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Vice-Chancellor Message – 25 September 2020

Dear UJ Community

After a short and well-deserved break, our academic staff and students will return to campuses this coming week on Monday, 28 September 2020. I hope you had a good rest, and we look forward to having you back as we approach the last lap of what has been a challenging but successful academic year so far. I thought it was important to remind you of the various protocols and procedures in place under the COVID-19 National Lockdown Level 1. In addition, it is important to alert you to other vital information pertaining to the return of international students, national and international travel and the resumption of on-campus events, functions and activities.

Firstly, as previously communicated, all teaching and learning will continue to remain online for the duration of the semester. Only those modules that require in person contact provision, such as laboratory work, clinical placements, experiential learning, etc., will be offered on campus in contact mode.  Students in such modules have already been informed accordingly. All other students will continue to be supported through remote teaching, learning and assessment until the end of the year. Any changes to these arrangements will be communicated by the relevant faculties or departments.

I am pleased to announce that our libraries and computer labs will from now onwards be open from Mondays to Fridays to enable our students to do their research, practical and other academic work. However, to ensure the safety of our students and staff, as well as efficiency of service and convenience, students are still required to book before visiting such facilities.

In pronouncing a further relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions to Alert Level 1, the President of South Africa, HE Cyril Ramaphosa also said social, religious, political and other gatherings will be permitted, as long as the number of people does not exceed 50% of the normal capacity of a venue. This will be up to a maximum of 250 people for indoor gatherings and 500 people for outdoor gatherings. He also said venues for exercise, recreation and entertainment, such as gyms and theatres – which were limited to less than 50 people – will now be allowed to accommodate up to 50% of their venue’s capacity as determined by available floor space. Existing restrictions on sporting events remain in place, which means such events may only be hosted behind closed doors, with no spectators allowed.

In this regard, the University management has resolved that events and functions such as meetings, guest lectures and seminars, as well as sport and other recreational and entertainment activities are now allowed on campus. This is subject to the standard event risk management processes and government’s Lockdown Level 1 regulations. As such, permission must first be sought with our University Event Risk Manager, Mr. Conrad van der Horst. Event organisers can liaise with Mr. Van der Horst (conradvdh@uj.ac.za or 011 559 7575) for related queries or additional information.

As communicated last week, the implication of a further relaxation of the restrictions to Lockdown Level 1 is that 100% of the student population and staff can return to campuses, with the appropriate health and safety protocols in place. All support and administrative staff returned to their workstations on their respective campuses on Monday this week. To minimise the risk of exposure to the virus, their return is being managed on a rotational basis subject to operational needs of their departments or divisions, in consultation with the relevant ELG and line managers, until further notice. This also applies to staff above the age of 60 and/or with co-morbidities, as well as other staff with co-morbidities.

Under Lockdown Level 1, our international students are also welcome to return to campuses and residences, subject to government’s health and safety protocols on international travel that come into effect next week on Thursday, 1 October 2020. To familiarise yourself with these protocols, click here. Similarly, international travel for University business should only be undertaken if permission is granted by the respective ELG line manager and authorised by the Offices of the Chief Operating Officer and the Registrar. Additionally, staff members who wish to travel nationally for University business must first seek permission from their respective line managers.

As we welcome our academic staff from Monday, I would like to remind you of the procedures and protocols for screening, access to campus and the directions to the campus control points. It will not be necessary to have a letter or access permit in order to enter any of the campuses. However, students are to complete an indemnity form online. All persons are encouraged to complete the pre-screening process daily before arrival on campus to ensure that the process is as seamless as possible. The link will soon be sent to all persons via the University email address (no_reply@openitemapp.co.za) and with the subject Covid19 – Daily Checklist.

Please also allow yourself at least 45 minutes extra time to move through all the access requirements prior to entry to the campuses, particularly for classes and other commitments early in the morning. Protection Services will be issuing cloth-masks at the campus control points to all persons entering the campuses for the first time. All persons who have already received masks should refrain from taking a ‘second-issue’. The University has a legal obligation to ensure compliance to the national health and safety regulations, and it is the responsibility of line managers to make sure that staff members within their respective domains adhere to this.

To familiarise yourself with the screening areas at the respective access points, click here for APB, APK, DFC, and SWC. It is important to note that the identified campus control points will be operational during peak periods from 06h00 to 18h00 from Monday to Friday. Thereafter, selected campus control points will continue to operate at each campus, namely:

  • PK – Akademie Road (Gate 6) for vehicles and pedestrians and Gate 1A for pedestrians only.
  • APB – SABC Gate for vehicles and pedestrians
  • DFC – Main Gate for vehicles and pedestrians
  • SWC – Chris Hani Gate for vehicles and pedestrians

Always retain your staff or student card with you when accessing campus. Your patience and understanding as we implement these processes will be enormously appreciated and valued.

Please continue to visit our COVID-19 portal on the UJ website for valuable information, including health and wellbeing. Only information issued via the University’s official communication platforms is legitimate. This information may be verified by visiting: https://www.uj.ac.za/news/corona-virus//. We appeal to all to adhere to the recommended precautionary measures,  hygiene and social distancing (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public) at all times.

Have a pleasant weekend and take care!

 

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala

Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of Johannesburg

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