A gradual return to campus life will start this coming Monday for some students at the University of KwaZulu Natal under level 3 lockdown.
The university has announced its staggered action plan that will involve a third of the student population being allowed to return to the campuses, with strict measures being put in place to safeguard the health of everyone concerned.
“The logistics and planning for the return of the students and staff are complex and has to be undertaken both carefully and systematically, especially in light of the rapidly increasing confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 nationally over the last two weeks.
“We do not want to jeopardise the health and safety of our students and staff, and therefore a carefully mitigated approach that minimises risk was sought,” said Normah Zondo, acting executive director; Corporate Relations.
The confirmed categories for a return to campus are:
1. Final year undergraduate students in laboratory-based programmes, who are on track to complete their degrees in this academic year;
2. Students in programmes which are clinically-based (lists determined by the College of Health Sciences);
3. Students with disabilities;
4. SRC Executive;
5. Student residence assistants, student life officers and residence assistant officers;
6. Undergraduate students that have not been able to access Moodle and who are not already included in (1) and (2). Those to be included are determined by analysis of data on access to Moodle by ICS and Institutional Intelligence;
7. Post-graduate students who require access to laboratory equipment. Each College has compiled lists;
8. Honours and post-graduate diploma students whose work is laboratory-based;
9. Students appointed as laboratory demonstrators for the students in the programmes that will be eligible to return to campus.
Zondo said colleges would be contacting individual students this week to tell them they can return. She said students who have not been contacted MUST NOT return to campus.
“There will be stringent regulations with regard to the access of campuses and residences, and therefore students that are not in possession of a permit will be denied access,” Zondo said.
Students who are at high risk of infection due to health issues, including comorbidities, are encouraged not to return to campus and to continue with online teaching and learning. There will be no contact teaching and learning (i.e. physical lectures), except in laboratories.
All students who can continue to study online are encouraged to do so.
Due to health and safety measures, and ensuring compliance with regulations, students may not necessarily be accommodated in the residence that they were allocated to in pre-lockdown. Eligible students will be informed of their assigned residences. Students returning to university-owned and leased residences will be expected to self-isolate for a period of 14 days on returning to the residence. Further details on health screening and training of students on health and safety etiquette will be provided.
Students who have been contacted by the colleges and have been informed that they are eligible to return to the campuses from Monday, 29 June 2020 will have to apply for permits.
“We look forward to welcoming our students back to campus. However, we must emphasize that the return to campus will come with the expectation of a strong sense of personal and community responsibility, particularly with respect to compliance with regulations and adherence to all health and safety protocols.
“Every student returning to campus will have to consent and adhere to a strict code of conduct,” Zondo said.