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24 March 2020
Urgent communication from the Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor: COVID-19 Update

(Published - 24 March 2020)

Dear campus community

As you are aware, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last night that South Africa will go on lockdown from midnight on Thursday, 26 March 2020 until midnight on 16 April 2020, to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The University of the Western Cape heeds this call in the following ways:

1. A Flexible Learning and Teaching Plan, which envisages online teaching from 17 April 2020 and beyond, will be communicated on Thursday afternoon, 26 March 2020.

2. The effect of the President’s announcement is that all residences should be evacuated. His directive supersedes all prior communication and arrangements made for students residing at campus accommodation during the university recess period. All residences must be evacuated by Thursday, 26 March 2020, at 1 pm. While we appreciate the diversity of challenges facing several students who chose to stay on in residence during recess, this national directive presents no options for non-compliance.

Professor Pamela Dube, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Development and Support, and her team - assisted by the Risk and Compliance and Campus Protection Services offices, among others - will provide support and further details on logistical arrangements for this urgent evacuation of all residences.

3. President Ramaphosa, in his announcement, made provision that “firms who are able to continue their operations remotely should do so”. Our plan will encourage working from home, and where appropriate, flexible leave arrangements. Research and postgraduate activities and all other enabling support functions will be contained in an Integrated Business Continuity Plan, which will be communicated on Wednesday afternoon, 25 March 2020.

We understand that the lockdown will significantly impact on our lives and we encourage our staff and students to abide by the President’s call, in the interest of all of our safety. In particular, you are encouraged to only leave your home to the areas outlined in the President’s speech, such as shopping for food or seeking medical care.

We further urge you to practice all the safety precautions as listed in the speech, attached to this communication.

We are living in extraordinary times, and I once again call on all of us to remain calm, to have agency and to show leadership. As a community, we will endeavour to overcome this. This means having to make decisions in a very fluid situation.

I thank you for your patience and resilience as we traverse this unknown territory, during the lockdown period and beyond.

Professor Vivienne Lawack
Acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor