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McMaster University will not mandate vaccination for students in residence

On-campus residence will be filled to near capacity in Setember at McMaster University.
On-campus residence will be filled to near capacity in Setember at McMaster University. Lisa Polewski / Global News

COVID-19 vaccinations will not be required for students in residence at McMaster University this fall.

Associate vice-president and dean of students Sean Van Koughnet says such a mandate would carry a “tremendous administrative burden.”

“As you’re trying to track, see who’s vaccinated, who isn’t,” says Van Koughnet, “then you’re faced with students who may have legitimate reasons for not getting the vaccine.”

Read more: COVID-19 — Vaccination required for Western University students in residence

Van Koughnet also believes such a requirement is unnecessary.

“If you’re not mandating it, and have 75 to potentially 80 per cent, who knows, of the student population vaccinated,” insists Van Koughnet, “you’re not going to have large outbreaks, you may have the odd illness.”

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Signs point to a closer-to-normal campus life at McMaster in September.

“We’re going to be at about 93 per cent capacity in residence, our athletics facilities will be open; of course, there will be some protocols in place there,” says Van Koughnet. “We’ll adapt as the provincial regulations change and as public health guidance changes.”

Read more: Hamilton reports 2 new COVID-19 deaths, Ontario doc expects ‘little’ impact should schools reopen

Ninety-three per cent capacity equates to over 3,600 first-year students and 150 to 200 upper-year students living on campus.

“The only reason we’re not at 100 per cent capacity is that we are keeping aside some rooms for isolation, in case we do have students that do fall ill,” says Van Koughnet.

To comply with distancing requirements, Van Koughnet adds that lecture halls will likely operate at about one-third capacity.

“If we have a lecture hall that seats 150, we might have 50 students in that class, as an example.”

In terms of welcome week, “we’re not going to have large outdoor gatherings, so you’re not going to see a concert for our first-year students.”

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