Cape universities to reassess Covid-19 strategy for 2021
Cape Town - Universities in the province say they are awaiting confirmation from the government to fine-tune their plans for the 2021 academic year amid rising Covid-19 infections.
With the government’s expected announcement on regulations and protocols that will be in effect after January 15, Stellenbosch University (SU) officially reopened its doors yesterday, with some staff members still working from home.
For UWC students, the catch-up period for 2020 will resume on Wednesday.
UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said the 2021 academic year officially begins on March 8 and the university would be reassessing its strategy based on revised alert levels and the current spike in infections.
“For staff and students that need to be on campus the same protocol as per 2020 would apply. We will still be limiting numbers, permission and access letters will be required and screening will continue for those allowed to return to campus.
“For now the university will await the government’s announcement as per regulations and protocols that will be in effect after January 15 and then communicate a strategy in line with that,” said Abarder.
SU spokesperson Martin Viljoen said the university was planning for different scenarios.
Viljoen said that in accordance with a sectoral decision, SU would only start classes on March 15 – with some exceptions.
“Students in our Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences starting with clinical rotations during the first and second weeks of January 2021 will resume their training as communicated previously, but now within the protocols for level 3.
“It is not only individual universities that are adapting to the pandemic, the higher education model itself is changing. The lockdown restrictions on physical contact and large gatherings forced universities to suspend face-to-face tuition and switch to emergency remote teaching, learning and assessment. Not without its challenges, the transition to a new teaching mode has been successful to such an extent that it is bound to have a lasting effect on what we offer to whom, and how. Switching to fully online learning is still an interim emergency measure though, and Stellenbosch University will be resuming contact teaching as soon as possible,” said Viljoen.
UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said all UCT students in the country and international students who could return to South Africa were expected to be in Cape Town for the start of the academic year on March 15.
“Students in the Faculty of Health Sciences will need to be back earlier. During the first semester of 2021, UCT will offer all undergraduate courses in a physically distanced learning (PDL) mode.
“The Faculty of Health Sciences will manage its various programmes through a combination of online lectures and PDL in laboratories and on the clinical platform, according to Covid-19 health protocols.
“On registration, students will need to sign a commitment of adherence to Covid-19 health and safety protocols before being allowed on campus. UCT will identify study spaces on campus that meet health protocols for the use of day students,” said Moholola.