Vice-Chancellor Prof. Tawana Kupe issued an updated statement on the return of students and staff to full face-to-face activities on campus, for the 2022 academic year.
The statement reports that 10 000 students participated in the vaccine survey and 70% of participants have indicated that they are fully or partially vaccinated. 2 500 staff members also completed the survey and 80% indicated that they are fully or partially vaccinated. An additional 10% indicated that they are planning to get vaccinated.
Prof. Kupe’s statement goes on to say that the university encourages and urges students and staff to get vaccinated, and it is with this view that the university has taken a few proactive steps with regard to the return to campus for the 2022 academic year. The university indicates that it recognises and acknowledges the constitutional right of every individual in the UP community, including those who are against getting vaccinated. However, the plan for the return to campus will create a framework that will allow for the smooth reintegration of staff into the workplace and students into the study space. Therefore, a risk assessment process was employed to identify areas of operation where vaccinations are mandatory.
As a result, UP has limited access to certain areas of campus and activities for individuals who are not vaccinated. It has also taken into consideration practical steps to accommodate those persons who are not vaccinated on the grounds of medical and religious reasons. These steps include: undertaking a daily health check prior to being granted access to the campus, wearing an N95 mask – at their own cost – at all times and the individual will need to provide a weekly negative PCR test – also at their own cost.
There are exemption measures in place, however, an individual can only be exempted following an evaluation by a properly constituted and skilled panel. A person may be exempted on medical grounds (on confirmation from a medical professional that the COVID-19 vaccination poses a significant medical risk), and in this case the university may require further medical verification. A person may also be exempted on religious grounds based on a set of fixed criteria and the submission of supporting documentation.
Even if a person is exempted, individuals that are not vaccinated will have limited access to certain high-risk areas or events. These events could include participating in sporting activities, social events or visiting friends in residences.
This is a developing story.
Image: Ruth Versfeld