In a statement released on Tuesday, the University of Cape Town (UCT) announced that they will be taking a phased approach towards returning students to the campus.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Transformation and Student Affairs, Professor Loretta Feris, announced that the university will prioritise the health and safety of returning staff and students.
“We need to ensure we can continue practising social distancing, which means that we can’t use all the beds in residences. We also need to have screening and personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and students to return under sanitary conditions. The medical students will need to have a period of quarantine,” Feris says.
The return of students will be done in four phases.
- Phase 1: Final year medical students to return. This is in accordance with the announcement by Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr Blade Nzimande, who said that these final year students will need to complete their academic year and make use of clinical platforms. The university says that they have allocated residences that would be accommodating these students and have discussed the return to clinical platforms with Groote Schuur Hospital.
- Phase 2: Vulnerable students to return. These are students whose current conditions have a negative effect on their ability to learn away from the resources available at campus. These students will be returned to residences and will still continue with remote learning, but with additional academic support.
“But we need to identify these students,” Professor Feris added. “We need to understand
what vulnerability means in reference not only to a student’s ability to learn remotely
because of issues such as connectivity but also because of their socio-economic
circumstances. A small task team that includes colleagues in the Centre for Innovation in
Learning and Teaching are busy developing these criteria. This is ongoing.”
- Phase 3: Will allow students, who depend on facilities at the campus such as studios and laboratories, to return and complete the academic year.
- Phase 4: Will see the return of all students to the campus. This is also the final phase of the university’s phased approach.
Chief Operating Officer, Dr Reno Morar, says that the university will be conducting risk assessments at departmental, unit and operational levels to be fully prepared and allow for students to return.