By Tholakele Thabane
Feature image by Gaby Ndongo
“We would like to advise that the wearing of masks is no longer compulsory, although high-risk individuals are encouraged to continue wearing masks, especially when infections start to increase, and all venues, including work spaces, can now be filled to capacity,” read a statement by the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) issued on Thursday as it prepares for the return of students to campuses.
Those changes are in alignment with the latest COVID-19 regulations and the other is the resumption of July graduation ceremonies in the Great Hall. Student gatherings and events, especially during the examination period, however, will be subjected to relevant restrictions.
“Schools are required to update and submit their blended teaching and learning plans to accommodate increased face-to-face contact with students for the second semester, after consultation with their respective Heads of Departments, Heads of Schools, and Faculty Deans,” the statement elaborated.
The statement added: “These protocols may change as the virus evolves, as regulations change, and as the science develops. We will review our policies, rules and regulations, and in particular our Mandatory Vaccination Policy, based on the best scientific evidence on hand, and following engagements with the relevant structures within the University.”
Wits’ measures further allows for all professional and administrative staff to access campuses for work. “Unless approved by their line manager, all professional and administrative staff are required to return to their respective workspaces on campus,” read the statement.
With almost two years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and eight months of mandatory vaccination, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) released a statement in June about the easing of mandatory COVID-19 measures, which have been effective since 24 June.
“In consultation with and the approval of the UJ Council, we will be relaxing some of our Mandatory Vaccination Policy stipulations and Implementation Protocol,” read the statement.
The new measures include doing away with the wearing of masks indoors and outdoors, the presentation of a proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test when entering the University premises. In addition, there will be an increase in occupancy at some of UJ’s facilities.