Rhodes University: Festive scenes as students return to campus after two years of absence

A festive atmosphere and scenes of jubilation and excitement characterised the return of students and staff to campus at Rhodes University as hundreds of first year students reported for registration over the weekend. Returning students are expected back this week.

The campus sprang to life after all physical activity had ground to a halt for two years amid the COVID-19 outbreak. There was spontaneous singing, dancing and laughter. The University hosted a lively outdoor cocktail for Old Rhodian parents and their children.

About 1800 first time entering students (FTENs) and their parents and guardians descended on Makhanda for the start of the University’s Orientation Week.

“We almost forgot just how beautiful people are,” joked Vice-Chancellor Professor Sizwe Mabizela, as he moved from site to site chatting to parents and students and overseeing the registration process.

“We are absolutely delighted to welcome our students back to campus. We worked hard in preparing for this moment. The past two years have been incredibly difficult for our students to study using only digital platforms,” Prof Mabizela said.

Over 90% of registered students and University staff have submitted their vaccination certificates.

“These numbers are evidence that everyone at the University is aware of our mutual dependence and that we are part of a larger community. Our own safety and that of others in our shared spaces cannot be compromised,” said Prof Mabizela.

The approach to teaching and learning will be a blended mix of face-to-face and online. This decision will be based on lectures and the various courses offered, the number of students enrolled in a course, the size of the teaching venues to accommodate social distancing and adequate ventilation.

Prof Mabizela said students could look forward to an exciting experience, personal growth and development, and academic success at the University. “Welcome to a place of hope, a place that inspires imagination, a place that nurtures creativity and a place where ideas matter… a place where leaders learn,” he said.

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