ALL is set for today’s resumption of studies for final year students at the college with the Government and the institution saying they are ready for reopening after putting measures in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Studies were discontinued on March 24 as part of a raft of measures by Government to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Teachers’ colleges, polytechnics and vocational training centres are reopening today.
At UCE, a team from Bulawayo City Council (BCC) health department, was seen fumigating the dining hall and the hostels, which were used by returnees. Government had turned most of the colleges into quarantine centres for locals returning from other countries.
The college is expecting a total of 738 students and they have been divided into groups according to subjects. The first week 141 students doing practical subjects will attend classes.
Students specialising in early childhood development (ECD) teaching are coming in small numbers and the biggest number is 43 and they will attend classes at the lecture theatre which has a capacity of 250.
UCE principal Dr Adam Luthuli said that they extended the learning hours from eight to 10 a day. He said they are going to have a maximum of 20 students per class to allow social distancing.
“We have 738 students and we have divided them into groups according to subjects because we are avoiding crowding as we want a maximum number of 200 students at the college. We also calculated the number of learning hours they had per subject before the Covid-19 lockdown and they were left with eight hours and we therefore extended them to 10,” he said.
“During the first week we are bringing in practical subjects and we have 141 students and the number is manageable in terms of social distancing and we have enough classrooms.”
He said mass lectures will be conducted at the hall, which has a capacity to accommodate up to 1 000 students. Examinations will be written between August 28 and September 3, 2020.
“These students were supposed to have completed their studies in June and without Covid-19 they would have opened in May and complete their examinations in June. We simply transferred that block of time and planted it in the period between July 13 and September 25.
“They were supposed to finish in mid-August but because we gave them more hours, they are now going to finish in September.”
Dr Luthuli said students were doing online lessons using Google classroom and other platforms.
“We have Moodle open-source learning platform on our website and we are now going to use that learning platform because it is recommended by our ministry. Beginning tomorrow (today) lecturers will be undergoing a training in Moodle,” he said.
Dr Luthuli said they also bought 500 litres of hand sanitisers, sanitiser dispensers, thermometers and 2 000 facemasks for lecturers and students.
“We have already demarcated our examination rooms and they have already been measured and 20 students will be accommodated per room and they will all come at once to write their examinations. For accommodation we have four hostels which were not being used by returnees and they will be used by our students,” he said.