None of the universities or colleges in Ottawa are planning to require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to campus this fall.
After a year of online and distanced learning, universities are preparing to welcome students back in person.
Western University in London, Ont, announced May 27 it will require students in residence to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Once on campus, students who aren’t vaccinated will have 14 days to get the vaccine.
However, local post-secondary institutions don’t plan to follow suit.
Carleton’s website says vaccination will not be mandatory to be on campus or stay in residence. Any decisions on vaccination will be made in compliance with provincial guidelines and recommendations from Ottawa Public Health.
Fall courses at Carleton will be a mixture of online and in-person. In-person classes will be limited to 60 people, based on recommendations from a report by the Carleton University Scenario Planning working group. The recommendations were developed based on “COVID case trends, vaccination progress, public health restrictions, travel restrictions, and students’ willingness to continue online education.”
Carleton is offering Moderna vaccines to students and faculty at an on-campus clinic. Students and employees age 18 and older can pre-register online.
They are encouraging all students and faculty to get a COVID vaccination as soon as possible.
Algonquin College will also not require students to be vaccinated to be on campus for academic activities or residence.
“However, Algonquin College remains flexible and is continuing to monitor evolving COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and recommendations related to vaccinations,” reads a statement from the college, shared by communications manager Chris Lackner.
“The College has seen relatively few COVID-19 cases related to our campuses throughout the pandemic,” the statement continues.
The statement notes the current model of primarily remote learning is expected to continue this fall, though program delivery may be adjusted based on changes in public health guidance.
“With vaccination rollouts, we remain optimistic and hopeful for increased face-to-face teaching delivery options,” says the statement.
In a message to students on May 28, Algonquin College President Claude Brulé wrote, “with vaccination more widely available and a viable option for many of us to consider, the College strongly recommends vaccination for everyone who is eligible, in accordance with public health guidance.”
“The Council of Ontario Universities has sought a legal opinion on compulsory vaccination for students wishing to attend in-person courses. At this point, no decision has been made,” Isabelle Mailloux Pulkinghorn, uOttawa manager of media relations, wrote in an email. “In the meantime, the university continues to put in place all the necessary measures to ensure a safe and progressive return to campus, which respects all applicable health directives.”
The university plans to offer between 30 per cent and 50 per cent of classes in-person or in a hybrid format, with the remainder taught online.
The University of Ottawa website states, “Students will not be required to be vaccinated before setting foot on campus.”