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