This campus announcement aims to inform the University of Cape Town (UCT) community about recent developments on campus.
1. Academic year 2021
Plans for the 2021 academic year at UCT are based on the understanding that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue. The university will operate as a low-density campus in the first semester of 2021. Undergraduate teaching and learning as well as research will use both asynchronous and synchronous online activities (asynchronous activities can be accessed at any time, while synchronous activities will require participants to attend according to a specific schedule); face-to-face teaching of small groups in COVID-compliant venues under physically distanced learning conditions; and physically distanced research activities in low-density labs, studios and workshops will operate on a rotation basis, to reduce the number of people in each space at any time.
For postgraduates, the mode of operation will depend on the nature of the programme, the number of students in the programme and the availability of venues. Laboratory, studio, seminar and group work will run on a roster basis to help maintain physical distancing. Fieldwork and internships will be set up to comply with both the needs of the programme and health protocols. Guidelines for fieldwork under COVID-19 conditions are available.
2. Graduation 2020 wrap
On 14 and 15 December, the university explored unchartered territory, with thousands of graduates honoured in virtual graduation celebratory events – the first of their kind for the university since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. UCT congratulates the March and December 2020 graduates on their academic success during an exceptionally challenging year. Full video recordings of both sessions are available on the UCT graduation feature page as well as the university’s YouTube and Twitter accounts. The graduation page also has many articles paying tribute to some of UCT’s extraordinary graduates.
3. Report on UCT Council meeting of 5 December
Council held its last meeting of the year on Saturday, 5 December, and made a number of key decisions. These included the approval of UCT’s new strategic plan, Vision 2030. Council expressed its unanimous approval for this vision and committed fully to work with the executive in the implementation of Vision 2030. Council also approved the Policy on Sexual Misconduct. The policy underscores the university’s commitment to creating and maintaining an institutional environment which ensures the dignity of its employees, students and other key university stakeholders. Council thanked the university community for successfully nearing the completion of the 2020 academic year, amid many challenges and complexities.
4. UCT’s COVID-19 cases update
As at 15 December 2020, UCT has 158 reported cases of COVID-19 among non-health sciences staff members, with 116 recoveries. The number of students who have tested positive for the virus is 83, which includes 16 Faculty of Health Sciences students on clinical platforms. The university has lost nine staff members and one student to the virus.
The university continues to urge members of the UCT community to remain alert to the reality of increasing infections in the country.
5. ICTS walk-in centre open by invitation only
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit the Western Cape particularly hard, the Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) reminds the university community that the walk-in centre at ICTS-on-Main in Mowbray remains closed for general assistance. Staff and students may only visit the centre by invitation, after following the official procedure. If you have not followed the procedure, unfortunately ICTS cannot assist you immediately and you'll need to wait outside the building until you can be attended to.
6. Adjustment to compulsory annual leave policy for 2020
Without a doubt 2020 has been an extremely difficult year for everybody at the university but staff have kept university operations on track through their commitment. The priority for the executive has been ensuring the financial sustainability of the institution, while balancing that with economic, social and environmental factors brought about by COVID-19. This balancing act has necessitated the decision that the university will not formally close during the last week of December. Staff are therefore encouraged to utilise their annual leave days during this period.
The decision to extend the 2020 academic year into February may make it difficult for some staff members to take leave this month. As a result, any compulsory annual leave that was due to fall away at the end of 2020 will be rolled over until the end of January 2021. Those who need an extension of compulsory leave beyond 31 January 2021 are required to submit a motivation.
7. Dealing with end-of-year burnout
To assist staff in managing the high levels of stress and exhaustion due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) have developed a guide to assist with emotional and physical burnout, which leaves one feeling less motivated and unable to be productive. The guide is intended to help with recovery from burnout.
8. Season’s greetings
This is the last regular weekly campus announcement for 2020, which has been an incredibly difficult year. We would like to wish everyone well over the festive season. Please keep safe and adhere to appropriate COVID-19 regulations and protocols. If necessary we will issue specific campus announcements during this period, with the regular weekly campus announcement resuming in January 2021.
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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 and implement a national lockdown from 26 March.
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.