After careful consideration we have had to decide to suspend this year’s winter school programme, which was scheduled to run from 29 June to 17 July:
- We do not know whether by that time it would be possible to travel and gather, and we think it would probably be irresponsible to do so during a time when we expect the COVID-19 pandemic to peak in South Africa.
- Equally importantly, we know that many, if not most of colleagues usually attending Winter School will be at the forefront of fighting the pandemic and will be engaged in rendering essential services. We believe that even if we could offer courses online instead of face to face, most potential participants would simply be too busy to meaningfully engage.
We are presently exploring the feasibility of offering a short course/CPD programme towards the end of the year, either face-to-face or as virtual courses. However, we will only be able to make this decision once we have a better sense how the pandemic and measures to control it unfold beyond the middle of the year.
We are also exploring options to provide opportunities for other forms of virtual continuing education engagement over the next few months. We will post these widely through email and social media.
For those of you who have already paid for courses, we will be in touch with you separately to discuss reimbursements or holding of credit for you.
For our students, who would usually attend winter school courses as introductions to second semester modules: we are presently discussing how we will integrate aspects of short course teaching into the modules you will take next semester.
We are extremely sorry that we had to take this unprecedented step, but these unprecedented times make it unavoidable. However, we are committed to finding ways in which to support our students and other colleagues in communities, NGOs and the health services, and will be in touch with you soon.
These are times that try our souls and our spirits. We wish all of you strength, good health and resilience in dealing with the enormous challenges that lie ahead. May they provide the opportunity to build a better, stronger, more equitable, just and caring society, both locally and globally. As the Chinese general and philosopher Sun Tsu said over 2000 years ago: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
Uta Lehmann (Prof)
Director, School of Public Health
University of the Western Cape
22 April 2020