COVID19: Government sidesteps Uni jab policies

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The government will not interfere with the Cyprus University of Technology (TEPAK) decision only to allow COVID-19 vaccinated or previously infected students on campus.

“TEPAK is an autonomous organisation. If the universities themselves, however, decide to take stricter measures, it is something over which we cannot intervene,” Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantelas told students demonstrating the decision.

The minister on Wednesday met TEPAK students protesting outside the Health Ministry in Nicosia after the university announced that unvaccinated students would not be allowed to attend courses physically.

The protest was staged by Proodeftiki Student Movement, affiliated with the main opposition AKEL, demanding the ministry persuaded universities to accept a negative PCR or rapid test for COVID-19.

Students argue that TEPAK’s decision discriminates against students at a university where courses demand physical presence.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, a Proodeftiki representative said they support vaccinations but do not want to see students discriminated against due to their choice or face a serious medical problem and cannot get vaccinated.

The government was to decide on guidelines for schools and universities during Monday’s cabinet meeting but kicked it further down the road.

“We decided to postpone the decision for a few more days to see if the epidemiological situation allows us to return to universities with PCR and rapid tests,” Hadjipantelas said.

The government has been debating whether university students should be allowed to return with a PCR or a cheaper rapid test.

TEPAK argued it was forced to take its own decisions, as the government failed to deliver guidelines for the upcoming academic year to start next month.

The University of Cyprus (UCy) also announced its decision regarding the return of students to classrooms.

However, the UCy, unlike TEPAK, said on Wednesday that all students and staff members would only be required to have a Safe Pass to access the premises during the winter semester.

“The Senate of the University of Cyprus in Wednesday’s meeting reaffirmed its decision, dated July 7, 2021, to conduct winter semester courses with a physical presence and with the presentation of the European digital certificate COVID (EUDCC),” the university announcement said.

As the EUDCC can be issued with a negative rapid test, it is understood that the university would accept rapid tests.

The university said if classroom size does not allow a course to be conducted with physical presence for all students, then priority will be given to students who have a vaccination certificate or have recently recovered from COVID-19.