Hamilton’s two biggest post-secondary institutions will not be joining some Ontario schools requiring COVID-19 vaccinations amid a return to campus this fall.
In a joint letter to students and staff, McMaster’s president David Farrar and Provost Susan Tighe said consultations with school experts in virology suggested “the right course” was to continue the pause on a vaccine mandate.
“We are finding balance in how we manage the ongoing COVID challenge,” the letter said.
“We have learned to be flexible and to adapt to changing times. We know now more than ever the importance of being respectful of each other and that it is up to all of us to help keep our community safe.”
However, the leadership is encouraging all those attending McMaster to keep up to date with vaccinations and to wear masks.
A mandate on face coverings is also on hold with the exception being some health-care settings, like hospitals.
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“Masks will continue to be available for free on campus, and we encourage our community to wear a mask indoors, especially in classrooms, libraries, crowded spaces or close workspaces,” the letter said.
Mohawk spokesperson Bill Steinberg told Global News that the college will maintain the same approach its had in place since the end of the spring semester, which suspended mask and vaccine requirements.
“Though the mask requirement is no longer in place, anyone coming to campus is encouraged to bring and wear a mask as an added layer of protection,” Steinberg said in a email.
“We will adjust our plans if conditions change or we receive new direction from public health authorities.”
Similar to McMaster’s mask policy, he went on to say that health care-related settings will require the wearing of face coverings.
On Monday, London’s Western University told students and staff it was continuing its COVID-19 vaccine and masking requirements into the fall semester.
Effective Sept. 1, students, staff, and faculty are still required to be vaccinated 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.
Meanwhile, masks will not be mandatory in Ontario public schools this September.
In early August, Ontario’s Education Ministry said most health and safety requirements for the upcoming school year will remain unchanged from the end of the 2021-22 school year.