Zimbabwe universities reopen under strict guidelines

SOME of the country’s institutions of higher learning will start opening doors for students in their final semesters tomorrow, while the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) in Bulawayo has postponed learning at the institution until further notice.

The Government recently announced that the country’s tertiary institutions should adopt a phased reopening approach, as educational facilities would cease serving as quarantine centres under the national lockdown programme to curb the spread of coronavirus. In a statement, the Midlands State University (MSU) announced that it would start welcoming students after the end of online learning classes on 19 June.

“The university would like to advise final year students that plans for opening our campuses in preparation for the end of semester examinations are at an advanced stage. Remote teaching for these classes will continue until 19 June 2020. Thereafter, students will return to campus under a phased approach. Please take note that only registered students will be allowed to write examinations.

“MSU Student ID cards will be required for entry into University premises to reduce the risk of entry by unauthorised persons. Campus accommodation is mandatory for every under-graduate student at the Gweru campus. Zvishavane campus has limited accommodation and this will only cater for students that were in residence before the lockdown. Those students that had paid accommodation fees prior to the Covid-19 lockdown will be exempted from paying additional accommodation fees,” the university announced in a statement.

Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) director of information and public relations Mr Anderson Chipatiso told Sunday News that the institution would start welcoming final year students as from tomorrow.

“We start our phased reopening on Monday but it is specifically for students that are in their final year and in their final semester. We also have a few others that are doing practical subjects but our focus is on the graduating classes,” he said.

Lupane State University (LSU), which has been used as a quarantine centre, announced that reopening of the university had been shifted by a week.

“This notice serves to inform both students and staff that approved date to reopen the university for the final years has been further changed from 8 June 2020 to 15 June 2020 tentatively for the faculties of Agricultural Science and Humanities and Social Sciences. The change has been prompted by the fact that 8 June 2020 would be the date that returnees would be expected to vacate the university female hostel. Thus, week beginning 7 June would allow the university to fumigate the premises as well as put other logistics in place in order to create a safe learning environment.”

Nust acting director of communication and marketing Mr Thabani Mpofu said since the university does not offer accommodation on campus to all students, the institution had to take into consideration where students will be staying. A decision on when the university will begin on-campus learning will be taken tomorrow after a meeting of the institution’s leadership.

“The ministry gave us from the 1st of June to the 31st of August to finish off our lessons so we are acting within the timeframe that we were given. In saying that, the safety and health of our students and staff is our highest priority. I think our situation is a bit unique from other universities because we don’t offer accommodation so our students will be staying around Bulawayo. Students need letters authorising their travel from wherever they are coming from and they also need letters when they are here because security details will be asking for them when they move about. We are doing all this to protect the students and the communities in which they will be staying,” he said.

Final year students in some faculties at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) are also expected to resume lessons tomorrow. President Mnangagwa ordered the closure of the all learning institutions in the country prematurely on 24 March, as a measure to contain the Covid-19 pandemic. Primary and Secondary schools are also making plans to reopen in a phased manner, starting with final year examination classes.

All learning institutions are expected to meet safety guidelines such as maintaining social distancing, using hand saniters and ensuring that students and staff wear face masks, among others, to curb the spread of the virus. – Sunday news

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