Dear students and colleagues
Following the Council meeting held earlier this month and the feedback provided by the Chair of Council, I write to provide a further update on the proposal for mandatory vaccination at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
At the outset I want to stress that as a contact university known for its leadership and excellence, the physical presence and engagement of staff and students on campus is paramount to the success of our students and staff. We are doing whatever we can to ensure that operations at UCT – including teaching and learning, and research – return to full, on-campus functionality as much as possible while we continue responding to this global pandemic.
Following Council’s in principle approval of a proposal requiring that all staff and students provide acceptable proof of having been vaccinated against COVID-19 at the preceding meeting in October, an update on the work done by the university’s Vaccine Mandate Panel (VMP) was tabled at the latest Council meeting.
Following the tabling before Council, the draft policy is now published in full and is now open to a consultation process among UCT stakeholders. This process will be completed by 31 January 2022.
Comments can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once all comments are received, the VMP will consider these further and a final decision on the policy will be made by the UCT Council.
I urge you to participate in the consultation process.
The draft policy proposes the introduction of a campus-wide vaccine mandate that will be applicable to all staff, students, independent contractors, Faculty of Health Sciences joint staff (working at UCT premises) and other visitors.
All events held on UCT campus or premises, buildings, or residences, regardless of the organisers, are also covered by this draft policy.
The draft policy provides for staff and students to apply for an exemption to the vaccine mandate on narrow medical grounds and on grounds of sincerely and intensely held beliefs grounded in religion and/or conscience. Applications will be adjudicated by independent panels, and applicants whose applications are rejected will have a right of appeal.
The COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable. We are currently in the fourth wave countrywide, and UCT will continue to respond to the pandemic in alignment with government regulations. We remain hopeful that we can for the majority of 2022 have campuses that are physically fully functional and remain as open as possible.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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