Concerns that COVID-19 cases could rise at university residences

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Students’ representative councils at universities have raised concerns that positive COVID-19 cases could continue to rise if residences remain open.

Universities across the country have had to once again move teaching and learning to online platforms and shut campuses as the country faces the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The third wave is being pushed by the Delta variant which was first identified in India and is also impacting the youth. However, students’ residences remain open as some students are unable to return home.

Institutions of higher learning are also expected to ensure the safety and health of students living in these residences.

Delta variant explained:

Earlier this year, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) decided that the institution would for the remainder of 2021 academic year continue with a blended learning approach.

This means that all lectures will be taught online for the rest of the year, unless the students are required for on-campus academic activities, such as practical or laboratory work.

UJ management says, however, after assessing the risks and impact of COVID-19 in the midst of the third wave – it has decided to allow students to remain in its residences.

The university says it has put in place measures to support students opting to remain in residences. The measures include an adjusted institutional curfew of between 7pm and 6am, and a strict application of the COVID-19 regulations.

Wits University has also had to make adjustments to its teaching and learning programme.

University’s spokesperson Shirona Patel says, “The majority of our exams are online, but there are some that have been scheduled to take place in person. In this regard, we are rescheduling the exams for August 2021, postponing them in some instances. Unfortunately, we are not in a position to keep libraries open any longer as regulations prohibit this. We do have 5 000 students staying in residences. There are no sharing facilities. In terms of dining halls, we don’t do sit-downs, all our meals are takeaways.”

Universities move to teaching and learning online due to COVID-19 third wave: