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South African universities to stay shut until further notice

All institutions to have some form of distance learning up and running by June

South African universities will remain closed under level four of the country’s coronavirus lockdown, Blade Nzimande, the minister of higher education, science and technology, announced on 30 April.

Nzimande said the higher education sector will employ a “risk-adjusted strategy” akin to the phased-out approach used to lift the national lockdown regulations. No dates are currently available for when universities will be allowed to reopen. This will depend on “national Covid-19 health and safety parameters”, Nzimande said.

“The risks of a return to normal campus-based activity for thousands of students and staff are simply too great and cannot function successfully outside of the national context of a general lockdown,” he added.

That doesn’t mean teaching won’t continue. All universities must have some form of distance learning up and running by the beginning of June, Nzimande said. For now, the only on-campus activities allowed are Covid-19 research and training of final year clinical students.

Nzimande said that the government is working on finding “relief, stimulus, and emergency funding” for public universities placed under strain by the pandemic.