Cofa apha ukuze ufumane isiXhosa *
Dear member of our Stellenbosch University community
Allow me to give you some feedback from the latest meeting of our Institutional Committee for Business Continuity (ICBC) in this time of Covid-19. The ICBC met on Wednesday 26 January 2022.
We received an update on progress towards a possible institutional rule on vaccination against coronavirus disease at Stellenbosch University (SU).
Last year, a risk assessment took place to determine the need for a Covid-19 vaccination rule in light of our institution's operational requirements and the risk of virus transmission. We subsequently published a statement of intent, followed by a draft rule. On 3 December 2021, we initiated public consultation, which was concluded on 15 January 2022.
Thank you to everyone who participated. We received more than 1 200 inputs, each of which will be considered carefully. Once we have compiled a response report, we will consult internally. SU's Council will have the final say, and we intend tabling a recommendation at its first meeting of the year, which is scheduled for 11 April – or, if necessary, at a specially convened meeting earlier.
In the meantime, we continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Our Medical Advisory Committee recommends vaccination because it protects against severe illness and hospitalisation. And the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises us all to get the jab so as to (i) protect ourselves, (ii) protect others, (iii) prevent new variants, (iv) break the chain of transmission, and (iv) free up hospital beds and keep health workers safe.
Our university has its own vaccination centre at the Lentelus sports ground in Hammanshand Road, Stellenbosch, where staff, students and members of the public can receive their vaccinations (including booster shots) for free. To provide our university community with even easier access, we have set up a pop-up vaccination site at the Jan Mouton Learning Centre (second floor) on the Stellenbosch campus. The pop-up site will be open from 31 January to 11 February, during which time the Lentelus site will be closed.
In addition to vaccination, the WHO recommends that we continue taking the following actions to slow and eventually stop the spread of the coronavirus:
- Keep a safe distance from others and avoid crowds.
- Wear a well-fitting mask covering your nose and mouth.
- When indoors with others, ensure good ventilation by opening windows and doors.
- Clean your hands frequently.
- Cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
Registration is under way, and some classes have already started, with the rest to follow by 14 February. We are ready for another successful academic year.
We are and remain a residential university, and we intend returning to full face-to-face mode as soon as possible. Yet we are still in the midst of a pandemic. The national state of disaster has not been lifted, and restrictions remain in place on the number of people allowed in lecture halls and other venues.
Therefore, in terms of teaching and learning, we have decided to continue in ARTLA mode, i.e. remote teaching and learning, augmented with as much face-to-face time as possible. This will be in place for the whole of the first semester. Assessment will take place in sit-down mode on campus and will be invigilated.
To optimise students' on-campus experience, classrooms and residences will be utilised to the maximum permissible capacity. As was the case in 2020 and 2021, faculties will be publishing details about the mode of each module on their respective webpages, which can also be accessed via dedicated inks on our Covid-19 webpage.
RETURNING TO THE WORKPLACE
To best serve our students, most of whom will be on campus, staff are required to return to their on-campus workplaces – as determined by operational needs in their environment and subject to Covid-19 regulations and protocols. This applies to both academic staff and those in our professional academic and administrative support services (PASS) divisions. Please consult the guidelines communicated on 17 November 2021, which remain applicable.
The Rectorate has also confirmed that the Guidelines for Managing Working Hours, adopted in November 2018, are still valid. These allow for flexible working arrangements.
Covid-19 remains a challenge, but I have no doubt that we shall overcome if we continue to show the resilience, adaptability, ingenuity and commitment we have seen at our university over the past two years. Thank you for staying the course.
For more information, visit our dedicated Covid-19 webpage.
Keep safe and take care of yourself and others.
Prof Stan du Plessis
* SU’s Language Policy,
adopted in December 2021, stipulates that “All official internal institutional
communication will be conveyed in Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa” – i.e. “all
communication from the Chancellor, Council, Senate, the Rector, a Deputy
Vice-Chancellor, the Chief Operating Officer or the Registrar to the entire