COVID-19: mask obligation maintained in Canadian universities
Angela Amato, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Despite the lifting of provincial and territorial requirements for wearing a mask, some academic institutions in Canada have decided to make it still mandatory in the fall semester, for the safety of staff and students.
« At the moment, I think there is still a risk of significant disease outbreaks and caution makes sense to me, » said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Alberta. At this establishment, wearing a mask is encouraged, but not required, in most settings.
Fourteen of 83 universities surveyed by The Canadian Press via email, interviews and online notices say they will require students and employees to wear masks in various settings on campus.
Western University in London, Ont., and an affiliated school, Huron University College, were the only institutions surveyed to require vaccination against COVID-19.
At Dalhousie University in Halifax, masks must be worn in classrooms and teaching spaces. They are optional in all other interior spaces such as hallways, libraries and places of learning.
MacEwan University, in Edmonton, has announced that it will continue to encourage vaccinations and masks, but will not make them mandatory for the fall semester.
The University of Victoria in British Columbia does not have a mask or vaccine mandate in place for the fall 2022 term.
For its part, the University of Manitoba maintains its obligation to wear the mask indoors, until further notice.
Dr. Mark Torchia, academic team leader at the University of Manitoba, argues that such a requirement is more effective than vaccinations against the Omicron variant. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Manitoba, Dr. Torchia thinks it makes sense that the institution, which has about 40,000 staff, faculty and students, is mandating mask-wearing.
Universities that offer medical training still have mask-wearing policies in clinical settings, as recommended by public health officials.