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UJ adopts mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy for all students from next year

Yoliswa Sobuwa Journalist
University of Johannesburg.
University of Johannesburg.
Image: Google

Students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) will need vaccination certificates to gain entrance into the institution from January 2022, and those unvaccinated will not be provided with accommodation at any university-owned residence.

This is after the UJ council adopted mandatory covid-19 vaccination policy last week.

UJ spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen said last month the institution's council resolved that all the university’s campuses and facilities will be mandatory vaccination sites from January.

“The vaccination policy states that staff, postdoctoral research fellows and students will need to provide UJ with their vaccination status before gaining access to any campus or facility. These measures also apply to ad hoc contractors, identified stakeholders, and visitors,” Esterhuizen said.

He said this outcome will ensure that the university’s staff, postdoctoral research fellows, and students have optimal access to the institution's precincts for purposes of working, learning, research, laboratory, and clinical work while protecting the health and safety of the university community and its stakeholders.

“The need for optimal access to the campuses and facilities has become crucial in part because of the socioeconomic circumstances of the university’s students. Additionally, some learning programmes require in-person engagement for research and experiential learning. Exemptions, based on medical or religious grounds, will be considered. It is important to note, however, that UJ will balance the rights of individuals against the collective rights of the broader university and the surrounding community,” he said.

He said as the collective rights take precedence, the rights of individuals may be limited, in terms of section 36 of the Constitution.

According to the policy, to gain access to UJ campuses and facilities, employees, postdoctoral research fellows, and students will be required to provide their digital vaccination cards to authorised university officials to confirm their vaccination status.

“Confirmation of vaccination status will be linked to the student or employee access card, ensuring access to UJ campuses and facilities. When required, employees will be allowed, within working hours, to be vaccinated. Where applicable, sick leave will be allowed should any side-effects associated with the vaccine be experienced,” reads part of the policy.

According to the policy, employees and students may be exempted by the committee from being vaccinated on medical or religious grounds. However they will accordingly be required to provide the required substantiating evidence.

Students exempted from vaccination will be entitled to receive advice from university heath services, a health and safety representative, a medical professional, or the students’ representative council member responsible for health and wellness. They will also be required to undertake daily health screening prior to being allowed entry to UJ campuses and facilities. 

They will be required to always wear a mask when on UJ campuses and facilities including during lectures and these masks will be for the students’ own cost.

“They will not have access to activities in common spaces where social engagements occur. Students will not be provided with accommodation in any university-owned residence and will only be permitted to attend graduation ceremonies online,” says the policy.

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