SINGAPORE – Universities are making Covid-19 testing easier for their students, with at least four institutions planning to install vending machines that dispense antigen rapid test (ART) kits on campus.
From Friday (Oct 29), all National University of Singapore (NUS) students and staff can redeem the kits for free at 13 vending machines in University Town and the Kent Ridge, Bukit Timah and Outram Park campuses.
This comes as co-curricular activities (CCAs) have resumed in group sizes of two at all institutes of higher learning, according to an update on the Ministry of Education’s website.
This applies to both indoor and outdoor activities and regardless of students’ vaccination status. Activities can include small-group consultation and project work.
At the primary, secondary and junior college levels, all in-person CCAs and non-essential enrichment remain suspended till further notice.
While not all institutes of higher learning require their students to take ART tests before they can enter the campus, The Straits Times understands that some are doing so for the protection of the campus community, especially students who live on-site.
To collect the free kits, NUS students must submit ART results weekly through the uNivUS mobile application.
Those who are vaccinated can collect the kits after submitting two results, while unvaccinated students must upload four weeks’ worth of results.
If students have done so, a QR code will appear within the app, which they can scan at the vending machine’s reader.
The vending machines, which are powered by fintech start-up Beep Technologies’ Internet of Things platform, will then dispense two ART kits.
Beep chief executive Kristoffer Jacek Soh said: “As a start-up incubated in both NUS and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), we’ve seen first hand how our institutes of higher learning face administrative and manpower challenges in ensuring their staff’s and students’ safety while minimising disruptions to school activities.
“We hope these initiatives with our various vending and pharmaceutical partners can provide them with better peace of mind as campus activities resume progressively.”
SUTD told ST it has also installed two ART vending machines on campus that will be operational next Friday.
All its staff and students will be receiving eight free ART kits.
Since Oct 20, the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) has installed two ART kit vending machines on its campus in Clementi and will be installing another machine in mid-November.
SIM said: “With the machines, (students) can easily purchase the kits at their own convenience.”
The Singapore Management University said it is considering the distribution of ART kits as an added precaution to safeguard the health of its students and employees.
Details will be announced at a later date.
A Nanyang Technological University (NTU) spokesman said students who require more ART kits in addition to those distributed by the Government can buy them from the co-op shop on campus.
Ms Yeo Think-E, 19, a first-year NTU student, said: “I think distributing ART kits is a great move, because some of my friends had to leave the school premises to collect free ART kits, which was not very convenient.”
A fourth-year NUS business student who wanted to be known only as Ms Goh, 22, welcomed the installation of the vending machines.
She told ST that when the fast and easy testing regime was first rolled out at NUS in August, the kits were available for collection only at designated locations such as University Town and Yusof Ishak House and on fixed days.
These collection points were at least 10 minutes away from her faculty by shuttle bus.
She said: “Being able to collect the kits after hours means I can drop by after my classes (at Kent Ridge). This makes a lot more sense than rushing to University Town and praying there’s no queue before my class.”
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