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By Carlena Knight

With the opening of the new school year fast approaching, the Antigua State College (ASC) has rolled out a number of measures to coincide with the established Covid-19 protocols.

The tertiary level institution will open its doors to students on September 7, while lecturers and other staff will return on August 24.

ASC’s acting principal Jacqueline Peters-Richardson recently outlined some of the new measures implemented on state media.

“Classes will be taking a blended approach for the departments of Business and Liberal Arts; the two largest departments, the lectures will be online and then we have smaller groups of tutorials coming face to face, so we have 15 to 20 persons, depending on the size of the room, that will do the face to face tutorials,” Richardson explained.

“For Industrial Technology and the School of Pharmacy, their numbers are smaller, their classes are like 12 to 15 so they will go face to face, and the Department of Teacher Education, they will do a blended approach as well [with] online lectures and face to face tutorials.”

Regarding recruitment of new students, Richardson explained that there was a delay in distributing letters to the more than 550 applicants, but she assured the applicants that those letters will be distributed by the end of Friday.

She also revealed that secondary school transcripts were used to determine the successful applicants to ASC, instead of the CSEC exam results since those exams were administered later this year.

“We did use a transcript. Most persons are accepted to universities by using their transcripts so we took that same approach. We evaluated the transcripts and we used the prerequisite for each course and then we evaluated.

“We are in the process of distributing the letters this week. We have over 550 applicants but we cannot accommodate over 550 so, we have evaluated them and we will probably get down to 300, 400; we do not have the space to accommodate 500 plus,” she said.

Provisions, she says, were also put in place for individuals who did not pass mathematics and/or English to undertake additional testing. Those tests were concluded earlier this week.

Orientation will also take a blended approach depending on which department students are accepted into. Those details will be outlined in the letters distributed this week. 

Richardson further revealed that measures are in place to facilitate students who do not have internet access. She says a survey was done to get a better understanding of those numbers before plans were made. Ninety-four percent said they had access, while the minority indicated they did not.

“Those are the persons who will get first preference to be face to face. So, even though the lectures are online, the lectures will be at the campus and you are teaching to the 10 to 15 that will be in front of them but the others that are online will be watching live at home.

“We are now working on our internet access to make sure that we can do that and some back-ups in case we have some challenges. For the second year, we do have some numbers because of what happened earlier when they came back out for the CAPE and we will be doing the same approach for [them].

“The teachers will be on campus delivering and those who have devices but no internet at home will be allowed to access the campus and work from there,” the acting principal added.

The Golden Grove facility will also be exploring several software applications they can administer to mitigate cheating by students on online portals. Those plans are however still being discussed.

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