Daily News Briefs

Coronavirus image (002)

Monday, June 1, 2020

KSA Updates

As the number of new recorded COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia have begun to slow after more than six weeks of strict precautionary measures and significant governmental funding to tackle the crisis, the Kingdom has begun to implement its strategic plan for phased resumption of public economic, travel, religious, and labor activities.

The Kingdom is currently in its second phase of the reopening plan announced by the government on May 26, which included strict health and safety protocols:  The Ministry of Interior announced these precautionary measures and preventive protocols prepared by the Ministry of Health, and which mosques, the public, industries; malls and retail centers, home delivery service, etc. must follow.  These will be in effect from May 31 to June 20, 2020.

Daily Brief Pic 6.1

Read more here:

At KAUST, the total number of cases of COVID-19 identified remains at 16. All have been discharged upon completion of the MOH testing requirements, with the last positive case 14 days ago.

Following the May 22 announcement indicating the University was preparing a phased reopening plan, Phase 2 began on Thursday, May 28.  These changes include:

  • Lifting of the curfew
  • Allowing outdoor gatherings of 5 people or less
  • Tamimi resuming normal opening hours (7:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. daily)
  • Restarting of some recreation and retail activities
  • The quarantine period will revert to 14 days

Quarantine remains in place for people entering KAUST. Anyone entering KAUST from May 28 onwards will be quarantined for 14 days.  Employees continue to work remotely from home at this time.

U.S. Updates

The U.S. braces for more unrest in wake of George Floyd's death

“After George Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last week, protesters in cities across the U.S. are decrying the deaths of black people in police custody, as well as American social and economic disparities.  This comes as the U.S remains very much in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic and its resulting economic crisis”.  CBS News

“On Sunday night, hundreds were arrested as major cities across the country saw protests descend into violence.  The chaos overshadowed what had been another largely peaceful day of lawful demonstration, with hundreds of thousands across the country joining together in expressions of heartbreak and frustration. From police officers kneeling with protesters to communities coming together to stop looters, many expressed a determination not to let the violence define the narrative. The National Guard has been deployed in more than two dozen states to assist overwhelmed police departments, and curfews have been imposed in over 40 US cities.”  New York Times

Scholarship Updates

KGSP’s response to recent protests

  • Stay Aware: The national reaction to the death of George Floyd is evolving every day, so it is important that you understand how your city is responding.   Please keep an eye on your city’s website to learn more about what’s happening in your area. It is very likely that your university has also issued a response.
  • Subscribe to emergency alerts: Both your city and your university have an emergency alert system. In most cases, a text alert system is open to all students and residents. If you choose to sign up for text alerts, you may incur expenses through your carrier when alerts are issued.
  • Remember COVID-19: Some cities are under both a curfew and a stay-home order. Therefore, it is important to remain at home whenever possible.
  • Reach out if you need anything: We are here for you. If you have questions or concerns, please let your KGSP Advisor know.
  • Be Informed: Along with university leaders across the country, the KGSP encourages everyone to ensure their understanding of the context in which this situation is occurring, and to reflect on our individual and joint responsibility to address systemic racism.  Suggested readings include:

Spring 2020 transcripts

As the spring 2020 term winds down for many students, please remember that we need an official copy of your transcript. The best way to submit it is via the student self-service portal here. If you need support logging into the portal, click on the “forgot password” link. Make sure to use your KAUST email address when resetting your password, as this is what is linked to portal account in the system.  If your university allows, you can also email your KGSP Advisor an eTranscript, and we will upload it for you!

_________________________________________

Previous Post

_________________________________________

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Since early March, KGSP has shared a regular News Blast of critical updates from Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and the Scholarship related to COVID-19 and its implications. These communications were designed to provide you with (a) timely and pertinent updates about the crisis, and (b) clear programmatic guidelines and expectations, as well as the types of additional support available to you through the KGSP.

Now, over two months later and in full recognition that in many areas the rate and spread of infection remain high, we are all—as individuals and institutions—looking at how we may best establish appropriate balances within this “new normal.”

Starting today, the KGSP will no longer send the News Blasts three times a week, instead transitioning to an “as-needed” frequency to relay critical student updates, or changes to the COVID-19 situation. As always, these will be augmented by separate outreach from your KGSP advisor.  

Our goal in this remains the same as before: To ensure you have the information you need, when you need it, to stay safe and to make the decisions that work best for you. We believe that given the current more “steady state” of the crisis today, this change appropriately meets that goal. 

As you know, student input is a vital component of the KGSP:  Thank you to the 150 students who responded to last week’s News Blast Readership Frequency 60-second survey, and whose feedback fully supports this decision. Suggestions raised about other methods of communication will also be considered in due course. 

The next weeks and months will be full of changes and rapid developments both with regards to COVID-19, and to your academic activities / responsibilities. It remains vital that you stay in touch with your KGSP Advisor, who is here to support you.  

_________________________________________

Monday, May 11, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Confirmed cases (14 and 2 within the KAUST and KGSP populations, respectively) have all since recovered, with the most recent case confirmed two weeks ago. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced 12,737 recoveries. The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 5.12


U.S. Updates 

 

New York area's 'patient zero' says coronavirus 'wasn't on my mind' — until it almost killed him (NBC News)

(Click image to open hyperlink)

Daily Brief Pic 5.11

 

For Americans, an in-between moment

In his thought piece, Director of Digital Innovation for the Associated Press Ted Anthony discusses the unique period of time we find ourselves in now:  Excerpt:  

In coming years, when they write the narrative histories of the 2020 pandemic, the past week in American life will be a particularly curious moment to unpack. It was unlike what came before, and almost certainly unlike what is still ahead.  Right now, Americans are like insects caught in amber, suspended for an uncertain moment between the isolation of a national shutdown and the revving up of a much-disputed return.  Of course, the very existence of an in-between moment suggests two bookends. The first has already been laid down — and, for the fortunate, lived through. The second lies ahead. Will it provide clarity? That depends on this uniquely curious moment, and where it leads.”  The Associated Press

 

Scholarship Updates 

 

Spring 2020 transcripts

As the spring 2020 term winds down for many students, please remember that we need an official copy of your transcript. The best way to submit it is via the student self-service portal here. If you need support logging into the portal, click on the “forgot password” link. Make sure to use your KAUST email address when resetting your password, as this is what is linked to portal account in the system.  If your university allows, you can also email your KGSP Advisor an eTranscript, and we will upload it for you!

 

Hotels – are they safe?

In recent advising calls, some students have raised questions about summer housing and the safety of booking hotels. As cited in this USA Today article, the American Hotel & Lodging Association unveiled its Safe Stay guidelines this month to protect guests. Most major hotel chains and some of the large vacation rental companies, like Airbnb and VRBO are also relaxing their cancellation policies to provide increased flexibility. As noted before, KGSP will work with you to ensure that you have continued housing, should you chose to remain in the U.S. or simply be unable to depart. You are encouraged to review the Program’s COVID-19 webpage, which includes all back-issues of the daily News Blast, as well as an FAQ section housing. Your KGSP Advisor is always available to answer questions!

 

KGSP News Blast Survey

Thank you to those of you who have responded to the KGSP News Blast Readership Frequency 60-second survey! We are in the process of analyzing the results and will update you in the coming days on any changes to COVID-19 communication structure or frequency.

 

_________________________________________

_________________________________________

Friday, May 8, 2020

KSA Updates

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Confirmed cases (14 and 2 within the KAUST and KGSP populations, respectively) have all since recovered, with the most recent case confirmed two weeks ago. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced 9,120 recoveries. The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 5.58

 

KAUST Research:  Shaheen II open to serve Kingdom’s COVID-19 research

The COVID-19 pandemic has imposed challenges across the globe that need to be solved using scientific discovery and innovation. In line with that, the KAUST Supercomputing Core Laboratory (KSL) has opened a call for proposals from across the Kingdom that require its supercomputer Shaheen II, as well as other cluster computing resources, to support research projects.

 

"COVID-19 and High Performance Computing" is the subject of a special session of the now virtualized International Supercomputing Conference held every June (normally in Frankfurt), according to Professor David Keyes, Director of KAUST's Extreme Computing Research Center, who is the Chair of ISC'20.

 

"Virtualizing the longest-running supercomputing conference, which would have drawn close to 4000 physical participants, is a first-in-a-lifetime challenge," says Keyes, "though virtualization may be hybridized into the norm for conferences from now on. We decided to reprogram part of the conference to address the very nemesis that sent it into cyberspace."  KAUST News


U.S Updates 

 

What you need to know today about COVID-19

Here are some of today’s top stories from the Associated Press, including the U.S. unemployment rate at the highest (14.7%) since the Great Depression, easing of stay-at-home orders across the county, an analysis of COVID-19 symptoms versus those of the flu, and a look back on VE day, 75 years ago today. 


Scholarship Updates

 

New personal development resources available for KGSP community

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, KAUST is committed to ensuing you have the resources you need to stay productive and well.

 

Personal Development Online Learning

Take a look at the selection of short videos that KAUST has commissioned from one of our learning partners, Emerge. You can find the videos on the Emerge website using this link.
  • Keeping Teams Motivated During Change
  • Managing My Guilt
  • Business As Usual
  • Feeling Valued
  • Managing My Energy
To log-in:
User name: KAUST Support
Password: kaust2020

Mindfulness Training

 

Meditate Together:  A virtual support group to help us stay calm during a time of great uncertainty, to give us an opportunity to support one another and stay connected.

 

  • Sessions days & times: Every Monday & Wednesday 4:00 PM to 4:20 PM KSA (April 27th to May 20th)
  • Facilitator: Sandra Katakalea, Head of Practice Talent Management
  • Join URL: https://kaust.zoom.us/j/98727551444
  • Meeting ID: 987-2755-1444

Online Recordings:  Emphasis on various areas of mindfulness and how to cultivate them as a foundational skill. These enable emotional awareness and interpersonal effectiveness.

 

_________________________________________

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Confirmed cases (14 and 2 within the KAUST and KGSP populations, respectively) have all since recovered. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced 6,783 recoveries. The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 5.6

 

KAUST Research:  How antibody testing can stem the spread of COVID-19

As part of the KAUST Rapid Response Research Team (R3T), Charlotte Hauser, professor of bioscience and chair of the bioengineering program within KAUST’s Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering (BESE) division, is working on developing immunodiagnostic antibody detection tests to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the viral strain that causes coronavirus disease.

 

Her research tackles rapid immunodiagnostic tests, which are useful measures for the detection, management and control of the increasing spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They utilize a technology called ELISA, which is based on serological testing, a diagnostic method used to recognize antibodies induced by the virus. The presence of the virus itself can also be detected using this technology, making it a powerful tool.

 

“Together with my research group I am working on developing a testing device in the form of a dipstick or a “lateral flow test” device similar to a pregnancy test," Hauser said. “This diagnostic test device should be both cost effective and easy to use." Read more here

 

U.S. Updates

 

Increase in frequency of US-to-KSA MOFA flights announced

The Saudi Arabian Embassy in the U.S. has announced that repatriation flight service will increase to a daily basis during this week for those that have registered though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ online portal.

 

As before, priority will be given to those with “with the most compelling reasons related to coronavirus. The embassy stated that about 3000 critical and emergency cases have already returned.  

 

 

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States Princess Rima bint Bandar discussed the plan for the upcoming next phase, which will include repatriation of foreign scholarship students and those residing in the United States

 

The embassy has reiterated that no one should not leave their residence until they receive the actual flight ticket reservation message through the portal.

 

The embassy also published an updated FAQ related to the repatriation process.


Scholarship Updates

 

Industrial enrichment opportunities continue to expand 

 

While the COVID-19 crisis continues, we are nevertheless seeing some exciting developments that could improve your summer experience. First, many companies are embracing virtual internships. As the USA Today notes, "Tech titans Google, Twitter, IBM, Microsoft and SAP are all planning virtual internships this summer as are financial powerhouses Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase". USA Today

 

In addition to meeting regularly with your KGSP advisor about your enrichment plan, make sure you are signed up with your university’s career services website—most have posted detailed advice about internship searching / opportunities within the COVID-19 context, like this article from UC Berkeley, “The Job and internship Search in Turbulent Times.” Similarly, the National Association of Colleges and Employers recommend these six ways to maximize your career development

  1. Update your resume. It is essential that you make your resume the best it can be—and now is a great time to do it. Identify your personal brand and strongest selling points. Highlight your unique accomplishments and transferrable skills. Optimize your resume with keywords and customize it each time you apply to a different position or company.
  2. Create a professional online presence (and clean up your personal social media accounts). As part of the hiring process today, many employers check a candidate’s online presence to learn more about them. This may be even more prevalent in the COVID-19 climate with employers having limited access to candidates in person.  Take this opportunity to establish a professional online brand that you would be proud for prospective employers to see.
  3. Build new skills. In today’s digital age, it’s possible to learn almost anything through the internet. Use your extra time at home to build new skills that can get you ahead in your career.
  4. Practice virtual interviewing. In the wake of COVID-19, many companies have changed recruiting strategies to reduce or eliminate in-person interactions—so be prepared to take your next interview digitally.
  5. Cultivate your professional network. Social distancing doesn’t mean that you have to put networking on hold. In fact, this might be an ideal time to cultivate professional relationships, with most people having extra time at home and a need to interact with others. 
  6. Get help from your career center. You don’t have to do this alone! Although not physically on campus, your school’s career center staff is available to support you remotely. 

