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Masks, every university has its own rules

TORONTO –  In Canada, universities that require masks on campus are in a clear minority. Only fourteen of the 83 universities contacted by The Canadian Press said they will ask students and employees to wear masks on their campuses. 

So far, Western University of London and its affiliated school Huron University College have been the only ones to require the third dose of vaccine in addition to masks.

The University of Toronto, for its part, requires those living in residences to have a booster injection and recommends that everyone else keep their vaccinations up to date.

Western’s announcement, however, as expected, was not welcomed by everyone.

Ethan Gardner, president of the University’s student council at the University of London, said the timing for the protocol update – which came into force on Monday – is the most common concern among students. “The change comes as students are about to move ahead of the start of the school year,” he said, “perhaps if the information had been provided a little earlier, it would have been easier.”

Of the same opinion is Marie Dolcetti-Koros, president of the Canadian Federation of Students. “It is important that governments and institutions recognize how the obligation will create barriers for international students and other people who may not be vaccinated for personal reasons or who may be vaccinated with vaccines not approved by Health Canada.”

At Dalhousie University in Halifax, where there is no vaccine requirement, masks must be worn in classrooms and teaching spaces while they are voluntary in all other indoor places such as corridors, libraries and common study areas.

MacEwan University in Edmonton has announced that it will continue to encourage vaccinations and masks, but will not make them mandatory for the fall semester.

Guidelines, even these, that do not find everyone in agreement. Ryan Simmons, a music student at the university, said he would prefer mandatory vaccination rather than masks. “It is a place of higher education, so I hope that most people at school are smart enough to be immunized with the booster – said Simmons – universities should invite students to do the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine”.

There is no compulsion for masks or vaccines, at least for this autumn, at the University of Victoria while at the University of Manitoba the obligation to wear masks in indoor spaces remains in force until further notice.

Dr. Mark Torchia, head of the academic team at the university, said that masks are more effective than vaccinations against the Omicron variant and that since infections are increasing in the province, “it makes sense that the school with about 40,000 employees, teachers and students requires them to be worn”.

The University of Alberta has stated that “the use of high-quality masks is definitely recommended on its campuses and in busy indoor areas or when accessing public or shared transport”.

As you can see, the protocol for Covid changes from university to university.

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