Press statement: Bheki Hlophe; 082 432 1805 27 June 2020
For immediate release
Reopening of MUT in line with the Department of Labour regulations
Further to the clinical studies students, and staff that were allowed back to the University from 17 June 2020, the University has taken a decision to allow more students and more staff back. This return, which began on 25 June 2020, will be done in line with the Department of Labour regulations, and other applicable guidelines. This is a continuation of the phased-in approach which will also allow students back to the residences.
The first phase included the return of all EMC members, COVID-19 Task Team members, some essential staff members and the academic staff from Biomed, as well as the final year Biomed students. Professor Marcus Ramogale, the Acting Vice-Chancellor, said the return of these categories of staff and students has been treated with precaution in line with the framework developed by the University’s COVID-19 Task Team.
The second phase of the return to campus started with effect from 25 June 2020, and involved the bulk of the University staff and students. Some sections of staff that returned were additional staff from essential service departments such as Finance, Human Resources and Development, Information Technology and Networks, and Operations. Also, all heads of departments, library staff, Department of Marketing and Communications staff, academic staff, among others, have returned. However, heads of department have been requested to submit plans for the segmentation of the days on which their staff will be physically in the offices as they are not allowed to be in the same place in large groups. This is a shift approach, as Professor Ramogale put it. This approach, with respect to both staff and students, will ensure that the 33% regulation is adhered to, as required by the Department of Labour and DHET. This essentially means that some of the staff members still have to work from home. All post-diploma students (e.g. Advanced Diploma; BTech and Postgraduate students); will be allowed to return to campus and residences from Sunday, 28 June 2020. Their lectures should start with effect from 1 July 2020.
Professor Ramogale further stated that in line with the health regulations, staff members who have any pre-existing health conditions (comorbidities), immunocompromised, severely obese (BMI of 40 and above) and those who are 28 weeks pregnant as indicated by the Department of Health will be allowed to work from home, on condition that the staff member has provided the Occupational Health Nurse, Sr. Gasa with a medical report from their respective medical practitioners which confirm their condition. “However, in instances where staff members with comorbidities are unable to effectively execute their functions from home, or where it is essential for them to be on campus to execute critical functions, the exemption principle as allowed by the Department of Health will be applied,” said Professor Ramogale.
Professor Ramogale also stated that all the required personal protective equipments (PPEs) as prescribed by the exemption principle, will be provided to such staff members. The same principle will apply to staff members who are over the age of 60 and where it is feasible to do so, he added. Professor Ramogale also assured staff of their safety. He said that the University had undertaken risk assessments that would ensure that the staff and students were safe. “We are all duty-bound to save lives as well as to save the academic year,” he said. The Acting Vice-Chancellor also paid tribute to essential services staff “that put in an exceptional effort to keep the University going from date of Lockdown to this date.”