I hope you and your families are well.
The orientation week held to help students adapt to the new learning environment has been largely successful. I would like to thank all the staff in the faculties and in the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT) who have contributed to this. We have had a record number of students accessing Vula this week. The feedback from students is that they are ready to go. We are therefore starting online teaching as planned on Tuesday, 28 April.
This said, we face the challenge of delays in the delivery of laptop computers and the settling of agreements on zero-rating data with South Africa’s cellular network providers. These delays will have a knock-on effect on the ability of some students to join in the teaching term. Since the teaching and learning offerings are asynchronous, allowing students to engage with learning in their own time, there is no risk of students missing anything. However, these students will require that course conveners are flexible in terms of submissions of work, continual assessments and other matters that may arise. I am sure we all understand that flexibility is probably one of the top qualities that we need to have in our approach to teaching at this time.
We are aware that staff and students are concerned about the viability of Friday, 8 May as the deadline to effect changes in the curriculum, specifically the dropping of courses. We are preparing a proposal for the Senate Executive Committee to extend that deadline. As soon as this is approved we will communicate the new deadline.
The next two weeks will be very important in terms of assessing how remote teaching is working, identifying problems that need addressing, and, in particular, identifying those students who need to be supported more directly or in different ways. We will keep you informed about course- and faculty-specific issues, as well as on university-wide trends.
I would like, once again, to take this opportunity, to thank academic and professional, administrative support and service (PASS) colleagues in all faculties, as well as all the academic and PASS colleagues in the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED), for rising to the challenge of offering emergency remote teaching. We keep on working together.
Until the next message, take care.
Associate Professor Lis Lange
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching & Learning
Updates will be posted on UCT’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 feature page on the UCT News website.
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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.
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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.