09.08.2021 | Capitol Hill Campus, Monrovia | 12 00 GMT
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press;
Members of the University of Liberia family;
The General Public;
One and all…
On the 21st of June, 2021 the Incident Management Team (IMS) and the Ministry of Health announced that the Delta Variant of Covid-19 had hit our shores and that Liberia was experiencing a new wave of infection of this deadlier and more contagious variant. Existing health protocols were revised and reinforced.
The University of Liberia (UL) was then in the process of commencing the 2nd Semester of the Academic Year 2020/2021. As a public university that is concerned not just with academics but also the physical wellbeing of our faculty, students, and staff, we were constrained to make some adjustments.
Against this new reality, the UL Administration consulted with students through their Representatives, with faculty through the UL Faculty Association, with staff through the UL Staff Association, the UL Joint Administrative Council, and Faculty Senate and arrived at the decision to run a fully online semester with flexibility in a bid to eliminate the possibility of a contagion involving students or members of faculty on any of our campuses.
We consulted with the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education and the National Commission on Higher Education and gave reasons behind our decision to conduct a full online semester with flexibility.
Unfortunately, the start of the E-Learning Semester was delayed by more than two weeks due to a combination of technical and non-technical challenges, which pushed us into additional consultations with all stakeholders and partners. GSM companies, Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), and Libtelco were approached through the initiative of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to address the question of reliable internet access, for students and faculty.
Let me use this occasion to thank the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for its tremendous assistance in helping to facilitate these additional consultations.
However, due to some unexpected technical difficulties encountered while integrating our systems, the Moodle E-Learning platform experienced some performance issues right at the beginning of the semester. These issues led to challenges faced by both faculty and students. Our technical team, in collaboration with our service providers, was diligently working towards a solution when the August 2nd incident occurred.
During this period, however, we have also kept track of the Covid-19 situation and changes in the numbers reported by health authorities. These numbers now indicate a significant decline in infection rate. Improvement in the statistics and the availability of a new batch of vaccines as well as rapid testing kits provided us an opportunity to rethink the conduct of the Second Semester 2020/2021.
On the basis of these developments, and in consultation with all stakeholders, the University of Liberia hereby announces a revert to BLENDED LEARNING for the current semester.
This allows us to have as many traditional in-person classes as possible from the perspective of full adherence to health guidelines which are still in effect, and as much E-Learning as necessary.
Cognizant of the fact that Liberia is not yet fully out of the THIRD WAVE of COVID-19 spread and that health protocols are still in place, participation in the ‘Traditional Learning’ aspect of this BLENDED LEARNING semester is conditional:
- Everyone must wash hands at the gates of our campuses and wear facemasks at all times while on campus,
- Students signing up for In-person sections are highly encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine or must present (at a specified interval) negative Rapid Test results,
- Number of students allowed in a section will be determined by the size of the room assigned,
- University employees and students are expected to uphold all other aspects of the revised COVID-19 guidelines released by our health authorities.
With these changes affecting the conduct of the current semester, a new calendar of activities has been released by Academic Affairs.
Classes will resume on Wednesday, August 25, 2021, and end on Saturday, November 27, 2021.
Members of the Fourth Estate…
Recently, aggrieved students of the University of Liberia, saddened by technical challenges associated with the full E-Learning Semester, elected to exercise their option of expressing discontentment through protest on the Capitol Hill Campus. While this is allowed at the University of Liberia, it, unfortunately, degenerated into violent episodes and was extended beyond the campus perimeters. There are reports of multiple injuries sustained by students and staff as well the destruction of properties on Capitol Hill and in parts of Sinkor.
We strongly condemn these acts of violence perpetrated by some of our students and assure all that at the conclusion of the ongoing investigation, those found culpable will bear the full weight of the rules and regulations of the Revised Student Handbook of the University of Liberia. The right to protest can be exercised without resorting to violence or compromising public peace and safety. Violence has never resolved any problem in the history of our country. This is why we continuously teach men and women of the University of Liberia to choose dialogue over violence as a path to resolution of grievances while respecting their rights to peaceful assembly and protest as well as the rights of others.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press and members of the public.
As we return to class after Flag Day, we appeal to men and women of this university to be patient, cooperative, and be assured that the Administration is resolved to give students the best possible learning experience during these COVID-19 trying conditions.
Thanks to all members of the University of Liberia family as well as our strategic partners for the immeasurable support as we brace ourselves for an amazing BLENDED LEARNING experience beginning August 25, 2021.
Thank you and Happy Flag Day in advance.