Ottawa

Carleton and Queen's universities mandate vaccines for students, staff on campus

Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., and Carleton University in Ottawa announced Thursday that they will require all students, staff and faculty to be fully vaccinated in order to access campus.

Unvaccinated individuals will have to undergo additional health measures, testing

Carleton University has updated its vaccination rules for students and staff returning in the fall. On Thursday it said people will need to be fully vaccinated to access campus or they will have to participate in rapid testing. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Carleton University in Ottawa and Queen's University in Kingston, Ont. have joined a growing list of Ontario schools announcing blanket vaccination requirements for students and staff returning to campus next month.

Carleton will require everyone to prove their vaccination status or participate in rapid testing for COVID-19 in order to gain temporary access to the campus. Those who are not vaccinated will also be provided information on why and how to get the vaccine. 

The university is planning to hold on-campus vaccine clinics in August, September and October. It expects to release more details on how provide proof of vaccination in the coming days. 

Queen's University also announced Thursday that it will require all students, staff, faculty and visitors to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 7 in order to access campus.

Those who are not fully vaccinated by that date will be required to undertake additional health and safety protocols and COVID-19 testing, as recommended by the local public health unit.

"We know from medical science that ensuring high vaccination rates is the most effective way to mitigate a fourth wave and to best safeguard our anticipated full return to campus," the university's principal and vice-chancellor Patrick Deane said in a statement.

Previously, the university said they would only require students living in residence to be fully vaccinated. (Frédéric Pepin/CBC)

Both schools previously announced less stringent requirements. Queen's said they would only require students living in residence to be vaccinated.

Carleton said last week vaccines would only be required to live in residence, represent the school in athletics, and for some music instruction like private lessons, ensemble participation and for performances or rehearsals.

David Hornsby, the university's associate vice-president of teaching and learning, said the change in policy is a response to the delta variant and what's required to have effective public health measures.

"As somebody who does teach and who is in front of the classroom, this gives me and I know my colleagues peace of mind around just the safety and ability to have a vibrant learning environment," the international affairs professor said. 

Hornsby said classes with more than 60 students will remain online. And while the school's administration is still having discussions with faculty, about half of classes could be in-person this fall.  

Past year 'absolutely chaotic' says student association VP

Callie Ogden, vice-president of community engagement at the Carleton University Students' Association, said the announcement is one her organization supports. 

While online learning will still be offered, it's a format that hasn't worked for all students.

 "The past year has been absolutely chaotic is one way to describe it," Ogden said. 

The school's updated, stricter stance will allow students who study in-person to feel they're doing so in a safe environment, the human rights major said. 

 "I'm very excited to get back in on campus and in those classes and actually interact with my classmates and my professors and see everyone face-to-face," she added. "And just returning to that some sense of normalcy."

Other universities, colleges taking similar steps

The universities join a growing list of post-secondary schools requiring vaccines on campus.

The University of Guelph made a similar announcement Thursday, preceded by the University of Ottawa earlier this week.

The University of Waterloo is requiring students to be fully vaccinated or undergo twice-weekly antigen screenings. The university says as of Sept. 1, people will need to self-declare their vaccination status through a new check-in tool.

Vaccines are also mandatory for anyone entering Seneca College's Toronto campus and Niagara University's campus in Vaughan, Ont.

The University of Toronto will require students to be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine for certain activities. It will require vaccines for students participating in sports and music classes, as well as educational placements.

With files from CBC's Joseph Tunney

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