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Staff FAQ’s

Work arrangements

The significant decline in the COVID-19 infection rates in the country has allowed for the resumption of most activities, including teaching and learning. Prof Stan Du Plessis, in his capacity as the chairperson of the Institutional Committee for Business Continuity (ICBC), indicated in his communication of 26 February 2021 that the decision was made to recall all students for the start of the first semester. He highlighted the Augmented Remote Learning, Teaching and Assessment model that will be implemented in line with the restrictions imposed on class sizes and activities in terms of legislation.

The learning and teaching model which has been adopted will require academic and professional academic support staff to return to a higher extent to our campuses. Line managers will liaise with staff regarding their return to campuses, and how this will take place. The return of staff will be managed in terms of Health and Safety directives issued by government that guide employers on the reintegration of staff to the workplace. These directions include social distancing measures and special measures to accommodate staff with comorbidities. These directives also provide for a process to deal with situations where staff refuse to return to the workplace.

We encourage you to visit the Human Resources website for a copy of the following documents:

The Occupational Health and Safety Directions of October 2020; and
the SU protocol which explains the procedure for dealing with a situation where an employee refuses to return to the workplace.

It is important that you familiarise yourself with these documents as it relates to health and safety in the workplace. Please do not hesitate to talk to line managers and our colleagues at Human Resources and Campus Health Services should you need more clarification.

(Updated 15 March 2021)

COVID-19 infection, isolation, exposure and quarantine

A high-risk (close) contact is defined as being closer than 1,5 m to, or sharing a closed space with, a confirmed COVID-19 case between two days before and ten days after symptom onset, for 15 minutes or longer, while not wearing a mask. This normally includes all persons living in the same household as a COVID-19 case, but may also apply to workplaces if precautions are not adhered to.

(Updated 1 February 2021)

The quarantine period is ten days, with daily self-monitoring for possible COVID-19 symptoms. If symptoms occur, test for SARS-CoV-2 infection. If you test positive, isolate (see below). If you test negative, continue quarantining. If you are asymptomatic, return to work ten days after your last COVID-19 exposure, without testing. (For certain “essential” staff, testing during the quarantine period may allow an early return to work if the result is negative.) All individuals coming out of quarantine must continue to adhere to the usual non-pharmaceutical measures, such as wearing a mask, physical distancing, good cough and hand hygiene, etc.

Note: Quarantine refers to the separation of healthy (asymptomatic) individuals who have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and may therefore be carrying the virus. It is aimed at preventing transmission of the virus to others, which might happen before or without developing symptoms.

(Updated 1 February 2021)

Individuals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection need to (self-)isolate for as long as they are infectious. Infectiousness peaks around symptom onset. Patients are considered safe to discontinue (self-)isolation (in other words, to “de-isolate”) and return to the workplace once they’re no longer infectious. The isolation period is ten days (SA Department of Health, ref. 2020/07/17Covid/01), provided the patient is fever-free without the use of antipyretics (fever medication).

Motivation: In cases of mild COVID-19, virus isolation as a marker of infectiousness is generally only possible for eight to nine days after symptom onset. The duration of infectiousness in severe cases of COVID-19 is longer, and such patients must remain isolated for another ten days after achieving clinical stability (for instance no longer needing supplemental oxygen). For safety’s sake, asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2-infected patients should isolate for ten days following the date of their positive test. For individuals with severe immunodeficiency, expert advice should be sought before de-isolation.

Therefore, please note the following:

Asymptomatic De-isolate ten days after COVID-19-positive sample was taken
Mild disease De-isolate ten days after symptom onset
Severe disease De-isolate ten days after clinical stability is achieved

De-isolation does not require re-testing. Tests may continue to give positive results, even though the patient is no longer infectious. De-isolation should be distinguished from being medically well enough to resume work. In particular, patients who have had severe COVID-19 may require sick leave for longer than the isolation period.

All individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 must continue to adhere to the usual non-pharmaceutical measures. These include maintaining a distance of at least 1,5 m from others, hand sanitising, wearing a mask correctly as described, and practising cough hygiene, as immunity may not be reliable or long-lasting.

(Updated 1 February 2021)

(Sources: SA Department of Health, NICD, NIOH, sacoronavirus.co.za )

Staff Support

Campus Health Service is providing various support services to staff during the lockdown period. Please contact the following numbers:

Campus Health Service
Anneke van Heerden
021 808 3496
acvanheerden@sun.ac.za
After hour’s emergency number: 076 431 0305

Human Resources: Wellness
Shibu Mamabolo
079 011 836
shibu@sun.ac.za

External Counsellor
Dr David Fourie
082 852 1305
dpfourie@telkomsa.net