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Message from the DVC: SDS - June 2020

The past three months have seen our lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in extraordinary ways. The University continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation.

(Published - 29 June 2020)

Dear Students,

The past three months have seen our lives disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in extraordinary ways. The University continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and is applying the Government regulations to ensure that all the relevant protocols, planning and requirements are adhered to as students are gradually returning back to campus. 

This message serves primarily to highlight the processes as well as available development and support services during the Phased-Return periods. It also highlights the continued co-curricular programmes, services and interventions to note, including upcoming events across the Student Development and Support (SDS) Departments during this period (see attached annexure).

  1. Following the Minister’s announcement for the Phased-Return to campus under Lockdown Level 3, all identified students have been notified individually via correspondence about their return date to campus and issued with the relevant permits. It is important to reiterate that, guided by the Department of Higher Education and Training, the University has identified the following cohort of students to return to campus during the level 3 lockdown:
  1.  Final-year Undergraduate and Postgraduate students who have clinical and laboratory work to complete their degrees in 2020;  
  2. Vulnerable final-year students not identified in level 3 lockdown but who have poor living conditions and no connectivity in their home areas; and,
  3. Other vulnerable students identified will be addressed on a case-by-case basis and include, as a priority, students with disabilities, and a category of residence students who were identified as vulnerable through the application of the residence admissions policy process.

It is also important to note that under Level 3, only a maximum of 33% of all students and staff - those identified by the University - are allowed to be on campus, including in residences, - as long as they can be accommodated in line with health and safety protocols. 

2. CO-CURRICULAR PROGRAMMES AND SERVICES

I would like to remind students of the continued development and support services that are available even though we are not all currently on campus. Attached to this communication is additional information on how to access details on these programmes and services, including among others, events related to employability (the Virtual Careers Fair in July, programmes for Graduate Competency Development), processes that require student participation such as the Mental Health and Wellness policy development, the review of the SRC Constitution, as well as interventions such as Food security provision under lockdown and the update about the gym and related sports facilities.

3. COMMUTING STUDENTS

Students who travel using their own or public transport to campus during Lockdown Level 3 can only access campus on the basis of having been issued a permit by the University as per their eligibility status in terms of the criteria outlined above in 1 (i) - (iii). Commuting students should not come to campus without this document and confirmation of eligibility. 

4. STUDENTS IN PRIVATE/LEASED ACCOMMODATION 

Students who reside in private rented accommodation need to communicate with their landlords to confirm the state of readiness for their accommodation as per COVID-19 protocols and considerations for reliable internet connectivity for access to learning and teaching. This includes students identified as eligible who have a valid permit to return to campus.

Students who are not eligible under the applicable criteria because they do not have a University-issued permit to access campus are requested to discuss their return to private accommodation with their Landlords, once the state of readiness has been assessed to be conducive for such return. 

The same process outlined above applies to students reeligibility as outlinedsiding in leased accommodation arrangements. 

Students studying from home will not be allowed to access campus. The applicable criteria outlined above in 1 (i) - (iii), as well as the maximum of 33% campus presence under Lockdown Level 3, must be taken into consideration here.

StudentsStudents residing at KOVACS must use the same UWC access points and can only access campus on the basis of eligibility as outlined in 1 (i) - (iii). These students need to be in possession of a valid permit

Any arrangements discussed and entered into between the landlord and a student is subject to the conditions stated above and in consultation with the University, provided that such arrangements do not exceed the 33% campus presence.

For any further queries and support regarding the above, please contact the landlord and copy in resservices1@uwc.ac.za.

5. STUDENTS CURRENTLY IN RESIDENCES AND STUDENTS RETURNING TO RESIDENCES

There are staff and students (including international and vulnerable students) currently in residences who had to stay behind since the first announcement of the lockdown (level 5). These students and staff form part of the 33% maximum campus presence.

They will continue to observe lockdown protocols and Level 3 processes in line with the Institutional Integrated Plan for the Phased-In approach. In addition to the 260 students currently in residences there is an expected return of additional 737 students (to make it 997) who were issued with permits to return to residences from 22 June until mid-July. 

