Brock University students will have to wear medical-grade masks in class this fall
The masks must be medical-grade and worn in all instructional spaces
Brock University is introducing a mask mandate in all instructional spaces on campus this September.
Last week, spokesperson Maryanne St. Denis told CBC the St. Catharines-based university was continuing to consult with public health officials but for the time being, the school's vaccine and mask mandates were paused, but subject to change.
On Monday, some change came — the vaccine mandate is still paused, but the university announced a masking mandate will be in place when school starts.
"The health and well-being of our community remains our top priority as we prepare for a full return to campus this fall," said interim President and Vice-Chancellor Lynn Wells.
"After years of pandemic-related restrictions, we know that students are looking forward to a meaningful on-campus experience. By taking these extra measures, we can help protect both public health and the exceptional Brock experience for our incoming and returning students."
The masks must be medical-grade and must be worn in all instructional spaces, including classrooms, lecture halls, seminars, teaching labs and other spaces where teaching occurs.
The school said the decision was made in consultation with its faculty association and other stakeholders.
"Fabric face coverings such as buffs, gaiters and bandanas do not satisfy the masking policy requirement," said the school.
"The university will provide medical masks, including KN95s, to all staff and faculty who want them. The use of masks is strongly recommended everywhere on campus, especially when maintaining distance from others is not possible."
Niagara region's acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji said the masking mandate is an "excellent" decision.
"I fully support Brock University in bucking popular sentiment and putting science and the safety of students and staff first," he wrote on Twitter.
"I encourage everyone on campus to go further and keep those masks on whenever indoors. As well, I urge everyone to get three doses of vaccine."
Excellent decision. I fully support <a href="https://twitter.com/BrockUniversity?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BrockUniversity</a> in bucking popular sentiment & putting science + the safety of students & staff first.<br><br>I encourage everyone on campus to go further and keep those masks on whenever indoors.<br><br>As well, I urge everyone to get 3 doses of vaccine. <a href="https://t.co/Zu5cGIMOvS">https://t.co/Zu5cGIMOvS</a>—@mustafahirji
It comes as post-secondary institutions across the country have been mulling over how to safely bring students back to school.
As of Tuesday, every other main post-secondary institution in the Hamilton and Niagara areas — including McMaster University, Mohawk College, Niagara College and Redeemer University — won't have mask or vaccine mandates.
Other schools are taking different approaches:
- University of Western Ontario, in London, Ont., is implementing vaccine and masking requirements for students, faculty, staff and some visitors. That vaccine mandate now requires a third booster shot.
- The University of Toronto stopped requiring proof of vaccination for those attending classes earlier this spring, but says students and staff planning to live in campus residences will need to have two shots and at least one booster dose.
- The University of Manitoba and Memorial University of Newfoundland will have a masking mandate in place, but won't have a vaccine mandate.
- Saskatchewan's main post-secondary institutions won't have mandates in place.