Universities, college in K-W and Guelph say COVID-19 vaccine a must to live on campus this fall
Each school is implementing its own rules as to when students must be vaccinated by
Students moving into residence at universities and colleges in Waterloo region and Guelph this fall will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, officials say.
The schools in Waterloo region said Thursday that the move comes after receiving "new advice" from Region of Waterloo medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang. The University of Waterloo said Wang "strongly recommends a change to our plans for students living in our residences."
In a letter to the schools, Wang noted that the delta variant, also known as the B1617 variant first detected in India, had a significant impact on the region and "overall case volumes have been highest among those age 20 to 29 years."
"While COVID-19 tends to be less severe among younger people, variants of concern have led to an increase in ICU admission rates across all age groups," she wrote.
"Due to the higher contact rates of younger populations, transmission among this age group has contributed to sustaining community transmission."
Different schools, different rules
The rules are slightly different at each of the schools:
- For the University of Waterloo, students must have their first dose of a Health Canada approved vaccine, or World Health Organization approved vaccine, before their move-in date and they must provide proof to the school. As well, students will be required to get their second dose no later than Nov. 1.
- For Wilfrid Laurier University, students will be "encouraged" to have their first dose prior to their move-in date, with the school "recommending they receive it at least 14 days before arriving on campus. However, "those who are unable to get vaccinated before moving in will have one week following their move-in date to receive their first dose, with the university helping to facilitate access to vaccines, subject to supply."
- At the University of Guelph, "all students planning to live on campus must be fully vaccinated within 30 days of checking into residence." Students are asked to get their second dose "at least 14 days before moving into residence" and "students who arrive on campus after having received only one dose must arrange for a second dose as soon as possible after their arrival."
- Conestoga College wants students to have their first dose 14 days before moving into residence but students "should aim to be fully vaccinated with two doses."
All the schools said that students who cannot get the vaccine for health reasons can make a request to be accommodated.
Students plan to be vaccinated: Laurier
Laurier officials said in a press release that a survey of new students found 95 per cent would have, or intended to have, their first dose by the fall.
"On-campus residences are high density, contain shared common spaces, and may present challenges to effective isolation should a student become infected," a statement from Laurier said.
"For these reasons, the highest two-dose vaccination coverage achievable among the student population will be the strongest tool to prevent local outbreaks in the upcoming academic year."
University of Guelph president Charlotte Yates said in a release that the school has been "unequivocal in its support of vaccination as crucial to helping ensure public health and safety and to ending the global COVID-19 pandemic."
"Mandatory vaccinations will allow our students living in University residences to take advantage of the many in-person academic courses and extracurricular activities we plan to offer this fall semester," Yates said.