Some universities across the country resumed lectures yesterday, adhering to Covid-19 prevention regulations as Government last month instructed universities to reopen starting on June 1 and complete the second semester of the 2019/2020 academic year by August 31.

National University of Science and Technology (Nust) which was expected to open yesterday rescheduled its reopening to Monday next week.

Universities just like schools, prematurely closed in March as Government implemented Covid-19 prevention measures.

In reopening, the universities are to open according to their ability and capacity.

Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said universities are required to do four things to prevent the spread of the virus: to ensure that there is social distancing, sanitising, wearing face masks and checking temperatures.

He said those whose temperature is above the normal threshold will be referred for Covid-19 testing.

Prof Murwira said universities are following blended learning which will ensure that they will remain decongested as they reopen.

Blended learning refers to online lectures and traditional in-class tutorials.

He said while campus learning resumed for final year students in some universities, institutions will continue teaching students using virtual platforms.

The minister said the University of Zimbabwe had reopened under the same circumstances.

“Because of blended learning we are not going to have so many people on campus, some students will be going to be home.

“When we finish with final years online, the next level is going to come and then after that the next level is going to come until it’s the first years. So, we are not going to congest campuses and everything must be done between now and August 30,” he said.

Prof Murwira said if things do not go to plan, Government will reverse decisions on reopening, as there is no need to be rigid.

“If there is a problem, we will reconsider our decisions,” said Prof Murwira.

Lupane State University (LSU) and Great Zimbabwe University (GZU) resumed lectures yesterday observing Government’s Covid-19 prevention measures.

LSU marketing and communication director Mr Zwelithini Dlamini said lectures started with final year students learning from the university’s Bulawayo campus.

“The Faculty of Commerce that is situated in Bulawayo resumed lectures today.

“For the other groups the Faculty of Agricultural and Faculty of Humanities we are set to open on 15 June which is next week Monday.

“We are advised that the returnees have started to move out of our campus in Lupane and the fumigation programme will start tomorrow,” said Mr Dlamini.

He said the university is strictly abiding by Covid-19 prevention measures including checking of temperature at entrance, sanitisation of hands, social distancing and wearing of masks.

Mr Dlamini said students are expected to buy their face masks.

He said the university engaged Zupco to provide transport for students returning to Bulawayo as well as those who would be travelling to the main campus in Lupane.

GZU information and public relations director Mr Anderson Chipatiso said the university screened temperatures for all returning students while recording their travelling history on Sunday.

Mr Chipatiso said the university was not leaving anything to chance in terms of making the learning environment safe for students.

“We are following the Covid-19 prevention protocols. We have reconfigured our lecture rooms to ensure social distancing, we are doing screening and temperature checks, sanitisation.

“The students were told new rules, for instance, no visitors would be allowed on campus, whatever the circumstances.

“Students will not be allowed to converge and have group discussions and if they want to discuss they should do so using available online facilities like WhatsApp,” said Mr Chipatiso.

He said lecture rooms were fumigated and will continue being disinfected during the course of the semester.

In a statement, Nust acting registrar Mr Emmanuel Phiri said the university has staggered its reopening into five groups.

The university will be opened from Monday next week before closing on August 7.

Mr Phiri said chairpersons of departments are going to write letters authorising students travelling and they should submit their Bulawayo physical address to [email protected]

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