Dear colleagues and students
This campus announcement aims to inform the University of Cape Town (UCT) community about recent developments on campus.
1. Remaining vigilant and complying with COVID-19 protocols
As COVID-19 wears on, it may be tempting to drop our guard. But the virus is as infectious and dangerous now as it was eight months ago when lockdown began. The UCT community is urged to continue adhering to all health and safety regulations and guidelines, particularly in light of news reports of superspreader events in South Africa and other countries that are now experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infections. The UCT executive are grateful to all staff and students who are doing all they can to protect themselves and others during this time.
2. Update on COVID-19 cases
UCT has 110 reported cases of COVID-19 among non-health sciences staff members, with 97 recoveries, as at 17 November 2020. The number of students who have tested positive for the virus is 58, which includes 16 Faculty of Health Sciences students on clinical platforms. The university has lost nine staff members and one student to the virus.
3. Jammie Shuttle permit for off campus use by students
In the interest of students’ safety and well-being, UCT will be issuing permits to those students who wish to use the Jammie Shuttle services off campus but have not been invited back to campus. This permit is strictly for using the buses off campus as per scheduled routes and timetables and does not give students permission to access campus. Students with a letter of authority to access campus do not need to apply for this Jammie Shuttle permit.
All students who wish to use the Jammie Shuttle must complete a Jammie Shuttle off campus permit request. There is a turnaround time of two working days for the permits to be issued. In addition to showing the driver their permit, students will also need to produce their access cards and their green status on the HealthCheck app. They will have to adhere to strict health protocols as outlined in the shuttle permit.
4. Update from the Ombud’s Office
The UCT Ombud, Zetu Makamandela-Mguqulwa, wishes to assure staff, students and their families that the UCT Ombud’s Office is still open and fully functional. The Ombud would also like to confirm that she has not been suspended. The Ombud regrets any confusion that may have been created by media reports in this regard.
5. Study tips for the time-constrained student
There are plenty of reasons why some students may have fallen behind this semester. These may include the stress of remote learning, being infected or affected by COVID-19 and other usual student reasons. The Student Wellness Service’s peer counsellors have produced tips they hope will help students manage and use their remaining time to prepare for and do their best in the exams.
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. Increase in crime hotspots around lower campus
In the past few weeks there has been an increase in crime-related incidents in the areas surrounding lower campus, especially around Cecil Avenue, Wolmunster Road, Avenue Road, Rhodes Avenue and Lovers Walk.
The modus operandi is for criminals to approach unsuspecting pedestrians and rob them of their personal belongings. They then make use of vehicles, parked in the area, to escape. The high-risk times are at night or during quieter times over weekends.
While the university is doing its best to increase security presence around these roads, students and staff are urged to be vigilant at all times. Criminals always target the vulnerable. When walking, please do so in big groups. Avoid carrying valuables and using cellphones while walking. If avoidable, please don’t walk at night.
7. Trespassing on Rhodes Memorial Dam
The Table Mountain National Park has raised concerns about incidents of trespassing at the Rhodes Memorial Dam. The UCT community is reminded that the Rhodes Memorial Dam is a water catchment dam that has been in existence for many years. It is used as water storage for fire suppression efforts and was never intended for recreational use, including swimming. The dam also plays an essential role in terms of the City of Cape Town storm-water management, as it traps excess spring water from the mountain. The area surrounding the dam is fenced off to deter illegal use, with additional signage erected near the dam directing users to the Newlands picnic area.
Despite measures to deter trespassing, there has on numerous occasions been damage to the fence and signage, and the dam has been accessed illegally. Students are kindly requested to desist from using the dam for recreational purposes. Anyone found damaging or vandalising park property or trespassing may be fined or arrested under the Admission of Guilt Act.
8. UCT’s Fraud Awareness Week campaign
The week of 15 to 21 November is International Fraud Awareness Week. It is aimed at achieving widespread understanding and awareness on fraud. A series of five videos on fraud awareness have been produced to help develop knowledge and understanding of fraud in the UCT community.
UCT is committed to a culture of ethical compliance, and the UCT whistle-blowing hotline plays an important role for staff, students and third parties who wish to inform the university of matters related to potential corruption and fraud. UCT has a dedicated whistle-blowing website, and the hotline number is 0800 650 000. The hotline is managed by an independent service provider, Whistle Blowers (Pty) Ltd.
9. Social responsiveness course grant awards 2020
As part of the institutional commitment to embedding social responsiveness into teaching and learning, the Social Responsiveness Committee invited applications for socially responsive, engaged teaching and learning course development grants.
Four grants of R10 000 each were available to develop, design or revise a course that meets the criteria of engagement with external non-academic constituencies through a pedagogical process and approach. Two awards were made this year. The awardees are Associate Professor Ameeta Jaga (Organisational Psychology, Faculty of Commerce) and Ms Melissa Franke (Division of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Health Sciences).
10. Welcoming the 2020/21 SRC
The newly elected Students’ Representative Council (SRC) for 2020/21 started its term on 1 November 2020 and will be in office until 31 October 2021. The 15 members of the new SRC will lead in a very unusual period. The executive is committed to working closely with the elected student leadership in navigating the pandemic and its impact on the university.
This year’s elections were held fully online and had a good voter turnout compared to previous years. The executive thank the Election Commission, all staff who involved in running the elections and all the students who turned up to cast their votes.
11. Bidding 2020 retirees farewell
It is that time of the year when the university bids farewell to staff members who have reached the milestone of retirement. Due to the pandemic, the university is this year not celebrating this achievement with staff members at a dinner function. Instead, the university has created a feature page on the UCT News website, which includes the retirees’ names so that everyone is able to see who is bidding the university farewell. The page has, among other content, recorded video messages from the vice-chancellor and the chair of Council, photos and articles on some of the retirees.
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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.