Dear first-year students/parents/guardians
Congratulations on choosing the University of Pretoria!
While this year is an exciting time in your lives, it is also one with a few challenges brought about by COVID-19, and I’m sure you have many questions about how this will impact your studies.
With the various vaccines that are proving to be effective in limiting the spread of the virus and in preventing serious illness and death from the virus among the vaccinated population, we are anticipating the safe return of our students and employees and the re-opening of our campuses for face-to-face university activities. The key word here is of course “safe”.
During the last quarter of 2021, we started opening up the campus to a limited number of students under strict health regulations. Our plan is a more significant re-opening for the 2022 academic year. But because of the restrictions on size of gatherings and venue occupancy, combined with the large number of students in some of the undergraduate programmes, it is not possible to resume all contact classes immediately while ensuring everyone’s safety. Nevertheless, we are currently looking at introducing face-to-face classes on a rotational basis for at least some of the programmes. More information will be shared through your faculty in the coming weeks.
The University’s position on vaccinations
We strongly encourage everyone to vaccinate. We want everyone to vaccinate. Vaccines protect everyone’s health and significantly reduce severe illness, hospitalisation and death. Vaccines are safe. Those who have doubts or are hesitant should seek more information from medical experts, including staff from our Faculty of Health Sciences.
The University is taking proactive steps to ensure that we have an appropriate plan in place for the re-opening of our campuses for the 2022 academic year. The process must be carefully managed, taking risks associated with it into account.
While the University recognises that staff and students have certain constitutional rights, the plan will create the framework within which UP can flourish whilst reintegrating staff into the workplace and students into the study space in a safe and sustainable manner, without unnecessarily infringing upon their constitutional rights.
That said, the risk assessment process has identified some areas of operation where vaccination is required. This requirement is informed by science and limited to the identified area and based on an identified need to protect staff, students and/or third parties. For example, in the area of Health Sciences. The ongoing risk assessment process may in addition identify where work-integrated learning poses a real risk to the students and those who interact with them.
We will continue to keep you updated and please follow us on social media and visit the www.up.ac.za website for regular updates.
I look forward to welcoming you on campus.
Prof Tawana Kupe
Vice-Chancellor and Principal