_________________________________________

Monday, May 4, 2020

 

KSA Updates 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases remains at 14 (all recovered) for KAUST, and two (both recovered) among the KGSP population. 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 4,476 confirmed cases have since now recovered. The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 5.4

Saudi Arabia’s G-20 Presidency emphasizes importance of unifying international efforts in combatting COVID-19

(Click image to open hyperlink)

Daily Brief Pic 5.4 2

KAUST to host Science Twenty (S20)

Since 2017, the scientific community has been included in the dialogue of the Group of Twenty (G20) as an independent Engagement Group called Science Twenty (S20). The S20 supports the G20 by fostering an official dialogue with the scientific community, with a core purpose of presenting policymakers with consensus-based recommendations for the chosen topics of interest. These science-driven recommendations are formulated through task forces comprising international experts.

 Under Saudi Araba’s G20 presidency in 2020, this year’s S20 will be hosted by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), under the chairmanship of Dr. Anas Alfaris of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). Read more here

 The overall theme for this year's S20 is Foresight: Science for Navigating Critical Transitions, exploring how science can be used as a tool to guide humanity through critical global transitions. The theme aims to synthesize Saudi Arabia's G20 Presidency agenda and its Vision 2030 into an international exemplary dialogue – with topics that have a strong impact on the world's economic, societal and environmental stability. The S20 held a virtual information session on April 23 to discuss the event’s topics and structure, the webinar of which can viewed here

Reminder: Free access to thousands of publications through KAUST library

As finals approach, are you tired of attempting to access an article or journal paper, only to find it behind a paywall? As a member of the KAUST community, you have access of hundreds databases of academic and popular journals, newspapers, ebooks, textbooks, and periodicals—even from off-campus. Visit the library’s guide and sign in using your KAUST username and password (as you would your email account). Happy reading!

The KAUST Entrepreneurship Center presents: Creativity in Crisis

Daily Brief Pic 5.4 3

Tuesday, May 5, 2020
10:00 p.m. (KSA)
On
 Zoom 

The KAUST Entrepreneurship Center’s Resilience Series continues with a new topic: Creativity in Crisis. We’ll explore:    

  • How can we embed an innovation culture into our teams?
  • Can managers teach their employees the mindset of resilience?
  • What do innovative teams look like?

REGISTER HERE


U.S. Updates

How will colleges recover from coronavirus?

Campuses that survived disasters offer clue s NBC News

(Right-click to open hyperlink)

Daily Brief Pic 5.4 4

Scholarship Updates 

Enrichment Plans due today!

Remember that today is the deadline to complete you initial enrichment plan survey! Reach to you advisor with any questions.   

This week’s Photo Contest:  Social distancing life hacks

On this first week of May, most of us have now endured nearly two months of remote learning, social distancing, closed shops, limited outdoors time…and deciding that one more episode of Tiger King never hurt anybody. 

How are you passing the time? What ways have you discovered to help keep your spirits up?  Send us your most fun and imaginative tips (photos or written descriptions) and the best submissions will be published here, and each receive a $20 Amazon gift card!

_________________________________________

Friday, May 1, 2020

KSA Updates

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases remains at 14 (all recovered) for KAUST, and two (one recovered) among the KGSP population. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 3555 confirmed cases have since now recovered. The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 5.1

 

Saudi Arabia to carry out community testing to curb COVID-19

“The Saudi Ministry of Health will begin introducing community testing surveys. Mass testing occurs in areas where previous infections have been reported, to relieve the spike in cases and stop further cases from arising. As needed, this will be conducted in an organized manner through scheduled screening appointments across the Kingdom. Stated one medical professional, ‘We know that prevention is the gold standard in the management of the pandemic on both national and international fronts. As many infected people do not show any signs or symptoms of the illness in the so-called period of incubation, these people are especially responsible for the spread of the disease, and they are the ones screening tests are done (for) in a susceptible population.’”  Arab News

 

Shining a light on the SARS-CoV-2 virus

“As the world grapples with the challenge of containing the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and healthcare professionals on the front lines battle the COVID-19 pandemic, KAUST scientists are hard at work studying the deadly virus to find solutions.

 

The KAUST Pathogen Genomics Laboratory (PGL), which is led by principal investigator Professor Arnab Pain, focuses on using high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing-based methods and other functional genomic technologies to understand the biology and genomic diversity of pathogens that have a significant impact on human and animal health. Pain and his group are an integral part of the University's Rapid Research Response Team (R3T), which supports the Kingdom's healthcare stakeholders in combating the spread of COVID-19. Pain and Sharif Hala, one of his group's Ph.D. students, have been diligently setting up partnerships with the Saudi-CDC and several Ministry of Health (MoH) hospitals in Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah to facilitate the genome sequencing and bioinformatics analysis of a large collection of Saudi SARS-CoV-2 samples.

 

Says Pain: "As part of R3T, myself and my colleagues are trying to do as much as we can—using our expertise and the technologies we have access to—to come up with various potential solutions to help research and also provide some real assistance in the early detection and monitoring of this virus." 

KAUST News

U.S. Updates 

 

How will coronavirus change the way we live?

“A return to how life was at the start of 2020 is some way off. Even when lockdown restrictions are eased, coronavirus will affect our lives in many ways. What will struggle to get back to how it was before, and what might change forever?  BBC News

 

Expected changes to social distancing measures, by State

“It’s been six weeks since the first stay-at-home orders were announced in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged the country with more than a million known cases and more than 60,000 deaths. Nearly two months since the social distancing measures began, certain states are slowly starting to reopen their economies in late April and the beginning of May. See here how and when your state will begin the reopening process.”  NBC News


Scholarship Updates 

 

Photo Contest Winner:  Renad Bougis, KGSP Senior from Virginia Tech!

Our congratulations to Renad Bougis, winner of last week’s photo contest showing how students are staying connected and celebrating the holy month of Ramadan in this new normal. Renad’s message to the KGSP community is both timely and a wonderful reflection of the values this time of year represent: 

 

Ramadan is a very special time for me and I always like to make the best out of these times even if I am not with my family.  My way of celebrating this year is still decorating the house, and making the recipes we used to have at home—today I made the traditional Hijazi iftar that my family and I always have, and it made feel much better.

 

I think this social distancing time gives us the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and focus on praying and worshiping, instead of focusing on social gatherings. And that is my intention this month.  Wishing you all the best. Stay safe and Ramadan Mubark ♥

Daily Brief Pic 5.1 2Daily Brief Pic 5.1 3

This week’s Photo Contest:  Social distancing life hacks

On this first day of May, most of us have now endured nearly two months of remote learning, social distancing, closed shops, limited outdoors time…and deciding that one more episode of Tiger King never hurt anybody. 

 

How are you passing the time? What ways have you discovered to help keep your spirits up? Send us your most fun and imaginative tips (photos or written descriptions) and the best submissions will be published here, and each receive a $20 Amazon gift card!

 

_________________________________________

Monday, April 27, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases remains at 13 (12 recovered) for KAUST, and two (one recovered) among the KGSP population. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 2531 confirmed cases have since now recovered. The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 4.27

 

Kingdom’s Curfew Readjusted

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has issued an order to partially lift the Kingdom’s curfews between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. from April 26th through May 13th, though the 24-hour lockdowns remain in place in the city of Mecca and those neighborhoods previously put in isolation to curb the spread of COVID-19.  The royal order also allowed some economic and commercial activities to re-start, including wholesale and retail shops and shopping malls, from Wednesday until May 13.  Activities which do not allow for physical distancing (salons, restaurants, etc.) will remain closed, and social gatherings may not exceed five people.  Reuters

 

Save the Date:  COVID-19 Part II Sci-Café this Wednesday

Daily Brief Pic 4.27 2

Watch by tuning in to the KAUST Official Facebook page or YouTube channel.   Note time above is for KSA—the broadcast will begin 9am EST.

U.S. Updates 

 

What you need to know today about COVID-19

Here are some of today’s top stories from the Associated Press, including an analysis of the balancing act between stay-at-home orders and economic recovery, a new push for mail-in voting, and an update on the Tokyo Olympics. 

 

Expanded COVID-19 Symptoms from CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its list of possible symptoms for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Its updated page now includes six additional items in addition to the original three (fever, cough, shortness of breath) that have long been seen as crucial warning signs. Here’s the full list:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

As always, call your health care provider if you believe you are experiencing any of the above.  Fast Company

 

Scholarship Updates 

 

Securing Summer Enrichment

Universities across the U.S. are reporting an increasing number of student internship offers being canceled or moved online due to COVID-19, presenting a real challenge to students who rely on these opportunities for critical practical experience in their chosen field.  Luckily, the KGSP has opportunities in place to ensure that this does not become a “lost summer” for you, with hundreds of remote options available to grow your resume—you can even propose your own enrichment plan!  Talk to your advisor today about next steps.   

 

Photo Contest:  How are you are celebrating Ramadan this year?

Ramadan Mubarak!  This year’s holy month of Ramadan is surely unlike one we’ve ever before experienced.  Maybe you’re breaking fast with your roommate, performing taraweeh prayers at home, or making Iftar dinner over Zoom with your family back in Saudi Arabia? 

 

Send us a high-res photo of how you are staying connected and celebrating in this new normal, for publication in next week’s News Blast and on the KGSP website—the 10 best submissions will receive a $20 Amazon gift card! 

 

_________________________________________

Friday, April 24, 2020

KSA Updates 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases remains at 12 (10 recovered) for KAUST, and two (one recovered) among the KGSP population. 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 2049 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

(Click to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 4.24

Saudi G20 presidency calls for increased contributions to COVID-19 global fight

The Saudi presidency of the G20 major called for more urgent donations to fund the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Donations currently equal $1.9 billion (of which Saudi Arabia as pledged $500 million) but remain far below the $8 billion target set by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board.  Said the Kingdom’s G20 Sherpa Fahad Almubara, “Global challenges demand global solutions and this is our time to stand and support the race for a vaccine and other therapeutic measures to combat COVID-19.” Read the full statement hereArab News

Ramadan Mubarak from KAUST President Tony Chan

Ramadan Mubarak
U.S Updates

What you need to know today about COVID-19

Here are some of the Associated Press’ top stories from Friday on the world’s coronavirus pandemic, including updates on reopening efforts and unemployment, a new stimulus package, and the importance of only using disinfectants for their intended purposes

 …and the things to know today that aren’t about the virus

Feeling COVID-19 info overload?  This article summarizes other late-breaking news, upcoming events, and the stories being talked about today.   

Or perhaps you need some news from even further afield?  To mark the occasion of the Hubble Space Telescope’s 30 years of orbit around the Earth, visualization specialists at Baltimore’s Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) have today released a special "3D scientific visualization" of two nebulas that lie within the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite-galaxy of the Milky Way.  This article provides a fascinating description on how new visualization techniques were used to create a 3-D representation of nearly 13 billion years of cosmic evolution from just a single image taken by Hubble.

Galaxy

Scholarship Updates 

Show us how you are celebrating Ramadan this year, and win a prize!

Ramadan Mubarak!  This year’s holy month of Ramadan is surely unlike one we’ve ever before experienced.  Maybe you’re breaking fast with your roommate, performing taraweeh prayers at home, or making Iftar dinner over Zoom with your family back in Saudi Arabia? 

Send us a high-res photo of how you are staying connected and celebrating in this new normal, for publication in next week’s News Blast and on the KGSP website—the 10 best submissions will receive a $20 Amazon gift card! 

_________________________________________

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases remains at 12 (10 recovered) for KAUST, and two (one recovered) among the KGSP population. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 1812 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

Daily Brief Pic 4.22

 

COVID-19 Research at KAUST and the COVID-19 portal 

As described in the April 2020 KAUST Beacon published today, KAUST has assembled a group of faculty and researchers to form the Rapid Research Response Team (R3T). Led by Donal Bradley, KAUST Vice President for Research, and Pierre Magistretti, KAUST Dean of the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering division, this team is focused on the development of rapid diagnostic platforms, genomic analysis of the virus and bioinformatic tools to help track the spread and evolution of COVID-19.   For more on this story and other COVID-19 news please visit the new COVID-19 portal and KAUST news stories.

 

U.S. Updates

 

Wait - when was the first case of COVID-19 in the US?

As doctors, scientists, and researchers assess the COVID-19 response, new questions about the arrival of the virus in the US have been raised today. As the New York Times points out, COVID-19 could have reached the US in January 2020 or even a bit earlier than that. "That is a very significant finding," Dr. Ashish K. Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told CNN. Understanding the timeline of the virus is an important step in making sure that our response is effective.

 

Celebrating Earth Day during COVID-19

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in the US. The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. As the US celebrates today, there are reports of significant improvements in air quality due to the impact of business closures, stay-at-home orders, and fewer cars on the road – an unexpected silver lining of COVID-19!

