 2020 for the first phase.
With working from home, the working hours for all staffs would remain as usual, starting from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm. However, the staff needs to be ready and available if they were contacted by the Supervisor/Dean/Head of Department during the period.
Even though working from home is implemented, there will still be two administrative staff to be present at the office throughout the official working hours until the end of the lockdown period. The vice-chancellor also stated that USM’s mid-semester break has been pushed forward to an earlier date. Initially in the academic calendar,the semester break was to fall on 6th of April to 12th of April 2020. However, given the current Covid-19 pandemic, the mid-semester break has been switched to a new extended date, from the 30th of March to 5th of April 2020.
As for students, they are not barred from going home during the mid-semester break. But, they are highly advised to remain on campus throughout the duration of the break. By remaining in campus, the students get to avoid further risks of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Throughout the lockdown period, students who are in campus get to purchase ready-packed meals at their nearest cafeteria. According to the official statement, students are prohibited to dine in the public cafeteria premises from the 17th of March to 22nd of March 2020.
USM is also well-known for hosting congregational prayers every Friday and it draws people from all parts of Penang. However, congregational Friday prayers for this upcoming week (20th of March 2020) will not be performed at Masjid Al-Malik Khalid USM. Members of the congregation are requested to do their Zuhur prayers at their own homes. Visitors will also be closely monitored and their movements will be restricted in all campuses with visitors (non-USM entrants) being subjected to undergo safety and health screening checks at checkpoints.
A few public facilities could be found around USM and those facilities are often visited by outside visitors. USM offers other public facilities and services such as banks, post office and others which are available on campus. The public are now not allowed to perform any transactions on the campus. Instead, the public is encouraged to seek other alternatives outside the USM campus.
Furthermore, USM authorities will also execute a self-decontamination process for all campuses in a progressive manner and also practice the social distancing exercise. Self-decontamination ensures the safety and well-being of all community members.
We hope everyone would take the necessary precautions and safe steps to keep themselves healthy and well at these critical times. What do you think of this article? Share your thoughts down below.