Coronavirus in SA: UCT graduations suspended amid Covid-19 concerns

The University of Cape Town has suspended all March graduations amid concerns of the spread of Covid-19.

In a communication from Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, UCT stated that the university leadership has taken the decision to suspend the March graduation ceremonies, which were scheduled to start on Thursday.

“As deeply important as these events are for the campus community, it is much more important that we take responsible decisions that will help to avoid the spread of COVID-19. We have not taken this decision lightly. We understand the disappointment this will create, and that it disrupts the plans of many people who were looking forward to celebrating these important occasions,” said Phakeng.

Phakeng added that UCT would announce further measures soon.

“We are considering different ways that we can continue teaching and learning at UCT while limiting the risk of spreading infection. We expect to make an announcement next week about how we will proceed with the academic project during this vulnerable time for our nation’s health.”

Read | This is why a Limpopo resort was chosen as the quarantine site for SA's Wuhan evacuees

Other universities

Other universities across the country have also begun putting measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is expected to launch a health "war room" to lend a hand in the fight against the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, while the University of Pretoria, University of Johannesburg and Wits University are in the process of suspending the use of their biometric access control systems as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19.

On Thursday, schools were advised to prepare for possible closures to stop the spread of the coronavirus should staff or pupils be infected. The Basic Education Department has issued a circular to all heads of department (HODs), directors, school governing bodies (SGBs) and teacher unions outlining guidelines on how schools should react to the coronavirus.

The Western Cape Education Department has written to school principals providing guidance on schools’ responses to the coronavirus, along with a circular distributed by the national Department of Basic Education. The provincial department has advised schools to postpone tours to high risk countries. Only learners who have had contact with a confirmed case are to be kept at home for two weeks and any suspect cases should be reported to the national hotline, the department said.

“Should the need arise, the decision to close any public school will be made by the Head of Department in consultation with the school and health authorities,” the statement said.

For more on the coronavirus and the experiences of South Africans living in Italy under quarantine, listen to our podcast on SoundCloud.

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