Ryerson rolls out new COVID-19 policy that limits access to university activities for unvaccinated

Ryerson University says people who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have not received an exemption from the school will not be allowed on campus or to participate in in-person university activities off-campus starting on Monday.

Access cut off starting Monday for those not fully vaccinated or who don't have exemptions

Students, along with other pedestrians, walk through Ryerson University's campus in downtown Toronto under light drizzle on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (Sam Nar/CBC)

Ryerson University says people who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, or who have not received an approved exemption from the school, will no longer be allowed on campus or to take part in in-person university activities off-campus starting on Monday.

According to Ryerson's COVID-19 information and updates webpage, this fall has been a "transition semester" for the university as it prepares a broader reopening in its winter semester. The university, as a result, is providing deadlines for compliance with its COVID-19 vaccination policy.

"The university has implemented a number of health and safety protocols and requirements to protect the health and safety of our community," the school says on its website.

The policy applies to students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors. People who have approved exemptions are still required to participate in the university's rapid antigen testing program. Ryerson has a testing centre and it says its tests are administered through a nasal swab.

Ryerson says it will consider exemptions to the vaccination requirement in "appropriate and limited circumstances" — where there is a duty to accommodate based on protected grounds under Ontario's Human Rights Code or for medical reasons. 

The university says it will consider exemption requests based on creed, but noted the Ontario Human Rights Commission said in a policy statement on Sept. 22 that personal preferences and singular beliefs against vaccination do not amount to a creed for the purposes of the Human Rights Code and do not create a right to accommodation.

It said the commission also states that, even if a duty to accommodate is triggered, it would not necessarily lead to an vaccination exemption due to pressing health and safety considerations during the pandemic.

A student walks near a Ryerson University sign on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. (Sam Nar/CBC)

"Please keep in mind that in accordance with the applicable law and guidance from public health officials and regulatory bodies, exemptions from the requirement for full vaccination against COVID-19 are limited," the university said on its page.

Proof of vaccination can be submitted through what is called the RyersonSafe app or on desktop. 

All students, faculty and staff who have not yet submitted their vaccination status through the app are required to do so by Nov. 1, 2021 before the winter 2022 semester.