Message from Our Staff: Life in the pandemic one year on

By Dr Serene Ng, Chief Operating Officer

One year ago, all of us were living our normal lives. Fast forward to today, we are now living in our "new normal". Things that we traditionally took for granted - overseas travel, mass social gatherings, and even large-scale meetings/seminars are restricted. In the entire year of 2020, our faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to adapt, adjust, and resolve the myriad of challenges that Covid-19 had presented us with.

When Covid-19 first surfaced in Singapore, many of us were unprepared for the disruptions and challenges that were to come. Despite the many unknowns about Covid-19 and the ever-changing constraints, there was one thing clear in the mind of the leadership team. "Our key priority is keeping our faculty, staff and students safe" and we worked relentlessly to keep our campus safe and ensure the well-being of our colleagues and students.

We Resolve Together

In the early days of the pandemic, safe management measures such as temperature scanning machines, hand sanitizers and QR codes were installed to track the attendance of staff, students, and guests. Business continuity plans kicked in with alternate working arrangements across campuses while standard operating procedures were developed to do contract tracing for suspected or confirmed case(s). We had to coordinate and support our colleagues and students who were overseas to ensure their safe return to Singapore.

As local transmission of Covid-19 cases peaked in early March, we soon realised this was only the beginning and that there were more challenges to come. We went into a circuit breaker with labs closed, classes moved completely online and faculty and staff working from home. Only a handful of core staff continued to return to campus to ensure that the essentials facilities were running. 

We Care Together

While juggling the demands of the ever-changing priorities, we remain focused on ensuring the wellbeing of our OneLKC family. Communications, during a time of uncertainty, was important to provide assurance and updates to our faculty and staff. Weekly communique from the core leadership as well as e-town hall sessions was held on a frequent basis to address concerns and issues that impact the wellbeing and health of our faculty and staff. We conducted an e-survey and put in place new initiatives to address the feedback  and concerns raised. For example, a $100 expense claim allowed our faculty and staff to purchase IT equipment or tools to support remote working. Additionally, bi-weekly fitness classes and healthy eating classes via zoom were organised to enhance the wellbeing of OneLKC family.

Beyond the OneLKC family, we showed our appreciation for the healthcare and essential workers. Care packages were arranged and delivered to healthcare workers at TTSH as well as bento lunch boxes were given to essential workers to show our appreciation for their work on the frontlines.

We Succeed Together

With Singapore in Phase 3 of the pandemic management, we begin our path towards a new normal. Wearing masks, maintaining safe distancing, gathering in small groups will continue and remain part of the new normal for 2021. With the ongoing vaccination programme announced by Singapore's Multi-Ministry Task Force, I am confident that we will only get better and stronger together.

On behalf of the School, I would like to extend my deepest appreciation and recognition of the efforts of our frontline workers and essential staff in tackling Covid-19. We came into the pandemic with uncertainty and many unknowns, but I can proudly say that we have stuck together as OneLKC to overcome the challenges and adapt to this new normal. We will continue to look out for our faculty, staff, and students. I am confident of our ability to continue to adapt, improvise and overcome the challenges facing us and we will succeed together as OneLKC.