Dear colleagues and students
This campus announcement aims to inform the University of Cape Town community about recent developments around the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and other updates on campus.
1. Updates on UCT COVID-19 cases
For the second successive week, UCT has not received reports of any new positive COVID-19 cases. The confirmed number of positive cases at UCT remains seven – four staff members and three students – with one recovery.
2. Emergency COVID-19 fund set up
UCT has set up a COVID-19 emergency fund to assist in the fight against the virus and its impact on the UCT community. Members of the UCT community who are able to are urged to rally behind the fight against the pandemic by making contributions to the fund.
3. Provision of data for students
UCT is providing pre-paid data to all students who have valid South African cell numbers as part of extensive support measures put in place for online learning. Each student will receive 30-40GB depending on their network provider, valid for 30 days. Cellphone providers have agreed to the university’s request to zero-rate access to certain UCT websites.
4. Online orientation gets underway
This week students began online orientation week in order to prepare for the start of the second term on 28 April 2020. Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng called on parents, sponsors and guardians to offer support to students by creating space and time in the home as students embark on the online programme.
5. Update for postgraduate students
During the lockdown the UCT leadership has been working to ensure that there is continued support for the postgraduate community as they represent the future generation of researchers and experts at the university.
Taught postgraduate degrees and diplomas are now either ready to go online or already active online, with course conveners exploring varied approaches to deliver these courses. For postgraduates involved in research degrees, they need to contact their supervisors and set up an arrangement for continued supervision if this is not already in place. Postgraduate students also need to ensure they have completed the online survey which the university is using to identify postgraduates to take part in the laptop loan scheme for South African students, as well as gauging the connectivity and ability of our postgraduates to do academic work in their home environments.
6. Update on the new teaching framework and academic calendar
The academic calendar has been rearranged to enable for the completion of the semester and academic year. Some of the support measures for students that have been prioritised include, but are not limited to, access to data, regular communication, ensuring access to learning material and introducing a new online learning environment.
7. COVID-19 additional video messages
The UCT Department of Medicine and Groote Schuur Hospital have produced additional educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine.
8. OIC Survivor Support Group
The Office of Inclusivity and Change will host online survivor support groups for staff and students who have experienced sexual and domestic violence. The sessions will be held every Tuesday from 17:30-19:30 on the Microsoft Teams platform. The online support groups will be a semi-structed psycho-social educational group to assist survivors in coping with their trauma. For more information and to join the online sessions please email Survivor Support Case Officer & Counsellor, email@example.com.
9. Online COVID-19 session for alumni
The Development and Alumni Department hosted a live online discussion on COVID-19, addressed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, members of the UCT executive and some of the university’s academics doing various research work as part of the fight against the pandemic.
The session for alumni was held on Tuesday, 14 April 2020.
Updates were shared by the executive on UCT’s response to the pandemic, plans to complete the academic year, UCT’s approach to research, and on how support is being provided to international students. The academics briefed alumni on UCT’s role in helping to find a vaccine, the university’s clinical contributions, and social distancing practices for staff and students post the lockdown.
10. NSFAS allowances during the COVID-19 lockdown
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has issued an update on student allowances during the COVID-19 lockdown. NSFAS has activated a business continuity plan to facilitate uninterrupted funding to students, resolution of student applications queries, processing of appeals and general assistance to institutions with NSFAS administration.
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March and implement a national lockdown from 26 March. The intention of these drastic measures is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected. Although South Africa has recently reached a peak of COVID-19 infections, the country is expecting a surge in positive cases in August.
UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously, and this page will be updated regularly with the latest COVID-19 information.
Getting credible, evidence-based, accessible information and recommendations relating to COVID-19
The Department of Medicine at the University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital, are producing educational video material for use on digital platforms and in multiple languages. The information contained in these videos is authenticated and endorsed by the team of experts based in the Department of Medicine. Many of the recommendations are based on current best evidence and are aligned to provincial, national and international guidelines. For more information on UCT’s Department of Medicine, please visit the website.
To watch more videos like these, visit the Department of Medicine’s YouTube channel.
As the COVID-19 crisis drags on and evolves, civil society groups are responding to growing and diversifying needs – just when access to resources is becoming more insecure, writes UCT’s Prof Ralph Hamann.03 Jul 2020 - 6 min read Republished
The Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the global consequences of fragmented, inadequate and inequitable healthcare systems and the damage caused by hesitant and poorly communicated responses.24 Jun 2020 - >10 min read Opinion
Our scientists must not practise in isolation, but be encouraged to be creative and increase our knowledge of the needs of developing economies, write Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of UCT, and Professor Thokozani Majozi from the University of the Witwatersrand.09 Jun 2020 - 6 min read Republished
South Africa has been recognised globally for its success in flattening the curve, which came as a result of President Ramaphosa responding quickly to the crisis, writes Prof Alan Hirsch.28 Apr 2020 - 6 min read Republished
In an email to the UCT community, Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said:
“COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, is a rapidly changing epidemic. [...] Information [...] will be updated as and when new information becomes available.”
We are continuing to monitor the situation and we will be updating the UCT community regularly – as and when there are further updates. If you are concerned or need more information, students can contact the Student Wellness Service on 021 650 5620 or 021 650 1271 (after hours), while staff can contact 021 650 5685.