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UWC staff ’turned away’ over vaccines

UWC became the first tertiary institution last year to approve the interim Covid-19 vaccination policy for 2022.

UWC became the first tertiary institution last year to approve the interim Covid-19 vaccination policy for 2022.

Published Jan 5, 2022


CAPE TOWN - A UWC employee who was allegedly turned away after failing to produce vaccine certificates on campus, claim unfairness and say no clear communication has been given, especially for those awaiting exemption decisions.

UWC became the first tertiary institution last year to approve the interim Covid-19 vaccination policy for 2022 after the Council gave the green light in November. The university’s interim Covid-19 vaccination policy came into effect on January 3.

According to a staff member who asked not to be named, when he arrived at campus on Monday a poster ’Right of Admission Reserved, No vaccination certificate no entry’ was placed at the gate and when he could not produce a certificate to security, he was allegedly refused entry.

“At first I thought I was the only person who experienced this but found out I’m not. The security claim that management gave instructions that they must not allow people who cannot prove they are vaccinated to enter the premises.

“The issue we have is that the university’s Covid-19 response task team issued the Gaining Access forms in December which indicated that applications for exemption will be evaluated by the Vaccination Exemption Committee from January 10. This means until that date there will not be any decision made yet,” he said.

The worker said they were surprised on Sunday after receiving emails that everyone returning to work on Monday must be vaccinated or they will not be allowed on campus even if they are awaiting the exemption process.

“This was all short notice and no proper communication was given, so people are uncertain what will happen to them or what any of this means because they cannot go on campus because evaluation only starts next week,” he said.

According to the university, the policy which will also apply to students, contractors and the university vendors is to ensure resumption of in-person learning and teaching.

UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said the turning back of staff between Monday and Tuesday may have been the case.

According to Abarder, the institution’s communication from December “was clear and frequent that only staff, students and visitors who have been vaccinated will be allowed on campus, if they’re essential to the running of the University.“

Abarder said those with pending exemption decisions will not be allowed on campus until a decision is made.

“The committee who decides on the outcomes of exemption applications will meet this week to consider exemptions received thus far. The University has an extensive business continuity plan that has required all staff, excluding essential staff, to work remotely from home since March 2020.

“Staff or students who have had one dose of the vaccine will be allowed on campus as long as they can prove their second dose is pending. Those applying for exemptions on grounds of the constitution, religion or medical, will have to wait until an exemption is approved or not,” Abarder said.

He said that in such an instance the university will not be “unreasonable” about implementing disciplinary action.

The policy will be reviewed in the first semester of the year.

Cape Times

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