24 June 2020

UMP campuses will be reopened for 338 students from these schools: Agricultural Sciences, Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Hospitality Management. Students who will return to campus are those in their final year of study, and postgraduates who require access to laboratories, technical equipment, and clinical training to undertake their studies.

The action plan for a safe and secure reopening has been carefully developed and the following measures have been put in place:

Hygiene measures
Proper hygiene and sanitation protocols are vital when it comes to the management of the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus. The University has developed a schedule for deep cleaning and disinfection of facilities to ensure that areas are kept clean. Further measures include the following:

  • Sanitizing stations at strategic locations across campuses. These will be visibly marked for easy identification.
  • Every person entering the University will be sanitized.
  • Every University car will be supplied with sanitizers, applied when passengers come on board.
  • The University will provide liquid soaps in appropriate areas and encourage everyone to regularly wash hands with soap and water.
  • The University has identified a number of priority areas to be cleaned and disinfected more frequently due to their location in high-traffic areas in line with approved guidelines for work place cleaning and disinfection.

Screening, testing and personal protective equipment (PPE)
No person shall enter the University without being screened at the entrance.

  • Daily screening will be compulsory.
  • A person who is found to have a high temperature or presenting any of the signs of being sick shall not be allowed to enter the campus and shall be advised to seek medical attention.
  • The use of appropriate PPEs, including masks is one of the key approaches to assist with the management of the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
  • The wearing of masks on campus is compulsory. No mask, no entry.
  • Maintenance and cleaning staff will be expected to wear PPEs for all tasks necessary to protect themselves in the process, including handling of trash and chemicals.

Isolation facility
The University will provide a facility for isolation in line with the PSET guidelines. The isolation facility will only be used for on-campus students, however there will be instances when they will be referred to the Department of Health facilities.

  • Students who live at home or in private accommodation will be expected to self-isolate in their respective places of residence or at any Department of Health facility.
  • On-campus students who live in single rooms will be expected to self-isolate in their rooms.
  • The University will work closely with the Provincial Department of Health regarding any need for the quarantine of staff and students.

Social (physical) distancing
Physical distancing is of critical importance and common areas for staff and students have been re-configured to facilitate social distancing measures.

  • All University transport will adhere to the 70% carrying capacity guideline.
  • The number of students per class will be limited to an acceptable number of students, allowing for the minimum of 1.5 - 2m distance between them.
  • There will be markings on the floors in all entrances to high volume venues, such as the library, dining halls, etc and common spaces have be demarcated by barrier masking tape to regulate the movement of students and staff.
  • Meetings of more than three people will be held remotely via the online platforms. Meetings with external people will only be held via teleconference or online platforms.
  • No personal visitors are allowed on campus.
  • Events, functions and mass gatherings, generally, remain suspended.

Residences and private accommodation
It is important to clearly indicate that the return of some students to the University under Level 3 does not imply the end of the National Lockdown. Students who return to residences are expected to fully comply with the lockdown regulations and directives.

On-campus residences

  • The University will only accept students who qualify to return to campus under Level 3 as stipulated above.
  • Students in residences are expected to observe all protocols relating to screening, observe physical distancing at all times and no inter-room visits are not allowed.
  • Students will not be allowed to leave campus, unless when going to get essentials or to seek medical attention.
  • No visitors will be allowed on campus and students may not meet any persons at the gate.
  • Resident students will be expected to stay in their rooms most of the times outside lecture/laboratory time.
  • Students and staff are expected to practice social distancing when in common areas like the dining halls, tuck shops, cafeteria, etc.

Private accommodation
The accredited private accommodation facilities are expected to be inline with the PSET guidelines on the readiness of the facilities. As a safety measure the Student Housing will visit the accredited private accommodation facilities to verify their readiness plans. The following will apply to students in private accommodation:

  • Students from private accommodation will be screened every time they come to campus.
  • Should a student in private accommodation have a high temperature or present any of the symptoms, such a student will be advised to seek medical attention.

Lectures and laboratories
Access and use of the face-to-face teaching and learning facilities will be kept to a minimum. When these facilities need to be used, lecturers, students and staff will practice social distancing and wear face masks at all times.

  • Where necessary, staff and students must wear appropriate PPEs.
  • It will be compulsory that windows and doors, where appropriate, in all lecture venues and laboratories be opened to allow for fresh air ventilation.
  • Staff and students are expected to enter and leave the teaching and learning venues in a manner that does not compromise physical distancing.

Library services
The library and information services centre will continue to provide services to staff and students during Level 3. The Library is one of the high-traffic areas at the University. It is therefore imperative that the practice and observance of all the precautionary measures are adhered to:

  • Library opening hours will be restricted to 10am to 2pm.
  • A maximum of 15 minutes will be given per user for the collection of books.
  • A maximum of 20 minutes will be given to users inside the library; no more than 10 users at a time
  • No mask, no entry.
  • Users will be screened before being allowed to enter.
  • Frequent sanitization of surfaces for book drops, circulation counters, tables, and the self-checkout machines is imperative.
  • Social distancing must be observed at all times.
  • No use of photocopiers until further notice.
  • Library online services continue to be available via Moodle or the library website from Monday to Friday (8am to 8pm).
Payment transactions are postponed until further notice.

Dining and cooking facilities
The dining and cooking facilities are high-traffic zones on campus. These facilities require that the users adhere to, and observe, the strict protocols applicable in these facilities.

  • Only one dining hall will be used during Level 3 and diners are expected to observe physical distancing by following the markings
    on the floors.
  • The kitchen will be sanitised daily before and after every use.
  • The chairs and tables have been arranged to allow for physical distancing and may not be moved around.
  • Students using the self-catering facility are expected to keep the facility clean at all times,
  • Kitchen staff will adhere to, and observe, strict procedures that comply with COVID-19 requirements at all times, ie: use of sanitizers, wear PPEs at all times, wash hands, utensils and clean surfaces at all times.

Campus Clinic services
The Campus Clinic will be provided with the necessary pharmaceutical supplies to assist with supporting the health of students. Students who have comorbidities are expected to notify the clinic accordingly. The clinic will continue with the referral of special cases.

The above plan of action has been carefully developed and considered. It is our hope that it will leave us very well prepared for the next batch of students to join us on campus again.

@ Information from University of Mpumalanga. Picture @Chrisclphoto