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COVID-19 Update

Dear Staff and Students

As you know, the President of South Africa, HE Cyril Ramaphosa, has at the weekend announced a further relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions, this time from National Lockdown Level 3 to Level 2. This decision was because the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections has been dropping steadily over the last three weeks, while the recovery rate has been improving. Fewer people are now presenting with symptoms at our health facilities than before.

The relaxation of the restrictions to the National Lockdown 2 has implications for the Post School Education and Training System (PSET) or higher education sector, as more staff and students can now be allowed back on campus, with the appropriate health and safety protocols in place. This will be done in accordance with the additional 33% (up to 66%) limit on students who can return, as per the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) regulations gazetted on 8 June 2020. In line with promulgated regulations for the national Lockdown Level 2, eligible students will be considered for reintegration on campus under the following criteria (subject to the 66% limit applicable):

  • All groups that have already returned or had been prioritised in Level 3 but could not be accommodated due to the maximum campus carrying capacity having been reached.
  • Students in all years of study who require laboratory and technical equipment to complete the academic year
  • Students in all years of study who require practical placements/ experiential learning/ workplace-based learning to complete the academic year (provided the workplaces and platforms are open and prepared).
  • First year students in all undergraduate programmes.

It is important to note that even under Lockdown Level 2, and as previously communicated, all teaching and learning will continue to remain online for the duration of the semester. Only those programmes or modules that require in person contact provisioning, such as laboratory work, clinical placements, experiential learning, etc., will be offered on campus in contact mode. As such, in this second phase of return, priority will be given to those students who are required to be on campus in order to complete aspects of their programme of study that cannot be done online. Furthermore, and subject to availability of places within the 66% limit, the university will endeavour to accommodate additional groups of vulnerable students, particularly those in need of ease of access to connectivity or living in circumstances where studying is difficult.

Eligible students will receive letters notifying them to return. Access permits will also be issued to those identified for return during this phase. All other students will continue to be supported through remote teaching learning and assessment until such time that they can return to campuses. We understand the challenges that this presents itself with and reassure you of our commitment to supporting you over the coming months.

The University will use the next two weeks to ensure that campuses and residences are sufficiently prepared for the reintegration of students who are eligible for the return whilst ensuring that we do not exceed numbers as per the government regulations for Lockdown Level 2.

With regards to the return to residences, the University will also adhere to the Department’s guidelines. This will be done in accordance with the following criteria:

  • The numbers that can be accommodated to enable physical distancing
  • The handling of communal spaces, hygiene requirements and dining hall arrangements and adherence to and all health and safety protocols must be in place.
  • Specific groups of students who are living with disabilities,
  • Students who are not able to access connectivity where they live or are living in circumstances where studying is difficult.
  • Students who live in private rented accommodation close to campuses may also return provided physical distancing arrangements and other precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of the virus are in place.
  • Students who may face extreme difficulties in their home learning environments, provided that the above categories are prioritised, and all safety and logistical requirements are met.

Staff who are required to return will be contacted via the Deans or Heads of Department/Division. The required access permits will be issued one staff have been identified and notified.

Below are the University’s guidelines for the implementation of our Reintegration Plan for the partial return of students and staff to campuses and residences:

  • All staff, postdoctoral research fellows and students will be subjected to a safety induction process, which will include the completion of the declaration of indemnity forms.
  • All staff, students and external stakeholders to complete a compulsory screening.
  • All staff, students, and external stakeholders must wear cloth masks at all times (they will collect masks upon first entering campus).
  • All line managers in various departments/divisions are required to perform and report on a risk assessment of their respective work environments.
  • Additionally, all returning staff and students should provide names of contact persons (next of kin) to staff at Campus Health Service when requested, should they become symptomatic. This is in adherence to Departments of Health and Employment and Labour guidelines.

Further communication about the University’s Reintegration Plan will be communicated soon. We assure you of our commitment to public health and safety protocols designed to make our University as safe as possible while COVIS-19 is still in our midst.

Please continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for valuable information, including health and wellbeing. Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: https://www.uj.ac.za/news/corona-virus//. We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and social distancing at all times.

Issued by University Management

University of Johannesburg

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