University Update – Covid-19 Interventions

29 May 2020

 From the onset of the countrywide lockdown, the University has been hard at work to ensure that all efforts are taken in saving the academic year. In this process, we remain conscious of the absolute need to safeguard the health and safety of our students and staff at all times. This is to ensure a safe resumption of any academic activity in the University.

We are aware that the statement of the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation of 23 May 2020 may have created an expectation that our students will necessarily be returning to campus on 1st June 2020. The truth is different. Minister Nzimande envisaged that from the 1st June 2020 remote multimodal teaching and learning will be in place at our institutions.

The University wishes to clarify firstly that the return of students will not happen without a plan. The return will be informed by a determination of our readiness to take this step. As Minister pointed out, only 33% of students can be considered for return for Level 3 of the lockdown.

Appropriate announcements will be made going forward regarding these matters. In the meantime, the University has embarked on the following measures in pursuance of the objective of managing the transition including attending to the teaching and learning agenda:

Teaching and Learning Materials

First, the University has tirelessly worked on the development and implementation of remote, flexible multimodal teaching and learning platforms. To this end, paper based learning materials have been produced and are in the final stages of been dispatched to various districts where students are located. The paper based materials will be supplemented with USBs containing packaged learning materials. An announcement regarding delivery plans will be communicated soon.

Second, the University has ramped up its digital platform to ensure that students can remotely access learning materials from its various online portals. Some of the learning materials will be sent via students’ personal email addresses.

The above efforts are being taken to ensure that all students are given a fair opportunity to complete the academic year 2020.

Campus Readiness

The University is busy working on a plan to prepare for the eventual return of staff and students to campus. This includes adherence to protocols on screening, testing and linkage to care and the provision of personal protective equipment where necessary. In addition, the University has introduced routine cleaning as per the specification of the COVID-19 protocol.

For now, there will be no campus based activity. The University will be announcing in the coming weeks the return of the first category of students as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.

Special permits will be issued to each category of returning students. Students that are outside this list will not be allowed on campus.

NSFAS Students

NSFAS is fully operational and continues to disburse allowances to all its beneficiaries. The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation has repeatedly assured that NSFAS will support its beneficiaries with digital devices. The University is liaising with the authorities to see how soon this pledge can be realised.

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT