The other day, I was reading an article on Medium, the first line in its takeaways said, “the coronavirus is coming to you.”
It has been a week and SNU has already sent over 12 emails instructing, advising and cautioning its SNU community against the pandemic that has infected over 188 people across the nation as of March 19th, 2020.
The first email communicated about all classes being moved online until March 31st. Software such as Blackboard Ultra (accessed through Blackboard option on SNU links) and Microsoft Teams are currently being used. This automatically meant that students who had gone home for their mid-semester break have the option to stay at home until that period.
A recent email conveyed that this method will now continue until April 2nd. The option to stay at home has been reinforced since one now requires a written permission from the Dean Students’ Affairs (DSA) to enter the campus.
Other emails have informed us about cancellation of all transport shuttles, closure of all activities inside the academic blocks, library and the Indoor Sports Complex (ISC). All three dining halls are currently operational. However, one is advised to go to a lesser crowded dining hall. All daily commuters are advised to have their lunch in DH 1 while students and permanent residents are advised to access DH 2 or DH 3 for lunch.
Traveling outside SNU requires a special permission from the DSA, in view of restricting all non-essential movement. All commuters to campus will undergo screening through an infrared thermometer. All non-symptomatic individuals are advised to observe self-quarantine for 7 days after returning from outside the campus. Any person who is found to have high temperature will be directed to the Blue Circle hospital, where, the person will be tested for other symptoms such as running nose, tiredness, dry cough. If found symptomatic, the person would be kept under observation for a period of 5-7 days in fumigated rooms that have been arranged in Hostel 1B (for boys; has capacity of 56 beds) and Tower 1 (for girls; has capacity of 48 beds). If the symptoms improve during the period, then the student could be shifted back to their respective accommodation on doctor’s recommendation. While, if the symptoms worsen, they would be taken to one of the government designated hospitals that has the Covid-19 test facility where they would be tested for the disease. All subsequent matters would then be handled by the state.
“No persons have been quarantined as of now,” says Mrs. Neelam Chaudhary, the warden of cluster 2A.
As the campus heads towards a seeming lockdown, to further ensure that there is minimal outside contact, it has almost halved its housekeeping, maintenance and security staff. The working staff from March 20th will be provided accommodation within campus. Female workers will stay in 2A while male workers will be staying in cluster 3, according to Mrs. Chaudhury.
The dining hall staff will now temporarily relocate within the campus, according to Mr. Vikram Singh, cashier and supervisor at DH 1. All halls are operated by Azure Hospitality.
As of March 18th, there were about 392 students staying in campus. This includes the undergraduates, masters and the PhD students. “Students have been rapidly vacating their hostels,” says Mrs. Chaudhary.
Those students staying back on campus are being made to sign an undertaking claiming that they are fully aware of the risks if they cannot go back home due to inevitable personal reasons. Additionally, signing it also maintains that they cannot hold SNU or its staff responsible for any exposure or infection with the virus.
“For students leaving campus, they must ensure wearing masks in all public spaces. Disinfecting hands every half hour is also advised. Before reaching home, one should effectively get rid of the mask and any other external disposable item ensuring against any overlooked transmission,” says Dr. Susheel Shukla, a general physician at the Blue Circle.
The campus remains quiet and desolate except during the night at DH 2 when it is pulsating with all the undergraduates who have willed to stay back so far, the masters and the PhD students who will now recline into the tranquility of their rooms, and with all their servers down, the staff that cheerfully continues to serve us on.