Staff members working in open-plan offices and high-risk conditions that pose health threats are advised to work on a rotational basis.

All Wits University services that were being provided remotely from the beginning of the year are now available on campus as of February 1, in preparation for the academic year set to start in March.

Faculty offices and heads of schools can now be accessed, whereas the enrolment centre, library and fees office have been operational for students since early January.

In a January 29 statement the Vice-Chancellor’s Office said, “All university entities are required to be fully operational as from February 1. Professional and administrative staff are required to return to campus. Academics are required to be accessible for academic and research purposes.”

An exception is being made for staff members over the age of 60 and those with co-morbidities, who may continue to work from home.

“It is important to note that the majority of staff members are working hard to ensure the continuity of university operations,” said senior communications officer, Buhle Zuma. She added that “The university took corrective steps where students complained about unreasonable delays in service. Students are urged to contact their head of school should they experience problems with service.”

The opening of faculty offices came as a relief to students who can now get the help they need on campus.

Miyelani Maluleke (22), a fourth-year engineering student, told Wits Vuvuzela “I am here to get my registration sorted because I was struggling online. I tried sending emails and calling and I wasn’t getting any responses.”

A second-year law student, Siviwe Mbiza, who is still at home in Cape Town, said “I have been struggling to communicate with the faculty of law since the beginning of the year because I was not able to reach them through telephone or email and [on February 1], I finally got a response.”

An enrolment centre staff member who did not want to be identified, told Wits Vuvuzela that “The problem with students is that they lack patience, forgetting that the various offices receive a lot of e-mails every day and that’s why it sometimes takes time for us to get back to them.”

Tania Melim-Lazorik, a supervisor at the student enrolment centre said the main queries since Monday were “centred on submission of documents, applications outcomes and accepting offers. These are common queries we receive at this time of the year.

“There was not much traffic [on February 1] compared to others days as we are efficiently addressing all matters via e-mail, telephonically and online,” she said.

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits University campuses have seen more foot traffic since faculty offices became fully operational on February 1. Photo: Khuleko Siwele