Tuesday, May 4, 2021 | Category: Insider Recap
What follows is a selection of coverage from the Eduvation Insider this year focused on vaccination policies in higher education…
Since many CdnPSEs are basing their optimistic reopening plans for Fall on government projections for vaccine rollouts this summer, there is an implicit sense in which widespread vaccination is what will make the return to campus possible. Still, I observed months ago that campus leaders might have to make some politically unpopular decisions like requiring staff and students to be vaccinated before allowing them back on campus…
Trinity College, a residential college affiliated with uMelbourne, was perhaps the first PSE in the world to announce at the end of February that all 380 students living in residence would be required to be vaccinated against COVID19. (Staff were to be exempt from the requirement.) The Age
Rutgers U (NJ) announced yesterday that all 71,000 students will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID19 before they can return to campus this fall (although they may request an exemption for medical or religious reasons.) Faculty and staff are “strongly urged” to get vaccinated too. Rutgers is one of the largest public universities in the US, and may be the first to announce such a requirement – even though campus leaders were emphasizing “human liberties” in January and indicated that the vaccine would not be mandatory. It may not be legal for US employers to mandate inoculations when the vaccines are still only approved for emergency use: FDA guidance insists they must be voluntary. Rutgers Today | New York Times | Politico
“Adding COVID19 vaccination to our student immunization requirements will help provide a safer and more robust college experience for our students.” – Jonathan Holloway, President, Rutgers U
It won’t just be college campuses considering a vaccine requirement, though…
Carnival Cruise Lines announced yesterday that passengers on some Princess Cruise and P&O Cruise ships will need proof of COVID19 vaccination for select departures from June through September. “All guests of all ages” must have received their second vaccine dose at least 7 days prior to boarding. Newsweek
(Of course, the analogy between campus housing and cruise liners has been made many times before!) To my knowledge, no CdnPSE has announced a mandatory vaccine policy yet – but please do let me know if you know of one!
US legislation and regulatory frameworks are certainly different than those in other countries, but so far no CdnPSEs have addressed the matter of mandatory immunization for students returning to campus. (I mentioned Rutgers and Trinity at Melbourne last week.)
U Notre Dame (IN) announced yesterday that they will be able to vaccinate “all” students on their campus before the end of May, although they are merely encouraging, not requiring, vaccination. Indiana’s governor announced last week that residents aged 16+ will qualify for the Pfizer vaccine starting Mar 31. (He also plans to lift the statewide mask mandate and all remaining business restrictions on Apr 6.) US News
More will Follow Rutgers
The president of the AAC&U says the Rutgers announcement last week will put increased pressure on other PSEs to “take a stance and be transparent” about their plans for Fall, and she expects a number of them to follow Rutgers’ example. The federal statute under which the FDA can grant Emergency Use Authorization for new vaccines suggests they cannot be mandated, but legal experts believe US colleges “are on very strong grounds” in mandating vaccines, particularly if they offer an online option for those who refuse. Higher Ed Dive
Last week, Italy made COVID19 vaccination mandatory for all health workers, after hospital outbreaks where staff refused the shot. And while there have still been no CdnPSE announcements, more US colleges are announcing plans to require vaccination of all students before they can return to campus this fall. (I previously mentioned Rutgers and Notre Dame.) Since last week, Roger Williams U (RI) announced the vaccine requirement (with some exceptions for medical or religious reasons).
Cornell U (NY) announced on Friday that students will need to be vaccinated to return to its campuses, and that those who return without one will be vaccinated as soon after their arrival as possible. Nova Southeastern U (FL) has gone even further, mandating that all students and employees must be fully vaccinated by Aug 1. (NSU plans to return to F2F classes and increase athletics and extracurriculars on campus.)
While most institutions are still quiet on the matter, some theorize that they might make vaccination mandatory for participation in certain activities, or for living in residence, rather than for attending classes at all.
Mohawk College announced last Wednesday it “is confident that we will be bringing more students and employees back to campus for classes and labs, and other on-campus activities this September.” Despite the fact that Hamilton re-entered lockdown last week, fall plans “are not based on where we are today, but where we think we will be.” Mohawk notes that “any decision regarding mandatory vaccination would be made by the province.” Mohawk
Yesterday I mentioned that students will need vaccinations to return to campus this fall at Rutgers, Notre Dame, Roger Williams U (RI), Cornell U (NY), and Nova Southeastern U (FL) – which will also require employees to be fully vaccinated by Aug 1. Since then, those institutions have been joined by Brown U (RI), Fort Lewis College (CO), Northeastern U (MA), Oakland U (MI), and St Edwards U (TX). Johnson County Community College (KS) is offering its employees $250 to get vaccinated. And a QS survey of 2,500 current and prospective international students found that 65% were open to getting vaccinated, and 50% thought universities should require it. (So, although nobody in CdnPSE has announced anything like it yet, isn’t it inevitable that someone will?)
Although obviously the legal and political context is different, the debate over mandatory vaccinations on US college campuses can be instructive…
Mandatory at 14 US Colleges
Last week I summed up announcements from 11 US colleges that will require vaccinations for students to return to campus this fall, including Rutgers (NJ), Notre Dame (IN), Cornell U (NY), and Brown U (RI). Since then, they have been joined by Boston U (MA), Duke U (NC), and Cleveland State U (for students in residence).
Boston U president Robert Brown explained, “Our goal is to move to a ‘new normal’ in the fall that includes only minimal social distancing, where all our facilities are open, students can move freely between residences, and guests are welcome. The key to achieving this state will be vaccination of nearly everyone in our community, especially our students.” BU is assessing how to treat international students who have been immunized with vaccines not yet approved by US regulators. Boston Globe
Legal & Political Obstacles
While it’s not unusual for schools or colleges to require students be vaccinated for a range of diseases like measles and mumps – and in California, even for a flu shot – COVID19 vaccines are currently in a “legal gray area,” according to some US colleges. Virginia Tech has determined it cannot legally require students to get a vaccine that has only “emergency use authorization” from the FDA. (On the other hand, a Harvard Law expert in bioethics says it makes no difference.) Republican governors in Florida and Texas have banned all businesses from requiring customers to show proof of vaccination, and some campus Republican student groups have opposed vaccine mandates. Dickinson State U (ND) is incentivizing students by exempting them from a mask mandate once they are fully immunized. Most institutions admit that they will have to make some exceptions for students on medical or religious grounds. AP
More Legal Nuance
Dorit Reiss, a law prof at UC Hastings in San Francisco, explains that universities have the power to require vaccines, but that it depends on precedent and what their policies have been in the past. And beyond federal legislation, colleges need to comply with state laws and regulations about their own authority. Private colleges may find it easier than public ones to create a vaccine requirement. The legality of vaccine mandates “has been challenged and upheld for nearly a century,” like a court ruling that uCalifornia could demand smallpox vaccinations in 1925. While the EUA might pose a complication, the FDA could conceivably grant full approval to one or more vaccines by this summer. It might be sufficient for institutions to offer an online alternative for students who refuse to be vaccinated. NPR
Here’s what I’ve seen in CdnPSE so far:
Brock U provost Lynne Wells wrote Apr 7 that she has been asked about whether vaccinations would be required to attend campus. “This question has significant legal implications and has been the topic of much conversation across universities and colleges in the sector. At present, there is no clear answer to this question. As we have been doing over the past year, we will continue to make informed decisions by seeking expert advice and partnering with other institutions in our sector to share information and key considerations. I will provide more information if we decide to revisit the issue at a later date.” Brock
A week ago I reported on 14 American colleges that were making COVID19 vaccinations mandatory for students returning to campus this Fall, including Rutgers (NJ), Notre Dame (IN), Cornell U (NY), Brown U(RI), Duke U (NC), and others. (I also outlined some of the legal considerations being discussed in the US.)
