U of G Only “Strongly Encourages” Masks and Vaxes for the Fall Semester

Move In Day at the University of Guelph is on the Labour Day long weekend, which is only a little over a week away now. Two questions have been in the mind as we approach September: Will there be enough room for all the students looking for a spot in residence, and what will the COVID-19 protect rules be for everyone on campus? We now definitely know the answer to that second question.

In a post to the U of G website today, the administration announced that while masking will be “strongly encouraged”, it will not be a requirement when your on campus in the fall.

“This fall, when you are in high-density spaces like classes, labs, elevators and meeting rooms, you are strongly encouraged to wear a tight-fitting, multi-layer mask to help protect yourself and those around you. A medical-style mask is best,” the post said. “As part of our culture of caring, we will designate a few areas where masks are required, providing students with study spaces where they can feel comfortable that those around them will be masked.”

This is kind of change in policy from earlier this year. The U of G was one of a number of Guelph businesses and institutions that kept masking rules in effect until well past the point the Government of Ontario lifted restrictions in mid-March. In fact, the University of Guelph didn’t pause campus mask mandates until July 1.

In terms of vaccinations, the U of G again “strongly encourages” students, faculty and staff to keep up with the shots, but no vaccination will be required to access campus facilities. The Government of Ontario’s GO-VAXX mobile vaccination clinic will be on campus though on Tuesday September 6, and students will still have access to vaccines through Student Health Services.

“We are updating our outbreak management plans for COVID-19 and other communicable diseases (such as monkeypox and influenza) so we’re ready for a quick response. We are also updating our continuity of education plans so that students can stay on track if course delivery is,” the post read.

A patchwork of mandates is developing at post-secondary institutions across Ontario. Conestoga College announced that they were pausing their COVID-19 mandates earlier this summer, and they have yet to announce if there will be a change in policy for the fall semester.

Meanwhile, down Highway #401 in London, the University of Western Ontario has announced that they will be implementing both vaccine and masking requirements on that campus in September. Students, faculty and staff have to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and to have received one booster to be on campus, and they need to be masked in classrooms and seminar rooms.

“We will soon be welcoming students to campus from across the country and around the world,” said Florentine Strzelczyk, provost and vice-president (academic) in a statement. “While we can’t predict when the next wave of COVID-19 might come, we believe these measures will help us protect the in-person experience that Western is known for. We want to do everything we can to offer our students a great on-campus experience throughout the academic year.”

Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo will essentially be splitting the difference by requiring face-coverings in instructional spaces, which includes “any in-person indoor gathering space associated with the delivery of academic courses.” Across the road at the University of Waterloo will be taking a similar tact to the University of Guelph.

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