President of the University of Belize
Closure of our University: March 20th – April 20th, 2020
My Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, Colleagues, All,
Yesterday, the Prime Minister of Belize, the Right Honorable Dean Barrow, and the Leader of the Opposition, Honorable John Briceño, held a joint press conference to address decisions made with regards to the COVID-19 Pandemic. One of the major announcements made was the decision to close all schools for a period of two weeks, effective Friday, March 20 of 2020, as part of the efforts to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19.
Today, with the support from the University Administration and the approval of the UB Board of Trustees, led by Mr. GA Harrison Pilgrim, we announce as follows:
- The University of Belize is closed from the end of Friday, 20th of March, 2020 to resume on Monday, April 20, 2020 after our Easter break.
- The schedule for the Second Semester is also approved, including key dates such as,
- Examination: 25th May to 1st June, 2020
- Publication of exam results: 17th June, 2020
Subsequently, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees will advise on date for a special Board Meeting to approve the list of students for the 2020 Graduation
- 18th July, 2020 (Belize City)
- 19th July, 2020 (Punta Gorda)
I wish to also bring the following to your attention:
- At this time, our normal summer semester is disrupted. However, there is a possibility that is being explored that there may be a 5-week intensive summer semester that can be facilitated to support students who may need to complete their degree, all things being equal.
- Our University’s most essential services will be maintained by skeleton staff, for example our farm at the Central Farm, our Security on our campuses, and the general maintenance of our campuses.
- The Calabash Caye Field Station will be closed. The University of Belize Residence facilities like at the UB Central Farm, and the 96 Apartments in Belmopan that are used by student athletes will also be closed. Students are therefore asked to prepare to return to their places of residence this weekend. The Dean of Student Affairs will facilitate this.
- Unfortunately, and regrettably, all sporting and other extracurricular activities are put on hold because of the potential risks to our University Community, e.g. The Relathon and our Faculty, Staff and Students’ Sports Day. We will advise on the resumption of these activities after we reopen.
- On the matter of tuition and fees, please be assured that new deadlines will be given after we return to work, so that students, parents, and loved ones, focus on the immediate threat of COVID-19. Let your hearts not be troubled by this.
- Our Director of the ICT has assured that our email system will not be disrupted. Further, he assured that “Google Hangouts” has been enabled for both Faculty, Staff and Students. This allows an additional form of communication. I wish to point out that once we resume our normal face-to-face and online classes on April 20, 2020, we will be moving towards exams beginning May 25, 2020.
- All classes are suspended, whether online or normal face-to-face so as not to disadvantage any of our students academically. I am cognizant that many students to not have access to the internet or a reliable service, may not have laptops or computers and may not even have a smart phone. Informal communication between lecturers and students may occur as possible.
- With respect to Faculty and Staff, our Directors of Finance and Human Resources are making the arrangements for normal salaries to be paid as usual and matters of sickness/insurance benefits, etc. that may arise will be addressed online. They will both be sending out further guidance on these matters in the next few days, as I may also have to do.
Look my dear students and colleagues, we are all in a very challenging environment, that many of us have never experience in our lifetime. As I said earlier in one of my communications and in our flyers, we also have to be our “brother’s and sister’s keepers”. Hence, these best practices of hygiene, staying away from crowds and public events, maintaining social distance and following the recommended protocols if you are sick are once more emphasized. If you are sick, please visit a doctor!
As we heard from our Political Leaders of Belize, this is not a holiday but a time to stay safe and out of harm’s way for yourself, your family and your communities.
My advice, “hunker down” and make best use of this time students, including studies, revisions and assignments so that we can attain normalcy as quickly as possible when we return on April 20.
My best wishes to you and your loved ones at this very challenging time in Belize, the Caribbean and globally.
March 17, 2020