Scholarship Updates

 

If you’re a senior, it is important to understand how your F-1 student status will change after you graduate this spring

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security and SEVIS have made certain accommodations to address the COVID-19 crisis. If you have questions about your F-1 student status, it is important to discuss these with your International Student Advisor, as policies are changing regularly.
  • Generally, you have a 60-day grace period after your graduation date to leave the US or transfer your I-20 to a new university. If you have been accepted to KAUST, no action is needed from you!
  • If you have questions about your F-1 student status or need guidance on who to contact at your university, your KGSP Advisor can help.

Enjoying Nature on Earth Day 2020

Since it’s Earth Day, we wanted to share a list of nature-focused films that will make you feel like you’re outside - even though you’re not! 

 

_________________________________________

Monday, April 20, 2020

Over the past month, KGSP has shared a Daily News Blast of critical COVID-19 updates from Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and the Scholarship.  We remain acutely aware that the crisis is by no means over.  Indeed, the individual responsibility of strict adherence to preventative measures is now heightened by the importance of giving scientists the time they need to discover a vaccine, cure, or other significant mitigation breakthrough.

As we move into this more “steady state” of crisis management, however, and with the availability of KGSP’s new COVID-19 website, starting today we will transition to sending the News Blast three times a week—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—while continuing to send immediate notifications of any urgent news or updates as necessary. As always, never hesitate to reach out to your advisor with any questions or concerns.

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases remains at 12 (10 recovered) for KAUST, and two (one recovered) among the KGSP population. 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 1490 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 4.20

COVID-19 Updates from the Minister of Health Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah

(Click to open hyperlink)

Daily Brief Pic 4.20 2

Read more here

U.S. Updates

When will a second wave of the coronavirus hit, and what will it look like?

“Even before the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course, scientists are worried about the unknown extent of a possible second wave of the disease, as so many crucial pieces of information remain missing:  Are people who've had COVID-19 immune, and how long does immunity last? Will the virus be effected by the weather, as is influenza and the common cold?  Until there’s a vaccine, ‘it’s unfortunately not unlikely that we may see a second wave or even a third wave,’ said Peter Marks, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, which oversees vaccines.” USA Today

Scholarship Updates

Questions on Repatriation Flights, Travel Guidelines, & Housing Assistance

As the end of the academic term approaches, KGSP is receiving an uptick in questions about return travel and related issues.  The Program’s position, guidelines, and support services offered have not changed since the beginning of this crisis, and are reiterated here:

  • In accordance with multiple international and national recommendations and advisories, the KGSP advices against all travel, as doing so dramatically increases your likelihood of both infection and transmission. 
  • Students who wish to travel regardless are free to do so at their own risk and responsibility, which the Program will not penalize. 
  • KGSP has published regular and extensive updates regarding the repatriation flights and process, which is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and which sets its own booking prioritization.  Entities outside of MoFA (including KAUST) cannot block or reserve seats on those flights. 
  • KGSP will work with you to ensure that you have continued housing, should you chose to remain in the U.S. or simply be unable to depart. 
  • You are encouraged to review the Program’s COVID-19 webpage, which includes all back-issues of the daily News Blast, as well as an FAQ section that covers travel, housing, academics, summer enrichment, senior-status issues, and health/well-being questions.  These topics are all covered therein.
  • Please reach out to your advisor if you have any questions

 

Virginia Unkefer

My Excellent COVID-19 Adventure

Virginia Unkefer, one of the 12 KAUST community members who tested positive for COVID-19, recently recovered. In this personal narrative, Virginia opens her heart to tell about her adventure, including swab tests at KAUST Health, stays at two Jeddah hospitals, and isolation in a Jeddah hotel room. She describes her symptoms and her long journey back to good health and KAUST. Ever wonder what happens to positive cases once detected at KAUST? Read Virginia's account of her COVID-19 adventure,

_________________________________________

Friday, April 17, 2020

UPDATE

Over the past month, KGSP has shared a Daily News Blast of critical COVID-19 updates from Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and the Scholarship.  We remain acutely aware that the crisis is by no means over.  Indeed, the individual responsibility of strict adherence to preventative measures is now heightened by the importance of giving scientists the time they need to discover a vaccine, cure, or other significant mitigation breakthrough.

 

As we move into this more “steady state” of crisis management, however, and with the availability of KGSP’s new COVID-19 website, we will transition to sending the News Blast three times a week—Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—while continuing to send immediate notifications of any urgent news or updates as necessary.   As always, never hesitate to reach out to your advisor with any questions or concerns.

 

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases remains at 12 (8 recovered) for KAUST, and two among the KGSP population. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 1049 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily news briefs 4.17

 

Prayers Likely to Be Performed at Home

In light of the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has explained Taraweeh and Eid prayers may be performed at home due to precautionary measures taken to combat the spread of COVID-19.  Saudi Press Agency

 

U.S. Updates

 

White House unveils phased guidelines for states’ reopening

President Donald Trump has offered governors guidance on reopening state economies in the coming months, outlining three phases of at least 14 days each to gradually ease their lockdowns.  The recommendations are optional, with each governor having control over how and when their state will implement easement. 

 

  • Phase one:  Large venues such as restaurants, places of worship and sports venues may be able to operate under strict physical distancing protocols, though current measures such as avoiding non-essential travel and not gathering in groups remain in place.
  • Phase two:  Assuming no resurgence of the coronavirus, non-essential travel may resume and schools may reopen with social distancing protocols.
  • Phase three:  Assuming non-resurgence and a downward trend of symptoms and cases, "public interactions" with physical distancing and the unrestricted staffing of worksites may be allowed, including visits to care homes and hospitals.

Some recommendations remain constant across all three phases including good personal hygiene and employers developing policies to ensure social distancing, testing and contact tracing.  The guidelines in full can be seen here.   BBC News


Scholarship Updates 

 

Combating Decision Fatigue

If you are feeling tired or irritable lately, decision fatigue could be the culprit! After all, we are constantly asking ourselves questions and making decisions.   Before COVID-19, the academic study of decision fatigue focused almost entirely on consumer spending because we are driven by emotional, social and cognitive factors when making economic decisions. Which pair of shoes should I buy? There are so many to choose from!   But now, what does decision fatigue look like and how does it impact us?  

 

Decision fatigue refers to our weakened ability to make sound decisions after a long session of decision making, and COVID-19 has introduced so many new questions. Is it safe to order takeout? Do I need to sanitize my groceries? How long does the virus last on surfaces? Should I wear a mask? Is this cough due to allergies or am I getting sick with COVID-19?  This Life Hacker article recommends that, if you’re starting to feel decision fatigue, find news sources that you trust and be gentle on yourself. We are all in this together!

 

_________________________________________

Thursday, April 16, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases for KAUST increased today to 12 (8 recovered), and remain at two among the KGSP population. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 990 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 4.17

 

Saudi Arabia’s timely and cautious measures to promote the safety of all

“‘Saudi Arabia acted, not reacted, to the pandemic…There were combined efforts from multiple government entities to test, treat and contain — all essential elements in coping with pandemics,’ states Dr. Reem bint Mansour Al-Saud in an interview with Arab News.  As a member of Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Delegation to the UN and expert in sustainable development, she also highlights the important role of women, who comprise the majority of caregivers and dominate the global informal economy, in combating the global crisis in healthcare and social sectors. ” 


U.S. Updates

 

What you need to know about the coronavirus right now

It can be overwhelming to try to keep up with all the news related to COVID-19. Check out Reuters’ 4-minute read, summarizing key national and international updates for today.

 

America's 'new normal' will be anything but ordinary

“As the United States combats the coronavirus pandemic, the timeline for reopening the country in a bid to jump start the economy remains unclear. But dramatic changes to daily life are coming into view.  Read here on how life could change as states consider modifying stay-at-home orders and other restrictions.”  CNN

 

The Week the music stopped

Rolling Stone explores the unprecedented crisis COVID-19 has brought on within the music industry, and looks at how it—and the artists it supports—may be forever changed. 


Scholarship Updates 

 

Eating for Health

Staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic presents different challenges for everyone. We have seen some students abandon their healthy eating habits and snack on convenience foods, or skip meals entirely. It is very important to eat well, especially now. What you choose to put in your body can have a dramatic impact on your body’s ability to fight off illness.

 

  • For example, oranges, nuts, and leafy greens are proven to boost immunity. Fatty fish like wild Alaskan salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids. This study on medical students in 2011 highlighted that Omega-3s helped reduce the students’ anxiety and depression.

If you’re unsure how to get back on track, this New York Times article has easy tips on how to make changes to your eating habits and diet.  Or check out this CNN article outlining nutritious and delicious foods that can improve your frame of mind while helping you avoid the #quarantine15 and other related health issues.

 

KGSP Website:  COVID-19 Information

We are pleased to announce the publication of a COVID-19 tab on the KGSP website, which houses important information on the Program’s response to the crisis.  Here you may find all previous News Blasts, messages from KAUST leadership, tips on staying health and managing your academic coursework remotely, and a regularly-update FAQ (based on the recent KGSP Town Hall).  You are encouraged to check the website regularly, as well as share with family members who have questions. 

 

(Click image to open)

website pic

 

_________________________________________

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

KSA Updates 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.   The number of confirmed cases for KAUST remains at 11 (7 recovered), and two among the KGSP population. 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country:  Saudi Arabia has announced that 931 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  Today, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health explained that within the Kingdom, approximately 70% to 75% of currently confirmed COVID19-infected cases have mild symptoms, 20% require medical care outside of the IC, and 5% to 10% of the cases are considered very critical.

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief Pic 4.15

KAUST experts join MOH-funded research team to help find COVID-19 vaccine

On Tuesday, funding for a major scientific initiative to help find a vaccine for COVID-19 was announced.  A team of 33 top Saudi scientists and researchers has been assembled for this new Ministry of Health program, studying the genetics behind the virus and take part in global efforts to develop a cure.  KAUST’s own Dr. Arnab Pain is leading the pathogen genomics part of the work, along with his KAUST colleagues Dr. Fathia Ben Rached, Dr. Amit Subudhi, Sara Mfarrej, and Dr. Qingtian Guan.  Arab News

Learn more about how KAUST faculty are tackling the challenges of COVID-19, here.

U.S. Updates 

An MIT team takes a hands-on approach to fighting coronavirus

“A team of 100 from MIT helped create a face shield for health care workers from cheap, accessible materials. A factory is now making 100,000 a day” NBC News

(Right-click to open hyperlink)

Daily Brief Pic 2.15 2

Scholarship Updates 

Additional wellness support made available for KGSP students

To effectively combat the direct and indirect consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, the Program understands the importance of maintaining a strong state of mental wellbeing, just as you do your physical health.  To that end, KGSP students now have access to a full range of wellness support services offered to KAUST community members, completely free of charge and independent of insurance provider!

Virtual Health and Wellness Sessions

Taught by physicians, certified corporate wellness specialists, and health coaches, these webinars cover a wide range of topics related to successfully coping with the COVID-19 situation:

  • COVID-19 latest information
  • Pandemic lifestyle information
  • Life under quarantine - What to expect
  • Pandemics and Wellness - Holistic health optimization
  • Stress management and coping mechanisms for our new circumstances
  • Q&A session

To register, please visit Corona Virus Lifestyle Preparedness Webinar, and a zoom link will then be sent out to you

1:1 Health Coaching

The Jeddah-based group Delta Wellness provide free one-on-one health coaching sessions, designed to optimize an individual's health based on their unique needs and goals. To find out more about this program or to register click 1:1 Health Coaching Form   and the coach will contact you directly for a one-hour virtual session. 

Note:  To register for either of the above, please be sure to use your KAUST email address.  The KAUST ID field is optional, and you may leave it blank. 

Preparing for a different kind of finals

Most KGSP students are going through midterm and finals season without access to on-campus resources such as library study rooms, computer labs and in-person study groups. With little time for universities to adjust, many exams have become online and open-book. Here are a few tips to ace your next open-book exam:

 

  • Make sure that you’ve completed your readings and homework in advance. Having an open-book exam does not mean that you can avoid studying!
  • Review your lecture notes for general themes. As you review, make sure to cross reference those themes with any topics in your readings.
  • Write down important formulas or concepts that you’ve covered in class.
  • Practice with your friends (and compare notes!) Your classmates may have remembered to write down something you forgot, and vice versa.

KGSP Website:  COVID-19 Information

We are pleased to announce the publication of a COVID-19 tab on the KGSP website, which houses important information on the Program’s response to the crisis.  Here you may find all previous News Blasts, messages from KAUST leadership, tips on staying health and managing your academic coursework remotely, and a regularly-updated FAQ (based on the recent KGSP Town Hall).  You are encouraged to check the website often, as well as share with family members who have questions. 

(Right-click to open)

website pic

_________________________________________

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The number of confirmed cases for KAUST increased today to 11 (7 recovered), and remain at two among the KGSP population. 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 889 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

(Click image to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

daily brief pic 4.14

MOH Self-Assessment tool  

For those currently in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Health has introduced a self-assessment app for those feeling ill, which provided early detection for more than 40 infected cases early with a simple 6-step/question process. 

(Click image to play)

daily brief pic 4.14 2Scholarship Updates

Additional wellness support made available for KGSP students

To effectively combat the direct and indirect consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, the Program is acutely aware that maintaining a strong state of mental wellbeing is just as critical as your physical health.  To that end, KGSP students now have access to a full range of wellness support services offered to KAUST community members, offered completely free of charge and independent of your insurance provider!

