Vice-chancellors of South Africa’s 26 public universities have taken a dim view of what they termed “reckless student behaviour” on campuses since South Africa relaxed the national lockdown levels.
The VCs, who are organised under Universities South Africa (Usaf), met this week to discuss issues facing the sector.
Usaf CEO Ahmed Bawa said they learnt with concern reports of students mingling recklessly, throwing parties at residences and visiting nightclubs without regard for the safety protocols their institutions had put in place.
“Meanwhile, scientists have been predicting a second wave of COVID-19 that might break out nationally from February or March 2021. Every single life lost to COVID-19 has been one life too many,” Bawa said.
“We cannot afford to lose any more teaching and learning days to student recklessness. Neither can we afford to sink South Africa into further loss of precious lives and into further deterioration of our already grim economy.”
Level 1 regulations allowed for universities to have 100% of their students back on campus.
However, universities such as Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu have seen a spike in new cases.
Fort Hare reported 27 new cases on Tuesday, including 25 students at its East London campus. The university now has more than 50 active cases.
Usaf, the South African Association of Senior Student Affairs Professionals, Higher Health and the South African Union of Students are developing a social compact to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on institutions of higher education.