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COVID-19: University of Guelph requiring all varsity athletes to be fully vaccinated

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The University of Guelph says it requires all varsity athletes to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for the upcoming 2021-22 season.

In a statement, the school said the decision follows discussions with its leadership group and the Department of Athletics, and is supported by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

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Student varsity athletes will need to provide official confirmation of their vaccination status by Sept. 30.

The university added that it may further extend vaccination requirements to courses and programs involving close contact such as the performing arts.

“We believe this is an important and necessary step to helping ensure health and safety as we continue to plan for a greater return to in-person courses and extracurricular activities in the fall,” said Dr. Gwen Chapman, provost and vice-president (academic).

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The university said with sporting activities, athletes are often in close and regular contact with each other during practices and competitions. It also noted that varsity sports were suspended in Ontario during the pandemic due to the high risk of transmission.

The good news is that most University of Guelph athletes are already fully vaccinated, according to athletics director Scott McRoberts.

“We are now formalizing our vaccination confirmation process, which will help ensure that we are doing everything we can to facilitate a safe return of varsity sports in the fall semester,” he said.

McRoberts said the process is already underway to provide COVID-19 vaccines to varsity athletes and to monitor their vaccination status.

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Exemptions will be granted for medical reasons or for grounds protected under the Human Rights Code. Those details will be shared with athletes later this month.

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The University said that the Athletics Department plans to implement rapid testing in late August and into September for teams holding practices.

Regular testing will also continue into the fall for varsity athletes who receive an exemption.

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