17 June 2021
Dear staff and students
Earlier this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country to adjusted alert level 3. This is in response to an increase in coronavirus infections nationally, which has seen the average number of daily new cases double.
Adjusted alert level 3 has various implications for staff and students. The curfew has been amended and will now be from 22:00 to 04:00, and additional restrictions have been placed on gatherings. Please click here to read the president's speech for more information.
Please note, while the adjusted alert level 3 contains regulations on the number of people allowed in indoor venues, the directives of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) regulate the usage of higher education venues under COVID-19 conditions. This makes provision for the University to legally accommodate more than 50 students in an examination venue, provided all the health protocols are in place and that 50% of the venue capacity is not exceeded.
According to our Medical Advisory Committee, our COVID-19 exam protocols are appropriate to ensure a safe environment for the continuation of the upcoming A2 and A3 assessments (from 21 June to 24 July) in sit-down, invigilated mode as planned. In addition, a number of professional bodies require sit-down written examinations to ensure the integrity of the assessment. There are also many students for whom online exams are a huge challenge due to internet access. More fundamentally, the University is committed to the highest integrity for our assessments and invigilated examinations contribute to that objective.
Please note the following:
- All venues are equipped with suitable ventilation (open doors/windows and/or free-flowing air filters in air conditioning systems) with generators on standby.
- Desks in all venues are marked to ensure 1,5 m physical distancing between students as per the guidelines. This is complemented by floor demarcations, posters and signage.
- All assessment venues will be cleaned as per protocol between morning and afternoon sessions.
- Campus Security will assist with crowd control outside of venues.
- Specific protocols are followed to mitigate the COVID-19 risks associated with staff handing in completed question papers to the Examinations Office.
- You need to show that you received clearance on your cell phone from Higher Health's daily risk assessment tool, HealthCheck (https://healthcheck.higherhealth.ac.za), to gain entry to an exam venue. Dishonesty in this regard is a crime and could lead to disciplinary charges.
- Your temperature will be taken as you enter the exam venue.
- It is mandatory for all staff and students to wear a mask, or you will not get access to a venue. You will be asked to leave if the mask is taken off during the exam, or if it is not worn correctly.
- You could be excluded from sit-down assessments if you display significant COVID-19 related symptoms.
We have asked the Examinations Office to implement the COVID-19 exam protocols scrupulously. If these are violated in any venue, please alert the head invigilator immediately.
We take the rising number of infections on our campus and country very seriously. Our decisions regarding COVID-19 and its impact on our campus operations are guided by scientific evidence. Our medical experts study the unfolding COVID-19 situation continuously and we will take any change in assessment from them into account. The ICBC receives constant updates of unfolding events and will respond appropriately as required. This may imply changes at short notice which we will communicate as efficiently as possible.
Please note that we received extensive feedback following the previous communication including a meeting requested by the SRC. We have accommodated their request to open the Computer User Areas and have provided data to all students.
As previously requested, colleagues and students, let us redouble our efforts to ensure the successful completion of the first semester. Please wear a mask, avoid crowded and poorly ventilated spaces, maintain a safe physical distance from others and wash your hands regularly.
For updated information, please consult SU's COVID-19 webpage regularly.
Best wishes for the final preparation and for the assessments.
Prof Stan du Plessis