24 March 2020
Dear Staff and Students
WATCH: Vice-Chancellor Video Message
On Monday 23 March 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that government has escalated its response to the COVID-19 outbreak by enforcing a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days (President’s Speech), with effect from midnight, Thursday 26 March 2020, to midnight, 16 April 2020. In terms of this, individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant. The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown include, but are not exclusive to, health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, security and hygiene services and other persons necessary for a response to the pandemic.
The President said this extraordinary action is necessary to disrupt the chain of transmission across society and save millions of South Africans from infection. The drastic measures follow the enforcement of travel bans and the closure of 35 of South Africa’s borders and two sea ports.
In line with these measures, the University of Johannesburg has reviewed our operational measures, and these are as follows:
1. Extended recess and lockdown
- The University has decided that the lockdown will commence from midnight, Wednesday, 25 March 2020.
- Critical staff, in accordance with the President’s announcement, has been identified and will be deployed accordingly on campuses, where applicable.
- The autumn recess started on 21 March 2020, and remains extended, following the suspension of all contact classes, tests and practicals since 16 March 2020.
- Our second term will commence on 20 April 2020.
- On Friday, 17 April 2020, all staff reporting in the Campuses, Operations and ICS domains will report for service.
- All remaining staff will return on Monday, 20 April 2020.
- As the extended autumn recess has implications for the academic calendar, the mid-year recess will be shortened. Details regarding this will be communicated in due course.
2. Teaching and learning
- Non-coursework postgraduate studies and research work will continue remotely, via online and other appropriate means, during this autumn recess/lockdown period.
- Students are reminded to update their emergency contacts on uLink. International students must update both their local and international emergency contact details.
- All qualifying students who have not collected their intel devices must do so not later than 16:00 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020.
3. Working arrangements.
- In accordance with UJ’s Business Continuity Plan, the University has implemented arrangements to allow staff to work remotely.
- Due to the lockdown period, it will not be required for staff to apply for leave, apart from sick leave. Further queries may be referred to Human Resources.
- Staff members who need VPN access must submit such requests before the UJ lockdown on Wednesday, 25 March 2020.
- All staff password expiry dates have been extended to 180 days.
- Given the national lockdown, students are to vacate their residences not later than 13:00 on Wednesday, 25 March 2020.
- Students who are unable to vacate their rooms must provide substantiated reasons to the Residence Assistant by not later than 10:00 on 25 March 2020.
- For those students remaining in residences, all precautionary measures to mitigate the risk of exposure, including the use of sanitisers, hygiene and social distancing, must be adhered to. This also applies to privately owned student residences.
- The movement of students who remain in residences will be monitored.
- Digital certifcGraduates are reminded to access their digital certificates via digitalcertificates.uj.ac.za
- Further details regarding graduations and certificates are available here.
6. Facilities and access to campuses
- University facilities, such as libraries and computer laboratories, will be closed during this lockdown period.
- However, library services will continue online.
- In line with the lockdown regulations and social distancing measures, students who are not in campus residences will have their access cards deactivated. Cards will be reactivated after the lockdown period.
7. Solidarity Funding
- Last week, one of our academic members of staff, Professor Kate Alexander, suggested the establishment of a fund to contribute towards efforts to assist those affected by COVID-19, especially in poor communities. The President has similarly announced a Solidarity Fund. Please donate to this Solidarity Fund established by the President.
8. Fake news
- The information age is infiltrated by individuals spreading fake news and misinformation, and COVID-19 has not been spared. Fake news about COVID-19 can be as dangerous as the virus itself.
- Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: https://www.uj.ac.za/newandevents/Pages/Update-on-UJ-COVID-19-response.aspx
The University leadership will continue to monitor the situation. Any decision may be reviewed, as required. We appeal to all to practice the recommended precautionary measures, such as hand hygiene and social distancing, all the time.
We would like to thank all staff, who have through this trying time, continued to fulfill their daily duties.
Professor Tshilidzi Marwala
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of Johannesburg