Western, obligation of boosters and masks

TORONTO – University you go, policy you find. As for the vaccination obligation against Covid-19, each university or college in view of the reopening in September has defined its own guidelines. 

Today Western University announced that staff and students returning to campus next month to have received at least one booster dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and wear masks in classrooms.

In essence, the updated vaccine policy of the University of London contains the obligation of the booster – usually equivalent to a third dose – for students, employees and some visitors to the campus. “Although we cannot predict when the next wave of Covid might arrive, we believe that these measures will help us protect students,” Rector Florentine Strzelczyk wrote on the website announcing the updated policy.

The university said that proof of vaccination must be submitted by October 1st. Students living in residence who have not yet received a booster dose prior to their arrival will benefit from a two-week “grace period” and “easy access” to a campus vaccination clinic.

Western’s updated regulation follows the one announced last month by Toronto University that those living on campus must have received a booster injection while the recommendation for everyone else is to keep their vaccinations up to date.

Toronto Metropolitan University, formerly Ryerson University, last week in a post on its website said that “for the fall semester the obligation of vaccination and masks will remain suspended although it may be necessary to restore the requirements, if public health indicators were to change.

The president of the University Students’ Council at Western, which represents undergraduate students, said he was “aware of students’ concerns about recent updates regarding Covid shared by the university”.

Exempt from the university’s updated vaccination requirements are visiting athletes, prospective students, and patients receiving treatment at a university-run clinic. Staff and students exempted from the vaccination requirement under the Ontario Human Rights Code or for medical reasons will need to undergo regular Covid-19 rapid tests to attend campus this fall.

People who have recently received a second dose and are waiting to be eligible to be inoculated with a third dose are considered to comply with the policy but are required to receive the booster within two weeks of eligibility.

Western will also require people to wear medical-grade masks in the educational space, except during presentations or exhibitions in front of a group of people. The guideline regarding masks, the university’s management wrote on the website, will be revised after Thanksgiving Day “in the hope of being able to revoke their use as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, in a post on its website last week, the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association called on the university to confirm its health protocols for the next semester and supported the requirement to wear masks indoors.