As the start of the 2021 Fall semester is fast approaching, many Ontarian post-secondary institutions have begun releasing their statements in regard to how they are going to approach reopening amidst the fourth wave of COVID-19. The following are some of the most recent updates from Ontario’s largest institutions:
University of Toronto
Starting Fall 2021, most classes, labs and tutorials will take place virtually. While the University of Toronto encourages all members of the community to become vaccinated, only students living in residence for 2021-2022 will be required to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before their residence move-in date (University of Toronto, 2021). The University of Toronto strongly recommends that students receive their vaccine at least 14 days before moving in. According to the latest news report, “those who are unable to get vaccinated before moving in will have two weeks following their move-in date to receive their first dose, with the university helping to facilitate access to vaccines, subject to supply” (Kalvapelle, 2021). The University continues to remain hopeful about the return of in-person classes, student services and co-curricular activities this September and will continue to follow all public health guidelines (University of Toronto, 2021).
Western University has a similar vaccination policy to that of UofT, with a mandate for all students living on campus to have received their first dose no later than Monday, September 13th, 2021 – one week after the first day of school. The University is preparing for a full return to in-person classes but also claims that the Fall/Winter 2020-2021 course offerings may be subject to change. The university will also be offering on-campus vaccination and testing centres to provide first and second doses for students, staff, and faculty members (Western University, 2021).
At McMaster University, course delivery in Fall 2021 will consist of a hybrid of in-person and online elements; on-campus activities will be modified and residences will also be open. Masking indoors will continue to be required as per public health guidelines. Vaccines will also become mandatory as of September 7 in order to utilize campus facilities. The official statement reads that “Those who are not yet fully vaccinated, or who have not yet received an exemption for a validated human rights ground, will be required to submit proof of a negative COVID test result twice a week. This testing protocol will be in place until October 18 when vaccines or an approved exemption will be needed to attend a McMaster campus or facility” (McMaster, 2021).
Effective September 1, 2021, all University of Waterloo visitors will be required to declare their vaccination status, and those that do not report being vaccinated must undergo regular COVID testing (University of Waterloo, 2021). The process to declare vaccination status will be mandatory for anyone coming on to campus. The University will require all visitors to provide an attestation that the information regarding their vaccination status is accurate and truthful. Those who are not vaccinated or choose not to answer will also be asked to provide an attestation that declares their consent to participate in the rapid antigen screening program (University of Waterloo, 2021).
Kalvapalle, R. (2021). U of t to require covid-19 vaccinations for students living in residence. University of Toronto News. https://www.utoronto.ca/news/u-t-require-covid-19-vaccinations-students-living-residence.
McMaster University. (2021, August 16). McMaster requires proof of vaccination and MANDATORY Vaccines: A letter from the president and Provost – Covid-19 (coronavirus). COVID. https://covid19.mcmaster.ca/mcmaster-requires-proof-of-vaccination-and-mandatory-vaccines-a-letter-from-the-president-and-provost/.
University of Toronto. (2021). Your guide to FALL 2021 at U of T. Resources for students for fall 2021 | University of Toronto. https://www.utoronto.ca/utogether/resources-for-students.
University of Waterloo. (2021, August 16). Mandatory vaccination and attestation. COVID-19 Information. https://uwaterloo.ca/coronavirus/news/mandatory-vaccination-and-attestation.
Western University. (2021). COVID-19 information for the campus community. COVID-19 Updates – Western University. https://www.uwo.ca/coronavirus/faqs.html.
About the Author
Bairavie Piravakaran (she/her) is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Toronto Scarborough. As a Psychological & Health Sciences student, she values the importance of sharing credible information and making health resources more accessible to the public. Her interests in population health, research, and design are also reflected in her non-academic pursuits—she currently with the Young Leaders of Public Health and Medicine (YLPHM) as a Social Media Manager for the Scarborough Chapter and is a Health Promotion & Analytics Member at Critical Health Innovations Lab (CHIL). At EMPOWER Health, Bairavie works closely with the Marketing Team in order to plan and execute strategies that help inform the public about current health-related topics.