46 US Colleges Mandate Shots
Since then, 32 more US colleges have jumped on the bandwagon, including Johns Hopkins U (MD), NYU(NY), and Vassar College (NY). (The Chronicle is maintaining a list of US colleges announcing mandatory vaccinations, and it’s now up to 46 in all.)
Columbia U (NY) will integrate a COVID19 vaccine mandate into the Columbia Community Health Compact, an agreement all students are required to sign in order to access campus facilities.
Dartmouth College (NH) will require all students to be vaccinated before returning to campus, or shortly thereafter. (If Dartmouth “does not achieve herd immunity levels,” social distancing and hybrid/remote learning will be required.)
Johnson County Community College (KS) is paying employees $250 to get vaccinated, in “an innovative way to reinforce healthy decisions.”
Yale U (CT) will require all undergrad, grad and professional school students to be fully vaccinated before they can attend on-campus classes. (A decision about whether or not to require staff to get vaccinated will be made in June.)
“Any school that fails to make this a requirement is compromising the safety of its students, its faculty and staff, and the members of its surrounding community. This is going to be the norm.” – David Paltiel, prof of health policy, Yale U
69% of Students are OK with it
A survey of 15,600 applicants to US universities early in March found (not surprisingly) that “just about everyone wants face-to-face learning” (59% of prospective first-year students, and 72% of their parents/guardians). Overall, 85% were willing to comply with mandatory vaccination rules, 95% with mask mandates, and 92% with social distancing requirements. 69% of applicants were “comfortable” or “very comfortable” with getting a COVID19 vaccination – and that comfort increased significantly with family income. Maguire Assoc
Is a Mandate Ethical?
A new WHO policy brief identifies 6 ethical considerations to guide decisions about making COVID19 vaccinations mandatory: 1) Is it necessary for and proportionate to the achievement of an important public health goal? 2) Is there sufficient evidence of vaccine safety for the populations in question? 3) Is the vaccine efficacious and effective? 4) Is there sufficient reliable supply of the vaccine, with free access? 5) What impact will mandating the vaccine have on public trust? 6) Has the decision-making process been transparent and deliberative? Western health studies prof Maxwell Smith, who led the preparation of the brief, observes that “mandatory vaccination is unlikely to be ethically justified among the general public given limited supply and because it is unclear that a mandate is necessary to achieve public health objectives.” In vulnerable settings like long-term care homes or hospitals, however, it might be ethically justified. Western News
The Vaccination Dilemma
In the US, state legislatures may impose a vaccine mandate, or a ban on vaccine mandates, that explicitly includes or excludes college campuses – and regardless of CDC guidelines. There may be legal risk for an institution that imposes a mandate, or fails to do so. There are religious minorities and outspoken Republicans who will resist and protest a vaccine requirement. But many campus leaders agree that if the vaccine is not mandatory, particularly for students living in residence, a return to “normal” cannot happen this fall. For now, most are emphasizing persuasion and information campaigns to encourage faculty, staff, and students to get immunized. (ACHA is developing a “vaccine confidence toolkit” and a national social media campaign. The City University of New York has launched a #VaxUpCUNY campaign.) Effective policies may not mandate the vaccine, but could “spell out what will and won’t be available to those who are not vaccinated.” Chronicle of Higher Ed
Last Tuesday (see “Vaccine Dilemmas”) I reported that 46 American colleges had announced mandatory vaccination for all students coming to campus this Fall. Some of the highest-profile announcements came from Rutgers (NJ), Notre Dame (IN), Cornell (NY), Brown (RI), Duke (NC), Johns Hopkins (MD), NYU (NY),
In one the most significant announcements to date, 1 million students, staff and faculty in the 10-campus uCalifornia and 23-campus California State U systems will need to be vaccinated this Fall, once the FDA gives formal approval to COVID19 vaccines. That announcement came last Thursday, and on Friday the University System of Maryland followed suit for its 12 universities and 3 regional centres. Other vaccine mandates announced last week included Boston College, uMichigan, Stanford, uPennsylvania and uMassachusetts. Detroit’s Wayne State U, on the other hand, is offering students a $10 bribe to get vaccinated, but not mandating it. And 2 of the largest universities in the Wisconsin system reiterated they will NOT mandate vaccines this Fall – although reopening ancillaries is crucial to reverse some $400M in losses.
84 US Institutions so far
The Chronicle now lists 84 US colleges making vaccination mandatory for on-campus students this Fall, with some religious or medical exemptions. 5 colleges are mandating shots only for students living in campus residence, and 23 are also mandating employee vaccinations. (In all, just 11 of these institutions are located in states that voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election.)
The Tipping Point?
Last week’s announcements of COVID19 vaccine mandates by several major public university systems – even if they are contingent on official FDA approval of the vaccines – “may mark a watershed moment” for US higher ed. Organized anti-vax movements are flooding the offices of university leaders and legislators with form letters, and 6 Republican governors have prohibited a vaccine requirement in Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Texas. Some campus leaders are hoping that their campuses will achieve herd immunity without requiring a mandate, such as at SUNY. Others disagree: “Hope is not a strategy,” says one university president who is also a pediatric endocrinologist. College students “will not always do the right thing.” Chronicle of Higher Ed
Is Vaccine Bribery Ethical?
American colleges are offering a range of incentives, from gift cards and t-shirts to cash or free courses, to students who can prove they are vaccinated against COVID19. (UNC Greensboro is raffling off $1,500 in meal plans, $3,500 in bookstore scholarships, and a full year of free campus housing.) But is it ethical? If the incentive simply compensates students for their contribution to the public good and overcomes procrastination, then probably yes. But larger incentives could be coercive, persuading lower-income students to make a medical decision, “which is more ethically questionable.” In the US at least, access to vaccines and opportunity to take time away from work to get vaccinated is not equitably distributed across racial and economic groups, either. Inside Higher Ed
Mandates an Ethical Obligation?
