Western University drops vaccine policy, masking still required

A group of Western University students hold a protest against the school's COVID-19 mandates on Saturday Aug. 27, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nicole Osborne

Western University in London, Ont., announced on Tuesday that the institution is dropping the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but masking remains in place.

In a policy update, the statement said that following recent discussions with medical experts as well as local public health officials, Western will no longer require students, employees and visitors to be vaccinated in order to come to campus.

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“Before we enter the busy exam season, we want to thank you for taking care of yourselves, each other, and our community,” the update said. “With your help, Western has minimized the impact of COVID-19 and offered a consistent, positive on-campus experience this term.”

The update follows the Ontario Superior Court of Justice’s decision to reject a challenge by five Western University students to withdraw the institution’s previous COVID-19 booster vaccine mandate.

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The controversial mandate initially prompted mixed reactions from students when announced back in August, while the union representing the institution’s faculty association praised the move.

Protests were held earlier in the school year as demonstrators marched around the southwestern Ontario campus and listened to speakers denounce the school’s booster mandate.

Western later announced that it was pushing its COVID-19 booster deadline into the new year after the bivalent vaccine was approved by Health Canada.

Despite revoking the vaccination policy, the university continues to encourage everyone to remain up to date with their vaccinations as “public health guidance remains clear: vaccination continues to be the best defence against severe illness and hospitalization.”

According to Western, masks will still be required in all instructional spaces following the December break for the duration of the winter term “to minimize any continued transmission of the virus.”

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