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DOS Update #14 - What is the essence of a room?

  PUBLISHED: 10 February 2020, 11:00 p.m. 

Dear Students:

  1. There are two students under quarantine at the GQF. One completed his quarantine and checked out at 12.30 pm today.
  2. NUS has set aside a S$500,000 Resilience Fund to pay for expenses related to 2019-nCoV-expenditure – including toilet rolls.

PAX 50: What is a room?

When the directives from the Office of Safety, Health and Environment (OSHE) went out over the weekend on D-Orange guidelines, colleagues on different group chats debated on how to put these principles into practice.

One of the top questions was on the Pax 50 injunction – that the classes and events should not exceed 50.

How do we fit 50 people into a room? What about very large rooms – do we still limit it to 50? Surely a 1,000-pax capacity room cannot be treated the same as a 50-pax one? And it is a “flow” not “stock” – if flow, how do we determine rate of flow, and the people in the “room” at any one time?

As I read the texts, a long-unused bit of Aristotelian logic floated in my mind:

What, if any, is the essential property of X?

A simple modal approach is something like:

F is an essential property of x =df if x loses F, then x ceases to exist.

Aristotle’s central question was: “What is the essence of Man?”

I still don’t have the answer to the essence of Man, but after the last two days, I think I know the essence of a room. Again relying on Aristotle – a room is not defined by walls or size, but its purpose. Under D-Orange, any room in NUS must be used in such a way as to reduce the chances of any organised event causing infection and spread within the community.

Walls are not an essential element of a room. E.g., a very large “room” can be turned into two by the simple application of stage platform and large spaces between two sections.


New seating arrangement in the dining hall at King Edward VII (KEVII) Hall. Photo: KEVII Hall

2. Eating out is not an event.

We are neither closing off canteens and dining rooms, nor are we limiting the number of people. Instead, we have outlined some rules as below:

2.1 All diners to observe personal hygiene. 

  • Wash hands before and after meals;
  • Temperature taking twice a day;
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes or face

2.2 Those unwell should not consume meals at the dining hall/canteens.

2.3 All diners are advised to consume their meals within 30 minutes to minimise the time at the canteens/dining halls.

2.4 All students on LOA are to remain in their rooms as meals will be delivered to their rooms.

2.5 Diners who prefer takeaways are encouraged to bring their reusable lunch boxes.

2.6 Meals will only be served/sold to diners with an NUS student/staff card or with temperature stickers.

What is a bathroom?

Students on LOA will generally have designated cubicles in shared bathrooms, or their own facilities if the hostel is able to provide. Where reserved cubicles are not possible, we will increase the environmental sanitation:

1. Increasing the cleaning schedule for toilet, shower and pantry to four times a day (morning, 1 p.m., 5 p.m., and 9 p.m.);
2. Toilet seat disinfectants in all toilets, and sprays that can be used for other surfaces.

In these cases, students can space out the use of the shower (e.g. 30 minutes in between) to allow any remaining water droplets to settle to the ground. They must also wash their hands after using the bathroom. This is in line with the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) guidance in relation on the use of shared bathrooms by persons on LOA.

Given the recent attention on toilet rolls, I thought I’d share this gem from MOH’s guidelines:

“Sharing the same roll of toilet paper is safe as long as the toilet roll is not stained, soiled or wet, although the sharing of towels is not advised.”

Also, yes, NUS has more than enough toilet rolls.

NUS Resilience Fund

NUS President, Professor Tan Eng Chye has announced a S$500,000 fund to be used in our response to 2019-nCoV. This will cover expenses relating to staff and student items such as but not limited to:

  • Compensation to our Student Exchange Programme (SEP) or NUS Overseas Colleges students for cancelled flights, or flights to bring our students back to Singapore;
  • Expenses in helping our staff and students under LOA, including hostel fees and food for our staff or students (under LOA) evicted by their landlords;
  • Hospitalisation and care for our frontliners should they fall sick from overwork.

The Fund also covers equipment, supplies and infrastructure related expenses such as, but not limited to:

  • Purchase of masks and other equipment to mitigate virus transmission;
  • Preparation and maintenance costs of the Government-Quarantine-Facility (GQF).

The NUS Resilience Fund will be administered by the Office of Finance (OFN) to support approved disbursements.

At the same time, the President has also sent out a quiet appeal to professors and senior staff, to gather donations for the Red Cross in China. This is a non-tax deductible donation which we will channel to Red Cross in China via the Singapore Red Cross. The donations will go completely towards communities in China who have been severely affected by the virus. At the moment, donations are in the mid six figures and climbing.

Today, philosophers are still working on Aristotle’s question on the essence of Man, including what it means to live a good life. I don’t have the answer for human beings in general, but for the community of NUS, resilience must surely count as one of our essential components, and one measure of meaning, service unto others.

A/P Leong Ching
NUS Dean of Students

dos-update-14-temp screening stn

You can go to any of the 21 temperature screening stations set up across NUS campuses – Kent Ridge Campus, Bukit Timah Campus and Duke-NUS Medical School. Click on the image to enlarge the maps. Image: OSHE

#QOTD Questions of the Day

Answers by Mr Yam Guan Shyh, Deputy Director, OSHE 

Question: “I am a student embarking on SEP this semester but I am still in Singapore because my partner university's semester only starts in April. Currently, I do not visit NUS at all and I am doing an internship so my company requires employees to declare our daily temperatures already. May I know if I would still have to declare my daily temperature for NUS?”

Answer: You would be required to take your daily temperature if you are in Singapore regardless if you are on or off campus. If you do not have your own thermometer and are on campus, you may visit any of the temperature screening stations. Do declare your reading in the online system here.

Question: “What are the operating hours of the temperature screening stations?”

Answer: Our temperature screening stations operate from 8.15am to 5pm daily, including weekends and Public Holidays unless otherwise specified.


Answers by Mr Sean Tan, Head, Student Organisations, OSA

Question: “Thermometers are mostly out-of-stock at all retailers island wide. Would OSA be able to direct us to a retailer and assist in the procurement for our upcoming student event?” 

Answer: If your event comprises only NUS students and staff, their temperature would have been declared in the system. If they do not own a personal thermometer, they can approach the management office of their faculty/school/department, or have their temperature taken at one of the centralised temperature screening stations. As an event organiser, you can request your participants to show you a photo of the thermometer reading with a date-time stamp. If you do not have the capacity to screen your participants, we would advise you to cancel your event.