The process for accessing campus and residences at any time is as follows (also refer to the Integrated COVID-19 Implementation Plan with the attached guidelines and process flowcharts, as well as the letter to all residence students):

    1. Each student is screened at the main access point to campus by the relevant personnel. The student must download the WIZZPASS screening App that will be used daily to self-screen. Students are reminded that they are required by law to answer the screening questions honestly. All persons entering campus will be required to use this App for self-screening. 
    2. Each student then receives Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the form of fabric masks and hand sanitiser, as well as a COVID-19 information pack. All persons will receive information on the correct use of the PPE.
    3. The student proceeds to the residence where they are allocated a room and checks in with the assigned staff member. If not already done, the student will sign a Code of Conduct that guides movements and behaviour while in residence. All students are informed that they must keep a daily log of movements for contact tracing purposes. 
    4. All students will undergo daily screening procedures, and temperature checks at the residence entrances.

6. ISOLATION SPACES AND TESTING FOR RESIDENCE STUDENTS

    1. Alternate off-site spaces have been identified for: High-risk residence students considered as Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) and confirmed cases
    2. Low-risk cases of residence students who display symptoms, may on the basis of professional advice, be instructed to self-isolate within their rooms until further action is required. They will also be handled as PUIs and will be monitored and issued with additional relevant PPE.
    3. Residential Services, in collaboration with the Risk and Compliance Department, will make the necessary arrangements (including transportation to the testing site for a student, and this will be done with due care without placing other students, staff members or members of the public at risk.
    4. Once the student has been medically cleared for reintegration into residences, the student will be transferred back to residence.

Residential Services and Risk and Compliance will ensure monitoring of care for students in isolation spaces as well as cleaning and disinfection of areas or work spaces where there are PUIs or confirmed cases. Referrals will be made for others who may be at risk, for screening and related appropriate measures to prevent possible further transmission (daily log of movements and contacts are essential for contact tracing).

7. ISOLATION ARRANGEMENTS FOR OTHER CATEGORIES OF STUDENTS

The same services will be provided by Risk and Compliance to assess students found to be symptomatic during screening at campus access points. For isolation arrangements, transportation to testing and/or isolation spaces, the following applies:

  1. COMMUTING STUDENTS – Following the symptomatic screening results at UWC access points and the initial assessment by the medics, the student may be advised to self-isolate and arrangements for safe transportation home will be made with the support of Risk and Compliance.
  2. STUDENTS IN PRIVATELY RENTED AND UWC LEASED ACCOMMODATION – Following the symptomatic screening results at UWC access points and the initial assessment by the medics, the student may be advised to self-isolate and arrangements for safe transportation to their accommodation and to the testing facility will be made with the support of Risk and Compliance.

We need to be vigilant and prepared as the anticipated steady rise of COVID-19 infections confronts us in the next months. We are mindful of the anxiety and feelings of isolation that people are going to experience over this time. I would like to remind everyone of the support and advisory services that are available at UWC, including toll-free partnerships for all students and staff.

The following important contact details are important for you to note:

All emergencies
Campus Protection Services (CPS) Control Room: 021 959 2239
e are staff and students (including international and vulnerable students) currently in residences who had to stay behind since the first announcement of the lockdown (level 5). These students and staff form part of the 33% maximum campus presence.

They will continue to o


Counselling Support
CSSS: csss@uwc.ac.za
reslifehelpline@uwc.ac.za
SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group): 0800 222 333 (24/7, toll-free)
Suicidal Emergencies: 0800 567 567 (SADAG, 24/7, toll-free)

Accommodation
Any Placement or Private Accommodation Queries: resservices1@uwc.ac.za
Any Student Housing and Services-related Queries: uwcstudenthousing@gmail.com
Any Residence-based Counselling, Co-Curricular Life or Academic Support Queries: reslife@uwc.ac.za

Western Cape Government Support
NICD contact details: 082 883 9920; 0800 029 99
Website: www.nicd.ac.za

Provincial Isolation Facilities Information: www.western cape.gov.za/coronavirus.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank students for your continued cooperation and understanding, as well as for your hard work and resilience during these unprecedented circumstances. I would like to encourage you to familiarise yourself with the COVID-19 portal on the UWC website which contains frequently asked questions in relation to the current conditions. (www.uwc.ac.za/uwconline/COVID-19/News/Pages)

I wish you all the best during this period, and please do not lose focus on your studies and your dream careers despite the current challenges. Most importantly, to overcome this, government policies and protocols alone will not save us. Our behaviour change will go a long way in making a difference, and using all means possible to stay healthy and safe. 

Creating your Future!

Best wishes
Prof Pamela Dube
DVC: Student Development and Support

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