[11 August] Those who return to campus and Makhanda must take responsibility for their wellbeing and that of those around them

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Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice-Chancellor, Rhodes University
Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice-Chancellor, Rhodes University

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worst global public health crises in recent memory. It is a new disease and much remains unknown about it.

According to scientific experts, it is transmitted from one person to another in a variety of ways, including
• direct contact with an infected person;
• through respiratory droplets (when someone coughs or sneezes);
• direct contact with contaminated surfaces or objects;
• inhalation of airborne infectious viral particles (aerosols) when people talk, sing or breathe.

In order to curb the spread of the virus in our University and the local community, all students are required to adhere the following preventative measures:
1. Wear a mask at all times and in all public places. The mask must cover your mouth and nose. Do not remove it when you talk.
Wearing a mask is the most visible expression of your care and concern about the health and wellbeing of others.
2. Maintain a distance of at least 1.5m to the nearest person.
3. Carry out daily screening using the Higher Health App and provide such evidence when requested to do so.
4. No social, cultural or sporting gatherings will be allowed on- and off-campus. In particular, holding of parties and such social events is strictly forbidden.
5. Observance of all residence and hall health protocols/measures is mandatory.
6. Compliance with quarantine or isolation requirements is non-negotiable.
7. If you are sick, stay at home or in your residence room and call for medical attention.
8. Returning to the University campus without a valid permit issued by the University is a serious disciplinary offence.
9. Accessing buildings and other facilities that you are not authorised to access is a serious disciplinary offence. Any student who assists another to access a building that has access control will be disciplined.

These measures are essential if we are to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our staff, students and our surrounding community. Any student who is unable or unwilling to comply with these measures is advised not to come back on campus or to Makhanda.

Practising of non-pharmaceutical interventions such as regular washing of hands with water and soap or use a sanitiser with an alcohol base of 60 to 90% and covering coughs and sneezes with tissue is important in limiting the spread of the virus.

In a Toplist message dated 6 July 2020 to the first group of returning students, the Vice-Chancellor said: “It should be emphasised that curbing the spread of the virus in our community is less about the University’s capacity or capability to enforce the stringent measures that are in place, and more about the individual responsibility and agency of each student and staff member to safeguard their own health and wellbeing and that of other members of our community.”

We expect voluntary and cooperative compliance with all measures to mitigate the transmission of the virus. Students who show a callous disregard for the health, safety and wellbeing of others will be disciplined. The sanction of exclusion from the University or residence will be one possible outcome of such a disciplinary process. Students are urged to think with care and compassion about the well-being of others, as well as about their own futures, before accessing Rhodes University campus.

Warmest wishes and, please keep safe, well and vigilant.

Sizwe Mabizela
Vice-Chancellor, Rhodes University