The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education has ordered students at colleges to either be vaccinated for Covid-19 or have a valid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, failure to which they will be barred from entering school premises.
Students from Masvingo Polytechnic who are not yet vaccinated for Covid-19 were last week barred from attending lectures and entering the school premises.
Security guards manning entry points at the institution were demanding vaccination cards, even from students in exam classes, turning away those who did not have them.
Masvingo Polytechnic Principal, Engineer Callisto Muzongondi said they are encouraging students to get vaccinated or provide Covid-19 PCR test to gain entry at the school premises.
“We are saying if one is not vaccinated, they should have a valid Covid-19 PCR test. One has to be either vaccinated or tested in the last 48 hours to access school premises.
“We have set aside a hostel to quarantine those who have tested positive because we have to be careful,” said Eng Muzongondi.
Contacted for comment, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Professor Fanuel Tagwira said the ministry was strict on Covid-19 in students unless one had a valid medical reason not to be vaccinated.
“I am not even allowed to access government buildings without a vaccination card. We are saying, unless someone has a valid reason given by a doctor, they have to be vaccinated in order to access school premises.
“Remember in the third wave we lost a number of lecturers because they are normally older and vulnerable, so we have to protect everyone. At Bondolfi, when there was an outbreak, only one case had symptoms, the rest were asymptomatic. That puts lecturers who are older at risk.
“Lecturers themselves are vaccinated, so what would be the reason for students to not want to get vaccinated,” said Prof Murwira.
He went on to say that if one does not want to get vaccinated, he or she should then produce a Covid-19 test valid for 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Masvingo Teachers College Principal, Benson Mutambudzi said that they did not have a circular yet that bars unvaccinated students from attending lectures but almost 95 percent of all staff members were vaccinated.
“We do not have a circular that yet bars unvaccinated students from entering the school premises, but we do have one for the staff, and I can safely say that almost all staff members here are vaccinated.
“We are however strongly encouraging the students to get vaccinated and we have engaged the Provincial Medical Director’s office to give us the vaccines at our school clinic so that the students get easy access to the vaccine,” Mutambudzi said.