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Nelson Mandela University will follow the same cautious and controlled approach in welcoming more staff and students back onto campus in the forthcoming weeks.  Up to 66% of our staff and returning students are permitted to be on campus, as per the Lockdown Level 2 regulations.

Safety First

With COVID-19 transmissions presently under control on its Port Elizabeth and George campuses, the University wishes to ensure ongoing compliance of safety measures through:

  • Strict adherence of prevention measures – watch the video
  • The principle of continuing to work / study remotely where this is possible
  • The inculcation of a culture of planning ahead with new online booking systems.  Further communication to follow. 

The University will follow the same processes used under Level 3 for returning to campus as it prepares for increased numbers towards achieving its end-goal of ensuring that all students are able to safely complete the 2020 academic year.

Given the impact of the COVID-19, the academic calendar has been revised and will only conclude at the end of February 2021, for most students.

Notification Processes to Return to Campus


According to the Level 2 regulations, a further 9 000 students could return across all campuses, but this is unlikely as residences cannot accommodate more than 66% of students at this level, which restricts the overall number of students who can return.  In addition, many students can continue studying remotely and may, for example, only need to occasionally visit campus to complete laboratory or studio work.

Notifications to the next group of students (carefully identified through a human-centered process) will be distributed in batches from this week to continue the more manageable, staggered return-to-campus process.  These students, mainly those with neither laptops nor connectivity on Pathway 2B who are first or final years, need to access labs and studios to complete their studies or who are not in conducive learning environments, will join the 6 284 students, who accepted the new on-campus study and living terms and conditions under Lockdown Level 3.

Of the students who have already returned, 1 047 are living on campus.

Learning and Teaching in modules will remain online, while lab and studio work, experiential learning, clinical training and some tests, exams and tuts will be face-to-face in COVID-19 compliant venues. Students will, however, be able to take advantage of the campus-wide WiFi connectivity and access to general computer labs that have been reconfigured in line with COVID-19 safety protocols through a new online booking system.  An additional Memo regarding a new culture of online booking will follow.


The need for staff to return to campus is aligned to operational requirements that are linked to the commitment to complete the 2020 academic project and will vary from department to department across the University.  Line managers from both the Academic and Professional, Administrative and Support Services (PASS) sectors, need to ascertain with their teams who should return to campus, mindful of the new COVID-19 regulations in terms of “vulnerable” staff (those aged 60 and older/comorbidities). Consult the Return to Campus Guide for more information.

Return to Work Process for Staff

Once these decisions have been reached, please be reminded of the necessary processes to follow (see flow chart):

  • Line manager to inform and supply HR Service Partner with details of who is returning to work
  • If not already completed, affected staff members must complete the compulsory Health Declaration  
  • Staff members must complete the compulsory online COVID-19 prevention measures training
  • Line managers must contact to arrange for the collection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their staff members
  • Bookings with Occupational Health Services for a compulsory return-to-work screening session  ( should be made well in advance of your return to enable OHC to best manage numbers at the COVID-19 Screening Centre on North Campus and screening stations on the other campuses.  A Memo on the screening process was shared yesterday.  Attached is  a flow chart of the steps to follow for your convenience.

Online COVID-19 Self-Surveillance Tool

As the University’s staff and student health teams do not have the capacity to undertake daily screening of large numbers, all staff and students should use the University’s own surveillance tool daily.

The tool enables you to take responsibility for your own wellbeing and serves as a reference for ease of movement once on campus.

Adapting to New Ways

Adapting to so many new things, in such a short time, is unlikely to initially be easy or straightforward. There will be challenges and hiccups as we seek to adopt new processes and new study and living arrangements.  But these changed behaviours, including the critical COVID-19 prevention measures, can save lives and we request that each of us takes responsibility, in embracing all such efforts to this end.

It is in your hands!

Let each of us continue to play our part in protecting ourselves as well as others.

For all information relating to returning to campus, including the Return to Campus Guide and all Memos, go to

Coronavirus Task Team

Contact information
Mrs Debbie Derry
Deputy Director: Communication
Tel: 041 504 3057