UPDATE – Measures being taking to combat COVID-19

Further to the News Flash that went out from the College on Monday 16 March 2020 following President Ramaphosa’s statement on South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, please be informed that the Southern African Wildlife College continues to monitor the situation closely.

As a private higher education and training facility, we have been in contact with all the relevant education and training authorities including the Department of Higher Education, Training and Research; CATHSSETA, the sector education and training authority; FGASA etc. We have assessed these directives and how they impact us as a private training institution.

Further to the presidential announcement, the South African Honourable Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande has announced the mandatory implementation of early recesses for all post-school education institutions, effective from 18 March 2020 to 15 April 2020.

This mandatory Regulation includes the Southern African Wildlife College, which is a fully-registered Private Higher Education and Training Provider. The Regulation specifies that no contact classes may take place. The Regulation further empowers the Southern African Wildlife College to make arrangements with students and staff over this time regarding accommodation and leave.

An official letter has now gone out to employer organisations confirming that the SAWC will be entering its recess period as required and that no further contact education and NQF Level 5 and 6 training in respect of our natural resource management programmes will take place onsite at the SAWC until 15 April 2020 (or as new official announcements determine). The SAWC will be making adjustments to the specific qualification and course schedules to limit the impact of the early recess for all students and minimise the disruption to their learning.

We encourage all students to continue with self-study, and workplace-based learning, which is already a vital aspect of the SAWC applied learning strategy. The SAWC academic departments will continue to provide distance-learning support for the students via electronic communication where possible.

The specific programme schedules will be updated shortly as further announcements by the South African Department of Higher Education, Training and Research may require additional adjustments. The SAWC reserves the right to adjust its policies and strategies following statutory and regulatory requirements as determined by the South African state.

It is important to note that vocational training programmes have at this stage not been affected by the Minister’s directives. However, the college has decided that other training programmes on site will, where possible, also go into an early recess or introduce a programme break. This includes current short training programmes that have already commenced, where the student would be detrimentally affected by an early recess or break in the programme, and if they are already more than half-way in progress, will continue, unless new directives are given, or the situation changes. Until 15 April, 2020, or until further notice, meetings, new courses, and events are also on hold.

Given the fluidity of the Covid-19 situation, all policies, protocols and mitigation plans require continuous assessment. The College, CEO Theresa Sowry has also put out a statement to all staff following meetings held with the College’s risk committee, the details of which have also been communicated to the College Board of Directors.

Restricted access to the campus will remain in place. All entry and exit to and from the College’s main gate is being closely monitored with all required Covid-19 protocols in place. Directives in terms of access are being provided in terms of daily access by staff who live off site, suppliers and other stakeholders. Where possible, and to mitigate the risks, staff are encouraged to work from home, with communication links being set up so work can continue.

Infection rates in Limpopo and Mpumalanga currently remain extremely low, and 80% of those infected will only experience flu-like symptoms.  There are no known infections at the College as yet and at this stage our protocol, if enforced correctly, will ensure the SAWC remains a safe place to reside and work. Every precaution that can be taken is being addressed and implemented insofar as this is possible. Access will be given to clinic facilities on site should anyone staying on site require testing or have any health related queries.

As a priority we have also established a dedicated email address to deal with queries from staff and students, and have also put up information on our notice boards, communal areas, bathrooms etc, whilst also communicating with all staff via email and small group meetings.

Given that many of our students come from across the southern African region and beyond and will now be required to be on early recess, we are also closely monitoring and providing further information on restrictions on entry, movement and exit into South Africa. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation has also issued a travel advisory document. Please reference the pdf as needed. High- and medium-risk countries are identified and as the status of countries change, travel alerts will be issued by the Ministry to communicate such changes and the measures applicable. In addition, current border and port entry closures can be referenced here.

As stated by the College CEO, we are all learning-by-doing on this topic. The whole world is. The SAWC management views this virus in a very serious light, and appreciate the commitment of all staff and students in remaining logical and rational in working through this uncertain time.

We will continue to communicate with all stakeholders as the situation changes and unfolds.

We can recommend the following websites for up to date and accurate information on Covid -19:

Coronavirus Dashboard 

World Health Organisation

National Institute for Communicable Diseases

Jeanne Poultney
Executive Manager: Marketing, Fundraising and Media Relations

Issued by: The Southern African Wildlife College
Direct Line |+27 (0)15 793 7300 |Fax: +27 (0)15 793 7314
Contact: Jeanné Poultney: Executive Manager: Marketing and Fundraising
Direct Line: +27 (0)11 704 4386 | Mobile +27(0) 82 45 828 45
Email: jpoultney@sawc.org.za