Unvaccinated students could be barred from sports, other activities in Quebec post-secondary schools

Quebec has unveiled its guidelines for a return to in-person classes this fall in post-secondary classrooms. For most schools, distancing and masks inside classrooms and libraries won't be necessary. However, sports and extracurricular activities may be limited to fully-vaccinated students.

Masks will be required in schools where vaccination falls short of target

Students will not need to maintain a physical distance from each other in CEGEP and university classrooms this fall. They also won't need to wear masks during class. (Charles Contant/CBC)

The Quebec government is following through on its plan for post-secondary students to have as normal a fall semester as possible, but those who are not fully vaccinated may not be allowed to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

Danielle McCann, Quebec's higher education minister, has unveiled a series of guidelines for a return to in-person classes. 

In May, the minister said students would no longer have to remain physically distanced in classrooms as long as the vaccination coverage was deemed sufficient. 

During an interview with Radio-Canada on Friday, McCann said three-quarters of post-secondary students in Quebec are either fully vaccinated or have at least booked an appointment for their second shot.

"I want to thank students for having answered the call," she said. "The more students we have who are vaccinated with two doses, the smaller the risk of an outbreak will be."

Preventing students who are not fully vaccinated from taking part in sports or other on-campus activities — regardless of the vaccination rate within a school — is being considered and discussions with public health officials are ongoing, McCann said. 

In a written statement, the minister also said that more details about access to on-campus sports and activities would be made clear once the government releases details for its vaccine passport system. 

Here are other key elements from the plan:

  • Students will no longer be required to maintain a physical distance inside classrooms.
  • A two-metre distance will be required in physical training rooms, between tables in restaurant areas, during singing classes and other similar activities.
  • In common spaces, a one-metre distance between students is encouraged, but not mandatory. 
  • Students will not need to wear masks during class, while sitting in a library or during a meal. Elsewhere inside the school, wearing a mask will be mandatory.
According to Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann, most CEGEPs, including Dawson College, have at least 75 per cent of their students who are either fully vaccinated or have booked appointments for a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Different rule for schools deemed higher risk

According to McCann, each university in the province was able to reach the government's vaccination target, but six of the province's 48 CEGEPs have not, including four in Montreal. 

McCann says André-Laurendeau, Ahuntsic, Collège Rosemont, Marie-Victorin as well as CÉGEP de Sept-Îles on Quebec's North Shore and CÉGEP de Saint-Félicien in the Saguenay region are all considered to be at higher risk due to weaker vaccination coverage.

As a result, students in those schools will have to wear a mask at all times, even while seated during class or at a library.

According to the minister, this rule could even be imposed on a school that met the government's vaccination goal, if ever the epidemiological situation in its region gets worse.

Each school is required to have a plan in place in case in-person classes are no longer possible. 

There is also a possibility that schools will set their own rules.

McGill University announced Friday that it would go above and beyond what the government was requesting and require students to wear masks, even when they are seated in classes and in libraries.