The Rhodes University Coronavirus Response Task Team can be contacted on email@example.com.
FOR THE LOCKDOWN PERIOD (26 March to 17 April)
Please refer to Statement by President Lockdown, 23 March 2020.
For a brief compilation of suggestions that might help you better manage your mood and anxiety over the lockdown period (or help prevent these from worsening), please CLICK HERE.
Teaching & Learning
- Teaching and learning is set to commence on 20 April 2020, via online platforms.
- Rhodes University has been hard at work from the beginning of the early recess to ensure that plans are in place for continuity of teaching and learning during the second term.
- The early recess period, which started on 18 March 2020, has been and will continue to be used by academics to prepare themselves for alternative and innovative ways of teaching and facilitation of learning on online platforms.
- Our plans for online teaching and learning are progressing well, notwithstanding the challenges of venturing into an untested and unfamiliar terrain.
- We are aware that some of our students live in areas where there is no or limited access to internet. Efforts are being made at institutional and national levels to ensure that students and staff have free access to internet to study and work from home.
- Discussions on the zero-rating of access to the zadomain is being taken up at national level.
- A clear communication will be sent out to students two weeks before the end of the 21-day lockdown, informing them about how teaching and learning online will be implemented.
- Students will be orientated about how to access their courses and learn remotely during the week of 6-10 April 2020.
- Lecturers will start communicating with their students through RUconnected.
- Work Integrated Learning and practical work will need to be planned differently. These will be done in the long term in the form of simulations, online demonstrations and block practical work wherever possible.
- Formative assessments will form part of the online teaching and learning, while longer term plans for summative assessment need to be put in place. Exact times for examinations will be communicated in due course.
- There will be continued support by Information and Technology Services and Library Services for the lockdown period and beyond.
- About 90% of our information resources in our Library are available digitally.
- Support for students will also continue through our tutorial system. HoDs in the different faculties will continue planning with student assistants and tutors to ensure that they are ready to support students through online platforms. They will be assisted to set up small, personalised WhatsApp groups, while plans will be made to make data available for their use in online support and regular communication with students.
- The Health Care Centre will remain open during the lockdown period, as this is an essential service.
- We hope that virtual classes will begin on 20 April 2020, as we cannot afford to lose any teaching and learning time. If we all work together and make required sacrifices during this uncertain time, we will be able to complete the academic year successfully.
- Please take note of these important contacts:
- For educational technologies support continue using firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the Ed Tech team members will respond to your requests as soon as they can.
- The Health care Centre can be contacted on 046 603 8523 from 08h30 to 16h30.
- For any after hour medical services, students should contact ER24 on 010 205 3068.
Support & Academic Staff
What the LOCKDOWN is
- The LOCKDOWN is a critical stage in the national effort to flatten the rising curve in the growth of Coronavirus COVID-19 infections in the country.
- It is about limiting average daily contact between people, including at the workplace.
- It is about individual discipline and responsibility to self-isolate.
- The University has accordingly suspended all affected contact operations and encourages all staff to observe the national guidelines by limiting contact.
What the LOCKDOWN is not
- The LOCKDOWNis not a holiday.
- The LOCKDOWN is not an opportunity to travel or to visit friends and to socialise.
- The LOCKDOWN is not a 21-day solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will all need to use this period to ready ourselves for a different style of post-lockdown academic programme.
What is affected by the LOCKDOWN?
All on-campus operations are affected. Representations will be made through Universities South Africa (USAf) for the accreditation of designated functions also known as “Critical Functions”. These are:
- Healthcare Centre.
- Information and Communication Technology services.
- Finance and Payroll.
- Campus Protection services.
- Defined research projects (including animal, insect and plant experiments that HAVE to continue, forms of biological laboratory stock that HAS to be kept alive during the lockdown period, including cell cultures and the monitoring of fridge and freezer stocks).
- Specific communication services and staff.
- Educational technology specialists.
- Emergency maintenance staff (including technical services staff in departments who might need to see to specialised equipment).
What are the applicable conditions to the functions listed above?
