At the online staff assembly on 13 October 2020, one of the questions the executive received was whether the University of Cape Town (UCT) would formally close on the days of business between 25 December 2020 and 1 January 2021.
The executive gave this question careful consideration. We will continue to acknowledge that 2020 has been an exceptionally difficult year for everybody at UCT and that colleagues continue to demonstrate their commitment in keeping the university project on track. We have also been challenged with the need to balance many factors impacting on the future of the university, including ensuring the financial sustainability of the institution. South Africa’s economic challenges and circumstances as a result of COVID-19 continue to impact on the university and all communities across the country. These concerns will continue to be a primary focus of our institution and campus community as we try to find the optimum balance of economic, environmental and financial sustainability.
In giving this balancing act careful consideration, the executive decided that UCT will not formally close during the last week of December. However, this does not prevent you from using your annual leave over the holiday season, and we encourage you to do so, if it is possible within your area of operation.
As our Chief Operating Officer, Dr Reno Morar, pointed out in a recent message to the campus community, we don’t know what new challenges may surprise us in 2021. We do know that we have survived a very strenuous year. For this reason, we all need to take a physical and mental break, so that we can start the new year on our best possible footing.
The executive also recognises that the decision to extend the 2020 academic year into December may make it difficult for some colleagues to take leave this month. As a result, some of you may be facing the threat of losing compulsory annual leave if you do not use these leave days before the end of this month.
It is important for all staff members to have the opportunity to take a decent break at the end of this year, so the executive has agreed with UCT Human Resources that any compulsory annual leave that was due to fall away at the end of 2020 will be rolled over. As a result, the deadline is now extended until the end of January 2021 for all members of staff. This means that you can choose to take your 2020 compulsory leave next month, without having to submit the usual paperwork to motivate for a rollover of compulsory leave. This management decision was reported to Council at its meeting on 5 December 2020.
If you need an extension of your compulsory leave beyond 31 January 2021, you will be required to submit a motivation to do so, as the normal leave policy will apply after that date.
As exhausting as this year has been, I look back on it with pride, a sense of victory and gratitude to each of you for all the ways you have helped to make this year a success. Although we were forced to be apart physically, the UCT community – students and staff members – worked as a winning team.
We didn’t just experience the pandemic – we investigated it as researchers, debated the issues as academics and responded with compassion, expertise and scholarship to the many needs that it highlighted. Our reach extended to a global audience with our virtual events, public lectures and celebrations, including our virtual graduation events this week. We explored new ways of using the online space – and we will continue to do so in 2021, as we adapt our teaching methodologies to embrace innovative ways of using digital platforms. However, we never forget that it is the quality and determination of our staff that make this university what it is.
As you take your well-deserved, relaxing holiday break, I hope you share the sense of pride I feel for a job well done in 2020, and that you return to UCT with excitement for the victories that lie ahead of us in the new year. Thank you for making it possible.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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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 with the latest COVID-19 information. Please note that the information on this page is subject to change depending on current lockdown regulations.
Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has in June 2022 repealed some of South Africa’s remaining COVID-19 regulations: namely, sections 16A, 16B and 16C of the Regulations Relating to the Surveillance and the Control of Notifiable Medical Conditions under the National Health Act. We are now no longer required to wear masks or limit gatherings. Venue restrictions and checks for travellers coming into South Africa have now also been removed.
“After almost a year of operation, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, located at the Forest Hill residence complex in Mowbray, will close on Friday, 29 July 2022. I am extremely grateful and proud of all staff, students and everyone involved in this important project.”
– Vice-Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng
With the closure of the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre, if you still require access to a COVID-19 vaccination site please visit the CovidComms SA website to find an alternative.
UCT’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) collaborated with Global Citizen, speaking to trusted experts to dispel vaccine misinformation.
If you have further questions about the COVID-19 vaccine check out the FAQ produced by the Desmond Tutu Health Foundation (DTHF). The DTHF has developed a dedicated chat function where you can ask your vaccine-related questions on the bottom right hand corner of the website.
“As a contact university, we look forward to readjusting our undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in 2023 as the COVID-19 regulations have been repealed.”
– Prof Harsha Kathard, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning
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.