Many are discussing whether a campus vaccine requirement is legal (see “Vaccine Dilemmas”), but we should also consider whether it is ethical. One philosophy prof (whose specialty is ethics and virology) argues that in fact, colleges and universities have “a significant ethical obligation” to keep the campus community safe, by making vaccination mandatory. If they don’t require immunization, institutions could face lawsuits too, from the families of anyone who catches COVID19 and dies. And providing remote learning options to students at risk is likely also an ethical obligation. University Business
The situation looks quite different in Canada, where vaccine supply has been limited and no CdnPSE leader has even hinted at a vaccine requirement this Fall. Nonetheless, they are optimistically promising a return to campus, much as they did at this time in 2020…
For several weeks now, US higher ed – first elite private colleges, then major public universities – have been announcing that students will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID19 before they can return to campus this Fall. In my summary this Monday, we were up to 84 institutions or systems that had announced, including UC and Cal State, with 1 million employees and students. In just 4 days, that has more than doubled…
181 US Institutions so far
The Chronicle now lists 181 US colleges making vaccination mandatory for on-campus students this Fall, with some religious or medical exemptions. (Connecticut and 5 other states have explicitly eliminated the religious exemption.) Only a few have qualified that requirement, making it contingent on full FDA approval of a vaccine (which is expected this summer). And of course, just 15 are in states that voted for Trump in 2020.
ACHA says Go Mandatory
Yesterday the American College Health Association, which represents >1,000 US institutions, recommended that campuses make vaccines mandatory this Fall, “where state law and available resources allow.” (At least 5 Republican governors have banned the practice in advance.) The requirement, they say, should apply to all students who “live on campus and/or participate in on-campus classes, studies, research, or activities,” with exemptions for medical contraindications. In the meantime, ACHA urges institutions to encourage their students to get vaccinated now, before heading home at the end of term, and to support education and outreach programs to overcome vaccine hesitancy, on- and off-campus. They also recommend institutions “examine the additional positive impact” of a vaccine requirement for faculty, staff and contractors on campus, and “at the very least” make it mandatory for frontline student health staff. ACHA
“Comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective way for institutions of higher education to return to a safe, robust on-campus experience for students.” – ACHA
The “EZ-Pass Lane”
Short of a vaccine requirement, some colleges may instead demand daily symptom screening and 3x weekly COVID19 testing – but exempt those who are vaccinated from the requirement. “Getting the vaccine becomes a convenience factor.” uIllinois at Urbana-Champaign announced such a plan yesterday. Insider Higher Ed
The situation in the US is slightly ahead of Canada, since 43% of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, and certainly the political and legal context is somewhat different. But CdnPSEs hoping to bring students back to campus for a traditional residential experience – like say the Maple League institutions did last year – may well be first to consider mandating vaccinations too. Our issue is vaccine supply…
The Challenge of Timing
UFV politics prof Hamish Telford observes that PHO Bonnie Henry’s announcement in early March, promising a return to F2F PSE instruction this Fall, “may well have been premature.” Never mind the current third wave – the real issue is one of vaccine timing. At the current pace of vaccinations, most university students won’t be vaccinated until November. Even if BC can double that pace to hit its target of every adult receiving their second dose “by September,” the full effects of vaccination take 2 weeks longer than that. “We would not be in a position to resume face-to-face instruction until after Thanksgiving – at the earliest.” Since students will be registering for Fall classes shortly, Telford argues that universities should postpone F2F instruction for “at least one more term.” (Certainly, a growing number of CdnPSEs are describing the Fall 2021 term as a “transitional” one, before a more complete return to campus in January 2022. You can see my summary of Fall announcements here, and I will have more on that soon.) Vancouver Sun
Since last Friday, here are a few updates…
209 US Colleges so Far
The Chronicle of Higher Ed now lists 209 American campuses which will be making vaccinations mandatory for all students, or at least those in residence, and 93 requiring vaccinations of employees as well. Notable new announcements include 10 public universities in Massachusetts, and uWashington. Announcements have been most widespread in California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. A recent survey of 446 US employers found that 23% are planning or considering a vaccine mandate.
Meanwhile in Canada…
CdnPSEs are involved in vaccine research, provide infectious disease and epidemiological experts for media interviews, and are even hosting vaccination clinics on campus, but so far none have publicly entertained the idea of making vaccination mandatory for students returning to campus this Fall. Instead most are “encouraging” staff, faculty and students to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, or even (like York U) trying to bring a mobile vaccination clinic to campus to immunize front-line workers.
uSask Faculty Call for a Mandate
The uSaskatchewan Faculty Association passed a motion last week calling for anyone returning to campus this year to be vaccinated against COVID19, unless medically exempt. With rising infections and anti-vax sentiment in SK, faculty are concerned about adequate ventilation on campus and the ability to physically distance. “It’s a perfect superspreader site if we don’t have that safety provided by full vaccination.” They urge the uSask administration to join their call, to be a leader in Canada. CBC
“We’re among the highest rates of COVID19 in the country. Vaccination rollout is lagging. There’s so many reasons why this return to campus is not really safe without having everyone vaccinated.” – Allison Muri, Chair, uSaskatchewan Faculty Association
uSask Admin says No
Well, not “no” exactly, but the uSaskatchewan administration says it will not make vaccinations mandatory for students returning to campus this Fall, even though 2 of its 9 labour unions have passed motions calling for it. uSask expects most of the campus community to be vaccinated by Sept, and those returned to campus are “expected” to take every precaution to protect the community, which includes “being fully vaccinated.” uSask will follow the direction of PHO, who have not yet made vaccines mandatory. It will also work with CdnPSEs, but so far no other university has implemented such a policy. CBC
uRegina is planning for blended delivery in a “transitional” semester this Fall, and while vaccinations won’t be mandatory for staff or students, the administration “strongly encourage[s] all members of the campus community to receive their COVID19 vaccination as they become eligible.” A vaccine mandate would present “many legal and logistical challenges.” One student interviewed by CBC thinks mandatory vaccination might make it possible for her classes to be held in-person instead of online. CBC
Nudges, not Mandates
A uOregon employment law prof recommends “5 Nudges that work better than a vaccine mandate,” even though it is “probably legal” to require vaccinations of employees in the US, particularly in healthcare settings. Elizabeth Tippett suggests 1) making it easy to get vaccinated, either by offering shots on-campus, providing paid time off or even free Lyft rides; 2) providing information on the benefits of immunization; 3) offering an incentive like raffle tickets, preferential scheduling, or an outdoor BBQ; 4) making it a “hassle” to be unvaccinated, whether with mandatory self-checks or automated reminders; and/or 5) scaring employees by requiring them to sign a form acknowledging the risks they are taking. Inc.
