Why we are not ready for face-to-face teaching

The unending pandemic has prompted a less rigorous following of COVID-19 regulations. 

By Nita Naidoo

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 3 of VARSITY News.

The current regulations around face-to-face tutorials or tests require going through the process of a health screening, procuring a letter of admission, and a security check on campus with a student card. However, this is not what has been happening on university campuses. Many students are being required to take tests on campus since the relaxation of lockdown rules. This is mostly because tests became “group-work” over the pandemic. There have been many measures taken to ensure our safety but the execution by the university has not been up to standard. The Vice-Chancellor has laid out the many steps that have been taken to protect students but unfortunately in a university of 30 000 students, it is impossible to make sure that everyone is checked at security or has a valid reason for being on campus. There is also the possibility that someone is carrying the virus and is asymptomatic. 

I have been required to write two tests over the semester in Sports Centre and while I was ready for the long security line and to have a thermometer staring back at me, I simply drove onto campus, walked into the venue and waited with the other 202 students who were writing the test. I found that the stress of the test overcame the stress of the pandemic. There are so many factors at play when coming into contact with others during the pandemic including; your potential exposure to the virus, your peers’ potential exposure, the stress of tests and assignments, and so on. This is why we should not be on campus yet – there are just too many variables that take priority over social distancing or wearing a mask or being checked at security.

I, along with many other students, have struggled through online learning and wish I could be on campus. This wish does not outweigh the safety of students. The length of the pandemic has caused many to become tired of following social distancing and other covid-19 precautions. Not to mention the students who are not in Cape Town. Having to fly to Cape Town for a test increases the risk of spreading the virus. These are the students who cannot afford to stay in Cape Town due to the financial exclusion which denies the possibility of paying for fees and accommodation; or simply because the cost of living can be up to 40% higher in Cape Town which limits the accommodation options. While it is understandable that UCT is trying to mitigate cheating and keep the standard of their degrees, I do not think that this is more important than the health of the students and their families.  

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This section of VARSITY is a vehicle for expression on any topic by members of the UCT community. The opinions within this section are not necessarily those of the VARSITY collective or its advertisers.

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