Virtual Health and Wellness Sessions

These webinars cover a wide range of topics related to successfully coping with the COVID-19 situation, and are taught by healthcare professionals including physicians, certified corporate wellness specialists, and health coaches. To register, please visit Corona Virus Lifestyle Preparedness Webinar, and a zoom link will then be sent out to you.  The webinars cover:

  • COVID-19 latest information
  • Pandemic lifestyle preparedness
  • Life under quarantine - What to expect
  • Pandemics and Wellness - Holistic health optimization
  • Stress management and coping mechanisms for our new circumstances
  • Q&A session

1:1 Health Coaching

These one-hour free and individual health coaching sessions are provided by the Jeddah-based group Delta Wellness, and are designed to optimize an individual's health based on their unique needs and goals. To find out more about this program or to register click 1:1 Health Coaching Form and the coach will contact you directly for a virtual session. 

Note:  To register for either of the above, please use your KAUST email address.  The KAUST ID field is optional, and you may leave it blank. 

What makes a great leader in a time of crisis?

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 13 moon landing, Fast Company explores the lessons learned from this fateful voyage, and how today’s leaders can apply them to overcome the exceedingly daunting public health, economic, societal, and technological challenges of the coronavirus.

KGSP Website:  COVID-19 Information

We are pleased to announce the publication of a COVID-19 tab on the KGSP website, which houses important information on the Program’s response to the crisis.  Here you may find all previous News Blasts, messages from KAUST leadership, tips on staying health and managing your academic coursework remotely, and a regularly-update FAQ (based on the recent KGSP Town Hall).  You are encouraged to check the website regularly, as well as share with family members who have questions. 

(Right-click to open)

website pic

Listen in to KAUST’s ScienceTown Podcast

Scientists are racing to understand the mechanisms of transmission, the most effective testing methods, and how we can all cope with the COVID-19 crisis. In this episode, we talk to a Saudi doctoral student about the highs and lows of sample collection, and we get an insider’s look into the AI that just might give clinicians a leg up in the fight against the virus.

_________________________________________

 

Monday, April 13, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.   The number of confirmed cases for KAUST remains at 10 (7 recovered), and two among the KGSP population. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 805 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief pic 4.13

Ministry of Health Press Conference 

Today’s press conference by the Ministry of Health provided an overview of COVID-19 cases within Saudi Arabia, and provided additional details and resources for how to stay safe by using technology, including a self-assessment app for those feeling ill, and CITC-verified online food delivery services. 

4.13 Pic

U.S Updates 

Experts explore how and when lockdown easement could occur

Since January, more than 560,000 people in the U.S. have been confirmed as having contracted coronavirus, including 20,000 deaths.  Experts are now cautiously optimistic that national efforts to flatten the curve are beginning to show signs of early success: Both the number of daily deaths and daily infections declined for two consecutive days on Saturday and Sunday.  As states begin to think about how to ease stay-at-home orders, epidemiologists are highlighting the importance of a methodical—and likely locally-driven—“test and trace” process that will avoid undoing the gained good of previous self-distancing and lockdown orders.   CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said on Monday that, “There's no doubt that we have to reopen correctly,” on NBC’s “TODAY” Show. “It's going to be a step-by-step, gradual process. It's got to be data-driven…and I think it would be community-by-community, county-by-county.”

 

Scholarship Updates 

 

KGSP Website:  COVID-19 Information

We are pleased to announce the publication of a COVID-19 tab on the KGSP website, which houses important information on the Program’s response to the crisis.  Here you may find all previous News Blasts, messages from KAUST leadership, tips on staying health and managing your academic coursework remotely, and a regularly-update FAQ (based on the recent KGSP Town Hall).  You are encouraged to check the website regularly, as well as share with family members who have questions. 

 

(Click to open)

website pic

 

Why remote work makes people less productive, and what to do about it

Wondering why studying from home feels so much harder, or why your motivation to complete projects has taken a dip?  Behavioral economist Kristen Berman expands upon the key role of accountability, and how you can incorporate it into your new study habits.  While primarily from the standpoint of employees, not students, the insights shared are applicable to us all. 

 

_________________________________________

Friday, April 10, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Both KAUST and KGSP continue to monitor and support the progress of positive cases, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.   The number of confirmed cases for KAUST remains at 10 (7 recovered), and two among the KGSP population. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 685 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click on image, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/)

Daily Brief pic 4.10

 

Repatriation Process for Saudi Citizens Abroad--Extended

On the directive of King Salman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened on Sunday an online platform to register the requests of Saudi citizens currently aboard who wish to return to the Kingdom.  The deadline to register with the platform has been extended until April 14, 2020.  All those who return will be subject to quarantine in a designated Jeddah, Dammam, or Riyadh location for 14 days.  

 

Priority will be given to those at higher risk of infection (the elderly, pregnant women, etc.), those with special needs or emergency health conditions, and those with previously-cancelled tickets.

 

Registration is available here https://www.mofa.gov.sa/es, and questions directed to +966 11 224 9701. 

 

This is an evolving situation with more details being released on an ongoing basis.  Please continue check the relevant websites and twitter accounts for most current information, as well as this FAQ.  See below for scholarship-specific guidance related to this announcement. 

Scholarship Updates

 

KGSP Website:  COVID-19 Information

We are pleased to announce the publication of a COVID-19 tab on the KGSP website, which houses important information on the Program’s response to the crisis.  Here you may find all previous News Blasts, messages from KAUST leadership, tips on staying health and managing your academic coursework remotely, and a regularly-update FAQ (based on the recent KGSP Town Hall).  You are encouraged to check the website regularly, as well as share with family members who have questions. 

(Click to open)

website pic

Taking your courses Pass/Fail

SACM has announced that students who are given the option by their home university to take courses pass/fail, may choose to do so.   As KGSP students, you are also expected to follow the KGSP’s guidelines for pursuing a pass/fail option:

  1. If the decision to issue grades as pass/fail is decided for you by your university or individual professor, KGSP will abide by that (i.e., it’s not a choice you made).
  2. If the pass/fail option is available as a choice (i.e., it is not a decision made for all students/classes by the individual professor or by your university), you must first request to do so with the KGSP, as always.  Barring special circumstances, the Program will only approve a move to Pass/Fail if doing so: 
    1. Doesn't affect you graduation timeline;
    2. It is in a non-STEM class (changed from non-major)
    3. Without moving to pass/fail, you will receive a C or lower

Please see the April 6 KGSP News Blast for further SACM academic policy announcements, or ask your advisor

Guidance on repatriation option

It remains the Program’s recommendation to avoid all travel, as it dramatically increases the likelihood of both COVID-19 infection and spread.  This remains, however, an individual decision.   If you chose to return to Saudi Arabia despite this recommendation, you assume the associated risks and responsibilities; while you will not be penalized from a programmatic standpoint, you must ensure that doing so will not jeopardize your ability to continue studies in the U.S. This includes:

  • Will departing the U.S impact requirements or repercussions relating to:
    • You university enrollment
    • Your U.S. visa status
    • Your SACM enrollment
  • If your online classes are live, will you be able to continue attending them at those times in Saudi Arabia
  • Do you have sufficient internet connectivity at your location in Saudi Arabia to remain fully engaged in you online coursework and responsibilities
  • How you will continue to make payments for your current U.S.-based accommodations
  • Are you prepared for the 14 days of quarantine upon arrival

It is critical that you notify your advisor if you plan to travel—even if the decision is last-minute—and provide your travel itinerary.  KGSP must maintain an accurate summary of student locations in order to best support you.    Remember that remaining in touch with KGSP while you study remotely will be very important as this situation progresses. 

 

The Three Equations for a Happy Life, Even During a Pandemic

How to Build a Life” is a new column that aims to give you the tools you need to construct a life that feels whole and meaningful.  It’s written by Arthur C. Brooks, who teaches Happiness at Harvard Business School (yes, really).  In his first dispatch, Brooks takes a mathematical approach, outlining three equations for a happy life—“equations that, in my opinion, you need to know to start managing your own happiness more proactively.” The Atlantic

 

Let your creativity shine!

It can be hard to be creative when you’re in classes full-time, you have social commitments, and other ongoing priorities. While the whole world has slowed down because of COVID-19, your recent solitude may be just what your creativity needs to thrive! We loved this article about how important art is right now, even if art isn’t exactly your thing: Now is a great time to make some mediocre art.  

Please note that there will be no News Blasts sent this weekend, April 11 – 12.  They will resume on Monday!

 

_________________________________________

Thursday, April 9, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

KAUST continues to keep in touch and monitor the progress of the three new positive KAUST cases transferred to nominated facilities in Jeddah, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.   The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 666 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa//)

 

Daily brief 4.9 pic


U.S. Updates 

 

US coronavirus deaths pass 14,000, but future projections are better than expected

Even though Wednesday was another day that brought a record number of deaths reported from coronavirus in the United States, there was a glimmer of hope as models now have less dire forecasts for the total number of fatalities the country will see by the time the pandemic subsides.  NBC News

Daily Brief 4.9 pic 2
 Scholarship Updates

 

Taking your courses Pass/Fail

Yesterday, SACM announced that students who are given the option by their home university to take courses pass/fail, may choose to do so.   As KGSP students, you are also expected to follow the KGSP’s guidelines for pursuing a pass/fail option:

  1. If the decision to issue grades as pass/fail is decided for you by your university or individual professor, KGSP will abide by that (i.e., it’s not a choice you made).
  2. If the pass/fail option is available as a choice (i.e., it is not a decision made for all students/classes by the individual professor or by your university), you must first request to do so with the KGSP, as always.  Barring special circumstances, the Program will only approve a move to Pass/Fail if doing so: 
    1. Doesn't affect you graduation timeline;
    2. It is in a non-STEM class (changed from non-major)
    3. Without moving to pass/fail, you will receive a C or lower

Please see the April 6 KGSP News Blast for further SACM academic policy announcements, or ask your advisor

There is Good News out there!

Unfortunately, distressing news regarding the virus is hard to avoid. But, if you’re looking for some news sources that are focusing on the positive, here are a few we like:

  • Inspire More: It has good news, inspiring tips, and is updated daily. Check this site often!
  • John Krasinski’s recently launched YouTube show is inspiring people to send in uplifting true stories during the coronavirus pandemic using #SomeGoodNews.
  • The Good News Network: Good News Network is an American online newspaper which publishes positive and uplifting news stories. They have a great selection of international and world news.

_________________________________________

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

KAUST continues to keep in touch and monitor the progress of the three new positive KAUST cases transferred to nominated facilities in Jeddah, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.   The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 631 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click image to open, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa//)

Daily brief pic 4.8

 

FAQs about the 24-Hour Curfew

The Saudi government announced Monday evening that the ongoing curfew has been extended to 24-hours in nine additional parts of the Kingdom.  Click here if you are currently living in Saudi Arabia and have questions. 

 

Repatriation Process for Saudi Citizens Abroad 

On the directive of King Salman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened on Sunday an online platform to register the requests of Saudi citizens currently aboard who wish to return to the Kingdom.   All those who return will be subject to quarantine in a designated Jeddah, Dammam, or Riyadh location for 14 days.  

 

Priority will be given to those at higher risk of infection (the elderly, pregnant women, etc.), those with special needs or emergency health conditions, and those with previously-cancelled tickets.

 

Registration is available here https://www.mofa.gov.sa/es, and questions directed to +966 11 224 9701. 

 

This is an evolving situation with more details being released on an ongoing basis.  Please continue check the relevant websites and twitter accounts for most current information, as well as this FAQ.  See below for scholarship-specific guidance related to this announcement. 

 

U.S Updates 

 

White House coronavirus coordinator sees progress, but warns of second wave if Americans stop adhering to social distancing

Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, reports encouraging signs that parts of the U.S. may be flattening their curves; she warned, however, that people shouldn’t start going out and socially interacting or risk threatening the progress being made.   NBC News

 

(Click on image to play)

Dr. pic

 Scholarship Updates

 

Taking your courses Pass/Fail

Earlier today, SACM announced that students who are given the option by their home university to take courses pass/fail, may choose to do so.   As KGSP students, you are also expected to follow the KGSP’s guidelines for pursuing a pass/fail option:

  1. If the decision to issue grades as pass/fail is decided for you by your university or individual professor, KGSP will abide by that (i.e., it’s not a choice you made).
  2. If the pass/fail option is available as a choice (i.e., it is not a decision made for all students/classes by the individual professor or by your university), you must first request to do so with the KGSP, as always.  Barring special circumstances, the Program will only approve a move to Pass/Fail if doing so: 
    1. Doesn't affect you graduation timeline;
    2. It is in a non-STEM class (changed from non-major)
    3. Without moving to pass/fail, you will receive a C or lower

Please see the April 6 KGSP News Blast for further SACM academic policy announcements, or ask your advisor

Guidance on repatriation option

It remains the Program’s recommendation to avoid all travel, as it dramatically increases the likelihood of both COVID-19 infection and spread.  This remains, however, an individual decision.   If you chose to return to Saudi Arabia despite this recommendation, you assume the associated risks and responsibilities; while you will not be penalized from a programmatic standpoint, you must ensure that doing so will not jeopardize your ability to continue studies in the U.S. This includes:

  • Will departing the U.S impact requirements or repercussions relating to:
    • You university enrollment
    • Your U.S. visa status
    • Your SACM enrollment
  • If your online classes are live, will you be able to continue attending them at those times in Saudi Arabia
  • Do you have sufficient internet connectivity at your location in Saudi Arabia to remain fully engaged in you online coursework and responsibilities
  • How you will continue to make payments for your current U.S.-based accommodations
  • Are you prepared for the 14 days of quarantine upon arrival

 

It is critical that you notify your advisor if you plan to travel—even if the decision is last-minute—and provide your travel itinerary.  KGSP must maintain an accurate summary of student locations in order to best support you.    Remember that remaining in touch with KGSP while you study remotely will be very important as this situation progresses. 

