Saskatchewan

U of Sask., U of Regina expect all students, faculty, staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in the fall

The University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina both now say they expect all students, faculty and staff returning to their campuses this fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

University of R is mandating vaccination by Oct. 1; U of Sask. will require vaccination or regular testing

The University of Saskatchewan says COVID-19 vaccinations will be expected this fall for all students, faculty and staff. (Courtney Markewich/CBC)

The University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina both now say they expect all students, faculty and staff returning to their campuses this fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The University of Saskatchewan announced its vaccination requirements — which the U of S faculty association and student union have been calling for — on Friday morning.

By Friday afternoon, the University of Regina had joined other institutions in mandating COVID-19 vaccinations on-campus. It will require faculty, staff and students to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. 

In its press release Friday, the U of S stipulated that proof of a first vaccination will be required by Sept. 7 and proof of a second dose will be required by Oct. 18. 

The Saskatoon-based university said those who are unable or unwilling to get vaccinated will be required to provide regular and frequent negative COVID-19 test results.

They must also submit a daily symptom checklist in order to access U of S campuses.

A woman gets a COVID-19 vaccine in Toronto in a July 2021 file photo. The University of Saskatchewan says those who are unable or unwilling to get vaccinated will be required to provide regular and frequent negative COVID-19 test results. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

"The science is unequivocal and overwhelming. Vaccinations are the clearest path to beating COVID-19 and its dangerous variants," university president Peter Stoicheff said in Friday's news release.

"We are eager to resume as much in-person teaching, learning and research as we possibly can by January. Only widespread vaccination and testing throughout our campuses can make this happen."

Several universities across Canada have launched policies requiring everyone to be fully vaccinated — meaning they have had both doses of a vaccine and are at least two weeks past their second dose — before heading back in person.

Patricia Farnese, chair of the University of Saskatchewan Faculty Association, said seeing other universities implementing these policies made it clear something needed to be done in Saskatoon.

"It's a real recognition of science and an adoption of the perspective that trusting people to get vaccines hasn't worked," she said.

"They're coming back to campus, they're carrying with them, potentially, a COVID-19 [virus] variant and putting the community at risk, so we need to encourage people and mandate people to have their vaccines."

The University of Saskatchewan Students' Union is on the same page, but recognizes that there will be some growing pains. 

"It is a very complex issue," said student union president Tasnim Jaisee. 

"Although we want to return to a safe campus, I think we also at the same time want to avoid another shut down. At the same time, I think it's important that students coming from diverse backgrounds have their experience recognized."

Jaisee said it's important the university is prepared to deal with different students' cases, especially if they're from outside of Canada. She pointed to other countries where there have been vaccine delays.

"At the end of the day, students' education and campus experience is really important, so I want the university to be mindful of the diverse experiences of students," Jaisee said.

Jaisee said it's important that the university encourages students and staff to get vaccinated. She also hopes the school provides students with rapid testing and pop-up vaccine clinics, once the fall term begins.

More info coming from U of R

Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, a professor of respirology and the chair of the U of S pandemic response and recovery team, says the school's goal is to give everyone the opportunity to get vaccinated.

"The measures that we've implemented today are intended to create a safe environment for the university community," Marciniuk said Friday.

The goal is to increase the number of fully vaccinated people on campus by the time classes start, he said. 

Marciniuk says that includes students coming in from over 100 countries around the world.

"Some of them may have been receiving vaccines that are not Health Canada approved. So we are in consultation with public health, [looking at] all approved vaccinations from the World Health Organization," Marciniuk said. 

If someone attending the university has an unapproved vaccine, they will be connected with public health to see if additional shots or boosters may be required, he said.

Meanwhile the University of Regina says it will provide additional information to its faculty, staff and students about its vaccination requirement in the coming days.

That includes information relating to requests for exemption in alignment with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, the university said on its website.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura is a journalist for CBC Saskatchewan. She is also the community reporter for CBC's virtual road trip series Land of Living Stories. Laura previously worked for CBC Vancouver. Some of her former work has appeared in the Globe and Mail, NYLON Magazine, VICE Canada and The Tyee. She holds a master of journalism degree from the University of British Columbia. Follow Laura on Twitter: @MeLaura. Send her news tips at laura.sciarpelletti@cbc.ca

With files from Jessie Anton and Saskatoon Morning

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