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Covid-19 Update: 26 May 2020

​Dear UJ Community

As you are aware, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Hon Dr Blade Nzimande made his pronouncement on 23 May 2020 regarding how the post-school education and training sector will operate under the COVID-19 national lockdown Level 3. On 24 May 2020, H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed the easing of the lockdown from Level 4 to Level 3 from 1 June 2020. Johannesburg was identified as a hotspot in terms of COVID-19 infections. There is no clarity on the implications of this as yet. The University will continue to monitor developments in this regard.

The Minister was unequivocal that under Level 3, a maximum of 33% of the student population will be allowed to return to campuses and residences. As matters stand, it is expected that 100% of the student population will only be able to return to campuses under Level 1. The return to campus is on condition that students can be safely accommodated and supported in line with the health and safety protocols, as directed by the disaster management regulations. The Minister indicated that students who will be prioritised include those under the following categories:

  • Students in the final year of their programmes, who are on a path to graduating in 2020.
  • Final year students who require access to laboratories, technical equipment, data, connectivity.
  • Health Science students in all years of study, that require clinical training in their programmes.
  • Post Graduate students who require laboratory equipment and other technical equipment to undertake their studies.
  • Students who may face extreme difficulties in their home learning environments provided that the above categories are prioritized, and all safety and logistical requirements are met.

With regards to students returning to residences, the Minister is of the view that this should be determined at the discretion of various institutions, aligned to government’s guidelines on precautionary measures to mitigate the risk of exposure to the virus. The reintegration plan also prioritises specific groups of students such as:

  • Students living with disabilities, 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 are in place.

Students identified will be allowed back on campuses two to three weeks after the easing of the lockdown to Level 3 on 1 June 2020. This is to allow students to travel back to their campuses and for institutions to ensure that campuses are effectively prepared for the return.

As such, the University of Johannesburg has resolved that 33% of its student population should return to campus on Monday, 15 June 2020. The University is working on clear criteria to identify students who are eligible to return to campuses and residences, in line with the Minister’s statement. Further details will be communicated as soon as possible, and only staff and students identified to return will be allowed on campuses and in residences. The rest of our students must continue to work remotely as teaching and learning online will continue. As far as possible, lectures will continue online other than practical/ experimental/ lab work etc., which will require on campus presence and cannot be completed remotely. The university undertakes to provide as much support as is possible to students during this period.

Our academic and support/administrative staff members may be wondering what the implications of the announcements are for them under Level 3. Staff that are required to return will be notified in due course and until then we urge staff to continue to work remotely. We will adhere to the President’s message that all staff members who are older than 60 years of age and those who suffer from underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer should ideally stay at home. In the event that it is absolutely necessary for the above mentioned staff to return to work, the University will ensure that precautions will be taken.

We are using the next two weeks to ensure that our campuses are prepared for the return of students and staff, and that all the requisite precautionary measures such as cleaning screening, sanitising and personal protection equipment are in place. As we continue with our integration plans to be prepared for return to campuses, we wish to remind you of the President’s profound message. He said the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa is going to get worse before it gets better and that the duration, scale and impact of the pandemic depends on our actions as a society and on our behaviour as individuals.

Lastly, please continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for important information, including health and wellbeing. Here is also an article compiled by Dr Elize Smit, Department of Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Science, on “Good Hygiene Tips.” It is now in our hands!

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//.

Should you experience any flu-like symptoms which include a cough, difficulty in breathing, fever and tiredness, or if you test positive for COVID-19, please contact the following healthcare practitioners at our UJ Clinic:

  • For staff and postdoctoral research fellows: contact Sister Elana Venter on 082 341 0299 or eventer@uj.ac.za
  • For students: contact Sister Miemie Geya on 082 455 8451 or mgeya@uj.ac.za

You may also contact the NICD via the hotline number 0800 029 999 or the WhatsApp line 0600 123456

We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures, hygiene and social distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times.

Issued by University Management

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