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17 March 2020
From the Desk of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Development and Support

(Published - 17 March 2020)

Dear Students

Following the President’s announcement on Sunday night, 15 March 2020, and the communication from the Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor yesterday, this communication pertains specifically to students living in residences.

Normal residence processes will be followed for the term break as per the University Calendar (2020). We are aware that under normal circumstances, not all students vacate their rooms during the short vacation period. Therefore, while students in a position to go home are encouraged to do so, those who are unable to go home may remain in their residences.

However, please be aware of the risks attached to the rapid transmission of the COVID-19 virus. 

The following is important to note:

1)    Students Vacating

Students are urged to ensure that they sign out of residences upon departure. The rooms will be double-locked for security reasons. This will ensure that the Residential Services team is aware of who is in the residence. Residences will be cleaned regularly as per the World Health Organization protocol guidelines in preparation for your return.

Our international students are requested to inform the RS Cluster Coordinator if they are travelling, and all residence students should notify staff upon their return.

2)    Students Remaining

Students who wish to remain are encouraged to practice good hygiene and cleanliness in all community and private spaces. There will be strict access control at all residences to ensure safety and to limit movement or social interaction as per the prescribed national and regional protocols. If a student is anticipating any visitors, they will have to arrange to meet them outside of the residence.

We realise that this may be a serious impediment to and restriction on social interactions. However, we have to uphold the necessary measures announced on Sunday and follow the guidelines as outlined by the blue poster issued by the World Health Organization that was distributed across the residences. We appeal to you to utilise the RS staff email addresses in the event you need advice, or call 021 959 2569.

If you suspect that you might have any of the symptoms, we advise that you consult the Campus Health and Wellness Centre or campus medic and indicate your symptoms. The relevant contact numbers are as follows:

UWC Campus Health and Wellness Centre 021 959 2878
Campus Medic  021 959 2144
CPS Emergency     021 959 2564
National Institute for Communicable Diseases 0800 029 999
WhatsApp Number for Information      0600 123 456

Counselling services are available to students who feel the need for professional support at:

Centre for Student Support Services    021 959 2299
SADAG Online Counselling              0800 222 333

We realise these are challenging times. The University will regularly update students and staff with relevant information, guidelines and advice, and we urge you to avoid fake information or news.

See some important information below, especially as it relates to COVID -19 testing on symptomatic patients only.

 COVID -19 testing on symptomatic patients only

  1. Follow the suggestions and protocols already agreed upon and widely distributed via the UWC media office. (For more information, please see The COVID-19 portal)
  2. If you have travelled abroad during the past three weeks, self-isolate for a two-week period (from the time of return, or immediately, if you have not already done so).
  3. If you have come into direct contact with a person CONFIRMED with the infection (this must be verified with the NICD, as there are many people falsely reporting about exposure), you are to self-isolate for the two-week period. There is an identified space in residence for self-isolation.
  4.  If you fulfil either or both of the above two criteria but do not have symptoms, only self-isolate for now. No testing is being advocated at this stage.
  5. If you fulfil either or both of the above two criteria and have any of the symptoms already described, you must contact the NICD or a relevant health care practitioner telephonically or via email/message, etc. and discuss your concerns with the practitioner. The practitioner (either from the NICD or medical facility) will need to determine the need for testing and then complete the required documents, and refer the patient for further management - either directly to the Tygerberg Infectious Diseases Unit or a designated private laboratory.

While this communication addresses the students who live in UWC residences and at off-campus private accommodation, the continued well-being of all our students, whether they live on or off-campus, is vital.

We thank you for your cooperation.