DOS Update #10 - Live on Telegram

6 February 2020

Dear Students

There have been two recent events of note:

  1. There have been 6 recent cases of local transmission in Singapore.
  2. Other areas in mainland China had recently started to experience significant human-to-human transmission, including Zhejiang province. (Read more)

In light of these events, I would like you to know that we are reviewing our protocols in student housing. As of tonight, we are moving students who have recently returned from Zhejiang to self-contained flats to reduce their contact with other residents.

These students are well and have no symptoms. Any student on LOA who shows any symptoms will be immediately transferred by special ambulance to a hospital. 

I also realised that some students may not understand the difference between LOA and being under quarantine. Here are the definitions from the Ministry of Health.

MOH Definitions:

LOA (Leave of Absence) is a precautionary measure to prevent the possible transmission of infections. Residents and long-term pass holders who recently returned from China are advised to take a 14-day LOA. Those on LOA should: stay at home, minimise contact with others and monitor their health closely.

PUQ (Persons Under Quarantine) refer to individuals who have been issued a Quarantine Order (QO) with the aim of limiting the spread of the virus in the community. He or she will be isolated at home, at Government Quarantine Facilities (GQF) or at a hospital. A QO is a directive with legal force and has severe penalties for non-compliance. All recent travellers to Hubei will be quarantined.

Our Telegram chat with NUS Senior Management went live at 4pm today. The chat saw a total of 106 members and NUS responded to all questions posed in that hour. 

In the chat:

  • Prof Ho Teck Hua, Senior Deputy President and Provost
  • Prof Bernard C Y Tan, Senior Vice Provost (Undergraduate Education)
  • Prof Florence Ling, Vice Provost (Student Life)
  • Assoc Prof Erle Lim, Associate Provost (Undergraduate Education)
  • Dr Peck Thian Guan, Director, Office of Safety, Health and Environment
  • Mr Koh Yan Leng, Associate Vice President, Campus Life (University Campus Infrastructure)
GroupTable

NUS Senior Management team all ready to answer students questions ‘live’ at the OSA Conference Room

DrPeck

Dr Peck Thian Guan, Director of Office of Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) answering incoming questions using Telegram web

Prof-LIng

Prof Florence Ling, Vice Provost (Student Life) enjoying her very first ‘live’ Ask Me Anything session with students on Telegram


The conversation went like this:

(Initials of names are used to indicate who responded to the question). We have classified the questions according to their themes.   

Undergraduate Education / Student Life

Q: I would like to ask where I can check my Leave of Absence (LOA) status?
BT: Your Faculty/School can let you know your LOA status.

Q: Hi, I am currently on LOA at home and not on campus. Does this mean I'm unable to leave home at all or just that I am not allowed to attend classes or go to campus only?
EL: You are to isolate yourself and not attend any classes on campus.

Q: Will I be informed to attend my class after LOA?
BT: Please come back to class on your own when your LOA is over.

Q: Does this mean I’m not allowed to leave home as well? I understand the part where I am not allowed to go to campus.
EL: Yes - you are allowed to leave your home - but only do so wearing a mask and try not to leave home unnecessarily. This is until the LOA period is over.

Q:  I have already updated my travel history on the system. Do I also need to submit the form for LOA through the Edurec system?
BT: We will work from your travel declaration so you do not need to apply for LOA. But please inform your Hall Master/Resident Advisor (RAD) if you are living on campus so that we can deliver food to you.

 Q: Hi, I’m a final year undergraduate in science faculty. I’m currently doing my FYP and since there’s a huge experiment component in the project, I’m wondering if any measure could be taken to make up the two weeks LOA. My project is still in progress and the presentation is due in less than two months. Thank you.
HTH: Ask your advisor to extend the deadline for you for two weeks. If there is a problem, write to me at teck@nus.edu.sg.

Q: Hi I received email from Business School that as per University policy we should either submit names of classmates who can ensure we do not go to campus, or self-declare in other ways (depending on Business school’s approval), but I have not received any NUS circular on this policy yet. Can you please confirm that there is such policy, and if yes share more details?
HTH: This is just one of the options you can choose to prove that you are observing the LOA diligently. If you would prefer to exercise another option, you are free to do so.

Q: I would like to suggest to disable the access of everyone on LOA during the leave. It would be very difficult for individuals to self-declare that they are on LOA given the size of the campus. Since the goal is to make sure that no one moves around campus when they should not.
HTH: There is a difference between LOA and Quarantine Order (QO). People on LOA are considered low risk and we are following Ministry of Health’s (MOH) guidelines.

Q: If we need some masks, we just need to tell the person who delivers the food, right?
HTH: Yes.

Q: My friend returned from China recently but from not Hubei Province. She coughs these days and I advise her to see a doctor. She said it was unlikely to be the n-Cov because she didn't have other symptoms of the virus. What should I do?
EL: Having returned from Mainland China within 14 days, she should already be on LOA. The fact that she is coughing - she should see a doctor - have her inform the RAD and they will call a special ambulance. If she is at home and not on campus, she should call 995. If she fails to do so - inform the RAD and/or master on her behalf. This is the responsible thing to do.

Q: May I know if lecture attendance will still be mandatory after LOA, given that most if not all courses are now made available on webcast (thanks to university support!)
BT: Consult your professor on this. In general, we expect people to attend lectures once their LOA is over.

