Sunday 25 October, 2020

UWI spends over $3 million to outfit Cave Hill campus post-COVID

UWI Cave Hill campus (FILE)

UWI Cave Hill campus (FILE)

The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus has justified the delay to the restarting of classes stating that much needed to be done to ready the facility and fuclty for the new norm post-COVID.

Sharing such, was Principal Professor Eudine Barriteau. She disclosed that the campus spent more than $3 million in refurbishment work and enhancements, including almost $150 000 in audio-visual equipment to outfit more than 40 undergraduate and graduate spaces in order to provide the face-to-face and online, or hybrid teaching environments.

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“It has been an expensive undertaking but one which we believe was critical in order for us to deliver on our mandate of developing the region’s human resource capital. We have an obligation to provide our highly rated educational services to the many who seek it from within Barbados and across the region but who cannot make it to these shores at this time because of a lack of or limited air transport. COVID-19 is a reality that could be with us for quite some time and we have to adjust our lives to live with it, even while we undertake all preventative measures to protect the campus community.” 

Classes have been set back by one-week.

As of earlier this week and with the significant investment in technological and infrastructural upgrades since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities at the Cave Hill campus say all systems are go for teaching to get underway on Monday, September 14 for the 2020/21 academic year.

Barriteau said that the postponement has enabled professional, academic and administrative staff to fine tune the campus’ response to several unique or first-time challenges. These include an unprecedented timetabling initiative, online academic counselling, widespread physical distancing and other health protocols requirements, and major enhancement of its IT and other requirements to support virtual teaching.

A state-of-the-art video conferencing system has been installed in more than 40 teaching spaces, some of which will be used for the first time. More spacious teaching areas were required so that students are seated at least six feet apart, as mandated by national COVID-19 protocols, while receiving their instruction at the same time as others, locally and abroad, who cannot or choose not to attend classes in person.

Included in the widespread refurbishment is a near million-dollar upgrade of the air conditioning system at the Medical Sciences Teaching Complex, with the replacement of four of its six commercial units, and modification of existing ducts to improve airflow and address environmental issues. The Roy Marshall Teaching Complex, Sidney Martin Library, Frank Worrell Hall and Sherlock Hall are among many student-centred areas given upgrades.

In addition, The Faculty of Law has undergone a $125,000 electrical upgrade to expand the existing supply to the building in order to accommodate additional load anticipated from online teaching activity.

The upgrades come at a time when the campus has had to take a 7.6 percent cut to its budget, even as it seeks to maintain a safe environment for students and staff.

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