 

A Virtual Discussion: The World after the Coronavirus

What will the world look like after the coronavirus and what can research do to help fight it? That’s the question KAUST Professors David Keyes, J. Carlos Santamarina and Mani Sarathy propose to answer on Thursday, April 9 at 7:00 p.m. in a webinar moderated by Dr. Naadiya Carrim and brought to you by Strategic National Advancement, in collaboration with the Asbar World Forum.

 

 

Daily brief 4.49 pic 2

 

Relax by Exploring Nature Virtually

 

If you are missing nature right now, and wondering how you can see more of the US from the comfort of your living room, many National Parks are offering virtual tours. While National Parks continue to be closed across the country, you can take a trip to  Yellow National Park out west. Or maybe to Denali National Park in Alaska. If you have always wanted to see a volcano tube up-close, now is the time. This virtual tour lets you explore the Nahuku Lava Tube in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.

 

Looking for a more international adventure? Here are 10 of the best virtual tours of the world's natural wonders, including the northern lights, Giants Causeway in Ireland, and Argentina's Patagonia!

 

_________________________________________

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

Three new cases of COVID-19 have been identified on the KAUST campus. The cases have been confirmed positive by the Ministry of Health (MoH), and have been transferred to appropriate facilities in Jeddah.

 

The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 615 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click on image or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa//)
Daily Brief Pic 4.7

 

Ministry of the Interior further restricts movement

As part of the Kingdom’s efforts to confront coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of the Interior has announced a 24-hour curfew effective in all parts of the cities of Riyadh, Tabuk, Dammam, Dhahran, and Hafouf, as well as throughout the governorates of Jeddah, Taif, Qatif and Khobar for a period of 24 hours a day.  The ban of entry and exit from all cities and governorates is also continued, as of today and until further notice.   Commercial activities within these areas are prohibited, with the exception of pharmacies, food supply stores, gas stations, banking services, and maintenance / operational services. 

 

Adults may leave their homes, in groups of no more than two, to obtain health care and food supplies only.  Such excursions should be limited as much as possible, and may only occur between 6:00 a.m. and 3:00 pm and within the district of residence. 

 

The Ministry of Interior recommends the use of express delivery services whenever possible, and called on everyone to follow instructions, adhere to isolation measures, and commit to individual responsibility towards promoting the common good.   Saudi Press Agency

MoT Pic 4.7

 

Kingdom’s Minister of Health emphasizes, “We are all responsible”

Today, his Excellency the Minister of Health ​​​​Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah reiterated that the public’s commitment to adhering to quarantine directives will have a direct role in the extent of the coronavirus’ impact in this next stage.

(Click on image)

 

Moh 4.7

Repatriation Process for Saudi Citizens Abroad 

On the directive of King Salman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs opened on Sunday an online platform to register the requests of Saudi citizens currently aboard who wish to return to the Kingdom.   All those who return will be subject to quarantine in a designated Jeddah, Dammam, or Riyadh location for 14 days.  

 

Priority will be given to those at higher risk of infection (the elderly, pregnant women, etc.), those with special needs or emergency health conditions, and those with previously-cancelled tickets.

 

Registration is available here https://www.mofa.gov.sa/es, and questions directed to +966 11 224 9701. 

 

This is an evolving situation with more details being released on an ongoing basis.  Please continue check the relevant websites and twitter accounts for most current information, as well as this FAQ.  See below for scholarship-specific guidance related to this announcement. 

 

Scholarship Updates 

 

Guidance on repatriation option

It remains the Program’s recommendation to avoid all travel, as it dramatically increases the likelihood of both COVID-19 infection and spread.  This remains, however, an individual decision.   If you chose to return to Saudi Arabia despite this recommendation, you assume the associated risks and responsibilities; while you will not be penalized from a programmatic standpoint, you must ensure that doing so will not jeopardize your ability to continue studies in the U.S. This includes:

  • Will departing the U.S. impact requirements or repercussions relating to:
    • Your university enrollment
    • Your U.S. visa status
    • Your SACM enrollemnt
  • If your online classes are live, will you be able to continue attending them at those times in Saudi Arabia
  • Do you have sufficient internet connectivity at your location in Saudi Arabia to remain fully engaged in you online coursework and responsibilities
  • How you will continue to make payments for your current U.S.-based accommodations
  • Are you prepared for the 14 days of quarantine upon arrival

It is critical that you notify your advisor if you plan to travel—even if the decision is last-minute—and provide your travel itinerary.  KGSP must maintain an accurate summary of student locations in order to best support you.    Remember that remaining in touch with KGSP while you study remotely will be very important as this situation progresses. 

 

Social distancing vs. self-quarantine vs. isolation—what’s the difference?

All are public health practices used to stop or limit the spread of disease; these terms are very similar, but are often incorrectly interchanged.  In degree of strictness: 

  1. Social Distancing / Self-Monitoring:  Everyone should be practicing social distancing, which means deliberately increasing the physical space (at least six feet) between people to avoid catching or spreading illness. Social distancing also includes avoiding large crowds, working/studying from home, using technology to visit friends/family instead of in-person interactions, moving meetings online, etc.   Self-monitoring augments this, by having individuals monitor their physical wellbeing to watch for signs of infection.
  2. Quarantine is for those who may be ill and need to keep themselves separate from others on the chance they become sick over the incubation period.  It is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who know he/she may have been exposed.
  3. Isolation (is for people who have already been infected with the virus and are ill. It is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy, to help stop the spread of certain diseases.  Self-isolation provides individuals the opportunity to recover from the virus without spreading it to others, via complete separation from other people.  The decision to stop home isolation should be left to healthcare providers / health authorities, and will not occur until: 
    • You have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use medicine that reduces fevers)
    • Other symptoms have improved (for example, when your cough or shortness of breath have improved)
    • At least 7 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared

What should I do if I’ve been told to self-isolate, and what if I have roommates?

While it may be scary being told to self-isolate, it’s important to keep in mind that the vast majority of people who have contracted COVID-19 thus far have experienced mild symptoms. That being said, the virus can be fatal for those who are considered high-risk, so it’s important to take the steps necessary to prevent the virus from spreading. Here’s how:

  • Stay home:  Do not leave your isolation area (whether that is your room or apartment), or interact in-person with others.  Food can be delivered via a meal or grocery door-to-door delivery service.  
    • If you have roommates, they may leave you items for you outside your (closed) door, but you should not accept items directly. 
  • Separate yourself:  The CDC recommends keeping to one room as much as possible if you live with roommates or family members.
    • You should also use a separate bathroom if possible; if not, wipe down all surfaces of the bathroom with disinfectant after each use.
  • Wear a mask:  If for any reason you must be around other people, it’s important to wear a face mask to prevent spreading the virus.
  • Stay away from pets:  Although there have not been any confirmed reports of pets transmitting COVID-19 to humans, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known. If you must care for a pet while you are sick, make sure to wear a face mask and wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet.
  • Do not share personal items
  • Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently:  Even when self-isolating, it’s important to kill the virus’ germs as much as possible within your designated area.
  • Exercise:  Staying active will keep you both mentally and physically healthy.  If you are feeling well enough and don’t have active symptoms, try at an-home workout to avoid physical contact with others.
  • Stay in virtual contact with friends and family:  Research shows that quality time with people you care about can boost your happiness level.

Learn more about how to self-isolate, and how to do so with roommates.

 

Roommate Conflict Resolution

Many of us live with roommates or housemates, and are now spending a lot of time with them. It is normal for things to get tense at home, especially if you’re not used to seeing them all the time. Below are a few recommendations for successfully navigating tricky roommate conversations.

  • Be honest and upfront, but don’t blow issues out of proportion. Let your roommate know that you realize that things for many people are stressful right now, but that it is still important to address any house concerns.
  • Think about how you would feel if that person asked you to change something about your own habits or behavior and be polite when giving your roommate feedback.
  • Agree on next steps with your roommate. If there is something that is bothering you and you discuss it, decide what would make both of you feel better.

Read more here:  For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

 

_________________________________________

Monday, April 6, 2020

KSA Updates

 

Confirmed Cases

No new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the KAUST community since March 23.  The positive cases previously identified have all now recovered, completing the MOH testing requirements of returning a second negative test.  All are now following the MOH home-quarantine requirements. The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 551 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

 

(Click to open hyperlink, or bookmark https://covid19.moh.gov.sa//)

Daily Brief Pic 4.6

 

Repatriation Process for Saudi Citizens Abroad 

On the directive of King Salman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced an online platform to register the requests of Saudi citizens currently aboard who wish to return to the Kingdom.   The system opened on Sunday, with priority given to those currently reside in countries most affected by COVID-19, as well as those at higher risk of infection (the elderly, pregnant women, etc.).  All those who return will be subject to quarantine in an designated Jeddah, Dammam, or Riyadh location for 14 days.  

 

Registration is available here https://www.mofa.gov.sa/es, and questions directed to +966 11 224 9701. 

 

This is an evolving situation with more details being released on an ongoing basis.  Please continue check the relevant websites and twitter accounts for most current information, as well as this FAQ

 

Daily Brief Pic 4.6 2

 

See below for scholarship-specific guidance related to this announcement. 

 

Officials warn of difficult weeks ahead

As the number of people in the U.S. who have died from the coronavirus nears 10,000 on Monday, the country's top medical officials warned the worst was yet to come. Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged the nation to stay home and practice social distancing:   It's going to be the hardest moment for many Americans in their entire lives," said Adams on Sunday. "And we really need to understand that if we want to flatten that curve and get through the other side, everyone needs to do their part."  Infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, further stated, "Things are going to get bad, and we need to be prepared for that."  NBC News

 

Wondering how to better safely quarantine?  Check out these 13 videos on tips for “Life During COVID-19” from CNN.

Daily Brief 4.6 3

 

Scholarship Updates

 

Guidance on repatriation option

It remains the Program’s recommendation to avoid all travel, as it dramatically increases the likelihood of both COVID-19 infection and spread.  This remains, however, an individual decision.   If you chose to return to Saudi Arabia despite this recommendation, you assume the associated risks and responsibilities; while you will not be penalized from a programmatic standpoint, you must ensure that doing so will not jeopardize your ability to continue studies in the U.S. This includes:

  • Will departing the U.S impact requirements or repercussions relating to:
    • You university enrollment
    • Your U.S. visa status
    • Your SACM enrollment
  • If your online classes are live, will you be able to continue attending them at those times in Saudi Arabia
  • Do you have sufficient internet connectivity at your location in Saudi Arabia to remain fully engaged in you online coursework and responsibilities
  • How you will continue to make payments for your current U.S.-based accommodations
  • Are you prepared for the 14 days of quarantine upon arrival

It is critical that you notify your advisor if you plan to travel—even if the decision is last-minute—and provide your travel itinerary.  KGSP must maintain an accurate summary of student locations in order to best support you.    Remember that remaining in touch with KGSP while you study remotely will be very important as this situation progresses. 

 

Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission Guidance for spring and summer Enrollment

SACM has confirmed that students who leave the US will be paid through the end of the spring 2020 term, as long as they remain enrolled, and their departure from the US does not negatively impact their legal residence status in the US, as confirmed by the student’s university.

 

SACM also announced that, per MOE’s standard policies, academic (i.e., coursework) enrollment for summer 2020 is optional. Students who wish to study during the summer will be paid, as long as their enrollment is online, and as long it's approved and confirmed by their university that being away from the US will not negatively impact their legal status.

 

KGSP is monitoring these announcements closely, including their potential effects on duel-sponsored students. 

 

A Virtual Discussion on

“The World after the Coronavirus”

The implications of the COVID-19 pandemic span almost all sectors and the viral outbreak has triggered changes that have already found their way into our daily lives. What will the world look like after the coronavirus and what can research do to help fight it? That’s the question KAUST professors David Keyes, J. Carlos Santamarina, and Mani Sarathy propose to answer on Thursday, April 9th, at 7 PM in a webinar moderated by Dr. Naadiya Carrim and brought to you by Strategic National Advancement, in collaboration with the Asbar World Forum.

Stay home and watch at 7 PM on April 9th via https://bit.ly/worldaftercovid-19

Daily Brief 4.1 Pic 4.6 4

Sci CafeScience Town

Join us for the next Sci-Café: COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 8th, at 4 PM.

And in the meantime, tune in to the Sciencetown podcast for an episode about science in quarantine and what researchers get up to when the lab is closed and global science is called to action.

For more information about the formation of KAUST’s Rapid Research Response Team (R3T) and its efforts to alleviate the epidemic, click here.

