This campus announcement aims to inform the UCT community about recent Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) updates and other developments on campus.
1. Weekly update on UCT COVID-19 cases
UCT has had one new positive COVID-19 case reported since the last weekly update was issued on 30 April. The staff member is attached to a department that has been working remotely for at least the past six weeks. The relevant line managers are providing support.
The latest case means UCT has now had eight COVID-19 cases. Six of the eight individuals who previously tested positive have fully recovered (three students and three staff members).
2. Western Cape COVID-19 testing facilities
A number of department of health clinics in the Western Cape are available for individuals to be tested if they are concerned that they may have contracted COVID-19.
A full list of clinics is available at: www.westerncape.gov.za.
3. Chancellor applauds university community
In a message to the campus community, UCT Chancellor Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe noted that like institutions across the globe, UCT is facing a highly complex and evolving situation. Dr Moloi-Motsepe applauded the UCT executive and the Leadership Lekgotla of deans and executive directors who lead and manage a community of 34 000 staff and students, with courage, dignity and compassion. She also applauded other members of the campus community – staff, researchers, students and alumni – for their resilience, dedication and support.
4. Remote teaching updates for academic staff
UCT is in the second week of online learning. The main concern of the past week has been the slow delivery of laptops to identified students, the distribution of which is currently scheduled for completion by Friday, 8 May.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning, Associate Professor Lis Lange has noted that while the large majority of academic staff have been truly accommodating when it comes to dealing with students, there have been some problems. She has appealed for flexibility in managing deadlines for students who will only be joining courses from Monday, 11 May.
5. Reimbursing remote connectivity costs
The university has instituted an interim Remote Connectivity (GEN 006) policy that will be in place while office functions continue to operate remotely as a result of COVID-19. The intention of GEN 006 is to ensure that UCT staff members do not incur additional connectivity costs because of the necessity of working remotely. It provides a framework to guide managers on reimbursing staff members for the data they need to use in the course of their work for the university. Managers can process requests for reimbursing multiple data allowances for their staff members on the HR109A form.
Staff are asked to please keep in mind that UCT is facing a number of additional emergency costs that have been incurred by COVID-19 and the measures that have been mandated by the national government.
6. Guidelines on staffing matters during COVID-19
UCT has developed guidelines with regards to specific staffing-related matters at the university during the COVID-19 pandemic. The university will continue to work remotely during stage four and will advise in future if and when this position changes.
The guidelines have been informed by the government’s strategy on social distancing, UCT’s vision for 2030, institutional strategies for financial and social sustainability, and labour relations prescripts. UCT’s goal is to continue to be an employer of choice.
The guidelines offer a high-level approach to various staffing-related matters. The scale and complexity of UCT’s operations and details relating to specific scenarios may require further nuancing by the Human Resources (HR) department. Where this is required, or if you need clarity on a specific issue about staffing recruitment, selection and contracts, please email the Director: HR Client Services, Mr Zaheer Ally, or phone him on 083 632 2271.
7. Building the future through the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund
The university has set up a COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund to assist in the fight against the virus and its impact on the UCT community. This fund has so far helped with needs such as providing transportation for students who needed to return home ahead of lockdown, disinfecting buildings as they were vacated, sourcing laptop computers and arranging their delivery to needy students, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to essential staff members who needed to remain on campus, and purchasing data bundles for students who are able to study online at home, to name a few. The laptops alone have incurred a total cost of about R16.4 million. When the lockdown is lifted and students and staff start returning to campus, the COVID-19 UCT Emergency Fund will help to provide for other needs, such as PPEs to ensure their safety.
8. ICTS scheduled maintenance
Please note that on Sunday, 10 May 2020, Information and Communication Technology Services ICTS) will perform scheduled maintenance from 09:00-17:00. Unless advised to the contrary, staff and students are advised not to expect any ICT services to be available for the duration of the maintenance slot. Please remember to consult the scheduled ICTS maintenance slots for 2020 before planning any teaching, conferences, meetings, and other activities that require ICT services.
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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. This was followed by the implementation of a national lockdown, which has been in effect since midnight on 26 March and has recently been extended to 30 April. The intention of this drastic measure is to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus to enable healthcare workers to more effectively treat those affected.
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.