Over 600 000 screenings have been done across the post-school education and training (PSET) system since the launch of HealthCheck last month.
HealthCheck is a risk assessment tool used by students and staff entering campuses to self-check their body temperature daily.
Based on the answers entered on the platform, the person receives a message with the low/moderate/high level risk reading. If the risk is low, the individual will receive clearance valid for 24 hours.
The tool, which is part of the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation’s Higher Health programme, allows for early detection, mapping and management of COVID-19 cases within higher education institutions and feeds into the national Department of Health’s tracking and tracing system.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, said the department has recorded over 600 000 screenings done across the PSET system, with students and staff using the HealthCheck through WhatsApp, USSD or the website.
“From this data, the overwhelming majority fall into the “low risk” category (about 95%),” Nzimande said.
He said that the 5% that fell within the moderate to high risk as per the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)/Department of Health algorithm, were immediately placed in self isolation, and further assisting towards limiting the spread of the infection and helping towards the phased smooth opening of our sector.
“Age-wise, about 80% fall into the largest age bracket (18-40 years), followed by a fifth that are between 40 and 65. So it’s imperative that as a department, led by Higher Health, in collaboration with the Department of Health, NICD, World Health Organisation and other stakeholders, continue with programmes and innovative measures as part of our ongoing effort to support the PSET institutions’ response to COVID-19,” Nzimande said.
The Minister was briefing the media on measures to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic within the Higher Education, Science and Innovation sectors on Wednesday.
For those who cannot screen through HealthCheck, Nzimande said screening stations have been placed close to entrances, using paperless, digital platforms, at every campus.
NSFAS committee of inquiry
Meanwhile, Nzimande said he has appointed a Ministerial Committee of Inquiry into the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to conduct an independent investigation into the business processes, systems and capacity of NSFAS.
The committee is set to make recommendations for a future model of administering student financial aid.
Professor Yunus Ballim, former Vice Chancellor of Sol Plaatjie University and Professor of Civil Engineering at Wits University, has been appointed to chair the inquiry. The other members of the committee are Khaya Matiso, Professor Pamela Dube, Nomzamo Maziya, and Baxolile Mabinya.
“The committee is expected to complete its work within six months. The detailed terms of reference for the inquiry are included in Government Gazette No. 43345, dated 21 May 2020,” Nzimande said.
The Minister also noted that the NSFAS administration comes to an end in August 2020, and the Administrator will continue to be in office until that time.
“The inquiry is independent of NSFAS and has no role in terms of its current administration,” Nzimande explained. – SAnews.gov.za