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Updated 5 January 2022


We know you might have a few questions about our vaccination requirements. 

This page provides you with information we have access to right now and hopefully will answer those questions. As further information becomes available, we’ll update it here.  

If you still have questions after reading these FAQs, please email Covid-19@op.ac.nz

 

General FAQs

What is Otago Polytechnic's decision on a vaccination policy?

That only learners (tauira), staff (kaimahi), visitors and contractors, who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (and can provide a valid My Vaccine Pass), or who hold a Government-approved exemption, are permitted on Otago Polytechnic Ltd sites. This requirement will come into effect from 1 February 2022.

Read our policy here

Why did the Te Kāhui Manukura (OP’s Executive Leadership Team) make this decision?

Otago Polytechnic’s priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our OP community.

Vaccines are the most effective means for protecting against COVID-19, particularly as restrictions are lifted and life in New Zealand returns to relative normality. 

As restrictions are lifted, our preference is to return to on-campus teaching, learning and research as soon as possible, so that our learners and staff benefit from the full on-campus experience. 

It is clear from the Government’s directions so far on the new ‘traffic light’ system that proof of vaccination will be a core requirement for a wide range of activities and freedoms.

It is important therefore that Otago Polytechnic has a clear policy that enables learners and staff to make their decisions with clarity and confidence before we return to campus.  

Also, we are a subsidiary of Te Pūkenga, and Te Pūkenga has confirmed that its default position is that all learners, staff, contractors and visitors to Te Pūkenga subsidiary sites are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, unless a subsidiary risk assessment demonstrates otherwise.

Otago Polytechnic's risk assessment, and consideration of our role in the community, supported alignment with Te Pūkenga‘s position. 

Who will this apply to?

This will apply to anyone who wishes to come onto the Otago Polytechnic campuses or take part in face-to-face Otago Polytechnic-managed activities like graduation and tertiary open day.

It includes tauira (learners), kaimahi (staff), volunteers, invited guests, visitors and contractors. Online meeting options will be made available where possible for unvaccinated visitors. 

This policy applies to all tauira who are currently enrolled and will return to study with Otago Polytechnic in 2022, as well as any new tauira who enrol in an Otago Polytechnic programme from 2022. 

This policy also applies to all kaimahi who are currently employed by Otago Polytechnic and will continue to be employed on 1 February 2022, and any future kaimahi who join Otago Polytechnic after that date.

Why has 1 February been chosen as the date?

This date allows us to prepare for the beginning of the first semester of 2022.

A small number of programmes begin earlier than this date and the requirement for vaccinations in those settings will still be 1 February 2022. 

Some of our programmes are covered by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccination) Order 2021. These programmes require you to provide a valid My Vaccine Pass (along with evidence of your vaccination - including types and dates) at the time that you apply. The programme webpages on our website outline what is needed per programme. 

The requirement for vaccinations for those in student accommodation (in Cromwell and in Dunedin at Te  Tauira) will take effect earlier to manage early arrivals (if you are going to be a resident of our student accommodation in 2022, you will hear from us directly about vaccination requirements pertaining to you). 

How long will the vaccination requirement be in place for?

This policy will be reviewed at least every six months, and, as Government mandates and regulations are released. It will be updated when deemed necessary by the Chief Executive. 

Will face masks remain a requirement on campus if everyone is vaccinated?

Face coverings will remain part of our health protection measures at all levels of the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

They are encouraged at Green, strongly recommended at Orange (and required in any situation where physical distancing of 1m is difficult to maintain), and required at Red, unless an exemption applies.

The requirement at Red includes all indoor settings, as per the guidance from the Ministry of Education. 

I am meeting with / bringing a visitor onsite. Is it my responsibility to make sure they are vaccinated?

If you are planning to meet a visitor on campus, including research participants, we recommend letting your visitor know that full COVID-19 vaccination is a requirement for being on campus at Otago Polytechnic.

We ask that you sight their My Vaccine Pass when you greet them. If the person is someone you regularly meet on campus, you will only need to sight their My Vaccine Pass once.  

If you meet in a cafe on our campuses, you and your guest will also need to show your My Vaccine Pass to staff of the cafe. 

Can unvaccinated people come onto campus if they produce a negative COVID test within the last 24 hours?

No.

At this time, Otago Polytechnic will not accept negative COVID-19 tests in place of the vaccination requirement. 

