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Covid-19

The global pandemic has had a marked impact on teaching and learning activities across the globe. By the start of the 2021 academic year in March, it will have been over a year since South Africa confirmed its first case of COVID-19. UCT is taking the threat of infection in our university community extremely seriously. While vaccines are in development and will be rolled out in South Africa in the coming months, there is a lot that each of us can do on a daily basis to stay healthy.

UCT’s commitment

The university will continue to do everything it can to protect our students and staff. UCT is following the government’s COVID-19 occupational health and safety regulations, and hand sanitisers, hand-washing facilities and supplies, and cloth masks will be provided to students and staff members.

Important interventions include physical distancing and arranging workspaces to allow a minimum of 1.5 metres between people; appropriate scheduling of the cleaning and sanitising of surfaces in workspaces and vehicles; and limiting capacity in rooms, shared facilities and vehicles to allow for social distancing.

Other measures include providing additional personal protective equipment, such as gloves, N95 masks and visors, as required by the National Department of Health, for university staff and students who are providing care and support in the public health sector.

Read more about UCT’s response to COVID-19 in 2021.

 

1. Teaching arrangements in 2021

  • Physically Distanced Learning (PDL)

    Plans for the 2021 academic year at UCT are based on the understanding that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue. The university will operate as a low-density campus in the second semester of 2021. Undergraduate teaching and learning as well as research will use both asynchronous and synchronous online activities (asynchronous activities can be accessed at any time, while synchronous activities will require participants to attend according to a specific schedule); face-to-face teaching of small groups in COVID-compliant venues under physically distanced learning conditions; and physically distanced research activities in low-density labs, studios and workshops will operate on a rotation basis, to reduce the number of people in each space at any time.

    For postgraduates, the mode of operation will depend on the nature of the programme, the number of students in the programme. Laboratory, studio, seminar and group work will run on a roster basis to help maintain physical distancing. Fieldwork and internships will be set up to comply with both the needs of the programme and health protocols. Guidelines for fieldwork under COVID-19 conditions are available.

  • Will the mode of instruction for my courses be online or face-to-face?

    The following teaching and learning arrangements will apply for 2nd Semester (August – November 2021):

    • The Faculty of Commerce anticipates lectures and tutorials will continue online, but that students will need to sit for invigilated exams in person.  It will confirm arrangements via its website closer to the start of teaching.
    • The Faculty of Engineering & the Built Environment requires students to be physically present on campus. 
    • The Faculty of Humanities has not made specific plans for the 2nd Semester but will follow the University’s framework. It will confirm arrangements via its website closer to the start of teaching.
    • The Faculty of Law will conduct teaching online but students will need to sit for invigilated exams in person.
    • The Faculty of Science will deliver lectures online but will have contact sessions for those components that require it and students will need to sit invigilated exams on campus.
  • Will I have access to study spaces and University services on campus?

    Sessions that involve physical contact, whether in a laboratory, studio, tutorial or final-year lecture, will be held under strict health protocols. Students and staff members not wearing masks will not be allowed into a venue. On registration, students will need to sign a commitment of adherence to COVID-19 health and safety protocols before being allowed on campus. 

    UCT will identify study spaces on campus that meet health protocols for the use of day students. Venues have been configured to ensure appropriate ventilation, a minimum distance of 1.5m between workstations and hand sanitization facilities available at the entrances and exits of every building and room.

    Computer laboratories that are serviced by Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) will be opened for the use of undergraduate students, following strict health protocols and 

    cleaning rotation schedules. Faculty-managed undergraduate computer laboratories will follow the same protocols.

    UCT Libraries will open for staff and registered students according to approved health protocols, staffing, spatial layout and seating capacity at the different library sites. The comprehensive Virtual Library Services will continue, and on-site services and facilities will be adapted to support the 2021 Teaching and Learning programme.

 

2. International travel and arrival at UCT

  • Requirements for travel into South Africa

    On arrival, international travellers must present a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa showing a negative outcome for coronavirus COVID-19.  

    In the event of the traveller's failure to submit a certificate as proof of a negative COVID-19 test, the traveller will be required to do an antigen test on arrival at their own cost and in the event of a traveller testing positive for COVID-19, they will be required to quarantine at their own cost.

    International travellers must have travel/medical insurance to cover the COVID-19 test and quarantine costs. 

  • Will I need to self-isolate/quarantine upon arrival?

    Every student coming into the UCT residence system will need to stay in quarantine in their room for the first seven days after arrival. This is to ensure that any student coming into residence who may be carrying the COVID-19 virus does not spread it to other students and staff members and cause a localised hotspot. During the 'safe arrival' quarantine period, we will work with students to monitor their health and screen for possible symptoms. Where appropriate and necessary, we will provide medical care and support to students who develop symptoms.

    Students staying in private rented accommodation do not need to quarantine if they have provided a negative PCR test and are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

    However, every student travelling onto campus must complete an app-based questionnaire and is screened on arrival. UCT is operating a low-density campus at the moment so measures are in place to control the number of students/staff on campus or in the same building/ room at any given time.

