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Learning designed to help South Africa recover from the crippling COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented changes to the way things run both in South Africa and on a global scale. Richfield has been able to keep our students up to date on their education through our seamless and accessible online learning platform coupled with development of a support system that brings students as close to campus as possible.

For 30 years, Richfield has made tertiary education more accessible. This quest of ours has stood us in good stead for confronting the coronavirus pandemic and adjusting our learning practices accordingly.

All Richfield degree and diploma first-year students receive a pre-configured laptop upon registration, complete with zero data costs when accessing learning materials online through our Learner Management System, Moodle. This arrangement means that all Richfield students have access to our engaging online learning resources like lecture recordings, lecture slides, research, revision papers, tutorials, and student support, all with zero data costs.  This cost-effective approach makes a quality online education through the pandemic possible for thousands of South Africans.

Every class has a dedicated WhatsApp group to keep students up to date on important happenings and information in a timely manner. This also allows students to connect with each other and share resources in an affordable and easily accessible way.

Our dedicated student support hotline is another way in which we ensure the wellbeing of Richfield students. Living in a time reliant on technology and isolation from peers is taxing on mental health. This hotline makes support for technical, administration, and mental health concerns easily accessible to our students, ensuring optimal outcomes despite the pandemic.

Richfield has, by design, been able to work around this pandemic. Few changes had to be made in regards to the way Richfield runs as all of our students are equipped with the means for effective and affordable online learning. The added support of the hotline and dedicated WhatsApp groups makes help no more than a button away.

Student Communication:

Why we need to prevent the spread

If you have a healthy immune system your chances of recovery from COVID-19 are high. The problem is that if you are sick, and out and about, you will be spreading the disease to immuno-compromised people who have a higher chance of developing complications and dying.

Immuno-compromised individuals include people over 60, cancer patients, pregnant people, those with asthma, and those with TB or HIV. As you know we have many immuno-compromised people in South Africa, many of which live in cramped conditions with little to no running water, making it vital that we prevent the disease from ever reaching these communities.

If we can limit the spread of the Coronavirus we will also be keeping the number of cases low enough for the health system to manage. If the virus spreads rapidly, however, our healthcare system will be flooded with Coronavirus cases over and above other cases, forcing medical staff to let some patients die.

It is a virus

The COVID-19 pandemic is a viral pandemic, not a bacterial one. This means that taking antibiotics will have no effect on the disease. Please do not take antibiotics unnecessarily as this makes you vulnerable to antibiotic-resistant bacteria and will cause health problems in the future.

This is how it spreads

The virus spreads through droplets in coughs and sneezes, and on contaminated surfaces. It is not airborne, so wearing a mask will not prevent you from catching the disease. Masks are only effective in preventing those sick from spreading the virus as it catches their coughs and sneezes. We urge everyone not to buy a mask unless showing symptoms and to save masks for the sick.

Best practices

The nature of the viral spread means we all need to take extra precautions both in terms of hygiene and social interactions.

Frequently wash your hands with soap and water. Use hand sanitiser only if soap and clean water are not available.

If you are showing any symptoms of COVID-19 it is best for your community if you self-isolate. This means working from home and avoiding public spaces as much as possible so as to prevent spreading the virus to others. Symptoms of COVID-19 include coughing, sneezing, fever, and breathlessness.

To avoid both catching and spreading the virus it is necessary to avoid physical contact such as handshakes, high-fives, and hugs. It’s important to exercise illness etiquette by staying out of public spaces and only coughing and sneezing into the crook of your arm.

In light of the above, we have suspended all contact classes and converted them into online lessons that are accessible to our learners through their free, pre-programmed tablets. We are proud to say that Richfield students do not have to risk their education in the name of health.

 

 

 

Avoid misinformation

Fact-check everything you hear and do not share any information without fact-checking it first. We urge everyone to believe only trusted media houses.

Do not spread heresy unless you have found it to be true on a trusted news site. The spread of misinformation incites panic and leaves others ill-equipped to effectively and safely deal with the outbreak.

Be considerate

Do not panic-buy groceries, sanitisers or masks. Doing this leaves little for those who really need these items. Remember, to avoid catching and spreading the virus, you need others to have access to masks and sanitisers, too. Consider donating groceries, sanitisers, and masks to those in need.

Lastly, Richfield does not condone any discriminatory behaviour, especially with regard to COVID-19. The fact of the matter is that anybody can be carrying the virus and everybody is deserving of respect and kindness.

We know that if we can come together and each do our part in fighting the Coronavirus, that we will become stronger as individuals, communities, and as a nation.

Further resources

Click here for a handy guide to PSET.

An epidemiologist’s view on the outbreak, here: https://m.facebook.com/groups/361681004771293?view=permalink&id=584908852448506

The importance of limiting the spread of the virus, here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/science/coronavirus-curve-mitigation-infection.html?searchResultPosition=2

The government’s Covid-19 online portal, here: https://www.gov.za/NovelCoronavirus

The government’s Covid-19 Whatsapp hotline, here: https://api.whatsapp.com/send?phone=27600123456&text=Hi&source=&data=

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