UCT considering mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy for students, staff

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UCT is considering a mandatory Covid-19 vaccine policy.
UCT is considering a mandatory Covid-19 vaccine policy.
Gallo Images/Jacques Stander
  • The University of Cape Town confirmed it is looking into a proposal to make vaccinations mandatory for staff and students.
  • UCT says the proposal will be discussed during a Senate meeting on Friday.
  • If adopted, the university will be the first of its kind to implement such a policy.

The University of Cape Town (UCT) has confirmed it is looking into implementing a mandatory vaccination policy.

The proposal is expected to be discussed during a Senate meeting on Friday. 

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said: "It is expected that [the] Senate will debate this complex matter fully. It is ordinarily the case that any final decision on a matter of policy for the university will have to be a decision of the university council.

READ | SA moved to lockdown Level 2 as Ramaphosa encourages vaccinations

"The view of the Senate, should it support a proposal for vaccinations, and the view of representatives of staff and students, will be put to the UCT council."

Moholola added if taken forward, any decision on the proposal would ultimately be made by the council as the university's highest decision-making body, saying it would consider the proposal thoroughly before coming to any decision. 

Professor Linda-Gail Bekker brought the motion.

READ MORE | Covid-19: Universities ponder implementing mandatory vaccination at campuses

The motion, which News24 has in its possession, recommended the council should resolve, at its October 2021 meeting or sooner, to institute a mandate from 1 January 2022 requiring all staff (as a condition of being able to perform their duties) and students (as a condition of registration) to provide acceptable proof of having been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2.

The motion stated the pandemic had largely had a negative effect on the university community, including parents and guardians (who are simultaneously staff, in some cases) who faced significant challenges in the shift to emergency remote teaching (in 2020), and physically distanced learning (in 2021).

It stated "the burden of this shift has been felt mostly, but not exclusively, by the poorest and most disadvantaged members of our community".

"The fact that these challenges presented both in forms that the university could partially mitigate, such as the provision of data and laptops and other devices, but also in ways where the negative effects are often invisible, and perhaps long term, such as harms to the mental health of our staff and students as a consequence of alienation from, and unfamiliarity with, remote teaching and learning as well as working and researching remotely."

The university's Student Representative Council (SRC) has launched a survey for students to share their views on the vaccination policy.

SRC president Declan Dyer said more than 130 professors have endorsed the proposal so far.

"The proposal proposes that every student, as a condition of registering next year, be required to provide proof of having been vaccinated.

"Similarly, all staff members, as a condition of being able to perform their duties, would need to provide proof of vaccination. We have concluded that we cannot take a position on mandatory vaccinations without ascertaining the views of the student body," he added.

If passed by the council, the university will be the first to adopt a mandatory vaccination policy.

If you come across Covid-19 vaccination information that you do not trust, read Covid-19 vaccine myths debunked: Get the facts here. If you can't find the facts you're looking for, email us at the address mentioned in the article and we will verify the information with medical professionals.

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