Universities and colleges have revised their plans for the return of their students and researchers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Universities and colleges have revised their plans for the return of their students and researchers amid the Covid-19 pandemic. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Universities to reopen with caution amid Covid-19 pandemic

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jun 19, 2020

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Cape Town - Universities and colleges have revised their plans for the return of their students and researchers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following the recent update by UCT Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng in which she said UCT was developing a framework for returning to campus, the university is now ready to get researchers, post-doctoral fellows and research-based postgraduates back to campus.

UCT Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation, Sue Harrison, said while many researchers and postgraduates had an urgent need to return to their laboratories and studios on campus, “this has to be done with the appropriate health and safety precautions in place”.

Harrison said they recognised that community infection rates remained higher in the Cape Town area and would not want UCT to fall into a cycle of again closing down operations and units they have just reopened.

“The possibility of closing and reopening may well result in the likelihood that many staff and students would be unable to complete their research and teaching commitments for the year,” she said.

Stellenbosch University's Institutional Committee for Business Continuity Chair, Stan du Plessis, said the good news was that all the faculty priorities for undergraduate and postgraduate students could be met while remaining within the 33% total student headcount as regulated by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Du Plessis said it was expected that the selection of postgraduate students might be able to resume on-campus work from July 1, and the selected undergraduate students would start academic activities on their campuses from the start of the second semester on July 27.

Earlier this week, Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer welcomed back senior students at the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, where he was briefed on the level of Covid-19 preparedness as well as the planned academic programme over the next three months.

West Coast College Deputy Principal: Innovation and Development Rhazia Hamza said that as an institution, they knew that the protection of staff and students was the number one priority, even though they wanted education and training to resume.

@SISONKE_MD

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Cape Argus

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