BY CARLA VISAGIE
Prof Stan du Plessis, Institutional Committee for Business Continuity Chair (ICBC), announced, in an email to students on 15 June, which categories of students will be allowed to return to campus.
According to the email, 33% of the student population will be allowed to return to campus, and the identified 33% will be notified with an invitation. The selected postgraduate students may be able to resume on-campus work from 1 July 2020, and the selected undergraduate students from the start of the second semester on 27 July 2020.
“All of the 33% invited students will have to respond to the invitation by completing an online form, and either accepting or declining the invitation. All returning students will have to sign a Code of Conduct to comply with the requirements as set out in the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Directions. On completion of the online form and accepting the Code of Conduct, the returning student will receive a certificate to travel to the campus aligned to the Alert Level 3 Regulations,” the email reads.
The categories of students that will be allowed to return to campus include: Students who still need to do compulsory academic work on campus in order to graduate in 2020, students who need to complete practical work in campus laboratories or need access to specialised software or research materials available on campus only, students who must comply with requirements for on-campus work set by professional bodies, postgraduate students who require access to laboratories or technical equipment.
According to the email students who have “difficulties in their home learning environments” will also be considered “after the above categories have been taken into account”.
“These students, for example those who are struggling to study due to circumstances at home, may apply to return to their residence where they will be able to continue with online learning. Written motivations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 22 June 2020 for consideration by a central committee,” Du Plessis said in his email.
Du Plessis added that even though only the identified 33% of students will be issued with a certificate by Stellenbosch University (SU) enabling them to travel, the directions from the DHET of 8 June allow for “students who live in private rented accommodation close to campuses to return, but their access to campus must be restricted to keep the campus population to one-third of the capacity, consistent with Level 3 risk for spread of the infection”.
“Students in this group who are not part of the 33% identified to return to campus for academic purposes, will not be issued with a certificate by the University that would enable them to travel. However, they do have access to their proof of registration via the Student Portal and, should the owners of the rental accommodation be willing to issue them with an invitation to return to their private accommodation, the University will have no objection, bearing in mind that these students will not have access to campus facilities unless they have been invited back as part of the first 33% of returning students,” the email reads.
Students who are included in the 33% and who may return and who also have a place in university accommodation will also “be invited to return to their residences if the residence capacity allows”, but “students will be given the opportunity to indicate whether they will return to their residence or not by completing the online form”.
If a student declines the invitation to return to residence, they will be offered the option to cancel their residence place without a cancellation fee, but in that case the individual will also cancel their residence place for 2021, the email stated.
According to Du Plessis students returning to both residences and private accommodation will be required to “self-isolate for 14 days as prescribed by the Department of Health, and will not be able to move about freely” upon return.
Du Plessis added that SU will purchase data bundles again for July 2020 for the remaining students that will continue their studies online (excluding international students, Faculty of Military Science students, students still in residences, short course students and postdoctoral fellows).