Stellenbosch University tables mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for students and staff

By Kelly Jane Turner Time of article published Sep 29, 2021

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Stellenbosch University (SU) is considering mandatory vaccinations for students and staff which could be implemented before the 2022 academic year.

Rector and Vice-Chancellor Professor Wim de Villiers confirmed that SU is exploring the possibility of mandatory vaccinations, learning from the experience of other institutions.

Earlier this month the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) senate proposed a motion of mandatory vaccinations.

Subsequently, UCT’s proposed motion was met with students and staff launching a petition against mandatory vaccination which has collected over 12 000 signatures.

De Villiers told the SU Council the “urgent development of vaccination rule” is an institutional priority for the University that all its staff and students be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Vaccines are safe, and they save lives. Our message is that getting vaccinated is the responsible thing to do. So, we have been urging everyone to get the vaccine,” he said.

The SU Council was going to make its final decision on the vaccination rule at its last meeting of the year, on 2 December, however, Chair George Steyn said it is a “matter of life and death” and that the Council would be entitled to take a decision as soon as possible to avoid any delays.

Since February, the university has been conducting a Covid-19 vaccine awareness drive and also established its own vaccination site at the Lentelus sports grounds, which serves SU staff, students, and the broader public.

De Villiers said SU’s Institutional Committee for Business Continuity (ICBC) appointed a task team in late August to conduct the risk assessment required in terms of a health and safety direction.

“The SU Council mandates management to work towards the urgent development of a rule on vaccination for students and staff for the 2022 academic year. Staff and students are reassured that due process will be followed in terms of consultation and risk management,” he said.

SU Chief Operating Officer Prof Stan du Plessis said: “A vaccine rule will determine the extent to which staff and students can work and study at the University depending on their vaccination status. It will describe the expectation, as well as the criteria for exceptions”.

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