The Department of Higher Education and Training has decided not to resume campus-based activity when Level 4 of the lockdown commences on Friday.
“We have decided not to resume with campus-based academic activity throughout the sector, including all universities and TVET (technical vocational education and training) colleges, both public and private, during the Level 4 lockdown period,” Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said at a briefing on Thursday afternoon.
President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced a risk-adjusted strategy, composed of five levels of lockdown, in order to allow for the reopening of the economy while at the same time managing the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
As a result, South Africa will be shifting from Level 5 to Level 4 on Friday, which will see a slight easing of the lockdown restrictions.
While campus-based activity will not resume under Level 4, an exception will be made for final year clinical students, Nzimande said.
“The only exception will be the controlled return of final year clinical training (medical) students, under strict conditions, to also directly assist with the health management campaign of the Department of Health.”The risk of a return to normal campus-based activity for thousands of students and staff is simply too great, and cannot function successfully outside of the national context of a general lockdown,” Nzimande explained.
Planning and preparation
The department will use this phase for planning and preparation at all universities and TVET colleges, as well as the mobilisation of resources.
“Our collective efforts during this period remains that of putting appropriate remote learning support systems in place for all our PSET (post school education and training) institutions, using whatever means available, while preparing our institutional capacities for the eventual return of students and staff once conditions permit such,” he added.
From 1 May until South Africa moves to a lower level of lockdown, the department has put in place measures for remote learning.
This includes developing and implementing effective multi-modal remote learning systems (digital, analogue and physical delivery of learning materials) to provide support to learners.
“As we are in an unprecedented emergency, we have to use all available tools to reach our students, fully cognisant that it will not substitute the need for contact learning when conditions permit.