We are exploring Rapid Antigen Testing as a mechanism to support our policy, but at this stage that option is so new to the market in New Zealand that we haven’t yet been able to fully consider if and how we could implement it at Otago Polytechnic.

Once we have completed our review of this tool, we will update tauira (learners) and kaimahi (staff) if there will be a change to our policy.


Vaccinations and exemptions

What does fully vaccinated mean?

“Fully vaccinated” means having two doses of a New Zealand government approved COVID-19 vaccine.

The Pfizer/BioNTech is the vaccine commonly administered to people in New Zealand, and the AstraZenica is now an option for those who cannot get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Your status as fully vaccinated will need to be verified by your My Vaccine Pass. 

Booster shots have also recently been made available and help top up the protection for those with compromised health or who had their second vaccination more than six months ago.

The booster is not a requirement for 'full vaccination' at this stage, and you do not need to have had a booster to get a My Vaccine Pass, but Otago Polytechnic continues to be guided by the Government and Ministry of Health advice. 

Will medical exemptions be considered?

Yes, medical exemptions from the Ministry of Health will be accepted, and those who receive a medical exemption from the Ministry of Health are issued with a valid My Vaccine Pass which can be verified by Otago Polytechnic. 

In some circumstances, we may approve exemptions to our COVID-19 policy on medical grounds that don’t meet the requirements for a Ministry of Health exemption. If you believe you have grounds for requesting an exemption on medical grounds, please email covid-19@op.ac.nz. 

Exemptions on medical grounds cannot be granted for tauira (learners) or kaimahi (staff) in areas of Otago Polytechnic covered by a vaccination Health Order (and any other area that becomes covered by a Government mandate in the future).

Those programme areas are currently Nursing, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy, Social Services, Massage Therapy and Education.

This also applies to PolyKids Early Childhood Education Centre, Counselling, Student Health, and in areas where kaimahi and tauira work in prisons.

Will Otago Polytechnic accept exemption based on religious belief?

Otago Polytechnic will consider requests for exemption based on religious belief, but this is not guaranteed. Such requests will be considered alongside a health and safety risk assessment of the programme of study the tauira (learner) is applying for/wanting to continue studying (or the role held by the kaimahi).  

Exemptions on religious grounds cannot be granted for tauira and kaimahi in areas of OP covered by a vaccination Health Order (and any other area that becomes covered by a Government mandate in the future). Those areas are currently Nursing, Midwifery, Occupational Therapy, Social Services, Massage Therapy and Education. This also applies to PolyKids Early Childhood Education Centre, Counselling, Student Health, and in areas where kaimahi and tauira work in prisons. 

Exemptions on religious grounds also cannot be granted for tauira and kaimahi in our hospitality, events and cookery teams and programmes, or in beauty, hairdressing or sport and exercise. 

What if my personal choice is not to be vaccinated?

Otago Polytechnic recognises that there will be some tauira (learners) and kaimahi (staff) who do not wish to be vaccinated.

You continue to have that choice. However, those that do not satisfy the requirements of the policy will be unable to take part in face-to-face Otago Polytechnic-managed events and activities (including graduation) or enter our campuses. 

This includes teaching and learning spaces (such as workshops, classes, labs, tutorials, meetings, noho marae, exams and assessments), libraries, student services, student accommodation, gyms, offices, poho and Pasifika rooms, research and related activity settings. 

In adopting this policy, Otago Polytechnic is balancing people’s rights to make their own choices and decisions on vaccination against the rights of our tauira and kaimahi to study and work in a safe campus environment 

I shouldn’t be forced to get vaccinated if I don’t want to. Doesn’t this policy contradict my freedom of choice and rights to body autonomy?

This policy does not force you to be vaccinated.

That decision remains entirely a matter of personal choice, and Otago Polytechnic respects your right to choose.

However, anyone who is not fully vaccinated (or does not have a medical exemption) will be unable to take part in face-to-face Otago Polytechnic-managed activities and events or enter Otago Polytechnic campuses or facilities.

This includes teaching and learning spaces (such as workshops, classes, labs, tutorials, meetings, noho marae, exams and assessments), libraries, student services, student accommodation, gyms, offices, poho and Pasifika rooms, research and related activity settings. 

Options for those who decline to tell Otago Polytechnic their vaccination status

Otago Polytechnic will treat tauira (learners) who decline to disclose their vaccination status as unvaccinated.

