Classes at the University of Cape Town (UCT) are expected to resume today after academic activity was cancelled last week following a fire that broke out at the Rondebosch campus.
The fire ravaged historical university buildings, including the Jagger Library and Fuller House student residence.
UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said students have since returned to campus after management deemed it safe for them to return to campus this week and that classes were ready to resume.
“Thank you for your patience as we seek ways to return to full academic activity at the University of Cape Town (UCT) under COVID-19 regulations,” said Phakeng.
Last week, students at UCT were evacuated from the university’s building as the fire ravaged through parts of the campus.
Classes were cancelled for the week as management at the university attempted to fix and ensure that it was safe for staff and students to return.
“We brought an independent external technical team onto campus to work with UCT’s internal Operational Health & Safety (OHS) team, to assess the air quality in selected buildings that were not damaged by fire,” said Phakeng.
Phakeng said the teams established a programme to ensure the air quality of campus buildings through appropriate ventilation and aeration before students and staff members return.
“Obviously, where there is significant damage, this process will take longer. The special collections, the Biological Sciences facilities housed in the Pearson Building and the upper campus residences are particular areas of concern. But we are looking for ways to mitigate the impact of these losses on the academic project,” said Phakeng.
The university management has thanked the community for assisting it in times of need and has sent its well wishes to the students and staff returning to campus.
“Of course, as a campus community we will continue to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. Please remember to wear your masks, wash or sanitise your hands regularly and maintain a social distance of 1.5 m even while you are in evacuation accommodation. The fire has passed and that is a relief, but the pandemic remains a threat,” added Phakeng.