As the number of people infected by coronavirus continues to rise in South Africa, Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) decided to become a centre of information spreading the awareness on coronavirus health protocols to the wider community of Umlazi Township. This week MUT erected a 9mx9m COVID-19 billboard at its Natural Sciences campus to reach as many people as possible at the university and in Umlazi Township.
The billboard, which is well positioned for two-way traffic on Mangosuthu highway, is meant to amplify the message of taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The billboard adds to the efforts of the University’s Covid-19 Task Team (CTT), which has been hard at work since early March 2020 ensuring that the lives of staff and students are protected as the University pursues its quest to save the academic year.
Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director, Marketing and Communications, said that although MUT had limited resources, the billboard was necessary to increase awareness about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic. “We decided to not only target our staff, students and those who follow us on social media; but we intentionally used a platform that would send the message to everyone in Umlazi Township, where we are located. This is our way of reminding the people of Umlazi Township that their fate and ours are bound together, and that we have a deep commitment to our community.”
The billboard comes at a time when MUT is in the second week of lectures for final year students (33% of its student population), who returned to campus as part of the phased approach. This period of relaxed Lockdown regulations has also been characterised by the skyrocketing of COVID-19 daily infections, with the country’s metropolitans fast becoming epicentres of the pandemic.
“The University continues to do all that is required of it and more to save lives, first and foremost, and to also save the academic year,” said Mbali. “Each individual needs to also play their part in keeping themselves and their love ones and communities safe against COVID-19.”
MUT has also made masks and sanitizers available to all staff and students who have returned to campus. Social distancing markers have been placed in all key entrance and service locations (including classrooms and residences). Only 33% of staff are allowed into campus in one go. In addition to these measures, staff and students are screened before they are granted access to campus.