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Covid-19: UCT arranges student allowances as more universities shut

The University of the Free State has also suspended its academic programme. Univerisites across the country have announced the steps being taken to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
The University of the Free State has also suspended its academic programme. Univerisites across the country have announced the steps being taken to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Image: via Wikimedia Commons

More universities have suspended in-person academic programmes.

The University of the Free State (UFS) said its academic programme has been suspended until April 13.

“Alternative methods of teaching and learning are being assessed. Students will be informed regarding these methods as soon as possible,” rector and vice-chancellor Prof Francis Petersen said.

Information about the June examination will be communicated later. 

UFS said the arrangements did not apply to long-distance-learning students. 

The university has also cancelled graduation ceremonies, open days, and sporting and official events.

Students in residences must vacate their rooms by March 20. All residences will be closed until April 13.

Petersen said a suspension has been placed on all international travel for staff and students until June 30.

“This moratorium also extends to international guests visiting the UFS.  

“Local travel for official purposes is discouraged and may only take place for essential travel. Instead, staff is encouraged to use the necessary technology at their disposal.”

Petersen said staff and students who had travelled abroad in the past three weeks must self-quarantine for 14 days from the date of their return.

Staff members are expected to work to ensure operations and essential services continue.  

“Staff are requested to maintain social distance and to meet, if possible, only when essential.”

Alternative meeting methods such as MS teams, Skype for Business, and e-mail should be considered.

At the University of Cape Town, where some students threatened an #Occupy protest in reaction to a request to vacate their residences, management has announced travel measures to support students.

The measures include ensuring immediate payment of allowances to all students who are on financial aid, working with external travel agencies on possible travel plans for students, working with the department of home affairs in cases involving foreign students  and making provision for the safe storage of students’ personal belongings.

“The decision to close residences was taken following extensive discussions with experts in the field,” UCT said.

“The residences, where large numbers of students live in close proximity, pose a high risk in terms of spreading the infection. In addition, it presents a risk of a mass outbreak, and this could add enormous further strain on a health system that will be stretched to capacity in the next weeks. By all accounts, the prevention of the virus is key to fighting the pandemic and avoiding disaster. Keeping the residences open would not be responsible and would have added significantly to the risk of the virus spreading rapidly.”

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) said it had deactivated its biometric scanners at all entrances and placed hand sanitisers at key points to limit the risk of infections.

Vice-chancellor Prof Tshilidzi Marwala said classes, tests, graduations and practicals had been suspended.

He said staff members were expected to continue to report for duty, adding that the university would consider the option of working remotely.  

Students will have the choice to remain in their residences for the upcoming autumn recess. The university’s libraries and laboratories will remain open.

Necessary measures will be implemented to minimise risks. International travel has also been cancelled.

The Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth has also suspended all its  academic programme, events, conferences and public gatherings on campus.

International travel is prohibited.

“While academic activities have been suspended, university operations continue, unless circumstances change. Staff are expected to continue working to ensure no disruption to university operations,” vice-chancellor Prof Sibongile Muthwa said.

North West University said its recess will be from March 17-29, and all graduation ceremonies have been postponed until further notice.

Teaching-learning will be conducted through an online mode via eFundi from March 30- April 30.

Work-integrated learning, workplace learning and practicals will be rescheduled for later in the semester/year, management said, adding that professional bodies would be engaged regarding assessments for work-integrated learning and workplace learning.

Students who are unable to leave the residences will be accommodated in designated residences and must observe social distancing and hygiene practices as advised.

Post-graduate students who need to engage in practical or laboratory-based work will be granted access to facilities through the directors or deans. This will be applicable to groups of 15 students or less.

Facilities such as libraries and other services deemed critical will continue to be available. — Additional reporting by Mpho Koka 

This article is part of our coronavirus coverage. Find the collection here.

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