“It’s pretty clear that there is no scenario for most companies where employees are returning unvaccinated to the office in 2021. This is a conversation that HR leaders need to be having with their people now.” – Justin Holland, CEO, HealthJoy
Yes, I summarized the pandemic on Monday, but in order to discuss vaccine policies, I really need to bring you up to date on a few developments…
More AstraZeneca Pain
I’ve detailed before just how sad it has been to watch the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine face repeated setbacks (see “AstraZeneca’s Unforced Errors” from March). Last week, NACI reiterated that the mRNA vaccines are “preferable,” and earlier this week Alberta and Ontario announced that they would stop administering firstdoses of AZ, due to concerns about 12 cases of VITT in Canada. (The rate has risen from 1 in 125,000 to 1 in 60,000. The jury is out as to whether those with a first dose of AZ will get a second dose of something else, and it’s starting to sound like Canada is reconsidering future shipments, since we will have more than enough Pfizer and Moderna shots.)
Last week, Health Canada authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12+, and on Monday the US FDAfollowed suit. But eligibility of high school and PSE students for the vaccine will depend upon individual provinces, and of course parental consent for those under age 18. NWT planned to start vaccinating children 12+ last week. In BC, those 18+ can schedule a shot now, and the PHO hopes to vaccinate children 12+ “before the end of the school year.” Every Albertan age 12+ was eligible as of Monday. Saskatchewan expects those 18+ to have their first dose by May 31, and those 12+ by Jun 30. Today, Manitoba is extending vaccine eligibility to anyone age 18+, and 12+ on May 21, with the hope that all 12+ will have a first dose by Jun 15. Ontarioanticipates 18+ adults will be eligible starting May 24. Quebec plans to start offering doses to those 12+ by Jun 30. Those 16+ in PEI became eligible this week. NL and NB are still planning.
PM Justin Trudeau confirmed yesterday that we’ll have sufficient vaccine supply to offer every eligible Canadian their first shot by the end of June, and a second by the end of September. “A one-dose summer sets us up for a two-dose fall, when we’ll be able to talk about going back to school, back to work, and back to more normality.” PHO restrictions need to stay in place, however, until at least 75% of the population has a first dose, and case counts are “way down.” CTV
“A one-dose summer sets us up for a two-dose fall, when we’ll be able to talk about going back to school, back to work, and back to more normality.” – Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Summer of Uncertainty
Canada’s vaccination effort is ramping up: so far, >14M Canadians have received at least one dose (37% of the country). Some PHOs are publicly optimistic that we might see “some semblance of normality” by July, if we maintain strong public health measures and vaccine momentum. The challenge to compliance with those restrictions will be that Canadians are looking on with envy as the US, UK, EU and other jurisdictions (further ahead on vaccination) begin reopening. Global
So, assuming Canadians comply with PHO restrictions, vaccine shipments continue on schedule, no further side effects cause delay, no variants arise that can sidestep immunity, and less than a quarter of our population is vaccine hesitant, it’s starting to look like our staff and students can be fully vaccinated by Sept 30. Not ideal timing for orientation or residence move-in, or even the first weeks of class, but if everyone has their second dose by Sept 30, we may be able to let our guard down by mid-October.
Of course, those were a lot of “ifs”…
Even in the US, where the vaccine rollout is well ahead of us, there’s enough politically-driven hesitancy that hundreds of colleges and universities across the country have already decided that students will be required to be fully immunized before they can return to campus. (Check out the new Insider Recap of Vaccination Policies, mandatory and otherwise, announced since March.) I last summarized the state of vaccine mandates a week ago. Since then, here’s what’s happened…
336 US Institutions so far
The Chronicle now lists 336 US colleges making vaccination mandatory for on-campus students this Fall, with some religious or medical exemptions. That’s almost double the number of announcements a week ago, including many major public systems. Harvard announced last week that it will require students to be fully vaccinated this fall. On Monday, NY governor Andrew Cuomo announced that 700,000 students attending SUNY and CUNY campuses will have to be vaccinated before coming to campus.
The vaccine is a polarizing issue in the US, and Republicans include many outspoken antivaxxers. Last week, Arizona commissioner Jim O’Connor told the Arizona Republic that “many thousands” of Americans died after getting the COVID19 vaccine, and that even worse, “there are something like 40,000+ recorded cases of people that are now potted plants. They are human vegetables.” (Of course, these claims are absolute nonsense.)
CdnPSE So Far
Unlike many US colleges, CdnPSEs are still expecting a “transitional” fall term (thanks to that Oct 15 deadline) with large classes online and many programs delivered in blended or hybrid format. They also appear to be more optimistic that Canadians will do the right thing and get vaccinated, and are hoping they do not need to make it a requirement for students…
In British Columbia, the PSE Return-to-Campus Primer says that “the COVID19 vaccine will not be mandatory. There are no vaccines in Canada that are mandatory.” (Funny, I’m quite sure my kids needed proof of all sorts of vaccinations to attend elementary school.) Accordingly, UBC says it will not require students to be vaccinated this Fall.
In Alberta, uAlberta “supports vaccine use” and emphasizes its importance, but says that “at this point” no-one will need proof of immunization to work or study on campus.
In Saskatchewan, uSask says it will not make vaccination mandatory, although those who come to campus are “expected” to take every precaution, which includes “being fully vaccinated.” (Huh?) uRegina won’t require vaccination, because that would present “many legal and logistical challenges.”
Ontario institutions appear less definitive right now, as the province is still in a state of emergency with a stay-at-home order about to be extended into June (if the rumours are to be believed). Conestoga Collegehasn’t made a firm decision yet about delivery for the Fall semester, but a spokesperson “does not anticipate” vaccines will be mandatory. Lakehead U says it “has no plans” to require proof of vaccination from students this Fall. Sault College has not yet made a decision on a vaccine requirement for the Fall, but strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated. uToronto says “the approach to vaccination is a matter all post-secondary institutions in Ontario are considering at this time. We are working closely with the guidance of the province when it comes to health and safety requirements in coming to any decisions.” uWaterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur, on the other hand, is reported to have said that “we will not be able to require people to be vaccinated to come to campus.”
In Quebec, the province is providing QR codes as proof of vaccination. McGill expects “all at-risk people” will be vaccinated before Fall, but does not anticipate a requirement to show proof of vaccination. Concordia says it will follow PHO guidelines.
“You can’t send kids to school without evidence of measles vaccination. This may be another vaccine where many schools will decide to have proof of vaccination. And honestly, I think it’s a very reasonable thing to do.” – Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases prof, uToronto
“We are all experiencing this pandemic in real time, and it is too early to say what the world will look like at the beginning of the next academic year. Our recommendation to students and universities is to keep the lines of communication open.” – Karl Oczkowski, Assistant Director Communications, Universities Canada
“I’m a little bit perplexed that some universities don’t want to consider proof of vaccination. I can understand that there are sort of libertarian perspectives as to how that is, there may be some logistical perspectives on how to do that, but at the end of the day if they’re academics and they’re in universities, I’m sure they’re smart enough to figure out a plan.” – Donald Cuong Vinh, infectious disease specialist, McGill U Health Centre
Some faculty associations are already expressing concerns about CdnPSE’s reluctance to impose a vaccine mandate this Fall. I mentioned last week that the uSask Faculty Association passed a motion to call for mandatory vaccination. UBC’s teaching assistants “don’t have a stance yet” but are hopeful the university will consult with them before finalizing a plan. Likewise McGill’s faculty association “hasn’t taken a formal position,” but some of their members believe students should be required to be fully immunized before returning to campus.
