Western University has removed the regular testing option, except under rare exemptions, for those who are unvaccinated and plan to be on campus this year.
Effective Sept. 7 at Western and affiliated colleges Brescia, Huron and King’s, anyone planning to be on campus will need to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
The London, Ont., school’s vaccine mandate previously allowed for campus visitors to escape vaccination so long as they are tested twice a week, but Western announced on Wednesday that this option is now only allowed for those with a medical or Human Rights Code exemption.
Western says its strengthened policy comes in light of a letter from the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health (COMOH) that expressed the group’s “strong support for COVID-19 vaccination policies in all Ontario universities and colleges.”
The school adds it will continue to provide an on-campus vaccination and testing centre for students, faculty and staff.
A survey from Western sent to more than 62,000 of its community members garnered a response rate of nearly 50 per cent and found nearly 90 per cent of respondents reported being fully vaccinated. As for the respondents who reported being unvaccinated, more than half said they plan to get their shots by September, according to Western.
The university says it aims to further increase vaccination rates on campus with the latest update to its policy.
Western is among a collective of post-secondary institutions that have implemented a vaccine mandate for their campuses and is the latest school to strengthen its policy.
Ottawa’s Carleton University took a similar step on Tuesday and announced it would be limiting rapid testing workarounds for those without vaccination, making similar exemptions for those with valid medical conditions or human rights reasons.