Thank you for your continued resilience and commitment during this current phase of COVID-19 and Lockdown Level 1. This is a time when we are all adapting to change and uncertainty as some of us continue to work remotely, others are returning to campus and still others are balancing between working from home and on campus.
Over the past few weeks, and during the online staff assembly on Tuesday, 13 October in particular, staff members have posed questions to the University of Cape Town (UCT) Executive about how we will work in these changing times. It is natural to be concerned about the impact the pandemic has had on the economy, our university and within our own lives, families and communities, including the teams in which we work.
We are responding to as many of these questions as possible in this time of uncertainty. Responses are being loaded onto the webpage for frequently asked questions (FAQs) about UCT’s response to COVID-19 regularly as decisions are implemented.
We continue to encourage colleagues to work from home if you are able to. We have noted several questions that have been raised about working remotely, and these are dealt with in the FAQ for UCT staff members. One underlying principle is that it is important to discuss your concerns and preferences with your line manager, who needs to make the final decision about which staff functions can be completed remotely and which functions require a return to campus. Keep in mind there are also ways to minimise contact with other staff members in the office, such as staggering work hours. This also can be discussed with your line manager.
The FAQ offers responses to staff members’ questions about returning to campus to ensure the effective running of the university; sick leave as well as annual leave that needs to be taken, particularly as we move swiftly towards the end of the year; the possibility of furlough or retrenchments; UCT’s position on salary increases; and staff transport to and from work in Lockdown Level 1. You can find these responses under the appropriate question in the FAQ.
There is also a FAQ section devoted to completing the 2020 academic year and beginning the 2021 year.
Health and safety protocols are always a top priority at UCT, especially as some of us begin to return to campus and increase our contacts with colleagues and students. Please take a moment to remind yourself of the health and safety protocols for returning to campus, including the need to complete the HealthCheck app every day before returning to campus.
Self-care and mental health are essential during this challenging time. While lockdown regulations have relaxed, we must remain vigilant against the pandemic. We must each also watch for signs of depression, anxiety and burnout, which are common in times of unusual stress. Staff support remains available to you through UCT Human Resources (UCT HR) as well as our contracted counselling services: the Independent Counselling and Advisory Services (ICAS) and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).
The UCT executive is committed to keeping the lines of communication open. I suggest that if you have a question that your line manager or the FAQ cannot address, please email the relevant UCT HR Business Partner for your department.
Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer
Chair of the COVID-19 Co-ordinating Committee
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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.