In all exempted cases, social distancing and health standards MUST be strictly observed.
What is the implication of this situation on staff leave?
Clarity in this regard will be provided in due course in line with the national position to be communicated by the Ministry of Employment and Labour.
How will research continuity be affected by the LOCKDOWN?
- Online mechanisms for supervision engagements and Centre for Postgraduate Studies workshops are in place.
- The Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation (DVC: R&I) will be constantly on hand to resolve bottlenecks to continued productivity.
- All online Library information resources will be available for access during this time.
What will happen where statutory/other reports are due?
- Where funder’s reports are required, DVC: R&I will seek to negotiate for flexibility in the application of deadlines that cannot be met.
- USAf will be engaging the Department of Higher Education and Training to negotiate flexibility in the application of regulations regarding statutory reports.
Are there still students at Residences?
- There are 12 undergraduate students on campus who were granted approval to stay.
- There are 53 postgraduates students, comprising 27 South Africans, and 26 international students.
- The students will be advised to leave.
- Embassies or Consulates will be informed and asked to assist all international students.
Institution to Government collaboration: What role might Rhodes University contribute?
- Rhodes University will fully cooperate with and actively support all government efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A joint action plan between the University and the Province is being finalised following a meeting of stakeholders yesterday.
Please refer to President Cyril Ramaphosa address of 15 March 2020.
On 17 March, the University leadership met and took the following decisions – in the best interest of the University and wider Makhanda community:
1) The University will bring forward its first term recess to start on the 18th of March 2020. The University will start its second term on Tuesday, 14th of April 2020. For undergraduate and honours students this means that no lectures, tutorials, seminars and laboratory practicals will be held. Postgraduate students registered for Masters and PhD studies may continue working with their supervisors to stay productive.
Assignments and other submissions which were due for submission between 17 March 2020 and 27 March 2020 will have their submission dates amended.
During this recess period, as in any other during the course of the academic year, students are expected to:
2) All students in residences are expected to vacate University residences as soon as possible, but no later than Friday, 20 March at 17h00. In exceptional cases, students who are unable to go to their homes, must contact the Director of Student Affairs, Ms Nomangwane Mrwetyana email@example.com - who will deal with each case on its merits. Only exceptional cases will be accommodated. The need for us to reduce pressure on our residence system can never be overemphasised.
All requests for staying on campus must be done in writing by Wednesday, 18 March at 15h00.
3) Academic staff are expected to continue with their normal activities with greater focus on developing their skills and ability to use online teaching and learning methods. CHERTL will be available to assist staff who need to develop these skills. The Deans will work with the heads of departments to ensure that the University’s academic continuity plans are in place to support the University’s intellectual endeavour.
Members of staff are expected to:
4) The University will remain open and support operations will continue, albeit at an adjusted level and schedule. The University is considering other operational activities and decisions which will be communicated.
5) The University is constantly monitoring developments around this rapidly evolving Coronavirus, and any global health emergency changes will be communicated.
The University leadership and academic staff, with the support of all of the staff, are focussed on the preventative health of the University Community while ensuring that our students can complete a successful academic year.
All members of the University are urged to take social distancing and all other protocols seriously.
Please also refrain from spreading unconfirmed information, rumours and panic. Let us work together to combat this threat.
We request all staff and students to remain calm as we address this unprecedented global challenge. Working together we can and will beat the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
In line with the President’s directive, the following measures were implemented (16 March 2020).
CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE TASK TEAM
Rhodes University’s Coronavirus Response Task Team (CVRTT) was formed to address the challenges that might arise should there be a suspected or confirmed case at Rhodes University and to develop and implement an action plan to respond to the risks of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
We are taking steps to ensure every possible challenge is being addressed. We are actively and closely monitoring the situation and making appropriate arrangements to mitigate its impact on the health, welfare and safety of our students and staff.
Below follows important information, advice and recommendations that all Rhodes University staff and students need to be aware of. Regular information will be shared with the community as the situation continues to change and develop. The current situation in respect of Covid-19 is extremely fluid and changes daily. Please be
alert to any updates distributed by the University.
