Stellenbosch University
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​Feedback from the ICBC
Author: Prof Stan du Plessis: Chair: ICBC/ Voorsitter: IKBV
Published: 14/04/2022
Dear colleagues and students

I would like to take this opportunity to provide some feedback from the final meeting of our Institutional Committee for Business Continuity (ICBC) that took place on 12 April 2022. The State of Disaster related to the Covid-19 pandemic has been lifted and at the moment the pandemic is at a low level of infection. Since the necessary line management and collaboration systems are in place to manage the situation, we have decided to conclude the activities of this committee at this time. The committee and its structures can be reinstated in future should the need arise. 

The committee deliberated on the appropriate way forward with a potential institutional vaccination rule.

Following last year’s risk assessment and during the subsequent public consultation process, the pandemic evolved further with the emergence of the Omicron variant. In light of these developments, we sought additional input from our Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) and the ICBC has now decided to put the development of the vaccination rule on hold. This decision is largely based on the prevailing circumstances of the pandemic coupled with the MAC’s input. The University continues to endorse vaccination unequivocally as a proven means to protect against severe illness and hospitalisation. As the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises, we should all get the jab so as to protect ourselves, protect others, prevent new variants, break the chain of transmission, and free up hospital beds and keep health workers safe.

While there is currently no significant alarm regarding new variants, it is important to note that our virologists and experts are monitoring the situation closely. Should circumstances require a change in our approach, we can rapidly restart the process of developing a vaccination rule, revise the risk assessment and collate the latest medical data and recommendations.

I remind you that our university’s own vaccination centre at the Lentelus sports ground in Hammanshand Road, Stellenbosch, remains open to staff, students and members of the public until the end of April. Please visit Lentelus for your free vaccinations (including booster shots).
State of disaster

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on 4 April 2022 that the national state of disaster, which has lasted for more than two years, has been lifted due to the significant decline in hospitalisations and deaths. We await the imminent introduction of new regulations under the National Health Act which will follow the 30 day transitionary period during which certain restrictions, notably regarding gatherings, still apply. For SU it means that restrictions remain in place on the number of people allowed in lecture halls and other venues. It is still mandatory to wear a mask indoors and while wearing a mask outside is no longer a requirement, please continue to adhere to social distancing.

Based on these lighter restrictions and our substantial existing community resistance, the committee recommended that faculties increase their use of venue capacity to 50% with a one metre distancing requirement where possible. Please continue to use the Higher Health screening tool daily before coming to campus or leaving your accommodation. The app has been updated to reflect the reduced risk associated with the current state of the pandemic.

To plan the mode of learning and teaching for the second semester we await the regulations expected in early May. SU is a residential university and our preference is to return to the full use of our academic facilities in a face-to-face mode with the necessary safety protocols in place. Communication in this regard will follow from the office of the DVC: Learning and Teaching once we have considered the relevant regulations.
Workstream feedback

The committee received feedback from its various workstreams in brief, notably pertaining to staffing matters and the Code of Practice on Managing Exposure to
SARS-CoV-2 in the Workplace – effective from 5 April 2022.

Our priority remains the optimal return of all staff to the campus within the framework of monitoring safety and allowing for flexibility, based on the lessons that we are learning during the pandemic. Our HR team will provide guidance to staff in this regard. The Institutional Committee for Staff Health and Wellbeing will also assist with optimising this process, taking into cognisance any challenges and sensitivities.

In addition, and in accordance with the stipulations of newly promulgated labour legislation, SU’s new app will be ready at the end of April to record the vaccination status of staff.
In conclusion

As we close the ICBC’s work, I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the members of the ICBC, to the Chairs of the ICBC’s workstreams and the colleagues and students who worked in those workstreams these last two years. I also extend my gratitude to all our staff and students for your constructive collaboration with the ICBC’s work, despite the many disruptions that the management of this pandemic has (thus far) caused in your work and study lives. Thank you for your flexibility and resilience. Together we look forward to a more optimal use of our campuses, while maintaining safe and healthy conduct.
Keep safe and take care of yourself and others.

Prof Stan du Plessis
Chair: ICBC​

For more information, visit our dedicated Covid-19 webpage. Please also note the revised international travel guidelines .