Campuses Experience an Increase in Covid-19 Cases
As Covid-19 cases rise within the institutions of higher learning, NEHAWU is becoming worried that campuses might become Covid-19 hotspots and create super spreaders.
The National Education, Health & Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) are worried about the rising number of positive Covid-19 cases in institutions of higher learning.
Over the last few weeks the University of Pretoria has recorded over a 100 positive Covid-19 cases, and other universities have also been seeing the number of positive cases growing fast.
Before allowing higher education institutions to open the national union made sure to plead with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), that all institutions would be ready for students and staff to return to campuses and all the necessary measures are taken to ensure that the institutions don't become Covid-19 super spreaders.
However, higher education institutions were far from ready as we see the positive Covid-19 cases begin to grow.
This prompted the national union to deploy its National Office Bearers (NOB’s) to do a fact-finding mission to assess the state of readiness of the institutions of higher learning for the start of the 2021 academic calendar, only to discover that majority of higher learning institutions were not at all ready.
Most institution did not have any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), there is not enough space to social distance and no proper sanitation stations or health and safety regulations were in place.
We reiterate our call for the department not to cut corners as this will lead to loss of lives and more disruption to the academic calendar.
This will be a great loss for students in underprivilege positions as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), does not have enough funds to supply more devices and provide students with allowance while not attending classes.
The Department of Higher Educations and Training, working with Higher Health, Department of Health, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) need to start screening, testing and tracing students and staff around campus to ensure that higher learning institutions do not become super spreaders.
We also call on Higher Health to increase its visibility in all campuses, particularly the historically disadvantaged institutions that do not have a lot of resources.
They are also urging the institutions to engage the Department of Health to expedite the rolling out of vaccines in the sector before the situation becomes even direr.
As the positive cases increase higher learning institutions are encouraged to uphold Covid-19 protocols, such as mask wearing, sanitation stations and social distancing as much as they can, and work to avoid a possible outbreak in the institution.
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