Civil Liberty Concerns
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association argues that vaccine passports could exacerbate inequities and systemic racism, particularly for new immigrants and racialized communities already hardest hit by the pandemic. “It is possible that individual freedom to move about, to work, to receive services, and to participate fully in the social life we’re all missing so desperately… may be predicated on a voluntary medical decision.” And that the decision may not be voluntary, depending upon vaccine eligibility: “this generates a kind of double-barreled unfairness, privileging those someone else has decided should be first in line based on assumptions about the benefits accruing to them from that privilege.” Ultimately, “what’s the line between persuasion and coercion?”
So, what does persuasion look like?
You may recall that last week I shared Elizabeth Tippett’s argument that there are 5 Nudges that would work better than a vaccine mandate. (These include offering shots or paid time off to get one, information campaigns, incentives like raffles, scary waiver forms, or making it a “hassle” to go unvaccinated.) Information campaigns are absolutely everywhere, but uLeth managed to get out ahead of the vaccination story…
Making Vaccines “Cool”
There’s a long history of social engineering efforts, like the MADD drunk-driving campaigns, gradually working to make it socially unacceptable to drink or smoke. (I vividly recall the MADD research breakthrough that teens did not fear death as much as being driven to prom by their parents.) Provincial governments are running vaccine awareness and encouragement campaigns, as are some campus student unions and administrations. Finger-wagging and epidemiological statistics don’t always work as well as peer pressure and role models. Yesterday I noticed uCalgary promoting the “19 to Zero” coalition, “dedicated to changing behaviour and building confidence in COVID19 vaccines” through real-time data on vaccine hesitancy. They recently helped launch a social campaign, #ThisIsOurShotCA, featuring celebrities from Chris Hadfield and Ryan Reynolds to Hayley Wickenheiser and Michael Bublé. “Overcoming vaccine hesitancy is usually about three things: confidence, complacency, and convenience.” uCalgary News
“Worth a Shot” at uLeth
On Monday, as Alberta opened vaccine eligibility to those age 12+, uLethbridge demonstrated impeccable PR savvy and timing by announcing that, while it would not make vaccines mandatory this Fall, those students who obtained at least 1 dose by Sep 9 would be entered into a draw for 1 of 9 $3,600 grand prizes of free Fall tuition and fees (and $2,500+ in other prizes). The story caught the attention of Canadian Press, and was carried by the National Post, the Globe & Mail, Global News, the Toronto Star, and many other news outlets. By noon, 400+ students had already entered the contest. (Nice work guys!) uLeth | Globe & Mail
In keeping with today’s “vaccination persuasion” focus, there are 2 music videos I feel compelled to share with you… and I hope they leave you with a smile!
UNC Health Southeastern put out a lively 4-min parody of the BeeGee’s “Stayin’ Alive” that’s a pretty good fit for today’s theme, vaccination persuasion. “Not wearin’ a mask, not OK, I’m a go the other way… Shot Shot Shot Shot Stayin’ Alive.” OK, I have to admit, the visuals are superior to the lyrics. I’ve got to admire anybody willing to wear white bell bottoms and platform shoes while holding a gigantic hypodermic… YouTube
Apparently disco is in the air, along with coronavirus…
V is for Victory
Singapore released a truly memorable 2-min public health video this month that is an “infectious” pop song starring comedian Gurmit Singh in character as Phua Chu Kang. In English (that I can only assume works best when it’s your second language), this energetic and upbeat vid tackles vaccine hesitancy directly, while wearing bright yellow rubber boots. “Singapore, don’t wait and see, better get your shot, steady pom pi pi!” Oh, and my favourite line, “the vaccine is not anyhow whack, and against COVID it will protect.” YouTube
After months tracking the mounting number of US colleges requiring vaccinations of their students to permit a full return to campus, I had just about given up hope that CdnPSE would ever follow suit… but now I’m pleased to report the first announcement, here in my hometown of London Ontario. I feel better already about our chances for the Fall in this town…
In the US, where vaccinations have become a political hot potato, nonetheless hundreds of colleges and universities are demanding that students be fully immunized before they can return to campus this Fall. (Check out the new Insider Recap of Vaccination Policies, mandatory and otherwise, announced since March.) Since my last summary on May 12 (“Vaccination Persuasion vs Potted Plants”), here’s what’s new…
422 US Institutions so far
The Chronicle now lists 422 US colleges making COVID19 vaccination mandatory for on-campus students this Fall, with some religious or medical exemptions. New additions include uVirginia, who will require students on campus to produce proof of vaccination by Jul 1, and will require unvaccinated staff to undertake regular COVID19 testing. Yale and Brown U extended their vax mandates to include faculty and staff too, as have about a third of the others. Indiana U says it will cancel class registrations for students and fire staff members who don’t comply with its vax mandate at all 7 campuses across the state.
