Supporting teaching and learning on campus

10 March 2021 | VC Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng

Dear colleagues

It is almost a year since President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster on 15 March 2020. Since then, COVID-19 has changed both ourselves and how we do our work. We are now about to start the 2021 academic year. I want to thank all faculties for being innovative and experimenting with alternatives to a full face-to-face teaching and learning system. Your willingness and dedication has made the academic project a success since lockdown began.

The reason for this communication is to ensure that there is clarity about how we will manage the academic programme in a physically distanced teaching and low-density campus during the first semester: what is expected from students and what is expected from academics.

Access to campus by students

Campus can be accessed by students who are required to be on campus because of the demands of their degrees. At this point in time, this means students in the Faculty of Health Sciences; students in the Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment; selected classes in the Faculty of Commerce; second- and third-year students in the Faculty of Science; and performance, creative arts and languages students in the Faculty of Humanities.

We will be dealing centrally with students living in the greater Cape Town area who, due to their specific situation, need to be on campus to fully participate in teaching and learning.

Properties and Services has identified a number of venues that will be equipped for students who do not have a conducive environment in which to study. These students will be identified centrally and will be invited to campus individually. We estimate that these students will be identified by mid-April. We are working together with the Department of Student Affairs in the management of these spaces.

Students in residences naturally have access to campus regardless of their faculties. Staff from Student Housing and Residence Life will take care of the management of students and the enforcement of physical distancing and other health regulations within the residences.

Students who are not required to be on campus for their degree requirements are encouraged to continue with their teaching and learning off campus.

When accessing campus all students are required to present their student card and the outcome of their UCT Daily Health Screening app to the Campus Protection Services (CPS) officers at campus checkpoints or faculty entrance points as required.

Venue access and cleaning

The venues selected for use in the relevant faculties have been appropriately laid out and are on a schedule for cleaning to ensure adherence to health and safety standards. The venues are provided with the required equipment and sanitisers. The individual faculties will also have their own specific arrangements.

Both staff and students must take responsibility for sanitising their hands and the surfaces they work on. Lecturers are kindly requested to clean lecterns and the surfaces they have used with the available sanitiser after they finish using them. Only students wearing masks will be allowed to enter teaching venues. Staff have the authority to refuse entry to a venue, or to ask a student to leave a venue, if they are not wearing a mask.

All students are required to follow the COVID-19 health and safety regulations as specified in government gazettes and as provided for in the UCT rules that govern student conduct. A cooperative relationship between students and faculty staff will help to ensure compliance with these measures. If we each take individual accountability and responsibility, we can help stop the spread of the pandemic. It is useful for faculties to reinforce the message of co-responsibility with students in all spaces.

Access to campus by staff

All staff and postdoctoral fellows are required to present their UCT access card and the outcome of their UCT Daily Health Screening app to the CPS officers at campus checkpoints or faculty entrance points as required. All staff must wear masks. As of 1 April 2021, as indicated in the COO Desk of 5 March 2021, the Higher Health screening app will be fully replaced by the UCT Daily Health Screening app.

Food outlets

The following Food & Connect stores will be operational from 15 March with a limited menu and adherence to COVID-19 risk protocols:

  • Robert Leslie
  • Central (next to Sarah Baartman Hall) will be monitored and opened based on demand
  • Health Sciences (two stores)
  • Coffee truck at the bottom of the steps leading to Sarah Baartman Hall (near the Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics)
  • Coffee truck in the middle campus parking area.

Invigilated exams and tests

The deputy vice-chancellors are working hard to finalise the allocation of spaces for this purpose, and they will provide further information on this within the next week.

We will be in touch to communicate further on the above issues. A separate communication addressed to students will be released to guide their behaviour on campus.

I wish you everything of the best for the first semester.


Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng

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UCT’s response to COVID-19

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.

In July 2022, the University of Cape Town (UCT) revised its approach to managing the COVID-19 pandemic on UCT campuses in 2022.
Read the latest document available on the UCT policies web page.


Campus communications


Adjusting to our new environment 16:50, 23 June 2022
VC Open Lecture and other updates 17:04, 13 April 2022
Feedback from UCT Council meeting of 12 March 2022 09:45, 18 March 2022
Chair of Council
March 2022 graduation celebration 16:45, 8 March 2022
Report on the meeting of UCT Council of 21 February 2022 19:30, 21 February 2022
Chair of Council
COVID-19 management 2022 11:55, 14 February 2022
Return to campus arrangements 2022 11:15, 4 February 2022

UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre

On Wednesday, 20 July, staff from the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences came together with representatives from the Western Cape Government at the UCT Community of Hope Vaccination Centre at Forest Hill Residence to acknowledge the centre’s significance in the fight against COVID-19 and to thank its staff for their contributions. The centre opened on 1 September 2021 with the aim of providing quality vaccination services to UCT staff, students and the nearby communities, as well as to create an opportunity for medical students from the Faculty of Health Sciences to gain practical public health skills. The vaccination centre ceased operations on Friday, 29 July 2022.

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.


“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.

Thank You UCT Community

Frequently asked questions


Global Citizen Asks: Are COVID-19 Vaccines Safe & Effective?

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.

IDM YouTube channel | IDM 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.