Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies. (FILE)
The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill Campus has suspended all classes from tomorrow March 18 to April 6 pending, further public health developments, as a result of today’s announcement that Barbados has recorded its first two cases of coronavirus COVID-19.
Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic announced earlier today that a 39-year-old Barbadian woman and a visitor from the United States have both tested positive for COVID-19.
A press release said UWI will use this period to finalise preparation for all faculty to deliver online classes in an equitable manner. Efforts will be made to ensure that all students have the resources to receive online instruction.
Addressing concerns over the coronavirus at the annual meeting of Campus Council last Friday, Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Hilary Beckles said: “There is tremendous capacity within UWI itself, not only in the Open Campus, where the skills and the technology are well developed, but [in] the [other] campuses themselves. There is a teacher training process within each campus that has a significant measure of online training.
“So we are going to be mobilising the campus capabilities where we have skills in online teaching on each campus. And we will add to that with the skill sets of the Open Campus and provide some teacher training on a systemic basis in the next two to three weeks on each campus, so that we can emerge hopefully within a month, ready to go with the resumption of classes based on our assessment of the situation there and then.”
Principal of Cave Hill campus Professor Eudine Barriteau explained that some faculty have to be trained in teaching online, which she pointed out was substantially different to participating in an online meeting.
“When you’re teaching you need to be aware that the students are dispersed; there are different pedagogical strategies. This is where the training would come into being, converting information to be delivered in an asynchronous mode,” she said.
All public events on campus have been suspended and Campus Administration has urged staff and students to remain calm and to continue practising good personal hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water and to engage in social distancing.
All services of the campus will continue at a reduced level during the period in order to minimise the possibility of person-to-person transmission of the coronavirus among staff who are functioning on campus premises.