North West University (NWU) temporarily suspended 22 learners from the for breaking Covid-19 regulations.

University spokesperson Louis Jacobs says compliance officers stationed at campuses acted on reports of students not abiding by national regulations. The suspended students are now facing disciplinary action. University authorities asked the students to vacate their residents while they await the disciplinary process. The students came from all three of university’s campuses, Mahikeng, Potschefstroom and Vanderbijlpark, Jacobs tells Health-e News.

“We must be aware that in terms of our country’s legislation, deliberate and negligent spread of the coronavirus may lead to criminal prosecution. It is our duty to ensure that staff and students on our campuses are safe and continue to perform their activities without fear,” says Jacobs.

Curbing the spread of Covid-19 on campus

With an increased number of students returning to campus, vigilance is necessary to ensure national guidelines as well as NWU’s own protocols to curb the spread of the coronavirus, says the university. As of 11 September, the university reported 92 staff, students and contract workers tested positive for coronavirus.

Upon returning to campus, all students attend an induction programme on responsible behaviour. They also sign an indemnity form agreeing to abide by national Covid-19 regulations.

Students must adhere to daily screenings via an app before entering campus. While the majority of students adhered to the regulations, there have been incidents of irresponsible behaviour, said the university.

Welcoming students back

In June, NWU began welcoming certain students back to campus in the first phase of reintegration as the country eased lockdown restrictions. The students invited to return are those who require laboratory services or cannot use online services. This group included final year undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Health Sciences, Engineering and Natural and Agricultural Sciences faculties.

“These arrangements are made with the sole purpose of allowing students the opportunity to successfully complete the academic year,” says Jacobs.

The second group began arriving in the middle of August. The university prioritised undergraduate students who needed access to laboratories or workshops and final year students who need access to libraries. The university also accommodated students who did not have resources to access online lectures.

“Even though students are allowed to return, we are very far from going back to what circumstances usually allowed us. Things will most probably never be the same, and we have to adapt to this,” says NWU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dan Kgwadi.