What was the response of UMB to the corona crisis?

Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica responded to the current situation caused by the spread of coronavirus. In this corona time we help with volunteer programs, online activities, the production of 3D shields and also instrumentation.

The university not only sought the ways of helping its students in the transition process to the distance method of studies, but also did its best to ensure the smooth educational process so that its students could prepare for their exams or graduation in the best conditions possible. The university also thought of public and people who found themselves in, for all of us, an unconventional and exceptional situation and had to adapt to it for the day.

The Department of Biology and Ecology of the Faculty of Natural Sciences at UMB (FPV UMB) lent to the Regional Office of Public Health (RÚVZ) in Banská Bystrica a device for Real Time PCR (polymerase chain reaction), which enabled to increase their capacity for testing of presence of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing COVID-19 disease.

The team at the Department of Informatics FPV UMB led by RNDr. M. Melicherčík, PhD. and PaedDr. Patrik Voštinár, PhD. printed  3D protective shields as a help for health workers. The dean of FPV UMB, doc. Mgr. Jarmila Kmeťová, PhD., donated these shields to several medical facilities. It was taken over by PhDr. Viera Jaceková (Deputy Director for Nursing) for the Central Slovak Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and for the Children's University Hospital with policlinic in Banská Bystrica it was taken over by Mgr. Andrea Fedorová (head nurse). The Director of Hospital in Brezno (NsP Brezno) Ing. Jaroslav Mačejovský attended a meeting with the Dean of FPV UMB and the vice-dean for development PaedDr. Mgr. Vladimír Siládi, PhD. in the Hospital, where he received 40 pieces of quality protective shields for health workers. All shields were produced thanks to the participation in the project http://pomahame3dtlacou.maweb.eu/.

The University and the Self governing regional Office of Banská Bystrica also agreed on a joint approach to ensuring voluntary activities in an effort to minimize the impact of the crisis caused by spread of COVID-19.

The Faculty of Education at the UMB (PF UMB) came up with the idea of a volunteer program – “Uši k duši” – “Ears to the Soul”. The program was created in a response to the current situation caused by the spread of coronavirus. In this situation, people face on one hand an increased stress and a feeling of helplessness from current events, and on the other hand an accumulating feeling of loneliness and social isolation. Due to the growing risk of catching an infection when meeting your close ones, friends, acquaintances, neighbours, etc. mainly the elderly people have only limited social contacts in this non-standard situation.

The Ears to the Soul program consists of regular telephone contact of volunteers (especially students) with people who feel lonely due to their social isolation (seniors, people with disabilities, single mothers, etc.). The program is primarily intended for people in the Banská Bystrica region, but also, if necessary, from outside of this region. As the priority target group of those participating in the program as volunteers are the UMB students of the helping professions, we see a potential for the development especially in their communication skills, empathy and personal and social responsibility.

The university has also prepared several online discussions, lectures and events. One of them was the University Night of Literature (UNL), the 8th year of which was also held this year in an unconventional way, online. Every single night during that April week of the original University Night of Literature, a premiere reading on YouTube took place at 8 o´clock. The idea of the event was thus preserved - seven readings, seven books, seven readers – however, it did not happen in one evening, but in seven days instead. Actually, even with a bonus in the form of colleagues from the Silesian University of Opava reading for us.  

In this special online edition of UNL, the organizing team decided to pay tribute to those readers you may have already experienced reading at the event, and in this way we could bring back our memories to the previous years. Today, by the reaction of so many people, who for various reasons could not come in previous years, we can say that we caught their attention with this non-traditional form of online reading. So far, more than 3,500 fans of the good book have seen the record of this online readings.

The UMB Career Center did not omit future graduates and prepared a project for them - UMB Career Journey, which lasted for four weeks. Each week, they picked up a new topic that was preparing students for the interview, taught them how to write a resume, a cover letter, it drew their attention to the mistakes the candidates make when on the interviews in companies, explained the importance of first impressions and, on webinars, they could try what it's like to have an interview with experts in practice – HR officer of manager of the real company. The acquired knowledge from the studies was thus supplemented with practical advice on how to excel and how to impress the employer to start the career and assert themselves on the labour market.

Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica is pleased that it has been able to help, continues helping and wants to help not only during the corona crisis and pandemics but also in future. It has been building the position of an institution that participates in activities of various character and different kind in the town and a region.