Minister for Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, has said that Universities will be allowed to operate at 66% capacity from next month.
Ndzimande has said that the decision to allow students to return to their campuses with a maximum of 66% of the student body in classes at a single time, in the next step of a phased plan that has so far only allowed universities to operate at 33% capacity at present. He says that the decision to increase capacity has been deliberated in accordance with detailed COVID-19 management plans in place across the sector and would ensure the continued safety of students and staff, according to IOL.
The students in groups that were prioritised and allowed to return at lockdown level 3, such as final year students, but couldn’t return due to overreaching the 33% capacity, will now be allowed back on a full-time basis. It includes students that require lab and research equipment as well as students that require practical placements and work-based learning to complete their academic year. First year undergraduate students will also be permitted to return.
Nzimande has also encouraged the students who are excluded and will need to wait until the country moves to lockdown level 1 to continue following remote multimodal teaching, learning and assessment protocols. This group includes international students that are currently outside of the country. Nzimande has also said, with students making the return to 66% capacity, that the academic year will be extended until the end of February 2021, with the new academic year starting from March 15, 2021.
In terms of digital learning devices for students unable to afford them, Nzimande also revealed that no bids to provide them through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have been successful so far, despite the fact that the department viewed them as crucial in this pandemic.
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