“Requiring the COVID19 vaccine among our students, faculty and staff continues to extend the university’s comprehensive and thoughtful approach to managing and mitigating the pandemic on our campuses and brings us one step closer to making a ‘return to normal’ a reality.” – Michael McRobbie, President, Indiana U
Although many US colleges already require immunizations for measles, mumps, rubella or the flu, the COVID19 vaccine has become politically polarizing (even while Republican former president Donald Trump often takes credit for speeding its development). Almost all the private and public colleges in the US with COVID19 vax mandates are in states that elected Joe Biden in the 2020 election, with just 34 located in “red” states (such as Indiana U). So far, 19 state legislatures have passed a variety of polarizing laws to attempt to sway campus decisions: in Texas, private colleges can require vaccinations but public ones can’t; in New York, private colleges can allow for religious exemptions but public ones can’t. (In all, 12 states have forbidden a vax mandate at public institutions, and 7 have insisted on it. Across the country, 75% of schools with vax mandates allow for religious exemptions.) College presidents are balancing safety, politics, and peer pressure with economic self-interest: no-one yet knows how many students will be attracted by the prospect of a return to normal campus life, compared to those antivaxxers who may be repelled. “People are waiting for a tipping point,” says one president, waiting for safety in numbers as more announcements are made. New York Times | NBC News
Splitting Legal Hairs
In a ruling that only a lawyer could love, Indiana’s Attorney General has now ruled that Indiana U cannot require proof of vaccination (due to a new state law banning the requirement of an “immunization passport”), but IU can require vaccinations of students and employees. The new law “only prohibits public universities from requiring proof of the COVID-19 vaccine; it does not prohibit them from requiring the vaccination itself.” IU took the win: “In yesterday’s opinion, the attorney general affirmed that it is legal for us to require a vaccine, including one under an Emergency Use Authorization.” Inside Higher Ed
Legal Gray Area
As far as US vaccine mandates are concerned, courts have not yet weighed in – although 100-year-old precedent exists for smallpox vaccinations. All 50 states have some K-12 vaccination requirements for public schools (with some medical or religious exemptions), and some colleges have successfully defended mandatory flu vaccines. The biggest difference with COVID19 vaccines is that they are still only provisionally authorized for emergency use by the FDA – although that is expected to change by mid-summer. The other challenge will be determining how to confirm vaccination status within the bounds of privacy legislation. Inside Higher Ed
Since March, CdnPSE leaders have largely dismissed a vaccine mandate as a legal impossibility, while encouraging the entire community to get vaccinated (see the Insider Recap of Vaccination Policies). Yesterday, that appeared to change, in what could be the first domino falling…
Vax Mandate at Western U
As long-time Insider readers will know, Western U was one of CdnPSE’s hardest-hit campuses during the pandemic, with at least 377 reported cases and outbreaks in virtually every undergraduate dormitory. Yesterday, Western became the first university in the country to mandate COVID19 vaccinations for students in residence this Fall, when it anticipates a “full return to in-person classes.” Western and its affiliates (Brescia, Huron, and King’s UC) “will require students living in residence to have received at least a first dose of the COVID19 vaccine, assuming Ontario’s supply allows.” Those who can’t get vaccinated prior to arrival will have 14 days following move-in to get vaccinated at campus clinics. The decision was strongly encouraged by the local health unit. President Alan Shepard believes Western “won’t be the last” university in Canada to introduce a vaccine requirement. Western News | London Free Press
Western’s announcement specifically mentioned that medical or human rights accommodations will be possible, although a lawyer with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association expressed concern that it might require the disclosure of private health information. uWaterloo says “all the information we have right now suggests that we will not be able to require people to be vaccinated to come to campus.” So far, the UWO Student Council reports largely “positive responses” from students. Globe & Mail
“The Middlesex-London Health Unit strongly supports all efforts to increase the uptake of COVID-19 vaccination, particularly in congregate living settings such as postsecondary residences.” – Chris Mackie, MOH, MLHU
“We’re seeing very strong vaccine uptake amongst university-age students, so I think this will actually bring a sense of comfort and safety to those who want to come to Western and live in residence.” – Alan Shepard, President, Western U
Waiting on the PHOs
Most Canadian universities are still planning for a variety of scenarios this Fall (more on that next week), and say they will follow local PHO guidelines about vaccination. uSaskatchewan faculty and staff unions have called on the administration to make COVID19 vaccinations mandatory on campus, but the university says it is not planning to do so. uRegina has announced it will not make vaccines mandatory, while McGill says it doesn’t “currently anticipate” requiring proof of vaccination. uToronto and other Ontario universities are still considering the best approach. University Affairs
So, how do students feel about vaccine mandates? Predictably, Americans are divided along partisan lines, but other data points suggest about two-thirds of our students are likely pro-vax…
67% in Favour for CdnPSE
An Ipsos survey of 1,001 Canadians (May 12-14) found that 72% support vaccine passports for air travel, and 67% for concerts, theatres, or attending PSE. (Even a majority of those not yet vaccinated still supported the idea.) Canada is outlining strict guidelines for vaccine passports, recognizing that they represent “an encroachment on civil liberties.” The EU and UK are charging ahead with digital solutions, while Israel has a “green pass” system. Among younger Canadians (age 18-34) the survey found somewhat higher opposition to vaccine passports for outdoor concerts (44%). Global
A uManitoba study of 664 young Manitobans (age 16-21) found likewise that 65.5% were willing to get a COVID19 vaccine, 26.1% were unsure, and 8.5% were opposed. Researchers explored the underlying causes and distribution of vaccine hesitancy, which was greater among those from lower household incomes and parental education, with a history of household substance abuse or spanking. They recommend messaging that emphasizes vaccine safety and effectiveness, while explaining the importance of protecting against COVID19. The Conversation
A new QS survey of 105,000 international students found that 68% would receive the COVID19 vaccine if offered, and just 7% would not (although 40% of those respondents would accept it if required by their university). New Zealand is overwhelmingly perceived to have handled the pandemic best (selected by 33% of respondents), followed by Germany (10%) and China (8%). QS
CdnPSE leaders and health experts have been outspoken in their support of COVID19 vaccination, active in provincial policy debates, and many campuses have provided space for public immunization clinics or testing. But in recent weeks a number of interesting efforts have arisen to persuade the hesitant…
The government of Alberta has launched a new social media and outdoor ad campaign to tell Albertans that “your vaccine is your ticket back to normal life.” The communications strategy has shifted from appeals to altruism (like protecting the vulnerable) to blatant self-interest. Ads will feature youth soccer games, families socializing, all without masks or social distancing – framed inside a hypodermic needle. CTV News
Appeal to Libido
The appeal to selfishness can go even lower. The Biden Administration has partnered with dating apps Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Badoo, OkCupid, Chispa, BLK, Match and Plenty of Fish to encourage the “horny but vaccine-hesitant” to get their shot. Vaccinated users (who self-identify) will get access to premium features or “boosts” for free, badges for their profiles, and filters so they only see other vaccinated matches. “People who display their vaccination status are 14% more likely to get a match,” explains the White House. “The vaccine will get you laid,” translates Gizmodo. Buzzfeed | Gizmodo
uPennsylvania researchers tested 19 styles of text messages on 47,000 people to encourage them to get a flu shot in 2020, and found that professional tone beat out casual. In particular, messages that reported “a flu vaccine is available for you” 72 hours prior to a doctor’s appointment, and “a flu vaccine has been reserved for your appointment” 24 hours prior, boosted vaccinations from 42% to 46.6%. A similar study of 700,000 Walmart pharmacy customers found that texts indicating a vaccine was “waiting for them” was more effective than any other. In marketing terms, the messages are leveraging psychological loss aversion, and an opt-out default. Washington Post
West Virginia U is trying to incentivize students and staff to get the shot by promising a return to normalcy: if the campus hits 50% vaccinated, concerts, plays and the rec centre will reopen at 50% capacity. At 60%, outdoor intramural sports will resume and residence halls will be open to student visitors. At 75%, many programs will run at full capacity and homecoming will be in person. So far, just 12% of employees and 6% of students have confirmed their vaccination status. Chronicle of Higher Ed
You may recall from my last summary that Alberta’s uLethbridge launched a free tuition draw for students vaccinated by Sep 9 (see “Worth a Shot”). The approach was quickly emulated by Manitoba’s Assiniboine Community College, where students who show proof of vaccination have a chance to win a full year’s tuition in the “Armed for Fall” contest. In the US, state lottery incentives started with Ohio’s “Vax-a-Million” lottery, with weekly $1M prizes but also 5 full-ride 4-year scholarships. California has launched a $116.5M lottery for 40 lucky winners, and $50 gift cards for the first 2M others, who get vaccinated. New York state is raffling off 50 full-ride scholarships to university for 12-17-year olds, which cover tuition, room and board, books and transportation – roughly a $24,000 value. And Oregon’s “Take Your Shot” contest is raffling off 5 college scholarships worth $100,000 each!
