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COVID-19: University of Saskatchewan faculty members call for mandatory mask mandate

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COVID-19: University of Saskatchewan faculty members call for mandatory mask mandate
Advocates are asking for mandatory masking, the normalization of masks on campus, and having N95 masks be made available to anyone who wants them – Sep 30, 2022

Faculty members at the University of Saskatchewan are calling for additional COVID-19 measures.

A letter of more than 100 signatures was presented to President Peter Stoicheff and the Pandemic Response and Recovery Team Thursday afternoon.

“We’re all back on campus, which is wonderful, but we’re in smaller spaces and reinfection is a reality,” Julie Boughner, a professor at the university who signed the letter.

“So it’s just one other way that we can protect ourselves, protect our students, keep everyone in the game, keep everyone in the classroom,” she added.

They’re asking for mandatory masking, the normalization of masks on campus, and having N95 masks be made available to anyone who wants them.

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Another professor said it’s about advocating for their community.

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“It really comes down to the fact that there are a lot of staff, faculty and students on campus who have chronic illnesses or other contacts that might make an unmasked campus risky for them. And I think we owe it to them to create a safe community,” professor Jorden Cummings told Global News.

This comes as the university’s wastewater monitoring team recently saw Saskatoon’s viral load hit its second highest value during the pandemic.

Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, Chair of the university’s Pandemic Response and Recovery Team, said the response team has been in contact with students, and they like the protocols currently in place.

“The students have an important voice there, the largest number of individuals on campus and both from the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, they are supportive of our current measures,” he said.

Dr. Marciniuk added that they continuously monitor their indicators and place measures where they see fit.

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“It’s important to remember that we do have mandatory masking in certain areas on campus where they touch patients, clinical areas, including in nursing, dentistry, medicine and others,” he told Global News.

But on other parts of the campus, we are looking at things like the number of cases,”  he added.

Dr. Marciniuk said the team is always open to re-evaluating.

“We will continue to evaluate all of the endpoints and indicators. And if need be, we will reinstitute a mask mandate.”

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