 

_________________________________________

Sunday, April 5, 2020

KSA Updates 

Confirmed Cases

No new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the KAUST community since March 23.  The positive cases previously identified have all now recovered, completing the MOH testing requirements of returning a second negative test.  All are now following the MOH home-quarantine requirements.    The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 488 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics: https://covid19.moh.gov.sa/

Repatriation Process for Saudi Citizens Abroad 

On the directive of King Salman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced an online platform to register the requests of Saudi citizens currently aboard who wish to return to the Kingdom.   The system will be open for 5 days starting today, with priority given to those currently reside in countries most affected by COVID-19, as well as those at higher risk of infection (the elderly, pregnant women, etc.).  All those who return will be subject to quarantine for 14 days.  

Registration is available here hhttps://www.mofa.gov.sa/es, and questions directed to 00966112249701. 

This is an evolving situation with more details being released on an ongoing basis.  Please continue check the relevant websites and twitter accounts for most current information. 

See below for scholarship-specific guidance related to this announcement. 

Scholarship Updates 

Guidance on repatriation option

It remains the Program’s strong recommendation to avoid all travel, as travel dramatically increases the likelihood of both COVID-19 infection and spread.  This remains, however, an individual decision.   If you chose to return to Saudi Arabia despite this recommendation, you assume the associated risks and responsibilities; while you will not be penalized from a programmatic standpoint, you must ensure that doing so will not jeopardize your ability to continue studies in the U.S. This includes:

·       Will departing the U.S impact requirements or repercussions relating to:

o   You university enrollment

o   Your U.S. visa status

o   Your SACM enrollment

·       If your online classes are live, will you be able to continue attending them at those times in Saudi Arabia

·       Do you have sufficient internet connectivity at your location in Saudi Arabia to remain fully engaged in you online coursework and responsibilities

·       How you will continue to make payments for your current U.S.-based accommodations

·       Are you prepared for the 14 days of quarantine upon arrival

  It is critical that you notify your advisor if you plan to travel—even if the decision is last-minute—and provide your travel itinerary.  KGSP must maintain an accurate summary of student locations in order to best support you.    Remember that remaining in touch with KGSP while you study remotely will be very important as this situation progresses. 

Upcoming COVID-19 Sci-Café with KAUST Faculty

COVID Sci Fi Cafe

_________________________________________

Saturday, April 4, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

No new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the KAUST community since March 23.  The positive cases previously identified have all now recovered, completing the MOH testing requirements of returning a second negative test.  All are now following the MOH home-quarantine requirements. 

 

The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 420 confirmed cases have since now recovered.  The Ministry of Health has produced a similar tracker focused on Saudi-based statistics:

(Click to open hyperlink)

Daily Brief Pic 4.4

 

Royal order approves exceptions for unemployment insurance (SANED) for Saudis working in the private sector

In a move to avert large-scale job layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has issued a Royal Order to help struggling companies with employees’ wages: Instead of terminating contracts, business owners can request monthly compensation amounting to 60% of the employee’s salary for the next three months.  The measure, with a total value of over SR 9bn, is set to take effect this month and around 1.2 million Saudis might qualify.  Bloomberg News

 

Jeddah moves to 24 hour curfew 

In precautionary efforts to further halt the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of the Interior has announced that Jeddah will move to a 24-hour curfew starting at 3pm today, and until further notice.  Residents may still go outside of their homes for grocery shopping and to receive medical care in their respective neighborhoods from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m. 

 

USA Updates 

 

CDC revises previous guidance, now recommending use of cloth face masks

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) on Friday announced on Friday a revised recommendation that individuals wear fabric face coverings when in public areas, given that many people infected with the virus lack symptoms, and can transmit it to others through close proximity (e.g., speaking).  This recommendation is based on research indicating that while face coverings may not prevent you from getting sick, they could less the chance that you unknowingly spread the disease to others while asymptomatic. 

 

This recommendation does not replace social distancing (6 feet), which remains critical to slowing the spread of the virus.  Using homemade cloth face coverings are an additional, voluntary public health measure.  The general public should not be purchasing/using medical-grade (N95) face masks, as those must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. 


Scholarship Updates

 

Making a no-sew face mask at home

You’ll need:

  • A piece of fabric at least 20in x 20in (bandana, scarf, or a cut sheet). 
    • Try to use 100% tight-weave, thick cotton (if you’re not sure, try holding the fabric up to the light—if it allows a substantial amount of light to shine through, it's going to allow more particles through, too). 
  • 2 ponytail holders, or loose elastic bands

Make sure to wash your hands before making / putting on your face mask, and wash it regularly.  

(Click to open hyperlink)

How to make Masks

Google searches for ‘Good News’ reach record high

“There is no escaping hearing about the novel coronavirus at the moment. Whether you're watching the news on television, reading an article online, or speaking to family members over the phone, everyone is talking about it.  But to help distract you for 10 minutes from what's happening with the pandemic, Newsweek has compiled five uplifting stories that you might have missed this week.”

 

_________________________________________

Friday, April 3, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

No new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the KAUST community.  The positive cases previously identified have all now recovered, completing the MOH testing requirements of returning a second negative test.

 

All are now following the MOH home-quarantine requirements.

The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 351 confirmed cases have since now recovered.

Daily Brief Pic 4.3

Curfew moved up to 3 pm for some Saudi cities

Starting today, the city of Dammam, and the governorates of Taif and Qatif will move forward their daily curfew to begin at 3pm, moved up from the former start time of 7pm.  This decision is in line with other mandatory curfew orders in effect throughout the Kingdom, as a proactive measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

 

USA Updates

 

Are face masks necessary?

Conflicting information on the necessity of wearing face masks has begun to appear in the news.  While the CDC and WHO continue to recommend that face masks are not necessary unless you are already infected with COVID-19 (or caring for someone who is), individual experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci are now saying that non-medical face coverings could prevent the virus’ spread originating from non-symptomatic carriers.  Otherwise stated, this means that while face coverings may not prevent you from getting sick, they could prevent you from spreading the disease if you have it but don’t yet know it.  

 

This is an evolving situation, and recommendations may change.  What is universally agreed, however, is that the general public should not be purchasing/using medical-grade (N95) face masks, as these are needed for frontline health care workers. 

 

CNN's Sanjay Gupta expands on Dr. Fauci's recommendation that Americans who are not sick should wear masks in public. (Click to open hyperlink)

 

Mask CNN Video

Scholarship Updates

 

Food Packaging & COVID-19

COVID-19 is not a food-borne illness, so the risk of contracting the virus from the food you eat is very low; however, the virus can live on food packaging (e.g., cans, cardboard containers) for up to 72 hours.  After grocery shopping (or better yet, after having you groceries delivered), you may want to follow these simple tips for how to properly wipe down your groceries’ packaging to further reduce the likelihood of infection. 

 

Hobby Help

“With many countries across the world implementing social distancing or full lockdowns, what’s certain is that millions of people are spending more time at home than usual. In an effort to keep busy, motivated, and fulfilled, people are taking up new hobbies or doing more of an existing one.  During these stressful times, many social, physical, and mental activities and routines are disrupted. Thankfully, hobbies can be there to fill the void and have many benefits.”  NerdBear

Hobby 1

Hobby 2

 

_________________________________________

Thursday, April 2, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

No new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the KAUST community; the University continues to actively address those previously announced, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 328 confirmed cases have since now recovered.

 

Daily Brief 4.2 Pic

Mecca and Medina move to 24 hour curfew 

An official source at the Ministry of the Interior announced today that the cities of Mecca and Medina will move to a 24-hour curfew, a mandatory “stay at home” order for the immediate future.  Residents in groups no larger than two may, however, go outside of their homes for medical care or to obtain food in their respective neighborhoods from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m.  Arab News


USA Updates

 

Americans file record number of unemployment claims

6.6 million US workers filed for their first unemployment benefits in the week ending March 28 — a historic high, and a 3,000% increase since early March.  As companies continue to close—especially those in the service industries--in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus, their employees are increasingly needing government assistance.  Michelle Myer, Head of U.S. Economics at Bank of America told NBC News, “These are numbers that are way out of the range that we have seen.  During the financial crisis, we were seeing a peak of about 650,000 [first-time applications] a week.”  NBC News


Scholarship Updates 

 

Research at KAUST to support the Kingdom’s COVID-19 efforts

“Following a call by President Tony Chan for KAUST PIs to contribute through their research capabilities to alleviate the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts coordinated by Donal Bradley, KAUST vice president for research, and Pierre Magistretti, KAUST dean of the Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering division, mobilized a group of faculty to form the Rapid Research Response Team (R3T). The focus of R3T is to collaborate with and strongly support the Kingdom's healthcare stakeholders to help combat the spread of COVID-19. 

 

R3T's group of faculty has been in close contact with the Saudi Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ministry of Health to coordinate efforts that will synergize and ensure fast and reliable diagnostic tests…Initial efforts are aimed at optimizing existing tests to decrease the amount of reagents used without compromising reliability.”  Learn more here

 

Using your time effectively—build your professional network

While stuck at home, you’re probably finding you have more time on your hands.   A great way to avoid “cabin fever” is using that time for activities and projects you typically struggle to get done.  Resume revision is a great one!  Are you wondering how to highlight that conference you went to last fall, or an amazing research project you completed over the summer?  Your KGSP Advisor can provide feedback and support on the resume writing process. Schedule a 1-1 resume coaching session with them!

 

You can also optimize your LinkedIn profile, and build your professional community:  Use this time to network, especially with individuals normally too busy for informational interviews—they’re in the same (house) boat you are!  Finally, if your regular phone calls with friends and family are getting a bit stale, ask your friends to help you polish your interview skills by having a short mock interview and asking for their feedback afterwards.  

 

_________________________________________

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

KSA Updates

 

Confirmed Cases

No new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the KAUST community; the University continues to actively address those previously announced, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. The two confirmed cases among the group of KGSP students who traveled back to Saudi Arabia are continuing to receive treatment in isolation, and with the support of the Program and Ministry officials. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 264 confirmed cases have since now recovered.

Daily Brief 4.1 Pic

Recommendation to delay bookings for Hajj travel

Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Muhammad Saleh bin Taher Banten has advised those planning to take part in the Hajj pilgrimage to delay their bookings amid uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, and in consideration for the safety of pilgrims and public health in general.  Approximately two million people were expected to travel to Saudi Arabia for Hajj to this summer; the Umrah pilgrimage has already been suspended as a precaution to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.  BBC News..

USA Updates

 

U.S. stock market decline reflective of COVID-19’s effect on economy

“Markets fell at the open on Wednesday, the first day of the second quarter, after President Trump warned of a ‘very tough two weeks’ ahead as the United States continues to grapple with the coronavirus crisis.” Forbes  One expert explained the downturn as “the equivalent of putting a patient in a medically induced coma – a calculated, temporary risk with the goal of establishing greater longer-term health.” USA Today

 

Scholarship Updates 

 

Join the KAUST Covid-19 Innovation Challenge

KAUST is launching the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge to tap into the massive brainpower that is KAUST—meaning everyone in the KAUST Community. We want to hear from you about your experience so far: What’s working well, what isn’t working and what’s missing?  KGSP students are uniquely equipped with the perspective and abilities to make a meaningful contribution to these efforts!

 

How can we rapidly develop new and innovative solutions to challenges in education, social connectivity and community management?

KAUST has the infrastructure in place to meet digitally, brainstorm virtually, and to quickly assess and support ideas as they emerge. Funding opportunities are available and can be fast-tracked to access to the TAQADAM Accelerator for selected ideas.

 

Right click on the below or click here to watch a Town Hall discussing the Challenge’s components with Kevin Cullen, Vice President of Innovation and Economic Development at KAUST.

 

Zoom Pic

 

Submit Idea

 

Budgeting during COVID-19

Since today is April 1st and many KGSP students need to pay rent, we wanted to pass along some helpful budgeting tips to make sure you’re financially ready for the next few months.

  • Plan a weekly menu: The COVID-19 crisis has changed the way that many of us eat. Probably the best thing you can do is to stop or greatly cut back on eating out. With some advanced planning, you can significantly reduce your food costs. In your next advising call, ask your KGSP Advisor about their favorite meal to cook at home.
  • Assess Your Spending: It is important to cut back on non-essential spending. Review recent checking account and credit card statements and figure out what you are spending every month. The cost of memberships (gym, etc.), delivery, etc. can add up. If you aren’t using them (which, especially now, you’re probably not) you should cancel.
  • Build Your Emergency Savings: As COVID-19 has taught us, it is important to have an emergency saving set aside to weather unexpected emergencies. As you are saving money in other areas, be sure to add those savings to your emergency fund. You won’t regret it!
  • Contact KGSP if you’re struggling financially due to COVID-19:   KGSP will set aside an emergency fund, used to address financial hardships outside of your control and caused by COVID-19 (for example, non-covered insurance fees). It will not be used for other costs that are due to the student’s own decision, such the cost of a flight, or changes in housing due to student choice (as opposed to being mandated by the home university).  It will also not cover any changes to KGSP standing or deductions.   Be in touch with you advisor if you have questions on this.

