The University of South Africa (Unisa) has announced its plans which will allow staff and students to formally return to its various campuses under lockdown alert level 1.

Strangely announced late last night, on a Sunday, the five-point plan is as follows:

  • “The university will ensure that we comply with the 50% capacity threshold and compile a rotational duty roster so that a maximum of 50% of staff are at the office at any one time.
  • The Unisa Sunnyside Campus and Science Campus in Florida will open for students on Tuesday 29 September 2020. Unisa regional offices and other student service points will start opening for students from 1 October 2020 onwards.
  • Students who wish to visit a Unisa regional office will be required to make an appointment via the Unisa Booking app which will be communicated to students soon.
  • No Unisa venue may exceed 50% capacity. Larger venues may have a maximum of 250 people, as long as this does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity.
  • Social distancing protocols must be adhered to at all times. This includes two-metre distancing and the wearing of masks.”

As Unisa is known as a distance education university the need for campuses re-opening may seem strange, but many students depend on them for various parts of their education.

One big aspect of this is the university computer labs and internet connections which students may use. We saw how sorely this was missed under higher levels of lockdowns during the May / June exam period where Unisa moved all its exams online.

Many students were left without a way to connect due to high data costs, and the university needed to facilitate this, which lead to a partnership with MTN which saw all students receiving 30GB of mobile data each month for two months.

With all future exams at Unisa announced to be online, these campus facilities remain an essential tool for students who can now use these resources to continue studying and completing assignments.

The October / November exam period kicks off soon but with so many delays and the pandemic still ongoing, hopefully the opening of campuses will help students cope.