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Wits announces early recess

- Wits University

Wits University will be in recess from Tuesday, 17 March 2020, four days earlier than scheduled.

Following meetings with the NICD, experts in infectious diseases and designated government departments, it has been determined that the University is currently in a low-risk moment and that taking the appropriate decisions now may enable the moderation of staff and student exposure to COVID-19.

As a result, the Senior Executive Team has made the following decisions:

  1. The mid-term break will be brought forward and the University will be in recess from Tuesday, 17 March 2020, four days earlier than scheduled. This means that all academic activities for this week will be rescheduled.
  2. Wits will reopen on 30 March 2020 as per the almanac, but this date and the form of the academic programme may change, depending on national and global developments around the containment of the health pandemic. 
  3. After consulting with key health experts, the executive has taken the difficult decision to request all students to vacate their residences within the next 72 hours. We are deeply cognisant that students may have some concerns and challenges around this decision but we believe that we are acting in the best interests of students and the broader public. Minimising exposure in the institution extends beyond face to face contact within the academic programme but also in our residences, especially at this relatively early stage of the pandemic. The Dean of Student Affairs and his team will steward this process and will be available to attend to any challenges that students (including international students) may experience.  
  4. The University will continue to operate on essential and skeleton staff during this period. Over the next 72 hours, managers and executives will consult with staff in their departments to put in place arrangements for essential services to continue up until 30 March 2020. All executives, managers and essential staff will be required to ensure the continuity of operations during this time.
  5. In addition, academic staff may work from home but are allowed to come onto the Wits campuses as appropriate or if required, to ensure the long-term continuity of the academic programme.
  6. Non-essential professional and administrative staff may remain at home unless they are required to report for duty. Matters related to leave and working conditions during this period will be addressed by our Finance, Human Resources and Legal Divisions in consultation with unions and other stakeholders.

[WATCH] Wits Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib announces early recess

As stated yesterday, all graduation ceremonies will be postponed until further notice and more information will be sent to graduands in due course.

South Africa, and the higher education sector has never before confronted a pandemic on this scale. If we are to get through this period with the minimum impact on society, the Wits community and the academic programme, it will require an unprecedented solidarity from all stakeholders. This in principle means that we all need to reflect on how we can contribute to our institution, our country and the collective good of our communities during this time of crisis.

We are in a crucial moment in the life of this pandemic and it is important that we work as a collective for the benefit of our society. We urge all members of the Wits community to heed the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa: “This epidemic will pass. But it is up to us to determine how long it will last, how damaging it will be, and how long it will take for our economy and our country to recover. It is true that we are facing a grave emergency. But if we act together, if we act now, and if we act decisively, we will overcome it.” 

Thank you


16 MARCH 2020 (20:00)