Saskatchewan. post-secondary institutions to start fall semester without mask or COVID-19 vaccination mandate
Saskatchewan’s major post-secondary institutions will not require people to wear masks or provide proof of vaccinations when they return to campus this fall.
However, people are still encouraged to use these tools to limit transmission and the policies of these institutions may be subject to change.
« The mask mandate could be reinstated, » Dr. Darcy Marciniuk, who chairs the University of Saskatchewan’s pandemic response and recovery team, said in an interview. « The pandemic is not over and we have evidence of COVID activity and transmission. »
Marciniuk said the level of COVID-19 activity had not reached the threshold needed to trigger a mask mandate at the university. He said a mandate implemented too soon could actually erode trust between people, making them less likely to comply with public health measures.
« If we, for example, bring in a warrant too soon or without supporting evidence, compliance with that warrant would be less optimistic. »
The university’s pandemic response and recovery team will review data on sewage, hospitalizations, infection modeling and levels of disruption caused by COVID-19 during the fall semester . They also encourage vaccinations and ask people to stay home when they are sick.
Post-secondary institutions like Saskatchewan Polytechnic are well positioned to adapt and modify COVID-19 policy as needed, said Cheryl Schmitz, vice president of administrative services and chief financial officer at that school.
« Given the fluid nature of COVID-19, we may need to update our pandemic guidelines in the future, but this will be done by assessing the COVID-19 landscape and continuing to monitor guidelines from the provincial government, the chief medical health officer and our health authority,” she said, noting that they were also following the advice of their in-house pandemic emergency response team.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic operates campuses in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon. Schmitz said they are also encouraging students and staff to update themselves with their COVID-19 vaccinations before returning to campus.
“We know this is the most effective public health measure to reduce the spread of harm from COVID-19. We encourage our students and employees to be fully vaccinated and to receive their booster shots when eligible.
She also acknowledged that some people may still prefer to wear a mask and asked others to respect that choice.
The University of Regina and the First Nations University of Canada encourage masks, vaccinations and other public health measures – but like the other institutions, no measures will be imposed.
Non-appointment policies follow suit with other institutions like the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. But some universities in Canada will have terms, at least for the start of the semester.
Some universities in Nova Scotia will require masks this fall. Recently, Western University in London, Ontario, announced that it would implement vaccine and mask requirements in September.
This university requires those returning to campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19 twice with an additional booster. There is also a mask mandate in place in classrooms and seminar rooms for the first five weeks of classes followed by reassessment.