Two universities in the Free State, the University of the Free State (UFS) and the Central University of Technology (CUT), have suspended activities, including planned graduations until later dates.
This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration of a national state of disaster following the number of confirmed Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases that increased to 61 by Sunday (15/03).
The suspension of academic activities by the universities are in consideration of the global spread of Covid-19 since its outbreak in December last year.
The universities’ managements stated that their respective decisions to suspend activities and go into an early recess followed consultation with the executive management and stakeholders at the their institutions.
“The well-being and safety of our staff and students remain paramount. Therefore, we believe that the responsible decisions is to protect the UFS community and to limit the possibility of spreading the virus,” said Prof. Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.
“As we realise that circumstances could change rapidly, the UFS Coronavirus (Covid-19 Sars-CoV-2) Task Team, as well as the special executive group, will continue meeting frequently to assess the situation and the above decisions.”
The UFS will instead of returning on 30 March for the second term, be suspending the academic programme until 13 April. Students are to return on 14 April.
The university management said alternative methods of teaching and learning are being assessed and students will be informed regarding the methods soon.
Information on the May/June examinations will be communicated as soon as possible.
The UFS graduation ceremonies and related prize-giving ceremonies scheduled to take place on the Bloemfontein Campus from 20 to 24 April and on the Qwaqwa Campus on 8 and 9 May, as well as the graduation ceremony from 10 to 12 June are postponed until further notice.
The Open Days scheduled to take place on the Qwaqwa campus on 18 April and on the Bloemfontein campus on 9 May have been cancelled.
According to the CUT management, the academic programme for the second term will commence on 30 March.
”As the health and well-being of our staff and students are our highest priority at the CUT, we remain confident that these measures, which include minimising physical contact with other people, will assist to contain the spread of this virus,” said Prof. Henk de Jager, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the CUT.
Dan Maritz, CUT spokesperson, said the university postponed the Autumn graduation ceremonies which were scheduled to take place from 17 to 22 April and rescheduled to a date later in the year.
He said the Registrar of the university will engage with the graduates on how to access their graduation certificates.