Last Thursday, Western U announced that a first dose of COVID19 vaccine would be mandatory for students entering residence in September (see “Moving the Needle on Vaccines”). It was a bold and welcome move, and a first in CdnPSE… but as president Alan Shepard said at the time, it wouldn’t be the last. (See the Insider Recap of Vaccination Policies for more announcements and details.)
Trent makes Vaccine Mandatory
Trent U announced yesterday that it will, like Western, require all students living in residence to have at least one dose of COVID19 vaccine before move-in day, and preferably two, “subject to availability and with some exemptions.” The approach should allow for “near-full occupancy” and support a “full return to in-person learning” this Fall. (Peterborough saw a deadly outbreak among PSE students this year, and the health unit strongly supports the mandate.) Trent
“Requiring vaccines for students living in residence will be an important way to ensure that we avoid residence outbreaks and are able to offer our residence students the transformative on-campus experiences students have learned to expect from Trent.” – Leo Groarke, President, Trent U
“We’ve already seen policies with school-aged children about mandatory vaccination… The main criteria… is ensuring to keep students safe. And how do we go about doing that in a global pandemic with a contagious virus? That’s ensuring that everybody gets vaccinated.” – Ryan Watkins, Toronto employment lawyer
Others are Debating
Many other Ontario institutions are still considering a vaccine mandate in the wake of the decisions announced by Western and Trent…
Algoma U reports that decisions around vaccine requirements are “still in flux,” but discussions are ongoing and something similar to Western “is not off the table.” CBC
Cambrian College says they do not currently plan to require vaccinations, but will follow recommendations from their local PHO. CBC
Collège Boréal says it’s “very unlikely” that vaccines will be made mandatory for students or staff, and that Ontario’s 24 colleges are working on a coordinated approach. CBC
Fleming College, also in Peterborough, is reportedly “actively considering options” and will “communicate a definitive decision… in the next few days.” Global
Laurentian U says they do not currently plan to require vaccinations, but will follow recommendations from their local PHO. CBC
Mohawk College told media that the college sector has not yet made a determination on vaccines for students, suggesting that a collective decision may be forthcoming. Hamilton Spectator
York U says it is “closely watching how universities around the world are or are not considering required vaccinations for those who want to participate in activities on campus,” and strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated, but “at this point in time” is not requiring vaccinations. Y File
McMaster is Opposed
On the other hand, one university has taken a starkly contrary stance…
McMaster U reiterated yesterday that vaccinations will not be required for students in its residences this fall, even though the halls are expected to be operating at 93% capacity. (Last year, Mac residences were essentially closed to students – so the university had a much gentler experience. I tracked just 49 announced cases on campus for 2020-21.) McMaster AVP Students Sean Van Koughnet says tracking vaccination status would impose “a tremendous administrative burden.” He explains: “If you’re not mandating it, and have 75 to potentially 80%, who knows, of the student population vaccinated, you’re not going to have large outbreaks.” (The McMaster Oversight Committee Report adds, “We also recognize the importance of individual choice and recommend that the University clarify that we will not be requiring individuals to be vaccinated.”) Global
For more than 2 months now, I’ve been noting the rapid adoption of vaccine mandates across US college and university campuses (now 479 institutions) and predicting that some CdnPSEs would inevitably follow suit. (See the Insider Recap of Vaccination Policies for all my coverage.)
Sure enough, the first CdnPSE announcement came May 27 from Western U, who will require all students in residence to have at least one dose of vaccine this Fall (as will the affiliated colleges, King’s, Huron and Brescia). Days later, on June 1, Trent U followed suit. Now, 2 more “dominoes” have fallen in Ontario…
Vax Mandate at Fanshawe
Last Thursday, Jun 3, Fanshawe College (like Western, also in London ON) announced that students living in residence this September will be required to show proof of having at least one dose of an approved COVID19 vaccine, and will also be expected to get their second dose in a timely fashion. (Fanshawe’s 3 campus residence halls accommodate 1,220 students, and nearby townhouses another 396.) Two weeks after their first dose, students will be allowed to use lounges and common spaces, and engage in in-person social activities on campus. Some exemptions on medical or other grounds may be possible, although they will come with restrictions. The regional PHO publicly thanked Fanshawe for its decision: “You’ll really, certainly, prevent cases and likely outbreaks from occurring in the future.” Fanshawe | CBC
“Providing an enriched residence living experience is a top priority for the Fanshawe Residence experience this fall, and that requires measures to protect ourselves and our student community to the fullest extent we can.” – David Norwood, Director of Residence Operations, Fanshawe College
Vax Mandate at uToronto
Yesterday, uToronto announced that students living in residence on any of its 3 campuses this Fall, or in its affiliated colleges, must be vaccinated against COVID19. UofT strongly recommends that students get their first dose at least 14 days prior to residence move-in, but those who have not will have 14 days’ grace to do so. Documentary evidence must be provided, and will be handled in compliance with FIPPA. Students who cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds “or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code” can request an exemption. (The requirement also does not apply to UofT’s student family housing.) UofT
Manitoba PSE Considering
As of Sunday, Manitoba’s uWinnipeg and Red River College reported they were still considering the possibility of a vaccine requirement in residence, while uManitoba, Saint Boniface U, Brandon U and UC of the North said they did not plan to implement such a mandate. (As of Jun 1, uManitoba had reported 87 COVID19 cases on campus.) Toronto Star
European Unis Debating
In the UK, university vice-chancellors are grappling with the risk of anti-vax sentiment among their staff and students, domestic or international. Louise Richardson, VC of Oxford, had trouble answering the question, “what are we going to do to all those who… jeopardize the health of their colleagues by refusing to get a vaccine?” Michael Ignatieff, president of Central European U, doesn’t see how campus can operate without a vaccine requirement. Times Higher Ed
“Institutions may have to make vaccines mandatory. I just don’t know how we can operate institutions [otherwise].” – Michael Ignatieff, President, Central European U
US CDC Guidelines
On Friday, the American CDC issued updated higher ed guidance indicating that campuses with all students and employees fully vaccinated against COVID19 prior to the start of the semester can resume in-person classes at full capacity, and abandon mask mandates, physical distancing and testing requirements. (General flu prevention practices, such as hand hygiene, symptom screening and contact tracing, still apply.) The CDC does not supersede state or local regulation, some of which explicitly forbid a vaccine mandate. CDC
“Vacc2school” at GPRC
As I’ve outlined in previous issues, many state and provincial governments – and some colleges and universities – have launched immunization ad campaigns, lotteries and incentives ranging from free donuts to free tuition. (And let’s not forget Ohio’s “Vax-a-Million” lottery!) Tuition contests seem to be particularly popular in Alberta, starting with uLethbridge’s “Worth a Shot” contest, and now Grande Prairie Regional College’s “Vacc2school” campaign. From Jun 1 to Sep 1, GPRC students, faculty and staff who had received a COVID19 shot can enter to win 160+ prizes, from Wolves merchandise and bookstore vouchers to 3 grand prizes of full tuition for the Fall term. Vaccinated faculty and staff can win parking passes. GPRC News
Many CdnPSEs are participating in a national social media campaign, “Faster Together,” to encourage campus communities (and Canadians of all ages) to get vaccinated ASAP. The campaign, led by Spark*Advocacy, Abacus Data and the Canadian Labour Congress, launched in early June with more than 17 Canadian universities and hundreds of other partners. Queen’s Gazette | FasterTogether.ca
OK, CdnPSE, so who’s next?
