PEI

Holland College waiving vaccine mandate, mask requirement also dropped — for now

Holland College students won't be required to wear masks when they return to school this fall, though the college says it will be reviewing whether mandatory masking is necessary before classes begin.

College says mask mandate could be reinstated before classes begin

The college announced Thursday it will move forward with Phase 4 of its COVID-19 ease-back plan this semester after consultations with the Chief Public Health Office to ensure protocols are robust enough. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Holland College students won't be required to wear masks when they return to school this fall, though the college says it will be reviewing whether mandatory masking is necessary before classes begin.

The college announced Thursday it will move forward with Phase 4 of its COVID-19 ease-back plan this semester after consultations with the Chief Public Health Office to ensure protocols are robust enough.

Masking will not be required though students are "strongly encouraged" to use them while at college facilities. The plan is effective immediately, but president Sandy MacDonald said the college's mask policy could change in the coming days.

"We are fully prepared. We've got our masks ready, we've got our labs and classrooms ready, and we need to be have monitoring as well. But we won't make a final decision probably for another week or 10 days," he said.

"We spent most of the past two years making policy decisions on a Monday and changing them on a Friday. So rather than make a decision today and have to change between now and the end of the month, we thought we just wait a little bit." 

Vaccine mandate dropped

The college will be waiving mandatory vaccination requirements for students and staff, though full vaccinations and up-to-date boosters are still "strongly encouraged." Social distancing in classrooms won't be required, but is still recommended.

The college said in a letter to staff that it will continue to host vaccination clinics at key locations in its facilities and more information on clinic dates will be shared once they are confirmed.

"We strongly recommend that people be vaccinated and boosted depending on their situation. But we're not making mandatory," MacDonald said.

"The issue around self-distancing, again, something that we would encourage where possible, but actually the distancing won't be required in our classrooms. So we'll have ... a little bit more proximity in our labs and classrooms perhaps than we had late last year."

On Wednesday, the University of Prince Edward Island announced it would reimpose indoor mask mandates after having lifted them for the summer semester.

With files from Angela Walker

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