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UCT Prepares Ground for Phased-in Approach Return To Campus

NYAKALLO TEFU

The University of Cape Town says three groups of students would be the first to return to campus in a phased-in approach as institutions find ways to bring back direct teaching and learning. The three groups include final year medical students, academically vulnerable students and those needing access to campus labs in order to complete their studies.

This was announced by Professor Loretta Feris during an online special assembly hosted by UCT Vice Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

“In line with the government’s COVID-19 guidelines, the University of Cape Town (UCT) will follow a principled, four-phase approach to students’ return to campus”, said Feris.

UCT said Phase 1 will be for final-year medical students, this after Minister Blade Nzimande announced that final-year medical students needed to return to campus to access clinical platforms and complete their academic year.
“Conversations are ongoing about the return of other final-year Faculty of Health Sciences students,” said Feris.

The next phase, Phase 2, is for vulnerable students which is based on their ability to learn remotely under current conditions, among other considerations.

“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”, added Feris.

Phase 3 is for students who need to be on campus to complete the academic year, while Phase 4 is the return of all other students to campus, circumstances permitting.

Phakeng said the pandemic and lockdown have no doubt disrupted the academic programme, and the UCT leadership is mindful that this has led to staff and students feeling frustrated, uncertain and overwhelmed.

“Through this enormous challenge, staff continue to make extraordinary efforts in helping provide a steer for the institution”, said Phakeng.

During the online special assembly, the institution emphasized that they would ensure that the health of staff and students is a priority.

“We need to ensure we can continue practicing social distancing, which means that we can’t use all the beds in residences”, said Feris.

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