_________________________________________

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

KSA Updates 

Confirmed Cases

No new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the KAUST or KGSP communities; the University and Program continue to actively address those previously announced, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 165 confirmed cases have since now recovered.

 

Daily Brief Pic 3.31USA Update

 

Travel advisory for Tri-State area

“Early clues -- in places like New York, California and Seattle -- indicate social distancing may be slowing the rate at which coronavirus cases otherwise would have increased in the United States.  But health officials warn it's too early to know how well it's working...‘We're starting to see glimmers ... just the inklings, that the daily increases in US cases aren't as steep as they would have been without social distancing,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. ‘We're not seeing (a turnaround) yet.’” CNN

 

Scholarship Updates

 

KAUST’s Virtual Community Hub

In addition to these daily news briefs, as members of the KAUST community you also have access to the university’s Virtual Hub.  This website provides information, advice, and opportunities related to activity suggestions, health and wellbeing, relationships, and working/studying from home.  Check it out to find things like:

_________________________________________

Monday, March 30, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases—KGSP

Prior to the Kingdom’s travel ban, a number of KGSP students chose to return to Saudi Arabia.  Upon arrival all flight passengers’ health was assessed, and testing continued throughout the 14-day quarantine period.  The Program has been made aware that two KGSP students from this group have newly tested as positive.

 

KGPS is closely monitoring the situation, and working with those affected to ensure they are supported.  As is standard, extensive contact tracing and notification is being handled by Ministry of Health officials.  

 

If you were part of the group that returned to Saudi Arabia earlier this month, it is critical that you remain in contact with those officials handling your case, and comply with all quarantine and isolation mandates.   All students, regardless of location/quarantine status, should be corresponding regularly with their KGSP advisor.   

 

No cases of COVID-19 among the KGSP population in the U.S. have been reported at this time.  

 

Confirmed Cases—KAUST & KSA

No new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the KAUST community; the University continues to actively address those previously announced, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 115 confirmed cases have since now recovered.

 

Daily Brief Pic 3.30

 

USA Updates

 

Travel advisory for Tri-State area

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel advisory for people in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to "refrain from non-essential domestic travel" for the next two weeks, given these areas’ high rate of COVID-19 cases.   This advisory is in line with state-level “stay at home” orders already in place, and does not apply to employees of critical infrastructure industries, including but not limited to trucking, public health professionals, financial services and food supply.  CNN

 

Federal social distancing guidelines extended through end of the month

“President Trump announced on Sunday that the White House would be extending its social distancing guidelines through April 30 – a month longer than an initial 15-day timeline when they were implemented on March 16.”  USA Today

 

The guidelines outline the importance of avoiding gatherings of 10 or more, to avoid discretionary travel, and to practice increased hygiene. They also asked Americans to stay home if they are sick and for older individuals to stay away from other people. 

 

The guidelines are voluntary, and many states and cities have issued their own, stricter, orders.  Please reach out to your advisor if you have questions about guidelines for your own location. 

 

Scholarship Updates 

 

Reiterating the KGSP position on travel & social distancing

In line with national (e.g., CDC and MOH) and worldwide (e.g., WHO) guidelines, KGSP strongly recommends the avoidance of any non-essential travel, both domestic and international, at this time. 

 

This is the Program’s recommendation for a simple reason:  It is not safe for you, or for those around you, to travel right now--including those you would be returning to in Saudi Arabia.  COVID-19 is transmitted by direct interaction with infected people:  The likelihood of transmission is dramatically increased by travel, and all but eliminated by self-quarantining at home.  

 

We absolutely sympathize that the stress you may be experiencing is compounded by being away from your family.  Avoiding travel is not an easy thing to ask of you, but we do so because lives are literally in the balance. We each have a shared responsibility to do our part to turn this into a slow pandemic for the benefit of all humanity, and to give scientists the time they need to develop solutions. By following the below guidelines, you limit the spread of the disease to vulnerable people around the world.  

_________________________________________

Sunday, March 29, 2020

KSA Updates 

Confirmed Cases

KAUST continues to actively address the first cases of COVID-19 announced on campus, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 66 confirmed cases have since now recovered

Daily Brief Pic 3.29

Continuation of Ministry of Education Scholarship Benefits

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Education confirmed that normal benefits will continue to be disbursed to MOE scholarship recipients studying abroad for the duration of their time residing in the country of scholarship—even should their program end--due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Suspension of Key Activities Extended

In an effort to further curb the spread of COVID-19 and in consideration of the health and safety of all Saudi citizens, the Ministry of the Interior has announced the following:  

  1. Extending the suspension of in-person attendance at workplaces in all government agencies, except for the excluded parties, until further notice.
  2. Extending the suspension of in-person attendance at workplaces in the private sector, until further notice.
  3. Extending the suspension of international passenger flights to the Kingdom, except in exceptional cases, until further notice.
  4. Extending the suspension of the domestic passenger flights, bus, taxi and train activity, until further notice.

_________________________________________

 

Saturday, March 28, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

KAUST continues to actively address the first cases of COVID-19 announced on campus, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. 

 

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 37 confirmed cases have since now recovered

 

Daily Brief Pic 3.28USA Updates

 

Historic coronavirus stimulus bill signed

The U.S. President signed into law a $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill Friday evening, hours after it was passed by the House of Representatives in a bipartisan vote, and having been previously passed unanimously by the Senate on Wednesday. 

 

The bill represents the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history:  “Key elements of the package include sending checks directly to qualifying individuals and families (see below) a major expansion of unemployment benefits, money for hard-hit hospitals and health care providers, financial assistance for small businesses and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.”  CNN

  • Note:  Direct cash payments will be automatic for people who have filed a tax return or gotten Social Security benefits recently.  While final eligibility requirements have not been posted on the IRS website, KGSP students are highly unlikely to qualify for individual check payments, as you are both (a) not working—in fact, most American college students also will not qualify for this reason; and (b) studying in the U.S. on a F-1 visa, which qualifies you as a nonresident alien prohibited from working.  Learn More

 

Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction Podcast

CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts a podcast with the latest news about the coronavirus—speaking with experts and providing a broad range of perspectives.  You can even submit questions to have answered in future articles / podcasts; see here for previously-answered questions.

 

_________________________________________

Friday, March 27, 2020

KSA Updates 

 

Confirmed Cases

KAUST continues to actively address the first cases of COVID-19 announced on campus, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.  Read President Chan’s latest update here.   

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 35 confirmed cases have since now recovered

Daily Brief Pic 3.27

King Salman leads virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit

Under Saudi Arabia’s 2020 presidency of the G20, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud convened a teleconference of G20 leaders on Thursday, to discuss a joint response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Opening the unprecedented event, King Salman stated: “The G20 has previously proved its effectiveness in mitigating the severity of the global financial crisis and its ability to overcome it.  Today, through our cooperation, we are confident that we, together, will overcome this crisis, and move forward towards a future where all people thrive, prosper, and are healthy.”  

See here the commitments made by G20 leaders, including for solidary and international collaboration, provision of immediate resources to international organizations like the WHO, and to ensure the flow of vital medical supplies and other critical goods across borders. 

USA Updates

 

31 questions and answers about COVID-19

Bill Gates answers a wide range questions about COVID-19 on a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything session, including about epidemic modeling, national and international responses, and the potential economic impact.

 

Scholarship Updates

 

New Email

Please note that the daily News Blast and other official Program announcements regarding COVID-19 will now be sent by this email, KGSP.Alerts@kaust.edu.sa .  Make sure to check for it daily, and/or have messages from this address forwarded to your personal account.   It is monitored daily, so feel free to send questions!  Of course, regular correspondence directly from your advisor will continue as normal via email and WhatsApp. 

 

Answers from the KGSP Town Hall

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2-hour KGSP Town Hall on Wednesday, it was a big success! For those unable to attend, KGSP will be sending a FAQ document out in the coming days. 

 

Need a smile?  Watch these lovely tributes to health care workers

As recent news has shown, COVID-19 can strike anyone—even British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and HRH Prince Charles.  Across the UK on Thursday, members of the British public went outside to clap for the health care workers on the front lines of this battle, in a national show of unity. Similar outpouring of support have occurred in Atlanta and other cities across the world. 

(Right Click to “Open Hyperlink”)

 

BBC Video Pic

 

_________________________________________

Thursday, March 26, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

KAUST continues to actively address the first cases of COVID-19 announced on campus, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.  Read President Chan’s latest update here.   

Brief 3.26 Pic

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 33 confirmed cases have since now recovered

King Salman leads emergency virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit

Thursday’s video conference call convened G20 leaders to discuss a joint response to the coronavirus pandemic.  Organizers stated the goal of the meeting is to “increase international collaboration in order to improve global planning, coordinate rules on travel, increase production and distribution of medical equipment, and share expertise about the virus.”

Under Saudi Arabia’s 2020 presidency of the G20, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud opened the teleconference stating, “The G20 has previously proved its effectiveness in mitigating the severity of the global financial crisis and its ability to overcome it.  Today, through our cooperation, we are confident that we, together, will overcome this crisis, and move forward towards a future where all people thrive, prosper, and are healthy.”  

In a letter to the members of the G-20, Secretary General to the United Nations António Guterres welcomed their decision to convene the summit:  "COVID-19 will require a response like none before -- a ‘war-time’ plan in times of human crisis….The G-20 leadership has an extraordinary opportunity to step forward with a strong response package to address the various threats of COVID-19.”

Scholarship Updates

 New Email

Please note that the daily News Blast and other official Program announcements regarding COVID-19 will now be sent by this email, KGSP.Alerts@kaust.edu.sa .  Please make sure to check it daily, and/or have messages from this address forwarded to your personal account.   It is monitored daily, so feel free to send questions!  Of course, regular correspondence directly from your advisor will continue as normal via email and WhatsApp. 

Answers from Wednesday’s KGSP Town Hall

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2-hour KGSP Town Hall yesterday, it was a big success! For those unable to attend, KGSP will be sending a FAQ document in the coming days. 

Surface Cleaning

Wondering how to protect your home and items from COVID-19? Check out this guide.

Limiting Your Risk of Exposure

Many of you are under “stay home” guidelines from your local / state governments, which still allow you to run errands to buy groceries, go to the pharmacy, etc.  The good news is that food itself is not likely to spread the virus; the bad news is that those around you at the store, are.  Follow these guidelines to limit your likelihood of contracting the disease while out and about.

  • Avoid public transportation:  When possible, do you shopping at stores within walking distance from your home, or car pool with KGSP students who you know have been self-quarantining (as opposed to Uber, etc.) 
  • Set a personal curfew:  The majority of locations in the U.S. have not set mandatory curfews; however, knowing the times of day when it is safest to be out is a good idea.   For example, you may want to avoid going to the grocery store early in the morning (which is often reserved for older shoppers) and in early evening at the close of the work day, when customer traffic increases.
  • Better yet, use delivery services:  In additional to national delivery services (check here for some of the best national grocery store delivery apps), many local grocery stores have online ordering and/or delivery services available, or curbside service (where you order online and your groceries are packaged and awaiting for you at an outside pickup location). 

_________________________________________

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed cases

KAUST continues to actively address the first cases of COVID-19 announced on campus, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health.  Read President Chan’s latest update here.   

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 29 confirmed cases have since now recovered

Brief 3.25 pic

 

Updated restrictions on inter-KSA travel announced

To further combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced the following updated restrictions:

  1. Travel between regions of the country is prohibited
  2. Travel into or out of the cities of Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina is prohibited
  3. For the cities of Riyadh, Mecca, and Medina, the previously announced curfew has been revised to a 3 PM to 6 AM curfew, starting tomorrow, March 26, 2020 until April 14, 2020. 
  4. The 7 PM to 6 AM curfew remains in effect for other parts of the country.

USA Updates

When a pandemic leads to an ‘infodemic’

“Facing the prospect that hoaxes or misinformation could worsen a global pandemic, tech platforms are taking control of the information ecosystem like never before.” NBC News

NBC Video

Local/ Scholarship Updates

Housing support

If you lived in campus housing and your home institution announced a closure of dorms, KGSP is here to help!  Work with your advisor to understand the process for appealing to remain in on-campus housing.  Should your appeal be denied and you are unable to stay with local family or friends, KGSP will assist you in identifying and arranging alternative housing locally.   

Also, be in touch with your advisor if you have incurred costs related to moving off-campus (this applies only to students who lived in campus housing, and whose appeal to remain was officially denied). 

_________________________________________

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

SAVE THE DATE:  KGSP Town Hall Tomorrow

The Program will be hosting a Town Hall on Wednesday, March 25th with Dr. Najah Ashry and Mr. Saham Alhusseini.  This will be an opportunity to hear directly from KAUST & KGSP leadership about the Program’s and University’s responses to COVID-19, and to have your questions answered in real time.  You will receive a direct invitation, but please save the correct time for your location in your calendar for 3/25/20!

  • KSA:  9 pm
  • EST:  2 pm
  • CST:  1 pm
  • PST:  11 am

You must have a free zoom account, and register in advance, to participate in this webinar.  To do so, click here:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Na9UBDzJSW6wiJHeZwanSw

 

Please note:

  • You'll be expected to have your camera on for the call.
  • Given the likely number of participants, questions will be submitted to the panelists via messaging.
  • Us your KAUST email and full name when signing in, so that if you do speak/ are asked a question, the Host will be able to identify you to unmnute, etc.

