9 Nov 2020

CUHK Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rocky S. Tuan and Provost Professor Alan K.L. Chan’s Open Letter – Preparations for Spring Term

9 Nov 2020

Dear Students and Colleagues,

Preparations for Spring Term

The current academic Term has now entered its 10th week. Since mid-October, with the pandemic stabilizing somewhat in Hong Kong, more face-to-face classes for higher-level undergraduate courses, postgraduate courses, as well as laboratory, studio or practicum-based courses, have been made available. The Centralized Study Spaces Booking System for students to find a quiet place to study on campus has also been implemented. Teaching and learning under the carefully planned “hybrid” mode of face-to-face and synchronous online academic activities has worked well. We appreciate the cooperation of students and staff for complying with the necessary precautionary measures to keep COVID-19 at bay. It is important that we keep in mind the health and wellbeing not only of ourselves but also of those around us.

Teaching and Examination Arrangements

For courses that require centrally organized invigilated final examinations, we will ensure that suitable venues are available should the course instructors choose to conduct them physically on campus. Whether the exams are best conducted online or in-person is a pedagogical question that is best decided by the course instructors. The arrangements for individual courses will be announced on CUSIS.

Assuming that the pandemic continues on a relatively moderate course, more on-campus teaching and learning activities should be possible in the Spring Term. Although prudence dictates that the current hybrid mode of teaching and learning will need to be maintained, some level-1 courses will be given priority for face-to-face teaching, in addition to the types of courses mentioned above. A healthy measure of on-campus learning experience is important for freshmen as they adjust to university life. With safe travel “bubbles” coming into place, some student exchange activities may also be possible in the Spring Term, although these are yet to be determined. As always, we will monitor the situation closely and make timely adjustments accordingly.

At the same time, we will continue to strengthen our e-learning capacity and develop innovative pedagogical approaches to learning under the new normal. Many colleagues deserve our heartfelt thanks, for they have invested enormous amounts of time and effort in making sure that learning continues to grow even in the time of the pandemic. We applaud also our wonderful students who valiantly embrace the new mode of teaching and learning and have been helping one another along the way.

Hostel Accommodation

For the best interest of student health and safety, single room occupancy and the standing rule that no visitors are allowed to stay overnight in the hostel rooms of all nine Colleges will continue to be strictly implemented. In addition to final-year students with prior hostel allocation, freshmen with assigned hostel places will also be given priority in the Spring Term. For inbound students, the prevailing specifications under the Prevention and Control of Disease Regulation must be observed. New provisions will come into effect on 13th  November. Please visit  the Centre for Health Protection website for details on the latest announcements.

The increased hostel occupancy will make it very important that all health and infection control measures are strictly adhered to. Unauthorized boarding will incur disciplinary action. We thank the College Heads and Masters in agreeing to accommodate more students on campus, and we seek the understanding and cooperation of all students in ensuring that the halls of residence remain safe from COVID-19. As the coronavirus has proven to be highly infectious, we simply cannot afford to lower our guard even for a single moment.

As we indicated in our previous letter, so long as all of us take full responsibility in adhering to the needed infection control measures and are mindful of the wellbeing of others, we will be able to overcome whatever challenges that lie ahead.

Acting Together Against COVID-19

Earlier, we applied a disinfectant to walls and surfaces in lecture theatres and other high-density areas. We recently tested its efficacy and found it to be satisfactory, with few microbial colonies detected after 3 months of deployment. A second coating will be applied shortly. The WE R SMART slogan reminds us that wearing a mask, observing social distance, monitoring body temperature and washing hands frequently have now come almost naturally to us, and that they remain essential in the fight against COVID-19. The “LeaveHomeSafe” mobile app to be introduced by the HK Government is a helpful tool for us to keep track of the places we have visited, which can prove critical if contact tracing becomes necessary. Learning from the experiences of universities overseas, we know that the consequences would be dire if we do not take these measures seriously.

COVID-19 has been terrible, but it should motivate us to do more and spur innovation. We are not responding to the pandemic with stopgap measures, hoping that the “old normal” would return someday; rather, we should take this opportunity to chart new directions and strategies for the University to grow in its next phase of development. Over the past few months, the University has been consulting widely with students, staff and alumni on its new five-year strategic plan, which will include fresh initiatives in developing education and research, enriching student experience, enhancing human capital, expanding global engagement, spearheading sustainable development and social responsibility, deepening our ties with alumni, and advancing institutional development. We look forward to hearing more from you on “CUHK 2025” over the next few months.


Yours sincerely,

Rocky S. Tuan Alan K.L. Chan
Vice-Chancellor and President Provost