The Task Team can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
EVENTS ON CAMPUS, CROWDING & SOCIAL DISTANCING
CLEANLINESS & HYGIENE
From WHO Africa:
RHODES UNIVERSITY TRAVEL ADVISORY
Please refer to DIRCO's national travel advisory here: http://www.dirco.gov.za/docs/2020/corona_virus0317.pdf
Travel, most particularly international travel, is clearly a major factor in the spread of the disease.
At this point in time, it is impossible to predict what destinations will be safe to travel to in the next few months, and the University is discouraging staff and students from making new conference and collaboration travel arrangements until such time as a clear direction is provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) that the spread of the virus has been contained, and an end point to the outbreak is in sight.
Careful circumspection should be used in proceeding with current planned and essential international travel, taking care to ascertain in advance the degree of risk by consulting the web sites of the WHO and the NICD, and the nature of the event being attended as well as the likely cross section of attendees.
Until such time as the spread of the virus has been contained, the University is taking special measures to safeguard the health and welfare of those studying, working and living on our campus.
For a list of high-risk countries, please see the CDC's travel notices: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices (please include USA in this list as well)
Suspension of Travel
The following travel is suspended until further notice:
If any member of staff or a student is contemplating travelling, the following questions should be asked:
Staff and students are reminded that the University is part of a world class digital network (the TENET NREN) with sophisticated collaboration and communication tools. Where possible, international research and other collaborations should continue by using technology solutions.
The following travel requirements are of immediate effect:
Notwithstanding the above, members of staff and students should be vigilant around changing circumstances and respond accordingly.
The following travel funding protocol is of immediate effect:
The usually sensible practice of booking non-refundable air tickets well in advance to get discounts is not a good trade-off in the current context. The number of reported cases in a particular country can change significantly in a few weeks, and there is a real possibility that the event to be attended could be cancelled as a precautionary measure, particularly where wide international participation is envisaged. A number of academic conferences have been cancelled or postponed in recent weeks.
All staff and students who do elect to travel must observe the following travel hygiene:
The current situation in respect of COVID-19 is extremely fluid and changes daily. Please be alert to any updates distributed by the University.
The International Office can be contacted on 046 6038217 or email@example.com, while the Health Care Centre can be contacted at 046 603 8523.
Q: What is a coronavirus?
A: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
Q: What is COVID-19?
A: COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
A: The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are:
Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell.
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
Q: How does COVID-19 spread?
A: People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
Q: Can CoVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?
A: The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill.
Q: What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of disease?
A: Protection measures for everyone
Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak, available on the WHO website and through your national and local public health authority. Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:
A: Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading
Q: How likely am I to catch COVID-19?
A: The risk depends on where you are - and more specifically, whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak unfolding there.
For most people in most locations the risk of catching COVID-19 is still low. However, there are now places around the world (cities or areas) where the disease is spreading. For people living in, or visiting, these areas the risk of catching COVID-19 is higher. Governments and health authorities are taking vigorous action every time a new case of COVID-19 is identified. Be sure to comply with any local restrictions on travel, movement or large gatherings. Cooperating with disease control efforts will reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19.
COVID-19 outbreaks can be contained and transmission stopped, as has been shown in China and some other countries. Unfortunately, new outbreaks can emerge rapidly. It’s important to be aware of the situation where you are or intend to go. WHO publishes daily updates on the COVID-19 situation worldwide.
You can see these at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/
Q: Should I worry about COVID-19?
A: Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones.
We can channel our concerns into actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. First and foremost among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.
Learn more about how to protect yourself at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
Q: Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
A: While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
Q: Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?
A: No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.
Q: Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
A: Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalised. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. (See Basic protective measures against the new coronavirus).
Q: How long is the incubation period for COVID-19?
A: The “incubation period” means the time between catching the virus and beginning to have symptoms of the disease. Most estimates of the incubation period for COVID-19 range from 1-14 days, most commonly around five days. These estimates will be updated as more data become available.
Q: How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
A: It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
Q: Is it safe to receive a package from any area where COVID-19 has been reported?
A: Yes. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.