30 December 2020

COMMUNIQUÉ FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR

SUSPENSION OF UNIVERSITY REOPENING – 2021

Dear Staff and Students

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the President declaring a state of disaster in South Africa. The President’s address of 28 December 2020 set out in stark terms the reality of a second wave of the COVID-19 virus in South Africa. A million of our fellow citizens have now been infected—including more than 50,000 new cases in just the four previous days. Some 27,000 have died. Still worse, it appears that young people are particularly susceptible to the new strain of the virus which has now taken hold in our country with the KwaZulu-Natal Province being amongst the worst impacted.

Let us be clear: the virus is opportunistic; it thrives on casual and careless behaviour. We can best protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities by maintaining the common-sense precautions we have already set in place—wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, and frequently washing our hands.

Since 27 March 2020 national lockdown, the University has been forced to explore different methodologies for ensuring that staff and students are able to access campuses as safely as possible and for incorporating the mitigation of health and safety risks into the daily life and work of the University. With this in mind, staff and students are advised that all 2021 registration processes (which commence on 18 January 2021) must be completed online and from remote locations, as there will be no registration services and/or registration assistance available on campus. Please expect further communication from the Office of the Registrar with details on the 2021 registration process.

With both the district municipalities within which our campuses are located having been declared COVID-19 hotspots, it is critical that all our campuses remain closed for all on-campus activities (excluding essential services) until 18 January 2021 when it is hoped that further directives would be advised from the President of the Republic and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.

All academic activities will remain online, and data will continue to be provided as before. The College of Health Sciences students will be advised by their DVC and Deans of their prioritised return.  All College DVC’s and Deans will advise their students about catch-up programmes and make appropriate arrangements for support. All non-essential services staff will continue to work remotely.

I know how difficult this is for everyone—variously inconvenient, bewildering, burdensome and wearying. But we can only continue our teaching, learning and research if we summon up the necessary resolve and stamina. As at no other time in our lives, it is truly a matter of ‘one for all and all for one.’

Regards,
Professor Nana Poku
Vice-Chancellor and Principal
University of KwaZulu-Natal