Dear colleagues and students
This campus announcement aims to inform the UCT community about recent developments on campus.
1. Celebrating graduation virtually
UCT will celebrate graduation virtually on 14 and 15 December. The university has taken the decision to have virtual graduation celebrations in order to ensure the health and safety of the UCT community due to the risks associated with large gatherings, which increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Both graduation celebrations will commence at 18:00 and will be accessible online via the UCT website and social media platforms.
At the virtual graduation ceremony on 15 December UCT will confer a degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) upon Professor James Midgley, a UCT alumnus who has produced an expansive and substantive body of work on social development that is not only relevant to the Global South, but also to international social development. His work will continue to shape social welfare thinking, policy and practice for years to come.
The Communication and Marketing Department has produced graduation-specific social media assets, which are available for the March graduates and the December graduands as well as their families to use. There are two elements available:
We encourage graduands/graduates to screenshot the images mentioned above (both frames and stickers) and post these on social media using #UCTGrad2020 and tagging @UCT_News.
2. Undergraduate teaching and learning in the 2021 first semester
All undergraduate UCT students who are residents in South Africa, and all international students who can return to South Africa, are expected to be in Cape Town for the start of the academic year on 15 March 2021. Students in the Faculty of Health Sciences will need to return earlier. During the first semester of 2021, UCT will offer all undergraduate courses in a physically distanced learning mode. The university will communicate the details of courses, timetables and venues once they have been finalised at the beginning of 2021. The details of specific courses will be communicated to students through faculties.
Special communication about enrolment and registration for the academic year 2021 will be sent by the Office of the Registrar.
3. Holiday travel precautions against COVID-19
As more people move across the country over the festive season, chances are that this will lead to even more cases of COVID-19 infections. Another risk is that a rise in infections could lead to travel bans between provinces. Because of the risks of travel and the safety precautions that are needed, UCT staff and students may be tempted not to take time off in the holiday season. However, everyone needs a physical and mental break to restore personal resources for the year ahead as this has been a draining year.
4. Update on UCT’s COVID-19 cases
As at 8 December 2020, UCT has 140 reported COVID-19 cases among non-health sciences staff members. Staff recoveries stand at 107. The number of students who have tested positive for the virus is 67, which includes 16 Faculty of Health Sciences students on clinical platforms.
The university has, regrettably, again recorded a notable increase in new cases reported in the last seven days. Members of the UCT community are urged to remain as vigilant and to keep adhering strictly to all COVID-19 protocols.
The university has lost nine staff members and one student to the virus.
5. SWS peer counsellors’ campaign: Are you ok?
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a series of overwhelming changes that we’ve all had to rapidly adapt to. It is okay to feel overwhelmed and if you need help processing and understanding changes in your mental and emotional wellbeing, the Student Wellness Service’s peer counsellors encourage you to please reach out. Talking to someone helps, and SWS is available to assist you.
Follow the UCT Student Wellness Peer Counselling Service on Instagram to connect with a community that understands how you are feeling and can offer you professional and empathetic support. If you feel that you need to speak to someone, please book a session or call the SWS UCT Careline on 0800 24 25 26.
6. Collaboration with academic institutions in occupied Palestinian territories
UCT is calling for proposals for academic collaboration with academic institutions in the occupied Palestinian territories. This call invites UCT researchers to submit proposals to help establish and/or strengthen partnerships between academics at UCT and research institutions in Palestine and in the territories that are engaged in academic or research-related activities that seek to address gross human rights violations. The research collaboration should build knowledge of relevance to both regions, with identifiable potential for positive impact in the occupied Palestinian territories. It should also deliver identifiable academic development outcomes, preferably in both regions.
7. SAX Appeal magazine goes digital
It’s all things Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and digital for this year’s popular student-produced magazine SAX Appeal. SAX Appeal, the brainchild of UCT student charity Remember and Give (RAG), has a different home this year. The magazine has gone digital and is available through Magzter, the world’s largest digital newsstand.
For just R60, you’ll get the student perspective on the 4IR, as well as expert commentary from the likes of UCT’s Professor Carlos Lopes from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, who deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibilities of using this moment to accelerate change in Africa; Department of Commercial Law’s Associate Professor Debbie Collier who details 4IR technologies in the world of work and whether we’re keeping up; and social innovator Melanie Burke on the need for human connection in the 4IR. You’ll also be supporting RAG’s crucial fundraising work, which enables the Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO) to continue providing quality health and education services across the city.
8. Get your data and IT in order before the holidays
If you’re graduating, retiring, leaving UCT, or just taking some time off, you may want to get your IT in order before departing.
9. ICTS scheduled maintenance on Sunday, 13 December
Please note that on Sunday, 13 December 2020, the Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) department will perform scheduled maintenance from 09:00 to 17:00. Unless advised to the contrary, staff and students should note that no ICT services will 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.
Communication and Marketing Department
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COVID-19 is a global pandemic that caused President Cyril Ramaphosa to declare a national disaster in South Africa on 15 March 2020 and to implement a national lockdown from 26 March 2020.
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. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.
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.