UCT to finish the 2020 academic year through remote teaching

The University of Cape Town has taken a decision to finish the 2020 academic year through remote teaching.

"In consultation with faculties and with student representatives, the University of Cape Town [UCT] executive has decided to finish the 2020 academic year through remote teaching.

"This decision, which implies a change in the academic calendar, has been approved by the senate and council," the institution said in a statement on Monday.

UCT's deputy vice-chancellor: teaching and learning, Associate Professor Lis Lange, said the institution would not be able to maintain social distancing if it returned to face-to-face teaching.

Lange said: "The country is currently experiencing the predicted peak of Covid-19 infection and we are advised that another peak is likely to occur in August. We will not be able to maintain the necessary social distancing if we return to face-to-face teaching in campus lecture halls and other academic spaces in the fourth term. Nor will we be able to accommodate all students in residence under safe conditions."

UCT said the phased return would continue, by invitation, for select groups of post-graduate research students who needed to use on-campus facilities to complete their research projects, where this could be accommodated appropriately.

In addition, the second semester would have 64 teaching days and 13 days of vacation between 21 September and 4 October.

Term 3 starts on 3 August and ends on 18 September. Term 4 starts on 5 October and ends on 13 November. From 5 October to 16 October there is a practical block for the second term component of first semester. From 19 October to 13 November there is a practical block for second semester courses. Consolidation takes place between 16 and 18 November.

Exams for second semester courses start on 19 November and end on 9 December. Exams for first semester courses start on 10 December and end on 22 December.

The Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment and the Faculty of Health Sciences will also be teaching remotely, however the calendar will be managed differently due to requirements.

"We are well aware that many students would prefer to return to university residences. We need to manage simultaneously students' needs, health risks and the availability of safe spaces under lockdown conditions. Therefore, we will continue with a phased approach for the return of students, where possible or needed," Lange said.

Different groups of students will be invited to return to campus to complete work on their courses during September and October.

"Some of these students will be invited to return to residences, while others, who did not live in residence accommodation earlier this year, will be invited to come back to campus.

"The identification of these students will be done centrally in collaboration with the faculties and the Department of Student Affairs," the institution said.

UCT is expected to make further announcements on this within the next month.

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