8 April 2020
With your support we have made good progress towards taking our learning and teaching, as well as assessments, online from 20 April 2020. I would like to share with you some of the decisions taken by the Institutional Committee for Business Continuity (ICBC) and the Executive Committee of Senate earlier this week related to adjustments to the 2020 academic calendar to accommodate the period of national lockdown and online teaching.
There has been a number of student communiqués also this week, one similar to this staff communiqué, and one from the Registrar's office yesterday on registration, discontinuation of undergraduate studies for 2020, interruptions of postgraduate studies and the issuing of academic documents during the COVID-19 lockdown. Read the communiqué here.
ONLINE TEACHING IN TERM 2
Planning for the rest of this semester is based on the assumption that students will not be permitted to return to our campuses during the first semester. All undergraduate teaching and assessments (including the first and second mid-year examination opportunities) will be online only. Postgraduate coursework teaching and assessments will also be conducted online. For modules where professional bodies require invigilated examinations or in-person moderation, faculties may schedule these assessments after students have returned to campus and before the start of the 2021 academic year.
Where a Semester 1 module is a prerequisite for admission to a Semester 2 module students will be allowed to continue with semester 2, irrespective of having passed the prerequisite module or not.
The recent survey has shown that a number of students may not have, either the necessary technology or internet connectivity (or both) from home to enable them to proceed fully online for the rest of the first semester. Many of our academic staff members have also raised this concern with the ICBC.
The University is exploring ways to assist specifically socio-economically disadvantaged students who indicated on the survey that they do not have access to a device to be assisted at home with computers within the constraints of the lockdown regulations and what is practically possible. We have requested students who have not responded to the survey, but who need assistance, to urgently contact the SU Client Services at email@example.com or 021 808-9111 to be considered for learning technology assistance. Colleagues who may know of students who need support are also requested to send an email with the student's name, student number, academic programme and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SU computers and internet connectivity devices will be provided to students on a loan basis - not as a donation. A deposit to the value of the equipment will be charged to the student's fee account. If the equipment is returned to SU at the end of the 2020 academic year, the deposit due will be reversed on the student's account. The student will also have the option to keep the computer if his/her bursary provider pays for the equipment.
For students who cannot complete Semester 1 online due to online connectivity issues (device or internet or both), a re-run of Semester 1 modules in hybrid learning mode will be available in the second half of 2020, with an exam opportunity in January 2021 for specifically Semester 1 (2020) modules. The hybrid learning mode will consist of mostly online learning of archived first-semester lectures and other materials, with limited contact teaching sessions as far as practicable.
ACADEMIC CALENDAR 2020
On Monday, 6 April, the Executive Committee of Senate approved the following changes to the academic calendar for 2020. The adjustments were necessitated by the extended recess period that will now end on 17 April, instead of the originally scheduled 27 March.
Semester 1 - term 2:
· Term 2 starts on 20 April 2020;
· A seven-week teaching block will run from 20 April to 5 June;
· First examination cycle: 8 to 26 June;
· Second examination cycle: 27 June to 11 July (Saturdays included).
Recess between semesters: The second term will be followed by a recess period of two weeks from 13 to 24 July.
Semester 2 - term 3:
· Term 3 starts on 27 July 2020;
· The teaching block of seven weeks ends on 11 September;
· The recess will run from 14 to 18 September;
Semester 2 - term 4:
· Term 4 starts on 21 September;
· The teaching block of six weeks ends on 30 October;
· First examination cycle: 3 to 25 November;
· Second examination cycle: 26 November to 12 December.
· December graduation: 14 to 19 December
The circumstances under which we will work for the next few weeks are profoundly uncertain. We realise that the situation is evolving and that it may necessitate further changes by the University, even at short notice. Nevertheless, I am impressed by the dedication and hard work of so many colleagues during the lockdown. SU has a sound approach to mitigating this disruption and I am confident that we will complete the academic year succesfully. Thank you to one and all for your ongoing support and dedication. Remember to consult the the COVID-19 webpage regularly for updates.
I would like to remind all staff members of the telephonic and online services that SU offers to support staff health and wellbeing. A letter in this regard was sent to all members of the General Managers' Meeting earlier this week. Please click here for detailed information.
Let us remain positive, focussed on the tasks ahead and please adhere to the lockdown regulations for your own safety and that of your families.
With best wishes
Prof Stan du Plessis