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SGU halts “in-person education” due to Covid-19 crisis

The SGU campus at True Blue in the south of the island

As Grenada’s Covid-19 infection rates continue to spiral out of control, St. George’s University (SGU) has told foreign students that they are free to leave the island and continue their studies overseas.

This message was conveyed to the students by Vice Chancellor of the American-owned University, Dr. Richard Liebowitz in a message to Faculty and Staff members.

It will be the second time in 17 months that the school has been forced to send students out of the island in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The first was weeks after the deadly virus showed its face on the island in early 2020 and SGU was forced to organise charter flights to airlift thousands of students mainly U.S citizens out of the country.

In the bulletin put out by Dr. Liebowitz, he announced that a decision was also taken “to pause in-person education” at the school which is located in True Blue in the south of the island.

Grenada’s Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shawn Charles told reporters at a press conference last week that the Covid-19 situation is now a “National Disaster” and that one-third of the island’s estimated population of 110, 00 could now be infected with the deadly virus.

Dr. Charles warned that there was a possibility that within the next two weeks it could result in half the population becoming infected with Covid-19.

The three funereal homes on the island are believed to have dealt with close to 100 Covid-19 bodies since the start of the pandemic.

As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the letter sent out by the SGU Vice-Chancellor to Faculty and Staff:-

Dear Faculty and Staff,

The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff are of paramount importance to us as we continue to work diligently with the Grenada Ministry of Health and our international partners to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Grenada.

We have been carefully monitoring the recent significant rise in COVID-19 cases in Grenada and the implications it may have for our campus. We continue to see a very low number of infections on campus and in the SGU community.

In addition, SGU connected individuals who are COVID-19 positive are experiencing no symptoms or only mild symptoms as a result of their fully vaccinated status. However, our greater Grenadian community needs our support and action as they work to reduce community spread.
In the spirit of community support and with an abundance of caution, SGU leadership is taking the following actions on campus to safeguard the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and the country of Grenada.

While these actions represent a significant change in our operations, they are consistent with the actions of many other universities around the world in communities with significant increases in disease.
Please take note of the following enhanced safety protocols regarding this term that will go into effect as of Wednesday, September 22:

  • The August term will continue online for all School of Medicine Basic Sciences students and students in the Schools of Veterinary Medicine, Arts and Sciences, and Graduate Studies, for at least two weeks through October 1.
  • Any students who wish to leave Grenada to return home to continue their studies online may do so.
  • All students, faculty, and staff on campus will be required to wear masks both indoors and outdoors for at least the next two weeks. During this period, group activities will be restricted to open air spaces with no more than six students. All student organization events will be canceled or transferred to an online format.
  • The indoor fitness center and library will remain closed.
  • All faculty are required to remain in Grenada and continue their work. Those who need to use facilities on campus to perform their work will be able to do so.
  • Staff who are able to do so may continue their work from home. You will be notified by your manager if your role is required to be performed on campus. All faculty and staff members performing their duties will continue to receive full pay and benefits.
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We will re-evaluate the situation after 14 days and further decisions will be based on the circumstances in Grenada.

Our intention is to make prudent decisions that reflect our commitment to your ongoing safety and that of the people of Grenada. You have likely seen other institutions in Grenada and around the globe implementing similar measures in recent days that limit the density of large populations to minimize spread of the virus.

This announcement does not apply to any students outside of Grenada, including the third- and fourth-year School of Medicine clinical students who will continue their education in the US, UK and Canada, or fourth-year School of Veterinary Medicine students doing clinical work at affiliated institutions. This also does not apply to students in the Global Scholars Program in the UK.

We believe this decision is consistent with the best practice recommendations of leading health organisations and is in the best interest of our campus community.

As a reminder, if you have been exposed to COVID-19, or tested positive, in addition to following all government protocols, you are required to email covid19sgu@sgu.edu.

This decision to pause in-person education was not arrived at lightly. Our goal is to help our community navigate this term as safely as possible and protect members of our community while maintaining the flexibility to proactively manage the situation. We will keep you informed as the situation warrants.

I am proud of our SGU students, faculty, and staff members stepping up to volunteer in the Government’s testing and vaccination clinics throughout Grenada. We also appreciate the expert advice from our alumni on Grenada broadcast networks highlighting the importance of getting vaccinated.

We ask all faculty and staff to please support and follow the University’s guidance and government policies to protect yourselves, your campus community, and the country of Grenada.

Sincerely,
Richard Liebowitz, MD
Vice Chancellor
St. George’s University

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