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Urgent communication from the Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor: COVID-19

Urgent communication from the Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor: COVID-19

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(Published - 16 March 2020)

Dear Students and Staff

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared COVID-19 a national disaster. He has issued several directives to ensure that the spread of the virus is contained. This morning UWC’s Executive Management Committee met to discuss a plan of action for the University. It is important to note that there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at UWC to date. All decisions have been taken with the best interests of students and staff at heart.

The Academic Programme and Recess
1. The academic programme will continue, unless consultation with the Minister Dr Blade Nzimande suggests otherwise. Where possible, lectures can go online and Deans will co-ordinate. Deans will also indicate if there will be suspension of tests or if alternative measures will be put in place for assessments.
2. Recess will still start on Thursday, 19 March and will continue until after Easter. Classes will resume on 14 April.
3. Since we have added two weeks to this recess period, the mid-year vacation period will be reviewed.
4. All clinical- and community-based research, outreach and field trips are suspended until there is a sectoral determination or consultation with deans.
5. Access to communal areas where many people usually gather – such as the library, study halls and the Student Centre - will be limited.
6. All gyms will be closed.

Graduation
1. The traditional ceremony will be changed to a virtual ceremony which will allow graduants to graduate.
2. As part of our 60th anniversary, graduate employability is important. This is why we have decided to use innovation and technology to go ahead with a virtual graduation ceremony.
3. Once this crisis has abated, a physical ceremony will be held for those who choose to attend.
4. The details of this process will be communicated by the Registrar.

Events
1. Wellness Day, 60th celebrations and all other university events – including sports, conferences and arts events - will be cancelled until further notice.

Travel
1. International travel – whether inbound and outbound - will be cancelled until the end of the semester.
2. Only critical national travel will be considered.
3. International visitors will not be allowed on campus.
4. All staff and students who have returned from international travel since 14 February 2020 are required to self-quarantine for 14 days, if they have not done so already. If you have travelled and have symptoms suggestive of the disease, please contact the Infectious Diseases Unit at Tygerberg Hospital on 021 938 4911 or the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on 082 883 9920 or 08000 299 99.

Residences
1. Preparations will be put in place to ensure that students can leave at the end of the term.
2. A special plan, which involves all stakeholders, will be communicated separately.

Staff and Flexi-time
1. Normal business operations will continue.
2. The University has a flexi-time policy, and this can be implemented in consultation with your line manager.

Finally, regular updates on our response to this challenge will be sent to students, staff and our stakeholders. It is a highly fluid situation, and we will endeavour to keep our communities informed.

In the interim, I call on everyone to remain calm and practice all the widely known safety measures.

Yours sincerely

Professor Vivienne Lawack
Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor​

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