Covid-19 Update 64: Return to campus plans
All University entities are required to be fully operational as from 1 February 2021.
Thank you to all those staff members who made it possible for Wits to complete the 2020 academic year and who ensured that the University remained operational. Your contribution and commitment is recognised and appreciated.
It will now require our collective effort to prepare for the 2021 academic year and to fulfil our mandate to deliver academic, research and service excellence.
To this end, all University entities are required to be fully operational as from 1 February 2021.
- Professional and administrative staff are required to return to campus as from Monday, 1 February 2021. Members of the Senior Executive members (SET) have been authorised to determine and approve the level of staff required in their respective faculties and divisions, in order to ensure that offices and services are fully operational. Line managers are required to act in accordance with the SET’s directives in this regard.
- Academics are required to be accessible for academic and research purposes.
The following exceptions apply:
- Employees with co-morbidities (such as active or on treatment for cancer, diabetes, asthma or other respiratory illnesses) should voluntarily declare these ailments to their line manager or provide a valid doctor’s letter that indicates specifically why they cannot report for work. Where line managers believe that it is necessary, a second opinion may be obtained from selected healthcare practitioners based at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, as described in the HR Practice Note on this matter (available on the HR page on the Intranet). These staff members should work productively from home.
- Staff members over the age of 60 who may be at risk should be enabled to work from home as per the University’s HR Practice Note on this matter. Employees over the age of 60 who do not have co-morbidities, and who are healthy, may of their own volition return to the workplace at their own risk.
Staff members who work in open plan offices or under other conditions which may be high-risk, may work on a rotational basis as determined by their line managers, with the approval of their SET member. Work in open plan spaces becomes a risk for Covid-19 infection when the relevant protocols aimed at the prevention of infection are not adequately adhered to by employees.
The health and safety of every member of the Wits community is paramount, and again, it will require our collective effort to keep everyone safe.
Staff members are required to:
- Complete the self-screening form via the Wits LogBox Screening App every day before entering campus;
- Wear a mask over your mouth and nose at all times;
- Practise physical distancing (stay a minimum of 1.5 meters from anyone else);
- Refrain from gathering in closed spaces that are not adequately ventilated (no gatherings should be allowed in tearooms and canteens);
- Sanitise regularly, or wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry them properly; and
- Abide by all Wits’ COVID-19 policies and protocols.
Responsibilities for Line Managers
- Line managers must complete or update a risk assessment for their respective entity and must implement the risk mitigation measures before staff members return to the workplace.
- Line managers must work with their assigned Human Resources and Health and Safety Officers, the Services Department, and any other University entity to ensure that the following measures are in place:
- the physical distancing of staff members in the workplace;
- the adequate provision of sanitisers and/or soap and water;
- the regular cleaning of venues and work spaces;
- the provision of personal protective equipment for specialised areas (and ensuring that it is correctly worn);
- the completion of the daily symptom screening form on the Wits LogBox Screening App; and
- the adherence to Wits’ protocols to prevent the spread of infection.
Managers are requested to report all Covid-19 infections immediately. Staff infections should be reported to the Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Management Directorate via Dept-OHS-Admin@wits.ac.za and student infections should be reported to Anna.Moloi@wits.ac.za.
Let us take the necessary precautions to ensure our own personal safety and that of our colleagues, students and friends, as we return to campus. Please chat to your line manager or relevant executive should you have any further queries about the return to campus plans.
Read more about Wits’ health and safety protocols and plans at www.wits.ac.za/covid19.