Thank you for your continued resilience and commitment during this current phase of COVID-19 and Lockdown Level 1. This is a time when we are all adapting to change and uncertainty as some of us continue to work remotely, others are returning to campus and still others are balancing between working from home and on campus.
Over the past few weeks, and during the online staff assembly on Tuesday, 13 October in particular, staff members have posed questions to the University of Cape Town (UCT) Executive about how we will work in these changing times. It is natural to be concerned about the impact the pandemic has had on the economy, our university and within our own lives, families and communities, including the teams in which we work.
We are responding to as many of these questions as possible in this time of uncertainty. Responses are being loaded onto the webpage for frequently asked questions (FAQs) about UCT’s response to COVID-19 regularly as decisions are implemented.
We continue to encourage colleagues to work from home if you are able to. We have noted several questions that have been raised about working remotely, and these are dealt with in the FAQ for UCT staff members. One underlying principle is that it is important to discuss your concerns and preferences with your line manager, who needs to make the final decision about which staff functions can be completed remotely and which functions require a return to campus. Keep in mind there are also ways to minimise contact with other staff members in the office, such as staggering work hours. This also can be discussed with your line manager.
The FAQ offers responses to staff members’ questions about returning to campus to ensure the effective running of the university; sick leave as well as annual leave that needs to be taken, particularly as we move swiftly towards the end of the year; the possibility of furlough or retrenchments; UCT’s position on salary increases; and staff transport to and from work in Lockdown Level 1. You can find these responses under the appropriate question in the FAQ.
There is also a FAQ section devoted to completing the 2020 academic year and beginning the 2021 year.
Health and safety protocols are always a top priority at UCT, especially as some of us begin to return to campus and increase our contacts with colleagues and students. Please take a moment to remind yourself of the health and safety protocols for returning to campus, including the need to complete the HealthCheck app every day before returning to campus.
Self-care and mental health are essential during this challenging time. While lockdown regulations have relaxed, we must remain vigilant against the pandemic. We must each also watch for signs of depression, anxiety and burnout, which are common in times of unusual stress. Staff support remains available to you through UCT Human Resources (UCT HR) as well as our contracted counselling services: the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).
The UCT executive is committed to keeping the lines of communication open. I suggest that if you have a question that your line manager or the FAQ cannot address, please email the relevant UCT HR Business Partner for your department.
Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer
Chair of the COVID-19 Co-ordinating Committee
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