GIBS unveils a newly-refurbished Auditorium and Info Central, along with strict social distancing, and a new ‘blended learning’ model.
After seven long months of Covid-19-enforced absence, GIBS’ Illovo campus re-opened on 1 October. It’s still a difficult process: Level 1 lockdown regulations limit capacity to no more than 50%.
“The decision to get ‘back to the future’ and formally reopen the campus was not taken lightly,” explains communications manager, Luleka Mtongana. To gauge the receptiveness of students, GIBS surveyed some 800 GIBS postgraduate students to better understand what the business school could do to support them during the pandemic. (See more details in The Digital Disruption of Our Wellbeing, pp 28).
Responses varied from those who were eager to get back on campus and interact personally, to those who, concerned about Covid-19, preferred the option of participating remotely via a blended learning approach. “Students had the option to either return to class under strict hygiene controls – including a maximum classroom occupancy of 50% – or to participate digitally from home,” Mtongana continues.
For students who have chosen to return, the improvements and upgrades made to the GIBS campus during the hiatus have been more than evident. An expanded and completely refurbished auditorium with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology is perhaps the most notable. Capacity has been increased to 200 seats, each of which has access to a microphone, allowing fully interactive sessions with participants outside the room. A control and translation booth has also been added for when international conferences are again permitted.
Info Central, GIBS’ study and research space, has been completely redesigned and includes more syndicate meeting rooms, a contemplative space in the form of a lounge overlooking the quad, as well as incorporating new outside areas where students can study or finalise their research. With large glass frontage, the new-look facility will be more integrated into the campus experience, beckoning students into a quiet, productive space.
A new admissions centre has also been completed, moving what was previously a back office to the centre of campus. With several additions to the academic portfolio having been added in the last few years (and with more on the cards) a bigger more accessible space was a must.
And finally, the operations team took the opportunity to deep-clean, paint, upgrade and tackle a large number of maintenance tasks to ensure the campus was in pristine condition for returning students and delegates.
“Over the past six months a detailed plan for the considered reopening of the campus was devised, focusing on ensuring the health and safety of our students, staff and the broader GIBS community,” explains Robert Thompson, GM: Operations.
This plan included the installation of more than 45 strategically placed sanitation points around the campus, and the appointment of health ambassadors, Covid-19 safety officers and sanitation specialists.
Yes, GIBS, South Africa’s leading business school, is…well, back in business!