Calgary

MRU to mandate masking when classes resume this fall

Masks will be mandatory in classes, labs and indoor gatherings of 20 or more people when nearly all faculty and staff return this fall to Mount Royal University in Calgary.

Masks must be worn in classes, labs and indoor gatherings of 20 people or more

The university says protocols will be established to reduce congestion and manage the flow of people, and it is working on options for rapid testing and on-campus 'vaccination opportunities.' (CBC)

Masks will be mandatory in classes, labs and indoor gatherings of 20 or more people when nearly all faculty and staff return this fall to Mount Royal University in Calgary.

The decision comes after public health measures set to expire Aug. 16 were extended to Sept. 27 by the provincial government, as daily COVID-19 case counts spike in Alberta.

MRU announced the mask mandate in a letter to staff and a statement to the media on Monday that said masking will also be "strongly encouraged" in meeting areas and hallways.

The decision is a departure from that of the University of Calgary, which stated last week that masks will not be mandatory when students and staff return to campus this fall, prompting concern from some faculty members.

MRU president and vice-chancellor Tim Rahilly said in a letter to staff that masking is akin to other health directives that university staff are now in the habit of following.

"Next to being vaccinated, masking is the best way to support in-person instruction, which we know many students are looking forward to," Rahilly said.

"I believe people who work at and attend Mount Royal are informed and want to protect our ability to provide the many academic and service opportunities we offer."

The university said protocols will be established to reduce congestion and manage the flow of people, and it is working on options for rapid testing and on-campus "vaccination opportunities."

Vaccination policy could change

The school also hinted it could update its COVID-19 vaccination policy for students and staff.

The university had said "provincial and federal legal landscapes" would make it challenging to implement a vaccine directive "due to disclosure of personal health information."

But in an updated statement Monday, the university said: "There are many signs of change when it comes to requirements for people to disclose and/or be vaccinated."

The statement said the university would "continue to monitor and assess these changes."

With files from The Canadian Press

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