Circular 5/2020: Impact of Coronavirus outbreak on Nursing Education and Training

25 March 2020

TO:National Department of Health
 Provincial Departments of Health
 Nursing Education Institutions (NEIs)
 All Stakeholders

Impact of Coronavirus outbreak on Nursing Education and Training


The purpose of this circular is to provide:

1.1 supportive guidance /reminder to Nursing Education Institutions on managing interrupted teaching and learning activities, in respect of students nurses and midwives.
1.2 information to the National Department of Health, Provincial Departments of Health, and relevant stakeholders in respect of point 1.1 above. 


2.1 The Declaration of “a national state of disaster” by the State President on 15 March 2020, followed by pronouncement by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, on 17 March 2020, on measures to deal with COVID-19 threat in the post-school Education and Training Sector, refers. The South African Nursing Council supports, unequivocally, the measures and initiatives put in place by the South African Government in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
2.2 The following, regarding academic breaks and academic interruptions for Student Nurses and Student Midwives in Nursing, need to be noted:
o Students in the Post-School Education and Training Sector, specifically Universities, ordinarily have recesses in line with university calendars.
o Student Nurses and Student Midwives in the rest of Nursing Education Institutions do not have recesses but normally take an annual leave which is scheduled by the respective Nursing Education Institutions, in collaboration with health establishments where they are placed for clinical teaching and learning.
2.3 Despite these different arrangements, Student Nurses and Student Midwives are expected to meet the same specified theoretical and clinical/practical requirements in line with the requirements of the relevant nursing programme.
2.4 The pronouncement by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, that all Post-School Institutions must close on 18 March 2020 is inclusive of “the CET Colleges, private higher education institutions and colleges, as well as all training colleges which are managed by other ministries, such as Nursing, Agricultural and other Colleges”.


While theoretical provisioning may continue through various distance learning modalities, Student Nurses and Midwives may not be able to meet the clinical/practical requirements of the their respective programmes, depending on the duration of the academic interruption. 


The Heads of Nursing Education Institutions are advised to:

4.1 Comply with the pronouncement by both the President of the country and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation;
4.2 Explore, while contact teaching is hampered, various alternative methods to enhance theoretical provisioning; and
4.3 Work on tentative recovery plans for implementation once the academic activities resume, that will ensure that more attention is given to clinical/ practical teaching and learning. The recovery plans should be kept as reference records for possible future discussions with the South African Nursing Council, where necessary.


The examination conducted by SANC will go ahead as planned unless circumstances regarding the outbreak warrant that the SANC reschedules and in that event, the SANC will inform the candidates and the relevant stakeholders in due course. 


This Circular becomes implementable and valid on the date of issue.

For further information in respect of this Circular, you are advised to contact Ms SJ Nxumalo, SANC Senior Manager: Education &Training at (012) 420 1022 or on e-mail at: 

Yours sincerely,


Ms SA Mchunu
Registrar and CEO
South African Nursing Council