We will work with tauira in this situation in the same way as we will work with tauira who are partially vaccinated or unvaccinated. 

We have a list of programmes below which are available for those who want to study and don't have a My Vaccine Pass or who decline to tell us their vaccination status. Please see Which qualifications can I study without a My Vaccine Pass? in the Studying section below.

What will happen to existing learners who refuse to get vaccinated?

Otago Polytechnic recognises there will be some tauira (learners) who do not choose to be vaccinated. This remains their choice. 

We strongly believe in the importance of accessible education for all New Zealanders which is why we have a large selection of qualifications, courses and some research activities that can be completed by distance regardless of your vaccination status. 

We will work with tauira who choose not to be vaccinated to find a solution (where possible) for them to complete their studies via distance courses, or to exit with a qualification where possible. 

How will Otago Polytechnic check each person’s vaccination status?

Visitors and contractors to the campus will be asked to produce a copy of their My Vaccine Pass to the Otago Polytechnic person they are meeting with onsite. This is common practice under the Orange and Red levels of the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system). 

And the following applies to returning and new students...

Returning students  
  • If you’ve been studying during 2021 and will be returning to study in the same programme in 2022, you’ll need to show your physical or digital My Vaccine Pass to your school administrator. They will then be able to enter your My Vaccine Pass expiry date into our secure system.  
  • If you can’t come on to campus, please email a screenshot, scan or digital copy of your My Vaccine Pass through to your school administrator. This will be sighted and then destroyed.  
  • If you don't know who your school administrator is, please send your screenshot/scan/digital copy to studentadmin@op.ac.nz  
  • If you're returning to study a health or education programme, please see the additional requirements below. 
New students  
  • If you’ve already applied for a programme starting in 2022, our admissions team will be in touch with you to tell you what they need from you and by when.
  • You'll need to either:
    • email a screenshot, scan or digital copy of your My Vaccine Pass to the admissions team, OR
    • present your physical My Vaccine Pass or digital My Vaccine Pass in person at our Customer Services desk (The Hub, Forth Street, Dunedin).
  • If you present your My Vaccine Pass in person, please note that you'll also need to show us your proof of identity. 
  • If you're applying to study a health or education programme, please see the additional requirements below.      
If you haven’t yet applied  
  • If you haven’t yet applied for a programme starting in 2022 but are intending to, please just complete our online application process as normal and one of our admissions team will let you know what you need to do.    
  • You'll be asked to either:
    • email a screenshot, scan or digital copy of your My Vaccine Pass to the admissions team, OR
    • present your physical My Vaccine Pass or digital My Vaccine Pass in person at our Customer Services desk (The Hub, Forth Street, Dunedin).
  • If you present your My Vaccine Pass in person, please note that you'll also need to show us your proof of identity. 
  • If you're wanting to study a health or education programme, please see the additional requirements below.      

For health/education programmes (returning or new students)

If you're studying any of our health or education programmes, we'll need to sight your My Vaccine Pass and also see evidence of your vaccination (including types and dates). We are legally obliged to collect this additional information from you as these programmes are covered by the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccination) Order 2021.

You can verify your vaccination status using one of the below:

1. My COVID record 

  • Screenshot 
  • Scan 
  • Photo 
  • Print out 

2. Document from the Ministry of Health 

  • Letter or vaccination records 

3. Purple vaccination record card. 

Secondary school groups on campus

Secondary school groups are exempt by law from this mandate in some situations. 


Studying / accessing services

Which qualifications can I study without a My Vaccine Pass?

We are committed to ensuring that no matter what your vaccination status is, you are able to gain a qualification.

We do have some qualifications and short courses which you can complete without a My Vaccine Pass. These are delivered fully online or based in your workplace (although you would need to follow whatever vaccination/My Vaccine Pass guidelines your workplace has). Please see a list of these below - these all link to a webpage with more information about the programme.   

If a suitable online programme is not available at Otago Polytechnic, we will support you to explore and engage with alternative study options with our Te Pūkenga network partners (such as online study options with Open Polytechnic or the Southern Institute of Technology). 

1. Fully online programmes at Otago Polytechnic 

These programmes are all studied fully online so you don't need a My Vaccine Pass to complete them. You will need to provide us with a My Vaccine Pass if you want to visit an Otago Polytechnic site for any reason or attend graduation in person at the end of your programme.  

