31 Higher Learning Liberian Institutions Adopt Resolution For the Resumption of Class Amid COVID-19
Fendell – A meeting to discuss the reopening of universities and other institutions of higher learning in Liberia has been held with stakeholders proposing strategies to ensure students are protected during COVID-19.
The meeting, held on July 29 on the Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia, was chaired by Minister of Education, Dr. Ansu Sonii, who is also Chairman of the Board of the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE). The “Strategic Stakeholders Consultative Meeting”, which was attended by representatives of 31 institutions, was organized by NCHE Secretariat.
The meeting discussed issues regarding COVID-19 and the situation that led to the closure of all schools. Its determination was for the institutions to design strategies by formulating plans that will lead to reopening schools in observance of COVID-19 health protocols.
Among several outcomes, the stakeholders decided that prior to commencing classes, a joint team, which should comprise the NCHE, NPHIL, and MOH, should conduct inspection at various facilities in order to determine their preparedness to operate in observance of COVID-19 Health Protocols.
They also decided that the Ministry of Health should conduct refresher trainings for administrators and “Campus-Based COVID-19 Response” teams be constituted at all institutions for students to carry out sensitization and awareness within their communities, and that of the schools in order to control the spread of the virus.
Additionally, the stakeholders always agreed that hygiene protocols be observed on campuses , and hand washing stations should be established at various locations to enable students implement the preventive measures on COVID-19.
Deciding on the population of students during the pandemic, the stakeholders agreed that registration of students are designed within timeframe by colleges and departments to minimize the crowdedness of students on campuses, that limited courses be offered as a means to reduce overcrowding of classes, class sizes should be drastically reduced to a level that can easily carry out effective social distancing.
The meeting also decided that all higher education institutions should setup temporary isolation centers in their facilities to isolate anyone observed with signs and symptoms of covid-19, and immediately contact the appropriate health authorities, while agreeing that the Government provides financial support to enhance the reopening of schools, including all private and faith-based institutions of higher learning.
Meanwhile, Dr. Francis Nah Kateh, Deputy Minister of Health and Chief Medical Officer of the Republic of Liberia who attended as special guest, provided realistic insight of COVID-19 globally, regionally, and locally.
While Dr. Linda Birch, President of the Liberia Medical & Dental Council (LMDC), and a member of the NCHE Board of Commissioners participated, gave s brief statement highlighting the three measures for consideration to provide guidance to the HEIs forum: Public Health Measures, 2. Environmental Measures, and 3. Administrative Measures must be observed at all times.
Furthermore, Dr. Birch suggested that the HEIs and the NCHE Secretariat should collaborate with the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), and the Ministry of Health (MOH) for inspections of their various campuses before resuming regular academic sessions.
She further emphasized the need for thermometers to be used at the entrances of all the HEIs for testing temperatures of students, staffs and others regularly. Additionally, social distancing should be enforced, and sharing of devices with other objects handled must be observed by being constantly sanitized and decontaminated.
A total of 82 stakeholders attended and participated, mostly the Presidents and Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs of accredited HEIs in Liberia. The HEIs in attendance were allowed to present their strategies.