Dear colleagues and students
While the country has moved to lockdown alert Level 1 and many restrictions have been eased, we still need to adopt a very cautious approach to any situations that could increase the risk of spreading the virus.
As a university, we have to take a circumspect and responsible approach to ensure that health risks are mitigated. We have taken the very difficult decision to host the December 2020 graduation ceremonies online. This is a decision we did not take lightly. Not only do we need to think of the health and safety of our community, but we also face a particularly unpredictable situation over which we have limited control where plans may need to change at short notice as the environment changes. We know that our students come from across South Africa and beyond our borders and do not want them and their loved ones to make plans and incur costs to attend graduation and then have to cancel due to a change in the situation in South Africa or internationally.
Graduations are celebratory occasions where families come together to rejoice in the success of their loved ones. They are occasions we all look forward to and want to be part of. However, these are large groups of people, far in excess of what is permissible under alert Level 1 regulations: a limit of 250 persons for an indoor event, and a limit of 500 persons for an outdoor event.
Graduation is a very important milestone after years of hard work that were put in to get to this point. Some of our graduating students may even be the first to graduate in their family. We share fully the sadness of our students not being able to walk the stage to the joyful cheers of family and friends. But at this point, during this global pandemic and the unpredictable nature thereof and to ensure the safety of everyone, it will be too risky and thus not feasible to host an in-person event.
This does not mean that our students cannot celebrate with those closest to them wherever they may be. I encourage students to celebrate in their own way safely at home and to share these moments with us.
To the affected students, we will share details of the virtual events shortly so that you and your loved ones can find a way to be part of this special moment. The details will relate to arrangements for:
Thank you for your understanding and for the precautions we are all taking at this time to limit the spread of the virus. As a university we must never forget the human toll the virus is taking on the UCT community and our society. We need to find a way to acknowledge those we have lost, to honour their lives and what they mean to us, and to help teach future generations about this chapter in our history. But future generations should also learn how this tragedy brought out the best in us: the bonds of solidarity that we forged, the compassion we displayed, the humanity we extended to all and the sacrifices that we have all made.
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 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.
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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.