The Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology’s minister, Dr Blade Nzimande has announced this afternoon that South African universities will enter early recess from 18th March.

The minister was speaking at a meeting with Higher Education stakeholders held on Tuesday.

During the briefing, Nzimande said that his department was working closely with the Department of Health to co-ordinate a response to the spread of COVID-19.

“At today’s meeting we agreed on the following immediate measures. All post-school institutions, education and training institutions will be closed for early recess with effect from tomorrow, the 18th of March. This includes the normal planned institutional breaks that we were going to be having,” said Nzimande.

The minister said that many institutions were already planning to close by the end of this week or early next week.

While universities plan to re-open on 15th April, the minister says the exact date for re-opening will be based on the assessment of the course of the virus.

In a bid to emphasis that this is not a shut down, Nzimande said that some academic activities – such as research – would still continue.

“It’s not a shutdown, it’s an early recess for our institutions,” said Nzimande.

“As a sector we will continue to meet to assess the situation regarding COVID-19 so that we can make decisions based on developments in relation to the virus itself,” added the minister.

Universities will also announce measures they will take to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

For university students we will continue to provide updates as the days wear on but for now, self-isolate, wash your hands and enjoy the early recess.

The briefing in full can be viewed below.