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Deputy minister's oversight visit to VUT to check its state of readiness

On Monday, 8 June 2020, Professor Ihron Rensburg, VUT Administrator, welcomed the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Buti Manamela, who paid a courtesy visit to the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) to check the state of readiness in preparation for the phased return of its students.

The Deputy Minister's visit follows the recent commencement of the COVID-19 level three pronouncement by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The visit is an attempt by the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology to get a sense of readiness of VUT on a phased in return of students. This also presented an opportunity for the Deputy Minister to ensure the university had met and complied with all the COVID-19 regulations put in place to keep staff and students safe on their return back to campus.

VUT is not the only the university that has been visited by Manamela; several others have also been visited by the ministry to assess their states of readiness.

VUT begun in earnest with its preparations and plans to welcome back staff and students from the beginning of May 2020. Management is pleased that the minister was satisfied with the VUT state of readiness and had first-hand experience of what our students can expect on their return to campus.

Personnel from different VUT strategic portfolios made high-level overview presentations on the state of readiness for the Deputy Minister and his delegation, highlighting detailed plans and processes in place and how the university is prepared to ensure the campus will be safe so that teaching and learning can continue under a safe and highly monitored environment without spreading the COVID-19 virus. Professor Rensburg once again assured the Deputy Minister that the university is now more than ready to receive the first group of senior students back on campus.

"The university management has already identified groups of students who will be returning to campuses at various levels of the lockdown, and that the university has already made provisions for the necessary health and safety measures, permissions and permits for the students to be admitted back to campus," Dr Dan Mokoena, VUT Registrar, said.

These include students in the final year of their programmes, final-year students who require access to laboratories, technical equipment, data and connectivity, senior and post-graduate students who require laboratory equipment and other technical equipment. Upon entry onto the campus, all staff and students entering any one of the VUT campuses (Ekurhuleni, Secunda, Upington and Science Park) will be screened, their details recorded, given masks at the gates for use while on campus and attend a safety induction training before proceeding to their different work stations, classrooms and residences.

Students qualifying to be in the first group living in privately owned accommodation may also return, provided physical distancing arrangements are in place.

VUT management committed to support its students by providing a remote learning and blended teaching support system, which will continue to take place at the university through the various platforms made available to students. Professor Rensburg reiterated that VUT management will continue to assess and monitor closely the situation on the ground and to implement a risk adjusted strategy that will support teaching and learning, and campus readiness plans.