  • What if I am told that I need to quarantine/self-isolate upon arrival at the airport?

    If the quarantine/ self-isolation is imposed upon arrival at the airport, this will be an additional cost (i.e., at the student's expense).  We would advise students have travel insurance for this eventuality as all travellers will be subjected to COVID-19 screening on arrival in Cape Town.

    ‚ÄčStudents who are required to quarantine/self-isolate following screening upon arrival at campus can do so in their private rented accommodation or within the UCT residence system (if they are living in UCT accommodation – See What to do if I test positive/am showing symptoms for COVID-19?) so there will be no extra cost.

 

3. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus: Health & safety protocols

  • Basic practices to be followed on campus

    We’ve all learned the basics for reducing the chance of spreading COVID-19 infection:

    1. Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth in public.
    2. Keep a distance of 1.5m from other people.
    3. Regularly wash or sanitise your hands and surfaces.

    These three basic actions are easy to follow, and they save lives. The COVID-19 pandemic is still a serious reality and we must do all we can to keep ourselves and others safe.

    If you are on campus, practise the three basic actions and adhere to these additional preventative measures:

    •   Avoid large gatherings.

    •   Avoid enclosed spaces.

    •   Sanitise surfaces regularly.

    •   When travelling, keep one or more windows slightly ajar to allow for good ventilation in the vehicle.

    •   If you are travelling with anyone else or are using public transport, wear your mask and make sure it covers your nose and mouth at all times.

    •   Use hand sanitiser before and after using a public toilet.

    •   Do not use public drinking fountains or share drinks or bottles with anyone else.

    •   Do not share cigarettes, vapes or ‘rollies’.

    •   Do not share any eating utensils.

     

  • Access to campus: UCT Daily Health Screening App

    The UCT Daily Health Screening app should be completed each time you enter campus. The app was designed to help us protect the health and well-being of those around us, but it also serves as a reminder to remain aware of your daily interactions and to report any possible symptoms. Completing the screening every time you enter campus will help keep us all safe. You can be assured that all personal information will be treated confidentially.

  • What are the protocols for study spaces and University services on campus?

    Sessions that involve physical contact, whether in a laboratory, studio, tutorial or final-year lecture, will be held under strict health protocols. Students and staff members not wearing masks will not be allowed into a venue. On registration, students will need to sign a commitment of adherence to COVID-19 health and safety protocols before being allowed on campus. 

    UCT will identify study spaces on campus that meet health protocols for the use of day students. Venues have been configured to ensure appropriate ventilation, a minimum distance of 1.5m between workstations and hand sanitization facilities available at the entrances and exits of every building and room.

    Computer laboratories that are serviced by Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) will be opened for the use of undergraduate students, following strict health protocols and cleaning rotation schedules. Faculty-managed undergraduate computer laboratories will follow the same protocols.

    UCT Libraries will open for staff and registered students according to approved health protocols, staffing, spatial layout and seating capacity at the different library sites. The comprehensive Virtual Library Services will continue, and on-site services and facilities will be adapted to support the 2021 Teaching and Learning programme.

    To limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, UCT is organising single-room residence accommodation and a 'safe arrival' quarantine period for those using university accommodation.

 

4. Testing positive/ showing symptoms for COVID-19

  • What should I do if I have been exposed/tested positive for COVID-19?

    The symptoms of COVID-19 are very similar to flu symptoms, so all persons with flu-like symptoms should be considered a potential case of COVID-19 and should not enter UCT. If you develop symptoms on campus, you must immediately report it to your student coordinator at IAPO. You will be placed in an isolation room and the student coordinator will contact the university COVID hotline who will advise them on testing and quarantine arrangements.

    If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or suspect you have been exposed off-campus, you should self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of the symptoms. You should monitor your health and, if your condition worsens, you should contact your healthcare provider or the UCT COVID hotline +27 21 650 1271. UCT's Student Wellness Service monitors all suspected cases of COVID.

  • Where will I quarantine/self-isolate?

    Students residing in private accommodation will quarantine/ self-isolate in their normal residence.

    Where a student is residing within the UCT residence system and has been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, UCT will facilitate their 'close-contact quarantine' where they will remain for 10 days and be monitored every day for possible symptoms. Where a student is residing within the UCT residence system and i) develops COVID-19 symptoms during close-contact quarantine or ii) tests positive for COVID-19, they will be transferred to the UCT Isolation medical facility where they will receive any necessary medical care and support and be provided with meals to be charged to their fee accounts.

  • Who should I contact if I need support or guidance?

    Students can reach out to UCT's Student Wellness Service (SWS), which offers online and telephonic counselling and support.

    The UCT Student Care Line continues to provide 24-hour telephonic counselling on 0800 24 25 26 (free from a Telkom line) or SMS 31393 for a call-back.

    SWS bookings can be made online, via email or on the UCT mobile app.