Some of British Columbia’s biggest post-secondary institutions are laying out new COVID-19 safety measures amid an escalating debate over stricter vaccination policies in the province.
Universities and schools are not included in the province’s new vaccine passport system, prompting a wave of concern from some students and staff.
On Thursday, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, Thompson Rivers University and the University of Victoria said they won’t require people attending campus to be vaccinated, but will require them to confidentially disclose their vaccination status.
Those who are not vaccinated or who do not disclose their status will be subject to “regular rapid testing,” SFU president and vice-chancellor Joy Johnson announced Thursday.
“I am part of active conversations with our partners to ensure access to the resources we need to implement this approach, including rapid testing kits,” Johnson wrote.
“We are working to determine a process and platform to manage this confidential data. We are also having conversations with our faculty and staff associations and unions, as well as our student societies.”
University of Victoria president and vice-chancellor Kevin Hall said the move came after an agreement between the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, the Provincial Health Office and the province’s research universities.
“As you can imagine, this is a significant undertaking. In the coming days we will be working to develop a platform and process to manage your confidential data,” he wrote.
“We will also discuss the implementation of these measures with our faculty and staff associations and unions, as well as our student societies.”
SFU students and staff are being asked to fill out an anonymous survey to help the university implement rapid testing plans.
While B.C.’s vaccine passport will not apply to post-secondary institutions, staff and students will need to mask up in all indoor public places, including hallways and classrooms.
Students living in on-campus residences will also need to prove vaccination, as will those accessing certain non-essential services and activities such as restaurants, pubs, gyms and sporting events.