PREPARATIONS are underway to welcome polytechnic and community college special needs students back on campus after face-to-face studies were abruptly disrupted more than two months ago by the move to control the Covid-19 contagion.
This follows the announcement by the Higher Education Ministry that students under the category participating in the education programmes and Technical and Vocational Training (TVET) at polytechnics and community colleges are among those allowed to resume their studies on-campus in August.
Polytechnic and Community College Education Department curriculum development division director Noor Aidi Nadzri said the group of special needs students face challenges while learning online.
"Students with special needs in the polytechnics and community colleges under the purview of the Higher Education Ministry are students with either hearing or learning disabilities. This group of special needs students need to undergo face-to-face learning due to the ineffectiveness of virtual learning to address their special needs.
"With face-to-face learning, lecturers with special training in sign language or in addressing learning disabilities will be able to teach more effectively versus virtual learning."
There are 197 students with special needs studying at 17 polytechnics and college communities around the country.
These include those enrolled in programmes like Skills Certificate in Fashion Design and Clothing at Sultan Ibrahim Polytechnic in Johor Baru, Skills Certificate in Civil Engineering (Construction) at Ungku Omar Polytechnic in Ipoh, Certificate in Culinary Arts at Kolej Komuniti Selayang in Selangor, and Certificate in Landscaping at Kolej Komuniti Masjid Tanah in Melaka.
Noor Aidi said prior to returning to campus for the new semester, high-risk students, such as those with heart disease or are asthmatic, should obtain a health confirmation letter from a medical professional allowing them to return to campus while students with low risk are subject to health screening procedures as issued by the Health Ministry.
"Both categories of students need to bring along a letter of authorisation from their parent or guardian that allows them to return to campus to continue their education. For high-risk students who do not have any health confirmation letter or certificate, it is advisable not to return to campus and instead, they should postpone their studies to the following semester."
For students who would be residing on campus, strict adherence to the standard operating procedures on social distancing and personal hygiene as issued by the National Security Council must be observed.
"Students who need to be outside the area should notify the officer in charge or the designated student representative. They need to provide details of their movement information, such as the date, time and purpose.
They will be advised to use face masks while outdoors. Upon their return, their body temperature and physical condition need to be checked to make sure they don't have fever or any other Covid-19 symptoms."