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Coronavirus: Tepak to allow only vaccinated, recovering students on site (update 2)

The Tepak campus in Limassol

The Cyprus University of Technology (Tepak) decided on Tuesday to only allow vaccinated and Covid recovering students to attend lessons in-person in September.

The university claimed that there must be a very high vaccination coverage of over 90 per cent of the population, but according to the health ministry the 18-24 age group has a coverage of about 50 per cent (either through infection or vaccination).

Tepak’s senate therefore decided on Tuesday that all teachers will have to have proof of prior infection (in the last six months) or vaccination (at least the first dose with three weeks having passed), while students may attend in-person classes if they have proof of prior infection or vaccination while those who do not will only be permitted to follow classes online.

It also stated that all final exams will take place in-person with the requirement of a SafePass as set out by the health ministry.

Students who are unable to receive the Covid-19 vaccination on medical grounds will be eligible to attend classes in-person, if they take a Covid-19 test every 72 hours (both PCR and rapid test are accepted).

Disy’s youth wing at the university Protoporia Tepak announced its strong disagreement with the senate’s decision on Tuesday, saying the measures essentially exclude many students without providing them with an alternative.

“It will deprive our fellow students of the right to education which is equally as important as the right to that of health,” the group said on Facebook.

“There should be no inequality and discrimination between students”.

Tepak said that it had reviewed three different proposals and its senate eventually sided with a proposal made from the Faculty of Health Sciences.

The news came as the council of ministers on Monday postponed a decision on what the protocol will be for returning students at universities.

One idea which had been floated last week was that unvaccinated students would be subject to a PCR test every 72 hours, which drew strong condemnation from student organisations.

Rapid tests run at around €10 and PCR tests at €30-€35 a time. The rapid test is, at the moment, used as a valid means to secure a SafePass for the population at large.

The other issue that concerns the students is that while, again in the population at large, people who have recovered from Covid and have a natural immunity are given six months leeway, the government is telling the students their natural immunity from Covid will only last three months.

A former member of the government’s coronavirus advisory team – virologist Leontios Kostrikis – said on Monday that the PCR requirement may be excessive.

“We could start with rapid tests and review [the protocol] in a month’s time, perhaps the PCR [test] is excessive at this moment in time,” he told Sigma.

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