Brewing

Horticulture

Midwifery 

Occupational Therapy 

Sustainable Practice 

Vet Nursing 


* As these programmes are within the health area, it's highly likely that you'll have a My Vaccine Pass due to the Government mandate covering vaccinations in this sector.
 
  

2. Fully online programmes through our partner, eCampus 

These programmes are all studied fully online through our education partner, eCampus. So, you don't need a My Vaccine Pass to complete them. You will need to provide us with a My Vaccine Pass if you want to visit an Otago Polytechnic site for any reason or attend graduation in person at the end of your programme.
  

Business

Information Technology 

Design 

Education 


3. Work-based learning programmes 

Some of our work-based learning programmes are offered through Capable NZ, our centre for the Assessment of Prior Learning.

If you are studying a work-based learning programme, you don't need to provide us with a My Vaccine Pass if all your learning is done in your workplace/off-site. In this instance, you'll need to follow your workplace vaccination guidelines. Please be aware that you'll need to provide us with your My Vaccine Pass if you do need to come on to campus at any stage for meetings or presentations, and you'll also need to do this if you want to attend graduation in person. 

Business 

Construction

Cookery and Culinary Arts 

Design 

Engineering Technology 

Human and Community Services 

I.T. 

Leadership for Change 

Professional Practice 

* As this programme is within the health area, it's highly likely that you'll have a My Vaccine Pass due to the Government mandate covering vaccinations in this sector. 

What if the qualification I am already enrolled in cannot be completed without a My Vaccine Pass and there is no similar alternative?

We are confident we will be able to offer tauira (learners) some alternative study but it may not be in a similar area as the programme you initially enrolled in.

If you do not want to take up study in a different programme, we will issue a transcript so the credits you have gained are formally recorded.

If the credits you have completed satisfy the requirements of another programme, we may, in some instances, be able to offer you that alternative qualification. 

In the course of time, if the management of COVID changes and is less reliant on vaccinations, we will welcome you to return and discuss readmission with us. 

What is the last date by which I can submit a My Vaccine Pass for Semester One 2022?

If you are a new tauira (learner), we will need you to provide this information as part of your application and enrolment process. Information about how to do this will be provided to you during the application process.  

If you are a returning tauira, you will need to have submitted proof of vaccination by 1 February 2022. The sooner you do this, the better. 

If you do not have a My Vaccine Pass, please contact us at Covid-19@op.ac.nz to discuss your options.

Will my fees be refunded if I am withdrawn from a programme because I have not submitted a My Vaccine Pass?

In relation to requests for refunds, the default position is that refunds will be assessed in accordance with Otago Polytechnic’s Withdrawal, Transfer, Cancellation and Refund Policy.

Should the request be based on exceptional circumstances, the position is that a choice not to be vaccinated is not an exceptional circumstance as it is a matter within the control of the tauira (exceptions to this may be granted by the Chief Executive or their delegate, based on application).   

Do I need to carry my My Vaccine Pass when attending in-person activities such as labs, studios, theatres, clinics or the library?

Yes.

You may be required to show your My Vaccine Pass if required/requested.

You will need your My Vaccine Pass to enter many campus facilities, both at Otago Polytechnic and at the University of Otago – these include places like the Libraries, Cafes and eateries, and UniPol Gym. 

Am I required to have a My Vaccine Pass to enrol in programmes with off-campus activities such as field trips, internships or work experience?

Yes and your My Vaccine Pass must be provided as required/requested.  

Am I allowed to enrol in a programme with mandatory in-person requirements if I have a valid medical vaccination exemption?

Yes.

Anyone with a valid medical exemption will receive a My Vaccine Pass, and this should be verified on enrolment into your programme. 

Can my lecturer, supervisor or course coordinator ask to see my My Vaccine Pass?

This won’t be usual.

Your OP teaching staff won’t normally need to see the My Vaccine Pass because they will be provided with a class list which confirms the tauira (learners) enrolled in the class or activity are eligible to attend campus. 

Accessing on campus health services

Members of the public who visit our campus to access our health services e.g. Kowhai Centre, Student Health and Counselling services, are not required to provide a My Vaccine Pass.

Our staff and learners working at these services do need to provide a valid My Vaccine Pass under the vaccination Health Order.

If you are studying a fully-online/work-based learning programme and don't need a My Vaccine Pass to study, you also won't need a My Vaccine Pass for accessing on campus health services as a patient.