The deadline for comments on the Wits University's proposed compulsory vaccination policy has been extended by a week.
Spokesperson Shiron Patel said the deadline was extended to Friday 22 October, and that more than 300 comments had been received so far, mostly in favour of the policy.
The university is proposing compulsory vaccination against Covid-19, unless in exceptional circumstances.
"There are also meetings taking place with various constituencies, including other student groupings, residences, organised labour, professional and academic staff, administrative staff, suppliers and retailers, etc," Patel said.
"Only once these meetings are completed and all inputs are received, will the policy framework be finalised. It will serve at various university committees and then at Senate and Council before the end of the year."
The Students Representative Council (SRC) deems the policy anti-poor because of the high cost of weekly PCR testing.
Private tests cost between R800 and R1 000, excluding the cost a doctor's referral, at the country's two major pathology laboratories.
Patel said they had not received a formal response from the SRC, aside from media reports, but management would consider their input.
An extract of the proposed policy states that:
- Staff and students will be required to produce their digital vaccine passport or vaccination cards to authorised University officials to confirm their vaccination status;
- Confirmation of such status will be linked to the student or staff member’s number and access card;
- Staff will be given paid time-off to attend vaccination sessions and sick leave should they experience any side-effects associated with the vaccine;
- Staff and students may be exempted from being vaccinated on medical grounds with confirmation from a medical professional that the vaccine poses a significant health risk;
- The university can refer the staffer or student for further medical assessment if necessary;
- This also applies to students under 18.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced on Friday that the 12 to 17 age group was eligible for one dose of the Pfizer vaccine from 20 October.
Staff and students can object to compulsory vaccination, citing specific constitutional grounds, but will have to:
- Undertake daily health screening before being allowed on campus;
- Will have to buy and wear an N95 mask, or an equivalent mask at all times when on campus;
- They will have to have a weekly Covid-19 test, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not, at their own cost;
- They will be barred from activities in common spaces where social engagements occur;
- They will not get campus accommodation;
- Employees must also apply for reasonable accommodation for an exception to the policy, but the university will have the right to terminate employment;
Services providers without proof of vaccination won't get entry to the campus.