HKUST requires students, staff to be vaccinated or tested before entering campus
Published: Aug 10, 2021 10:06 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

 Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has been put under the spotlight as it asked students to submit their COVID-19 vaccination records or regular nucleic acid test results online and show their e-pass before entering.

An HKUST email to students on Monday shows that students will be able to submit their vaccine records and test results on the online system from August 18 and receive an e-pass after uploading.

An HKUST student who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Tuesday that students who fail to comply will be denied access to restricted campus facilities, including student dormitories, libraries and sports facilities. 

Students are also responsible for the consequences of absences from classes and exams, she said.

Hong Kong media said the new stipulation also covers family members and staff living on campus, as well as regular visitors.

Some Hong Kong media outlets said the approach is far tougher than some other elite Hong Kong universities, which only have such rules for those who live on campus. 

HKUST, which has decided to resume on-campus teaching in the autumn term, explained that their measures “give due consideration to the scientific evidence, while balancing respect for personal choice along with the responsibilities for public health.”

“In order to allow the university to restore a collaborative environment best suited to realize our academic mission in a responsible manner, HKUST encourages all members of the university to be vaccinated, or to undergo testing every two weeks. If anyone cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, the university will provide them with rapid test kits for free,” read an email the university’s public affairs office sent to the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Observers said that the HKUST’s approach is appropriate, given the city is currently under a semi-lockdown, and there is a risk of hidden community transmission and imported cases.  

Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, on Tuesday called on citizens to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to take advantage of a “window period” in the epidemic. 

Hong Kong saw single digit local infections in the past week. As of Sunday, only 3.52 million out of 7 million Hong Kong residents have had their first dose of the vaccine.

The HKSAR government should do everything it can to increase the vaccination rate, as the current 50 percent rate falls short of the minimum that was required even before new variants emerged, Lawrence Tang Fei, principal of the Heung To Secondary School (Tseung Kwan O) in Hong Kong, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Tang said that compared to the vaccination program in the mainland, Macao SAR and some Western countries, the city’s inoculation process is not coercive enough. 

Although some universities have begun to require vaccinations, many primary and secondary schools still lack mandatory measures, with teachers and staff only required to submit nucleic acid test results once every two weeks, Tang said.   

At a press conference on August 2, Hong Kong Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said that about 47 percent of teachers and faculty staff have been vaccinated or have booked inoculations. For students over the age of 12, 40 percent had been vaccinated or were considering it.

Yeung said that the new semester will continue with face-to-face classes on a half-day basis. He disclosed that if 70 percent of staff and students have received two vaccine doses over 14 days, the education bureau would allow the resumption of full day in-class teaching, school lunches or other extracurricular activities, depending on the actual situation.