Carleton University mandates COVID-19 vaccinations for those on campus

Anyone planning to be on campus at Carleton University in the fall will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

Carleton University has joined the ranks of the University of Ottawa and a growing number of post-secondary institutions across Ontario in mandating a full course of COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff, students and faculty accessing the campus ahead of the fall term.

The Ottawa-based university will require all individuals to attest to their vaccination status before coming on campus, and those who decline to do so will be subject to a rapid testing protocol and provided with information about booking a shot.

Vaccinations will be valid after an individual is 14 days removed from their second dose of a vaccine approved by either Health Canada or the World Health Organization.

Exemptions to the vaccine requirement are possible under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

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All in-person classes at Carleton will have mask-wearing and physical distancing policies in place this fall, as well as caps of 60 students.

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Suzanne Blanchard, Carleton’s COVID-19 lead, wrote in a letter to the university’s community members on Thursday that the looming threat of a fourth wave of COVID-19 driven by the Delta variant spurred the latest decision.

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“These measures are critical as we work to create safe spaces for learning and working. Our plans will remain flexible as we assess the ever-changing risks presented by COVID-19 and as public health and government guidance changes over time. It is our shared responsibility to be vaccinated and we encourage everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible,” she wrote.

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Carleton had announced a week earlier that its vaccine requirement would extend only to those living in residence, varsity athletes and those participating in music programs on campus.

But the past few days have seen a wave of universities across the province adopt similar measures following an announcement from the University of Ottawa on Tuesday that it would mandate vaccinations for everyone on campus.

Queen’s University in Kingston, the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto are among those recently announcing vaccine mandates.

Dr. Vera Etches said Wednesday she was “thankful” that post-secondary institutions are updating their policies to encourage vaccinations, especially among those aged 18 to 39, who current sport the lowest rates of vaccine protection in the city.

The week before, she had sent a letter to the heads of Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions indicating her support for policies that require staff and students on campus to self-identify their vaccination status.

As of Wednesday, Ottawa Public Health’s vaccination dashboard showed 73-74 per cent of residents aged 18-39 had received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 59-63 per cent of people in the age group had gotten both doses.

“Vaccination policies, where workplaces, places of education, assist in making the vaccine available, promoting vaccines, addressing people’s questions, demonstrating why it’s important — all of this is going to help with the level of COVID in our community, because it is also the population that has the highest rates of COVID right now,” Etches said in a press conference Wednesday.

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“This will help in that dialogue with each and every person who is involved with campus life.”

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