If you’d like to submit your question early, please reply to this email! This will increase the likelihood it has time to be addressed.

_________________________________________

Monday, March 23, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed cases

Today, KAUST announced the first instances of COVID-19 on campus::  A number of cases were confirmed as positive by the Ministry of Health (MOH), with whom KAUST is working closely in the management of this development. 

Each of these cases are individuals who were already in quarantine. The process of tracing and analyzing each case is underway, and is being carried out in close cooperation with MOH.  All cases are being transferred to a Jeddah hospital for further care. 

As a precautionary action and in line with steps outlined in the University’s pandemic preparedness plan, all residents of KAUST are required to stay at home, unless identified as critical staff, with immediate effect.

This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 19 confirmed cases have since now recovered

Mandatory curfew in effect

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has issued a curfew order to limit the spread of COVID-19.  The curfew is from 7pm until 6am for a period of 21 days, starting today, March 23.

 

Curfew order

Local/ Scholarship Updates

SAVE THE DATE:  KGSP Zoom Town Hall

The Program will be hosting a Town Hall on Wednesday, March 25th with Dr. Najah Ashry and Mr. Saham Alhusseini.  This will be an opportunity to hear directly from KAUST & KGSP leadership about the Program’s and University’s responses to COVID-19, and to have your questions answered in real time.  You will receive a direct invitation, but please save the correct time for your location in your calendar for 3/25/20!

  • KSA:  9 pm
  • EST:  2pm
  • CST:  1pm
  • PST:  11am

You must register in advance for this webinar:

https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Na9UBDzJSW6wiJHeZwanSw

Self-Distancing & Your Personality

We all are dealing with social distancing differently.  Read here coping mechanisms for extroverts and introverts

Long Read:  Lessons from the lockdown

What happens when everyday life suddenly changes?  Codogno, a small town in Italy, is a microcosm of how the virus can overrun a community - and how that community can fight back.

_________________________________________

Sunday, March 22, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed cases

There remain no confirmed COVID-19 cases currently on the KAUST campus.  This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 17 confirmed cases have since now  recovered

Focus on personal responsibility from the Ministry of Health

The Saudi Ministry of Health continues to emphasize the importance of  individual action to protect the safety of all, by taking simple preventative actions.

Positive Acts

Local / Scholarship Updates

SAVE THE DATE:  KGSP Zoom Town Hall

The Program will be hosting a Town Hall on Wednesday, March 25th with Dr. Najah Ashry and  Mr. Saham Alhusseini.  This will be an opportunity to hear directly from KAUST & KGSP leadership about the Program’s and University’s responses to COVID-19, and to have your questions answered in real time.  Details will be sent Monday, but please save the correct time for your location in your calendar for 3/25/20!

  • KSA:  9 pm
  • EST:  2pm
  • CST:  1pm
  • PST:  11am

Remote Doctor’s appointments now available to Aetna International members

As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, Aetna is fully committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of its members. So, with immediate effect, they are providing free access to their vHealth service, for a 90-day period.

vHealth allows members to speak to an experienced doctor by telephone or video call, without travelling to a medical facility or worrying about infection. Whether you want to talk about COVID-19 or any other medical concern, students on Aetna insurance can use the service 24/7, from any country in the world. All consultations are completely confidential, unlimited, and available in multiple languages.

To book a vHealth consultation:

  • Via the vHealth by Aetna app. Download from the App store or Google Play, using access code VHEALTH90
  • By telephone. Call +1-202-888-3462 (US) to book an appointment.
  • By email. Send appointment requests to vHealth90@teladochealth.com, along with full name, telephone number, preferred language and reason for the consultation. A response will be sent back within 4 hours

_________________________________________

Saturday, March 21, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

There remain no confirmed COVID-19 cases currently on the KAUST campus.  This tracker  provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that 16 confirmed cases have since now recovered

KSA Ministry

USA Updates

One in five Americans asked to stay at home

“A number of US states have ordered shutdowns with one in five Americans soon set to be under a "stay at home" order.  Connecticut and New Jersey are joining Illinois and California in ordering residents to stay at home in order to combat the spread of coronavirus.  New York State has ordered non-essential businesses to close.” Individuals may still leave their homes to run essential errands (visiting the grocery store/pharmacy, to seek medical care, and get fresh air), while still adhering to social distancing guidelines.   BBC News

Local / Scholarship Updates

Why avoiding travel is critical

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Program has maintained a recommendation against both domestic and international travel.  While this very much remains the case, we sympathize that the stress you may be experiencing is compounded by being away from your family.  We also understand the normal reaction of feeling an increased urgency to return home, once you have been told you cannot (due to the current travel ban). The recommendation to avoid travel is benchmarked against those from the  CDC and the State Department, who has recommended that individuals who live abroad, stay abroad

The Program strongly advises against travel for a simple reason:  It is not safe to do so for you, or for those around you (including those you would be returning to in Saudi Araba).  COVID-19 is transmitted by direct interaction with infected people:  This likelihood is dramatically increased by travel, and all but eliminated by simply staying at home.  Look  here at how fast, and how far, germs spread.

Earlier this week, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health  urged patience, emphasizing the importance of us all working together to slow the spread of COVID-19—for ourselves, our communities, and the world. Avoiding travel is not an easy ask of you, but we make it because lives are literally in the balance. By practicing social distancing and staying at home, we ensure that we don’t spread disease to vulnerable people (whether or not we know them personally) around the world.   We each have a shared responsibility to do our part to turn this into a  slow pandemic for  the benefit of all humanity, and to give scientists the time they need  to develop solutions.

_________________________________________

Thursday, March 19, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

There remain no confirmed COVID-19 cases currently on the KAUST campus.  This tracker  provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that eight confirmed cases have since now recovered

USA Updates

U.S./Canada Border to close

The border between Canada and the U.S. will close  for nonessential travel (tourism and recreation), while remaining open for essential traffic (the transportation of food, fuel and medicines).  Canadian citizens currently in the U.S. (and vise-versa) will remain able to re-enter their country of residence. 

Second coronavirus aid bill passed

On Wednesday evening, President Trump signed into law the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will provide free coronavirus testing and ensure paid emergency leave for those who are infected or caring for a family member with the illness. The bill also provides additional Medicaid funding, food assistance and unemployment benefits.  NBC News

Local / Scholarship Updates

Housing support

If you live in campus housing and your home institution has announced a closure of dorms, KGSP is here to help!  Work with your advisor to understand the process for appealing to remain in on-campus housing, as an international student from a country with a current travel ban.  Should your appeal be denied and you are unable to stay with local family or friends, KGSP will assist you in identifying and arranging alternative housing locally. 

Be in touch with your advisor if you have incurred costs related to moving off-campus (this applies only to students who lived in campus housing, and whose appeal to remain was officially denied). 

_________________________________________

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

There remain no confirmed COVID-19 cases currently on the KAUST campus.  This tracker  provides statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that six confirmed cases have recovered .  See the many ways Saudi Arabia is combatting the spread of COVID-19

Two week closure of private sector offices

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development have announced the suspension of workplace attendance at all main offices of public sector facilities for a period of 15 days.  This follows Monday’s similar announcement that  suspended workplace attendance at all government agencies for 16 days, except in the health, security, military, and electronic security sectors.  

Mosques to temporarily close

The Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs has issued directives to close all mosques in Saudi Arabia , in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.  The two holy mosques at Makkah and Medina, however, will remain open.

Foundation Year Students—Placement continues full force!

Admission offers are continuing to be received, with some record-breaking results—great work!  Check out this article if you’re wondering how to identify your placement preferences when campuses are closed

_________________________________________

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

There remain no confirmed COVID-19 cases currently on the KAUST campus.  This tracker provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that six confirmed cases have now since  recovered.  See the many ways Saudi Arabia is combatting the spread of COVID-19

Measures for effective self-quarantine at home 

Yesterday, the Saudi Minister of Health has stressed the importance avoiding crowds by remaining at home as much as possible.  Today, the Ministry offers further guidance on how to implement preventative  home quarantine

Closure of non-essential businesses

On Monday, the government suspended workplace attendance at all government agencies for 16 days, except in the health, security, military, and electronic security sectors.   Per these regulations, all banks, schools, restaurants and most businesses are now closed to help slow the progression of COVID-19 transmission.

USA Updates

Nation’s first “Shelter-in-Place” order issued in Northern California

The counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, and the city of Berkeley, issued a shelter in place order effective from today until April 7.   What does this mean

  • All but the most critical operations are shut down, and all non-essential gatherings of any size are now banned
  • Inhabitants will still be able to leave their homes to handle essential business— like buying groceries or picking up medicine — and to get fresh air
  • Airports remain open, and the order does not prevent anyone from returning to their home

_________________________________________

 

Monday, March 16, 2020

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

There remain no confirmed COVID-19 cases currently on the KAUST campus.  This tracker  provides helpful statistics by country; Saudi Arabia has announced that six confirmed cases have now since recovered .

National responsibility for cooperation during a challenging period

The Saudi Minister of Health has urged  patience and levelheadedness during this critical time.  Emphasizing the many preventative steps already taken in the Kingdom, the Ministry stressed that a collective effort in four key areas would be necessary to slow the spread of the virus:  Avoiding touch (shaking hands, etc.), practicing regular preventative hygiene (hand washing), self-isolating if symptoms occur or after recent international travel, and especially avoiding crowds by  remaining at home as much as possible.    

Remote work required for all government agencies

On Monday, the government suspended workplace attendance  at all government agencies for 16 days, except in the health, security, military, and electronic security sectors.   KAUST has implemented the same, with the community also asked to avoid all non-essential travel outside of campus.  Further information is available on the  KAUST Health website

International Travel Advisory & Home Quarantine

The Saudi Ministry of Interior has suspended all international flights, starting Sunday, March 15 at 11 a.m. Read the full announcement here.  If you had planned to travel to KSA after this date and have questions, please contact your airline and update your advisor on any date changes and/or temporary housing needs.  The Ministry of Health also  announced that all individuals arriving into the Kingdom from abroad on or after March 13 will be evaluated upon arrival, then they are expected to adhere to a home-based quarantine for 14 days. 

USA Updates

New guidelines

The CDC has updated its recommendations  to include that gatherings with over 50 people be canceled or rescheduled for the next eight weeks, as large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. This may include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. 

FED dramatically cuts interest rates

The Federal Reserve (FED) cut interest rates to near-zero and unveiled an extensive set of programs — including plans to inject large sums of money into the economy by purchasing government and mortgage-backed debt — in the biggest effort since the 2008 financial crisis to backstop the U.S economy as the spread of coronavirus poses a significant threat to its growth.

States taking new preventative actions

California called for all people 65 and older to shelter in their homes. New York City and Massachusetts moved to ban dining in bars and restaurants beginning this week, while Puerto Rico has imposed a nighttime curfew and is closing nonessential businesses. More than a dozen states have also already closed schools.  

Avoiding travel

It remains the KGSP’s strong recommendation that you avoid all travel during this period.  Travel not only increases your own risk of exposure, but also increases the possibility of your transmitting latent virus to other populations—including those more at risk that you may be.  If you do travel—even if the decision is last-minute—you must inform your advisor, and stay in regular communication.  KGSP must maintain an accurate summary of your location and status in order to best support you, especially should you face a quarantine, travel restrictions, or other complications. 

_________________________________________

Saturday, March 14, 2020

As this unprecedented week comes to a close, the Program would like to acknowledge the resiliency and responsiveness of the KGSP community.  The Program is committed to fully supporting you throughout this evolving situation, and your active engagement with those efforts is crucial—thank you.

In addition to individual communications from your advisor, the Program will share a daily news blast of updates from KSA and KAUST, the U.S., your local area and/or the Program.  This is designed to increase your own understanding—and therefore appropriate management—of this situation, and complement your own responsibility of taking precautionary best practices and following your home university’s / home location instructions.    As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or simply need advice or a reassuring word, never hesitate to reach out to your advisor.

KSA Updates

Confirmed Cases

There remain no confirmed COVID-19 cases currently on the KAUST campus.  103 cases have been confirmed in the Kingdom.

International Travel Advisory

The Saudi Ministry of Interior has decided to suspend all international flights, starting tomorrow, Sunday, March 15 at 11 a.m. Read the full announcement here

If you had planned to travel to KSA after this date and have questions, please contact your airline and update you advisor on any date changes and/or temporary housing needs.

Mandatory Home Quarantine

The Ministry of Health has announced that all individuals arriving into the Kingdom from abroad on or after March 13 must adhere to a home-based quarantine for 14 days.  Health inspections will occur upon arrival at the airport, followed by liaising with a health hotline during the period of voluntary home quarantine. 

High-risk Regions

The list of high-risk regions has been updated. Please refer to the list on the KAUST Health website as it is constantly updated.

Saudi Cultural Mission Updates

On March 13, the Cultural Mission announced a series of guidelines for the general population of Saudi students currently studying in the U.S.  These highlight a recommendation for students to follow preventative instructions issued by health authorities in local areas, and, due to the risk of contracting the virus while traveling, to continue pursuing their education from their current location.

USA Updates

Yesterday, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

_________________________________________