Q: Just to confirm can i go downstairs with a mask on to walk around somewhere outdoors, where there’s no one?
FL: If you are on LOA, you are encouraged to stay in your hostel room. You should put your mask on if you need to leave your room to shower, go to the toilet, go to the pantry, collect deliveries, etc.

Q: And what about wearing mask to buy milk?
FL: If you are on LOA in the hostel, please ask your RAD/Resident Assistant to help you with the purchase.  If the milk is delivered to you for example by GrabFood, you may go down to the lobby to collect the delivered milk with a mask on.

Q: I haven’t received my welfare pack yet. My hall admin said they did not receive any message about that.
FL: Please let your master know. they will take care of you. I will message your Master after this.

Q: I heard rumours saying that people staying on campus will be asked to move to a specific place for isolation and LOA. Is that true?
KYL: Are you referring to Persons Under Quarantine (PUQ) moving into Government Quarantine Facility (GQF)?

Q: Not quite sure. For those under LOA, is it considered PUQ? If yes, I mean this.
KYL: LOA is not PUQ. PUQ are people issued with QO by the authorities.

Q: OK, so we will only be transferred to PUQ if we show symptoms, right?
KYL: Maybe you can email me privately. kohyanleng@nus.edu.sg
PTG: If a person on LOA shows symptoms, please contact Master or RAD. An ambulance will bring you to the hospital for a medical assessment.

Infrastructure

Q: Hi, thanks a lot for organizing this session. I am currently under self-quarantine at PGPR. May I know whether I can go out of my room (wearing mask) to use the washing machine in the laundry room to wash my clothes?
KYL: Yes you can.

Q: I have some queries about the catering of the meals, and was wondering if there is an alternative option for vegetarians?
KYL: Please advise Office of Housing Services (OHS) staff of your property. We will arrange for vegetarian meals for you.

Q: Hi, my room in R2, PGPR has been used as GQF. Now I am self-quarantined in R1. Can I choose to terminate the rent contract and move out after the self-quarantine period?
KYL: Yes, most certainly. However, if you are not able to find accommodation outside of campus, pls let us know and we will definitely try to help you to find your preferred hostel.

Q: Thank you for offering the Q&A. I am self-quarantining in UTown Residences, North Tower. Can we go to the parking lot on the second floor to receive online deliveries?
KYL: Yes, please wear your mask when you pick it up.

Q: Hi, could we request for more variety in the catered food? Perhaps get some noodles?
KYL: Let me know which hostel you are staying at and we will arrange for more welfare packs for you. 

Q: I am self-quarantining in UTown. Is it possible to add some variety to the food? The meals seem to be fairly similar day to day.
KYL: We are sympathetic about this. We are working with the caterer to change the menu next week.

Q: Thanks for all the support to us! We are very grateful for the meals provided daily but the meals provided are not suited to our tastes as the meals either too greasy or too salty. This feedback has been given to College Green's student assistants but we have yet to see any improvement.
KYL: You can expect to see some improvement from next week. 

Q: Hi, I'm currently under LOA in UTown Residence and was wondering whether both meals can be delivered earlier.
KYL: As we are delivering quite a high volume of packed meals, it will be tough for the timing of the food to reach you earlier. We have noted your feedback and will arrange for the food delivery to start the delivery 30 minutes earlier.

Q: Do you know we could purchase masks?
KYL: All the vendors selling masks on campus have run out of stock. The last batch of masks at Octobox was sold out within one hour. We are working with the vendors to find new sources of stock. However, if you are unwell, you may approach any OHS staff to obtain masks.

Q: I am under quarantine at PGPR Blk 13 and was unable to obtain any masks from the PGPR management office. The staff replied that I could just stay in my room if I am unwell, implying that there's no need to put any mask on.
KYL: You would have been given a batch of masks to last you for the duration of your LOA. We will get a staff to liaise with you on this.

Q: Will NUS be providing hand sanitisers around campus?
KYL: Hand sanitisers will be provided at areas with human high traffic such as lift lobbies and LTs.

OSHE

Q: Are there any requirements for us to wear masks when we’re back on campus? Are masks readily available in school?
PTG: You do not need to wear a mask if you are well.

Q: Hi, I know that we are allowed to wear our masks and do necessary things such as laundry. I'm currently under LOA in UTown Residence and was wondering if we would be able to wear our masks and walk around on the floor balconies or just somewhere with a lot of moving room say even our living rooms? Being cooped up all day is starting to take a toll on me psychologically.
PTG: Yes. Please wear your mask when you go to the laundry room, etc. You should always wear a mask when you are out of your room.

Q: Will we be tested for the virus before we return to classes from our LOA?
PTG: No, you will not be tested for the virus after your LOA.

Q: What do we do when we develop n-CoV symptoms in school? Is UHC prepared for such cases?
PTG: You should inform your Master/RAD asap if you develop symptoms and you are on LOA.  An ambulance will take you to the hospital.

Q: Hi, are we allowed to pick up our purchases ordered online if we wear masks when picking up the parcels?
KYL: You are allowed to do so if you are on LOA. We do not encourage that if you are on QO. 

Q: Furthermore, we were a bit confused that at the beginning we were told do not leave the room. However, we were told that we could go downstairs and use the washing machine or go to the pantry. I was curious that what’s the point of our self-quarantine here?
PTG: You are encouraged to stay in your hostel room if you are on LOA.  However, if you need to go out to do things such as laundry etc., you may do so. But you should put on a mask and avoid contact with other people. Please return to your room as soon as you have finished your tasks.

A/P Leong Ching
NUS Dean of Students