Brandon University falls in line with other Manitoba post-secondary institutions, mandates vaccinations

Brandon University is the latest Manitoba post-secondary institution to require COVID-19 vaccination in order to visit campus.

BU to require full vaccination for faculty, staff, students by Oct. 31 or proof of a negative COVID-19 test

Brandon University will now require a COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test from staff and students on campus. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Brandon University is the latest Manitoba post-secondary institution to require a COVID-19 vaccination in order to visit campus.

The university is now falling in line with the majority of universities and colleges in Manitoba.

Last week, the University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, Canadian Mennonite University and Red River College in Winnipeg and University College of the North all pledged to require COVID-19 vaccinations in a co-ordinated campaign across higher education that goes beyond public health requirements. 

Assiniboine Community College in Brandon also plans to require inoculations, but is awaiting approval from its board of governors.

Brandon University had said it would stop short of making vaccinations mandatory for on-campus access. Instead, the university said the vaccine would be "strongly encouraged."

On Thursday, BU announced a change.

'Important dialogue'

"We have heard from members of our university community who are on both sides of this issue and we thank all of those who have shared their input with us; we continue important dialogue with employee, faculty, and student groups, as well as our board of governors, and will ensure that our final policy is reflective of this dialogue," the university said in a statement.

Faculty, staff and students will be required to provide proof of full vaccination by Oct. 31. If they do not get vaccinated, they will be required to provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. A full vaccine policy is in the works and will be completed as soon as possible, the university said.

The university will set earlier deadlines for requiring a first vaccine dose and/or proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

The BU policy will consider "privacy, verification, applicability to campus visitors, as well as costs and access to rapid testing or other alternatives for the very small number of people who cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine," the news release said.

The university's announcement follows internal pressure. The faculty association passed a motion earlier this month calling for a vaccine mandate.

Faculty still held a news conference Thursday to seek clarity on the university's plans, such as the frequency of testing for those who choose not to be vaccinated.

"We are pleased that Brandon University has taken this simple and proactive step to protect our students, staff, faculty and community. Today is a tremendous victory for faculty who have stepped and organized to protect our members and the campus community," Brandon University Faculty Association president Gautam Srivastava said in a statement.

BU set the Oct. 31 deadline for full vaccination so community members can roll up their sleeves for their first doses at on-campus clinics during the first week of fall classes. 

The university previously announced it was offering more than $10,000 in prizes for students, faculty and staff who get vaccinated. 

Another school division expands mandate

As many schools continue to weigh whether to implement vaccine mandates for students, the Winnipeg School Division announced it would make them mandatory for mature students in its post-high school, adult education and EAL programs. 

Students would need to have their first dose by Sept. 7, the first day of classes, and a second dose by Oct. 17, says a news release. 

If they are not fully immunized against COVID-19, they will have to submit to testing up to three times a week in order to participate in these programs, the release says. 

The mandate comes as as a result of a motion that was passed by the division's board of trustees. 


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