As the 2022-23 school year approaches, Western University in London, Ont., is continuing to implement COVID-19 vaccine and masking requirements this September.
Effective Sept. 1, students, staff, and faculty are still required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and to wear medical-grade masks in classrooms and seminar rooms, with the exception of those presenting, performing, and/or speaking to a group who can remain two metres apart. But new this year, the University will also require all attendees to have received at least one booster shot.
The updated policy requires all students, faculty and staff to submit current proof of vaccination to the university by Oct. 1. Students living in residence are required to get a booster dose before moving on campus, however, Western stated that a two-week grace period will be offered as well as easy access to the campus vaccination clinic.
International students and others arriving from outside of Canada must follow federal vaccination requirements, according to Westerns updated policy.
“This decision supports the safety of our students, employees and our community with the goal of preserving our in-person experience,” said Dr. Sonya Malone, Western’s occupational health physician. “The last school year showed us that our campus community was on board with the masking and vaccination policy, which was the key to successfully completing the fall and winter terms in person.”
Last year, the University was the first in Canada to require vaccinations for students in residence as well as one of the first to require all students and employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination before arriving on campus, resulting in a reported 99 per cent vaccination rate.
Western had initially planned to announce back-to-school COVID-19 protocols the week of Aug. 8, but nothing had been confirmed until Aug. 22.
“We will soon be welcoming students to campus from across the country and around the world,” said Florentine Strzelczyk, provost and vice-president for academic programs. “While we can’t predict when the next wave of COVID-19 might come, we believe these measures will help us protect the in-person experience that Western is known for. We want to do everything we can to offer our students a great on-campus experience throughout the academic year.”
The university says it will reassess the need for masking beyond the Thanksgiving weekend with the goal to lift the mask mandate “as soon as possible,” according to a recent media release.
“Universities are in a unique position as they welcome back thousands of people from different countries around the world, many with varying rates of vaccination,” said Dr. Saverio Stranges, public health physician and chair of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Schulich Medicine and Dentistry.
Additionally, according to the University’s updated policy, the campus will be taking a “comprehensive approach” which will include additional health measures such as on-campus testing, daily health screening, meeting “high ventilation” standards, enhanced cleaning in high traffic area such as washrooms and dining area and wastewater testing.
“Together, these measures will help us deliver on our academic and research missions and proceed with plans for in-person classes and events this fall,” Strzelczyk added.
More information about Western’s updated COVID-19 police, is available on their website.