Dear UP Community
Following my earlier message and my subsequent meetings with the UP Executive as well as Universities South Africa (USAf), the association of South Africa’s 26 universities, to discuss the implications of the lockdown as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday (23 March), we have made a number of decisions to allow us to comply with the lockdown, as set out below.
Let me just emphasise once again that we are in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic that is affecting all aspects of our lives. The decision to declare a lockdown is a response meant to address a very serious situation, and it is in our best interests to ensure that we strictly observe the restrictions during the lockdown period, from 26 March to 16 April 2020.
At its meeting today (24 March), USAf agreed that tertiary institutions must aim to resume their academic activities on 20 April 2020, dependent on an ongoing assessments of how the pandemic develops. A further announcement will be made in this regard.
During the lockdown period, all staff will be on official leave except those who fall under essential services. Staff who are able to work online from home are encouraged to do so.
USAf is currently approaching the authorities to seek permission for some services and categories of staff that are critical to the university’s functioning to be included as essential services. These services include security, facilities management and specialist functions in the research domain. As soon as such permission is granted, the services and individuals will be notified.
This morning, I received a request from the Presidency to second one of our colleagues to a modelling group. I readily agreed to the request because I believe we must all support the national effort to bring the pandemic under control and contribute to the process of returning to a normal life.
Finally colleagues, I fully understand that we are all under various forms of pressure that make life difficult, sometimes more challenging than before. Even under these trying circumstances, I appeal to you to stay calm and observe all the health precautions and to abide by the stipulations of the lockdown.
Together we will see this through.
Prof Tawana Kupe
Vice-Chancellor and Principal