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All Students Might Be Back On Campuses For Level 1


Following the President's level 1 announcement, we now await further instructions from the Department of Higher Education. Previosuly, the Minister announced which selection of the student body will be returning at the different levels of the National Lockdown.


Under level 1, all staff and students are set to return to campuses. We now await further instructions from the Department of Higher Education.

Sol Plaatje University (SPU) has said, "Our national lockdown is now at Alert Level 1 under which it is expected that we move to greater normality in our operations." 

The announcement for Level 1 has officially been said by President Ramaphosa. Students and parents all over now wait for Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, to hold a briefing discussing changes in the higher education sector now that we are on Level 1 of the National Lockdown.

The University of Cape Town announced, "only those who have received written invitations or letters of authorisation may return". The University of the Western Cape has also decided to follow the same route.

It was previously reported that 100% of students will return two weeks after President Ramaphosa announced Lockdown Level 1. Students who aren't returning will continue their multi-modal learning at home. 

Some Universities, like SPU, will see a return of all students to campuses by the end of October. Under SPU's instruction however, students previously had a choice on whether they want to return or not but all must return for level 1.

As to how this will play out on campuses, SPU explained, "The University will continue with online teaching and learning for the remainder of this year, as well as making provision for small group contact sessions; individual consultation sessions with academics; and participation in practical exercises on campus."

More students being allowed on campuses surely has advantages for academic programmes at institutions. The Department of Higher Education is now targeting all institutions to complete the academic year by the end of February 2021 and have the 2021 academic year start between 15 March and 15 April 2021.

Nzimande previously explained that while some institutions might be able to complete the academic year by November or December, others might need until April next year to finish all teaching and assessment. He stressed that such a large gap would be undesirable and only exacerbate the gap between the privileged institutions and those who are struggling.  It could lead to the better-resourced varsities having the first pick of top students for the following academic year, further entrenching the gap. 

Those institution who are at risk of ending in April will work closely with the Department as they want to start the academic year around that time. All stakeholders agreed that there shouldn't be major differences when it comes to opening Universities.

With multiple warnings from Government and the Department itself that caution needs to be taken to stop a possible resurgence of Covid-19 in the country, SPU endeavours to "remain vigilant about our health and safety and to maintain our good adherence to the measures that have been put in place".

Government's aim is to keep students and staff as safe as possible and work in solidarity to save the academic year while giving all students a fair opportunity to finish their academic year. All institutions have prepared their campuses in line with higher health protocols.




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