In its announcement Tuesday morning, the university says it received support from Peterborough Public Health. The university has dealt with several large outbreaks at its campus residences, including at Champlain College and Gzowski College. Cases in one outbreak at Champlain College were linked to a major outbreak at the privately run Severn Court Student Residence that claimed the life of a student attending Fleming College.
“The university is committed to keeping our residences and communities safe as we plan to return to in-person terms this September,” stated Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent.
“Requiring vaccines for students living in residence will be an important way to ensure that we avoid residence outbreaks and are able to offer our residence students the transformative on-campus experiences students have learned to expect from Trent.”
The university says students will be asked to book and arrange their first vaccine dose prior to moving into residences at both the Peterborough and Durham GTA campuses. The university’s housing services will help students who are unable to receive a vaccine prior to arrival attain their first dose when they move into residence.
Residence students will also be asked to commit to a second dose of the vaccine on a schedule that will be subject to availability. Exemptions will be allowed in cases in which students require accommodation for medical or other reasons.
The university says mandating vaccines for all residence students will safely allow for near-full occupancy of residences on both Trent campuses.
There are also plans to reserve a small number of residence spaces for isolation, if needed for COVID-19 cases or an outbreak.
“We know living in residence can be a valuable part of the first-year student experience at Trent,” said Nona Robinson, associate vice-president of students at the university. “We also know the health and safety of our campus and local communities is our shared responsibility.
“Congregate living areas, such as residences, are at higher risk for transmission, due to people living closely together. We are delighted that vaccines are now available for the age group of most of our first-year students. This vaccine requirement will help minimize risk, as we offer a positive residence experience for new students this fall.”
The university is planning for a return to in-person learning in September if approved by provincial and public health requirements and guidelines.
“The university is also expanding its online course options from the pre-pandemic schedule, providing students with more flexibility to take some courses remotely,” the university stated.
Global News Peterborough inquired with Fleming College on whether it was considering a similar protocol at its campus residences.
In a statement, college president Maureen Adamson said the college is “actively considering” options for mandatory vaccines for students living in residence.
“”We will comply with all applicable protocols and communicate a definitive decision with new and returning students in the next few days,” Adamson stated.