Unlike many other post-secondary institutions, Okanagan College will not be asking students and faculty to disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status as the school year gets underway.
“At Okanagan College, we are following public health guidelines, as we have throughout the COVID-19 experience and we are recommending vaccines but we are expecting them to come in and wear masks in the classrooms,” Meri Kim Oliver, vice president of students at Okanagan College.
“The only place we mandated vaccines was for going into our fitness centres or into restaurants or our residence halls, if they’re going to live there. Other than that we are focusing on masks and keeping people safe and encouraging people not to come to campus if they’re ill in any way.”
Oliver said the college sent out an anonymous survey that asked students and faculty alike if they had been vaccinated.
“Interestingly we have 90 per cent of our staff vaccinated and nearly 90 per cent of our students,” she said. “So it bodes well for a safe environment.”
Universities and schools are not included in the province’s new vaccine passport system, prompting universities to start applying their own measures amid an escalating debate over mandatory vaccination policies.
While Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, Thompson Rivers University and the University of Victoria won’t require people attending campus to be vaccinated,they will require them to confidentially disclose their vaccination status.
UBC Okanagan will require COVID-19 testing for all students, faculty and staff who are not vaccinated or don’t wish to disclose their vaccination status.
Those who are not vaccinated or who do not disclose their status will be subject to regular rapid testing.
“While we are aware that a significant majority of our campus community have already been vaccinated and all safety precautions are in place for September, we are working towards offering rapid testing for our community members who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, or who choose not to disclose their vaccination status,” Ono wrote in an Aug. 26 press release.
Those who are fully vaccinated will be exempt from testing.
The Interior Health Authority (IHA) is trying to make it as convenient as possible for university students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with pop-up clinics scheduled on-campus.
The immunization clinics will be set up at UBC Okanagan Sept. 8, and Sept. 17 for returning students, faculty and staff.
“We know the safety of our campuses increases when people are vaccinated,” said Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training.
“These on-campus clinics make it easy and convenient to get the vaccine – make the choice to protect your community and play an active role in ensuring a safe return to school this fall.”
All students, faculty and staff can walk up, register and receive their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.View link »