Preparations for the return of students to residences


Following the first confirmed COVID-19 case in South Africa, Nelson Mandela University put together a multi-stakeholder Coronavirus Task Team (CTT), which was tasked with coordinating the institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CTT, which comprises representatives from across the University’s Learning and Teaching and operational support divisions, has been working on, and implementing, an institutional strategy for the surveillance, prevention and management of the virus.

Flowing from the work of that CTT, and as part of the plans for the gradual return to campus in line with national Lockdown regulations, a Student Return Task Team (SRTT), which includes student representatives, was recently established to drive readiness plans for the phased return of students to campus.

In announcing the move to Lockdown alert Level 3 last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa cautioned that the easing of some Lockdown restrictions “does not mean that the threat posed by the coronavirus has passed or that our fight against the disease is over”.

As the University prepares for the phased return of staff and students to campus, with measures in place towards their health and safety, it is important to heed the President’s caution and remember that it is now in your hands.

In preparation for students’ return to campus, which includes those identified students staying in residences, the following measures have been put in place at the residences:


Identified students returning to residence will be screened and sanitised on entry at the gates or buildings of the on/off-campus residences. It is compulsory for each student to be screened every time they move in and out of the residences.

All those who screen positively, in other words, have a temperature of 38 Degrees Celsius and above, will be immediately referred to the testing area for testing and further procedures in line with COVID-19 protocols. The University is appealing for your utmost cooperation in this regard.


Key Occupational Rules:

A number of measures are being put in place in the residences to assist in efforts to curb the spread of the virus. These include: -

  • No visitors are allowed in the residences
  • Squatting of any form remains strictly prohibited
  • Cooperation with continuous disinfections of the communal areas and maintenance thereof
  • Parties and alcohol remain strictly prohibited
  • No gathering larger than 5 in public residential spaces, then only for residence students

The Standard Operational Procedures (SoP’s) will soon be released for the purpose of ensuring precautions are noted and monitored regularly.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s)

The wearing of facemask was legislated at the beginning of May, and it is therefore expected that students advised to return to residences will arrive wearing facemasks. The University has organised additional PPE’s for each student as outlined below:

  • Facemask
  • Pocket sanitiser
  • Process and safety guidelines
  • Included will be a requirement to download an app which will enable real-time screening. Link will be provided


Students are to ensure that they have these on at all times. They will not be allowed to exit or re-enter residences without them. Hands will be sanitised on entry to buildings and available at strategic points within the residence.

Quarantine Sites

The facilities have been secured for quarantine purposes for both Port Elizabeth (PE) and George campus:

  • 280 beds for George Campus
  • 200 beds for PE
  • There is a reserve space being negotiated in the event  the need arises

Residence Reopening:

Once the University has finalised the identification of students due to return to campus in line with DHET guidelines, an announcement will be made as to when residences will reopen.

Students who are among those identified to return will be accordingly notified. If a student has not received communication in this regard, they are to remain at home.


It is in this period that our actions and behaviour is important as we try to manage the spread of COVID-19. It is time for us to embrace a “new normal” and adapt stringent health and hygiene behaviours. Students are urged to familiarise themselves with this new Residence environment as this will go a long way towards efforts to prevent, monitor and manage the virus. Additionally, residents will have to realise that their behaviour will now have a greater impact on the health and wellbeing of those around them. We are all responsible now for one another’s wellbeing.

More details about returning will be communicated with relevant students in due course. We now have a very different looking university context which will require somewhat radical adjustment from all stakeholders. It will be a time of learning for all on how to cope with the new realities.

Luthando Jack
Dean of Students