The University of Namibia has opted to continue with online learning for the time being despite the government announcing last week that tertiary institutions may continue with contact classes during the current stage three of the Covid-19 state of emergency.
“Unfortunately, the volatility of the transmissions makes it very inconvenient and costly for students to be moving up and down between their hometowns and their campus of choice. Social distancing and the minimum crowds regulations won’t make it possible for physical classes to take place safely,” Unam spokesperson John Haufiku told New Era.
He said Unam is and has always been ready for online teaching. In response to new national developments around Covid-19, the Unam management through an internal memo extended remote work for Windhoek-based campuses from 28 August to 11 September 2020.
A review of the situation will be conducted during this period, which would see staff hopefully returning to the office by 14 September.
Meanwhile, the International University of Management (IUM) resumed face-to-face classes this week, with registrar Aquilinus Nashilundo saying the institution was more than ready.
He also noted the university has fully complied with the minimum requirements for resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning at institutions of higher learning as directed by the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE).
“Firstly, every student is screened for body temperature at the entrance to the campus premises and it is compulsory to wear a mask at all times while on campus. Should a student have forgotten his or her mask at home, he or she can purchase one at the university at a subsidised fee of N$10,” Nashilundo said.
Equally, he assured that there are sufficient hand sanitisation facilities for students and staff at every entrance of each building and at strategic locations around the campuses.
He added that movable seats in some lecture halls have been rearranged and fixed seats are marked with stickers to allow for social distancing, while desks, work surfaces, door handles, floors, computer labs, library and ablution facilities are cleaned and sanitised regularly. He said the university has also embarked on a vigorous information dissemination campaign for both students and staff. “All staff members have attended compulsory Covid-related training. This training will also be rolled out to students when they return to campus. Covid-19 information posters are posted all over campuses and on the university online platforms,” he said.
The university has established a committee which regularly monitors compliance with Covid-19 regulations, monitors new Covid-19 developments and reports directly to the university management.
Asked how IUM will do it taking into consideration that no more than 10 people are allowed for public gatherings, Nashilundo said although the latest Covid-19 regulations restrict social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, institutions of higher learning are exempted from this provision.
“To this end, the university will conduct face-to-face teaching and learning in compliance with the proclamation and in compliance with the minimum requirements for resumption of face-to-face teaching and learning in institutions of higher learning as directed by the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE),” he stressed.
Attempts to reach the Namibia University of Science and Technology proved futile yesterday. However, New Era understands some students who could not afford online learning are being accommodated in smaller groups to make up for the lost time. – firstname.lastname@example.org