Home News City varsity slaps entry ban on unvaccinated

City varsity slaps entry ban on unvaccinated

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Sol Plaatje University has mandated compulsory Covid-19 vaccinations. Picture: Danie van der Lith

The Public Servants Association plans to approach the court next year over the decision to prevent unvaccinated persons from entering Sol Plaatje University when the new academic year starts on February 1.

THE PUBLIC Servants Association (PSA) will approach the court next year in objection to the decision to prevent unvaccinated persons from entering Sol Plaatje University (SPU) when the new academic year starts on February 1.

According to a directive that was issued by SPU vice-chancellor and principal Professor Andrew Crouch, any employee, student or visitor wishing to access the university premises must provide proof that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

An exception will only be made with the provision of an exemption letter based on medical or religious grounds in line with guidelines contained in the occupational health and safety measures and National Disaster regulations.

PSA Northern Cape provincial manager Steve Ledibane stated that this implied that staff who were not able to work from home would be automatically dismissed.

“Preventing an unvaccinated cleaner, kitchen staff, security or administrative worker access into the building to perform their duties essentially means that they have lost their jobs. We have received 200 applications to join the union out of a total of 540 employees at SPU,” said Ledibane.

“The directorate is discriminatory in the absence of any legislation. President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasised that the Covid-19 vaccination was voluntary and that no one would be forced to take it. A blanket directive was made without adequate consultation. The individual circumstances of each employee should be taken into account.”

Ledibane indicated that while some of their members were willing to be vaccinated, they believed it was unfair to be forced to do so.

“It is everyone’s constitutional right to decide. It has not yet been indicated whether anyone wishing to enter the university should carry their vaccine cards at all times or if their status will be captured on a database. It is also unclear how entry of vaccinated persons into the university grounds will be controlled.”

Ledibane added that they had written to the vice-chancellor seeking clarity on the directive.

“If we do not receive satisfactory answers, we will apply for an interdict in the new year.

“While the union encourages members to vaccinate, they should be afforded the right to choose. It is not something that can be forced down their throats without consultation.”

According to the directive, all students will be able to register irrespective of their Covid-19 status. However, proof of vaccination or an exemption letter must be produced if they wish to utilise university accommodation, attend face-to-face classes, access the library or participate in sporting activities or in practical work related to their qualifications.

Crouch stated that no unvaccinated student would be allowed onto the campus.

“However, they may engage in online learning, at their own expense.”

He added that all staff and ad hoc contractors would be expected to report to work on campus from January 3, 2022 and would also be expected to be fully vaccinated.

All employees have to submit proof of vaccination to the occupational health, safety and environmental unit with immediate effect, while those who have not yet been vaccinated must indicate no later than February 1, 2022 when they expect to do so.

“Appropriate working arrangements” will be considered in consultation with the individual’s line manager for those who are still in the process of being vaccinated.

Employees who are unwilling or unable to vaccinate will be advised on guidelines contained in the SPU vaccination plan.

Crouch explained that it was imperative to put measures in place to safeguard everyone, including students, staff and visitors who came to the campus, to facilitate the return to face-to-face teaching in 2022 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The SPU occupational health, safety and environmental committee must monitor any verifiable exceptions, on medical or religious grounds, as well as the vaccination plan.”

Crouch pointed out that while it was necessary to recognise the rights of individuals, all staff, students and other stakeholders were reminded that “no right was absolute”.

“Considering the public health crisis and the overwhelming proof that vaccination is the most effective step that we can take to protect ourselves and others against Covid-19, SPU is confident that the decision to implement this vaccination plan is justified.”

The university did not respond to media enquiries by the time of going to print.

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