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Senate, at a special meeting yesterday, 21 April 2020, discussed the academic implications of the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and assessed the University’s readiness to offer teaching and learning through a blended mode.

Over the last few weeks the University and the Higher Education Sector has had to overcome numerous challenges arising from the national lockdown.

At Sol Plaatje University dedicated staff have worked under difficult circumstances to keep the University operational, and essential service and administrative staff received special permits to perform their duties on campus.

During this time our academic staff have also been engaged in preparations to begin offering our students a blended mode of teaching and learning which would primarily be online.

It is envisaged that we would commence with the academic programme from 4 May 2020 for a period of two to three months.

Senate has approved an amendment to the academic calendar. The revised 2020 academic calendar can be downloaded here.

Depending on when the national restrictions around travel and gatherings will be lifted, students could return to the University during the second semester. The exact date of when this will happen would be communicated to students.

We will need a complete restructuring of the second semester to allow for completion of the academic year. In addition, we would have to implement a phased return of students to the University by giving priority to those who have experiential learning requirements and to senior students in their final year of study.

Our staff will return to work on campus as soon as we have certainty that the national lockdown restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so in terms of health and safety regulations. The exact date will be dependent on changes in the national landscape.

The return of service providers such as contractors is yet to be determined and is subject to national regulations.

Higher Education sector as a whole will be providing online teaching and learning in formats that work for individual universities. These measures are therefore not unique to Sol Plaatje University nor are the challenges associated with its success.

As a new University that started just seven years ago we are capacitated enough to have prepared, in a short space of time, for this transition.  However, we are in largely unchartered territory here so we will have to adapt our methods and strategies as we progress.

I am counting on our combined efforts to provide a teaching and learning experience to our students that is both of a high quality and is equitable.

Kind regards

Professor Andrew Crouch

Vice-Chancellor and Principal