Unisa vice-chancellor Prof Mandla Makhanya caps Nomkitha Giladile at a graduation ceremony at the Christian Centre in East London. File picture: DAILY DISPATCH
Unisa vice-chancellor Prof Mandla Makhanya caps Nomkitha Giladile at a graduation ceremony at the Christian Centre in East London. File picture: DAILY DISPATCH

The University of SA (Unisa), Africa’s largest open-distance learning institution, has suspended all graduation ceremonies until further notice, in an effort aimed at preventing further spread of Covid-19.

On Tuesday, Unisa announced that gatherings of more than 100 persons on all university premises are prohibited, including visits to the Unisa Art Gallery, and that students are strongly advised to study from home and are encouraged to submit their assignments online.

Its staff at the department of student admissions and registration, security guards, cleaners and library staff at the front desk have been directed to “immediately wear masks and gloves, as they are rolled out and become available”.

The university has also banned all local and international travel, unless special permission has been granted by principal and vice-chancellor Prof Mandla Makhanya.

Unisa said it was also urgently looking at solutions in relation to health and safety measures at examination venues, and these will be communicated once the logistics have been concluded.

“Staff and students are advised that the Muckleneuk Clinic (Unisa Main Campus) is not a designated testing facility, and are advised to go to Lancet laboratories, Steve Biko Hospital, Tembisa Hospital or Netcare for testing once symptoms of the virus appear,” Unisa said.

Others measures taken by the institution include the discontinuation of all shuttle services and that only take-aways will be permitted at its restaurants, with staff advised to “maintain social distance”.

Social distance also needed to be maintained at its libraries with regard to the seating and queuing environment.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced sweeping measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus that has been confirmed in more than 60 people in SA.

The measures include travel restrictions on foreigners from hard-hit countries, a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people and the closure of schools.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za