Last week the Department of Basic Education (DBE) outlined its plan for students to return to primary and high school, with it highlighting several issues that have not been fully considered. Over the weekend, it was the turn of the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, to unpack what university and college students will be doing.

Like the DBE, much of the Higher Education department’s plan hinged off of June 1st, which is when the entire country would be placed on alert level 3 lockdown, as the Presidency confirmed last night during a national address.

To that end, Nzimande explained that a maximum of 33 percent of students would be allowed back on campuses, delivery sites and residences under level 3 lockdown.

Of that 33 percent, a specific group of students will be allowed to return to their tertiary institutions – final year and postgraduate students.

This as many of them are required to make use of the facilities available on campus in order to complete their qualification.

While addressing the media in a press briefing on Saturday, Nzimande also made special mention of medical and clinical students.

“Students in all years of study that require clinical training in their programmes provided that the clinical training platforms have sufficient space and can accommodate them while adhering to the safety protocols,” the minister said.

He also noted that a two to three week period should be afforded to tertiary institutions once the level 3 lockdown date is announced.

“Should level 3 be announced to begin on 15 June, then students would be recalled to start two to three weeks thereafter. In other words, a period of two to three weeks will be given to allow students to travel back to their campuses and institutions to ensure that the campuses are effectively prepared for the return,” he noted.

“It is critical that we adhere to these criteria to ensure that campuses are ready for students to safely return, and the effective health screening, cleaning protocols are in place to keep everyone safe,” added Nzimande.

As such, tertiary students should expect to be allowed back onto campus, should they meet specific requirements outlined by the department and the institution, from 15th June onwards.

With 16th June being Youth Day, it certainly outs the chaotic times we find ourselves in, into perspective.

[Image – Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash]