19 March 2020

COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF STUDENT RESIDENCE AFFAIRS

TRANSPORT ARRANGEMENTS FOR VACATING STUDENTS FROM RESIDENCES


Dear Students,

On 18 March 2020, the Executive Management Committee (EMC) and the Student Representative Council (SRC) agreed that the University would provide transport for those students who are financially constrained at this time.

  1. Students residing at the off-campus residences leased by the University will be collected at the usual collection points used for daily student residences transport.
  • Students residing at the on-campus residences owned by the University will be collected at the following points:
  • Westville Campus – Sports Centre
  • Edgewood Campus – Ikhwezi Car Park
  • Howard College Campus – Jubs
  • Pietermaritzburg Campus – Main Campus drop-off area
  • The details of the collection dates, times and stops are set out below:
Collection Date and Time Route Stops
Friday, 20 March 2020 Time: 6am Newcastle Pietermaritzburg, Howick, Mooi River, Estcourt, Ladysmith, and Newcastle
Friday, 20 March 2020 Time: 6am Mount Ayliff Harding, Kokstad, and Mount Ayliff
Friday, 20 March 2020 Time: 6am Margate Umkomaas, Scottsburgh, Port Shepstone, and Margate
Saturday, 21 March 2020 Time: 6am Vryheid Eshowe, Melmoth, Ulundi, and Vryheid
Saturday, 21 March 2020 Time: 6am Mtubatuba KwaDukuza, Empangeni, Richards Bay, and Mtubatuba
Saturday, 21 March 2020 Time: 6am Pmb Campus All the five routes set out above.

We appeal to all students to ensure that they are at the collection points on time as buses will leave promptly at 6am and there will be no other buses available thereafter.

Issued by the Department of Student Residences Affairs


19 March 2020
COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR


OUTCOMES OF MEETING BETWEEN THE EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE (EMC) AND THE STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE COUNCIL (SRC)

Dear Staff and Students
Yesterday (18 March 2020), the EMC met with the SRC to discuss outstanding matters related to registration and concerns around some of the measures being implemented to mitigate the risks related to COVID-19. The matters discussed and resolutions thereof are set out below:

VACATING STUDENTS RESIDENCES
There was acknowledgement that the decision to urgently vacate students from residences was a critical and necessary measure to mitigate the risk of large-scale exposure and spread of viruses in general and COVID-19 in particular.

Given this context it was agreed that:
• It was necessary to continue to vacate all students from both leased and owned residences immediately and by no later than Friday, 20 March 2020.
• The University will provide additional storage space for those students who are not able to take all their belongings home. However, students will not be allowed to leave any non-perishable food items in the storage facilities or their rooms.
• The University will also make every effort to provide transport for those students who are financially constrained at this time. This transport will take students to strategically placed central hubs within the province of KwaZulu-Natal but limited to a 200 kilometre radius of the University. A further communique will be issued with details of the routes, timetable and logistical arrangements.

CANCELLATION OF APRIL 2020 GRADUATION CEREMONIES
There was acknowledgement that graduation ceremonies are very significant and important celebrations for our students and more importantly their families. To this end it was agreed that:
• The decision to cancel graduation would be reviewed at a later stage taking into account developments around the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Students who are eligible to receive their degree certificates would be issued with these in order to enable them to continue with their career plans. Further information regarding issuing of degree certificates would be communicated by email and through the University’s website.

ONLINE TEACHING AND LEARNING
It was clarified that all academic programmes which were scheduled to take place during the mid-term break were to be rescheduled accordingly. The implementation of online teaching and learning platforms relates to the University getting itself ready to commence with online classes when the 2nd term commences. The online classes are necessary within the context of the current prohibition of large gatherings which constraints the University’s ability to deliver the majority of its contact lectures and tutorials.

RESIDUAL REGISTRATION MATTERS FOR STUDENTS AWAITING RESPONSES FROM NSFAS
It was confirmed that the University would continue to provide financial clearance to returning students whose NSFAS appeals have been reviewed by Student Funding and found to be eligible for appeal in terms of the NSFAS appeals requirements.

However, students are reminded that being granted financial clearance does not guarantee that a student can be registered for an academic programme and/or a student residence. Registration is dependent on availability of academic spaces and availability of residence spaces.

TOGETHER WE CAN OVERCOME THIS PANDEMIC
The University community is reminded that we are in a time of rapid and unprecedented change and given this dynamic and evolving environment the actions we take may be seem drastic but are absolutely necessary and critical to overcome this pandemic and get through this period with minimum impact on our University community.

We therefore appeal to all staff and students to take extreme care during this time and to maintain the safety and other measures that have been instituted by our President and his cabinet.

The EMC wishes to thank the SRC for the critical role they continue to play in ensuring that the concerns of the students are raised through robust and meaningful engagements and for continually challenging the University to find practical solutions.

Issued by
Professor Nana Poku
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of KwaZulu-Natal


17 March 2020

EMC COMMUNIQUÉ

ADDITIONAL MEASURES RELATED TO THE CORONAVIRUS DESEASE (COVID-19)


As you are aware, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has already begun implementing measures to ensure that UKZN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is in line with the President’s declaration of a national state of disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

The situation continues to change rapidly, and in this regard, the health and safety as well as well-being of the UKZN community – on and off campus – remain a top priority. At this point, UKZN is not aware of any COVID-19 incidents that would require any staff or students to be concerned about exposure on campuses or student residence spaces.

Executive Management Committee (EMC) has consulted with key stakeholders including the Department of Health, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD); the World Health Organisation Africa Region Office (WHO AFRO); and our in-house COVID-19 experts, and all the scientific evidence suggests that UKZN needs to immediately implement the following additional measures to protect the its community from possible COVID-19 exposure and spread on its spaces.

EARLY COMMENCEMENT OF MID-TERM BREAK

The University’s mid-term break will commence immediately (17 March 2020) and all academic programmes will be rescheduled accordingly. As of now, it remains the intention of the University to commence the 2nd term on Tuesday, 14 April 2020 as per the sessional dates.

VACATING STUDENT RESIDENCES

Student residences are large communal living spaces and this poses a significant risk of large scale exposure and spread of viruses in general and COVID-19 in particular. It is therefore necessary to vacate all students from both leased and owned residences with immediate effect and no later than Friday, 20 March 2020.

There is acknowledgement that this decision may cause some concerns and challenges for some students but it is imperative that the University acts in the best interests of students and the broader public especially at this relatively early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The International Office will be in contact with various embassies to assist in repatriating those international students who live in leased and owned university residences who require assistance to return home.
ONLINE TEACHING AND LEARNING
The implementation of online teaching and learning platforms is already in progress and the goal is to ensure that all teaching and learning content is available online before the commencement of the 2nd term.

CONTINUITY OF UNIVERSITY OPERATIONS

We are cognisant of the fact that it will not be possible for the University to completely stop all its operations and allow all staff to be away from their offices and work stations. Over the next few days executives and senior managers will consult with their staff to put in place measures to ensure business continuity and for critical and essential staff to be on duty to provide necessary support.

TRANSITION TO REMOTE WORKING

Plans to transition non-essential staff to work remotely are currently being finalised by the executives and senior managers. These will be communicated shortly. Matters related to leave, working conditions and other policy matters will also be included in this regard.

SECURING THE UNIVERSITY

During this period, there will be various security restrictions aimed at ensuring that campuses remain safe, secure and healthy. The main goal is to lower the number of physical interactions on campus, slow the rate of transmission, and protect the UKZN community. We call upon all stakeholders to assist in this endeavor by adhering to security restrictions and following the social distancing guidelines.

TOGETHER WE CAN OVERCOME THIS PANDEMIC

We are in a time of rapid and unprecedented change and given this dynamic and evolving environment any actions we take or do not take have far reaching implications for how we get through this period with minimum impact on our University community and the academic programme.

We therefore appeal to all staff and students to take extreme care during this time and to adhere to the various safety and other measures that have been instituted by our President and his cabinet.

We will continue to update the UKZN Website as additional information becomes available from the various official stakeholders such as the Department of Health, the NICD and WHO AFRO.

Issued by
UKZN Executive Management Committee


15 March 2020

            COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR

INFORMATION AND UPDATES ON THE CORONAVIRUS DISEASE (COVID-19

Dear Staff and Students

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) recognises the concerns regarding the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and continues to closely monitor the ongoing national and international cases. The situation is changing rapidly, and our top priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our community, on and off campus.

We are planning for several contingency scenarios and taking decisive, informed action to limit possible risks while ensuring continuity of our teaching, learning and research mission. We are also scaling up appropriate measures to protect the health of the UKZN community and will endeavour to keep our communication active and transparent as we implement contingency plans and additional measures.

Suspension of academic programme including tests

At this point, UKZN has not experienced any COVID-19 incidents that would be a cause for a change in normal operating procedures and the University remains open and operational. However, management are cognisant of the President’s statement which has banned gatherings of more than 100 people and are seeking further guidance from the relevant ministries, through Universities South Africa (USAf). To this end, the academic programme is suspended (including test) with immediate effect until further notice pending further engagements on a sector-wide approach regarding contact classes.

Given the uncertainties surrounding  timelines for normalisation of our academic programme, EMC has resolved to work with Senate to ensure that all lectures are recorded and loaded onto virtual platforms as a matter of urgency. The. DVC teaching and learning will follow-up with a separate communique in due course.

April 2020 Graduation Ceremonies

In April every year, the University traditionally hosts in excess of 20 graduation ceremonies and during this time approximately 30 000 graduands and their families from all over South Africa and beyond our borders descend upon the University.

After due consideration of inputs from the University’s COVID-19 team of experts and other key stakeholders, a decision has been taken to cancel the 2020 April graduation ceremonies. The University regrets the inconvenience caused, but felt it important to minimise the risks associated with such a large gathering and exposure to individuals who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. 

We are exploring options to ensure that graduands receive their qualifications and other related documents by the end of April 2020.  Further information will be published on the UKZN website and via email.

Travel and other restrictions

With regard to travel, it has become necessary to implement the following contingency measures and restrictions until further notice:

  • All University-related international travel is prohibited.
  • All University-related non-essential domestic air travel is prohibited.
  • Personal international travel is strongly discouraged.
  • Extreme caution and judgment should be applied for personal domestic air travel.
  • Anyone returning or arriving from an international destination should advise their line manager at least 72 hours prior to arrival. The line manager will consult the COVID-19 team who will advise accordingly on the necessary protection measures.
  • We strongly encourage the use of technology for non-essential meetings and events.

All staff and students are reminded that reimbursements for travel cancellations can only be processed in line with the cancellation policies of the relevant service providers and no additional reimbursements will be provided by the University. 

Protect yourself and others

Prevention is key to containing this once in a century pandemic and it is important to take care of your health and protect yourself and others from contracting or spreading viruses and illnesses.

Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO Website and the NICD South Africa website and follow these measures to protect yourself and others:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly (at least 20 seconds of scrubbing) with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Practice social distancing by maintaining at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and avoid contact with others. Please self-quarantine and contact emergency services rather than going to your GP on the following number: 0800029999.

Staff in our College of Health Sciences are working diligently to ensure that we are prepared if someone presents with symptoms and a clinical history that may indicate the novel coronavirus. We will continue to update the UKZN COVID-19 War Room as additional information becomes available through World Health Organisation and United Nations. Please visit the UKZN Website for updates, information and precautions.

Issued by
Professor Nana Poku
Vice-Chancellor and Principal

University of KwaZulu-Natal