Speaking of campaigns to motivate people to get vaccinated, here’s a great one that also embraces diversity!
Ka kite, COVID!
New Zealand has done plenty of things right in this pandemic, and I think this upbeat 1-min immunization commercial is just one more! “Ka kite, COVID” (essentially “see ya!”) features feisty kids, adults, doctors, athletes and more telling COVID19 “you were a bit of an egg in 2020, eh?” and that “we’re ready to win!” The vaccination centre offers a “metaphorical door to freedom” through which “we’re getting immunity!” It’s a very cool ad, with multilingual sound bites and plenty of in-your-face diversity. YouTube
Since last Wednesday, when I added Fanshawe College and uToronto to Western and Trent as 4 CdnPSEs that will require students in residence to be vaccinated this Fall, they have been joined by one more…
Vax Mandate at Ryerson
While Ryerson U grapples with protests about its name and the decapitation of its statue, one headache it clearly doesn’t want to face this Fall is a COVID outbreak in residence. Although a spokesperson told media just last week that RU was not considering mandatory vaccination, on Tuesday Ryerson became the 5th CdnPSE to require all students in residence to get at least one dose of a WHO-approved vaccine. RU has 1,144 beds in 3 residence buildings on its downtown campus. CP24 | 680 News | Ryerson | National Observer
“[A vaccine mandate] is necessary to support students’ safety, growth and development, Ryerson’s mandate and commitments surrounding applied knowledge and research to address existing and emerging society needs, and to prevent and mitigate outbreaks and disruptions during the 2021-2022 academic year.” – Ryerson U Housing
Incentives at Brandon
Virtually all CdnPSEs are promoting vaccination to students, faculty and staff through awareness campaigns, but several are imitating provincial government lotteries by launching contests. (I’ve mentioned contests at uLethbridge and Assiniboine Community College already.) Yesterday, Brandon U unveiled its “Winning Shot” campaign for vaccinated students and employees, with $10,000 in prizes including a grand prize of $5,000 towards tuition and fees.
“Vaccination against Covid19 is neither a marathon nor a sprint. It’s more of a team sport… where we can all win, we can all be the game-winning hero, we can all take the Winning Shot.” – David Docherty, President, Brandon U
Disincentives at Rhodes
Rhodes College, a private liberal arts college in Memphis TN, is taking a quite different approach: chargingunvaccinated students an extra $1,500 (US) per semester, which will apparently cover the cost of mandatory weekly testing. (Rhodes “fully intends to require the COVID19 vaccination immediately upon FDA approval,” for students, staff, faculty, vendors and campus partners.) Memphis Commercial Appeal
Impact on Enrolment?
Going back to the OUAC statistics, it’s interesting to note that the 4 Ontario universities who have announced that vaccines will be mandatory in residence this Fall all have pretty healthy incoming classes so far. Western saw substantial growth in domestic enrolment last year, so the fact that this year’s class is on par (+0.7%) still constitutes a pretty strong position. Trent’s HS confirmations are up +9.1%, uToronto’s +9.9%, and Ryerson’s +1.2% (plus non-HS is up +2.7%). The mandate announcements, made between May 27 and Jun 15, can hardly have impacted student decisions in time for the Jun 3 OUAC report, but the reverse is possible: universities with healthy enrolment pipelines may have been willing to take a chance on alienating a small fraction of applicants who are vaccine-hesitant or downright anti-vaxxers.
|Cases||HS Conf||Vax Policy|
(Case counts publicly reported since Sept 2020, as tracked by Eduvation, and likely undercounts. YoY change in HS-direct confirmations per OUAC data as of Jun 2.)
Could enrolment concerns explain why uWaterloo and McMaster have both been pretty firm in rejecting the idea of a vaccine mandate?
Or am I just getting cynical after 15 months of a pandemic?
Yesterday I detailed some interesting trends in OUAC’s first round of undergraduate confirmation statistics for Ontario universities, published last week. (ICYMI, check out “Bouncing Back & Winning Shots.”) As I compared enrolment trends and recent vaccine mandate announcements, I speculated about their possible interconnection…
Mac is 17% over Target
Many thanks to McMaster’s AVP Students & Learning, Sean Van Koughnett, who took the time to write me and set the record straight: “McMaster has exceeded its enrolment targets by approximately 17% this year, but the total number of acceptances has decreased over 2020 because we exceeded our targets by an even greater percentage last year. We also have a healthy wait list for students wishing to have a place in residence. So our decision to not mandate vaccinations in residence is completely unrelated to any enrolment considerations.” (So, to answer my own question from yesterday, YES, apparently I’m just getting cynical after 15 months of pandemic.) Sean went on to explain that 97% of Mac students surveyed intend to be vaccinated by September, so “mandating vaccines would have little to no public health benefit, and it would also raise challenges related to equity and privacy.” (I definitely hope CdnPSE sees vaccination levels that high this fall!)
I’ve been closely monitoring CdnPSE announcements of mandatory COVID19 vaccinations since late March (see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies), when momentum started building south of the border. Now, there are 522 US campuses where vaccines will be mandatory this Fall, usually for all students who wish to study on campus at all, and in many cases for staff and faculty too.
Canada has been slower to announce vaccine requirements, partly because our vaccine supply has been strained until recently – although Ontario has imposed a policy of mandatory vaccines or education programs on all staff in long-term care homes, and BC is reportedly rethinking its voluntary approach. Even the Calgary Stampede has announced that rodeo competitors must have at least one dose!
In CdnPSE, Western U started the ball rolling on May 27 (along with its affiliated colleges King’s, Brescia and Huron), and was soon followed by Fanshawe College, Trent U, uToronto, and Ryerson U. Now a third Toronto institution has announced that it will be following suit…
Mandatory for All at Seneca
On Friday, Seneca College president David Agnew announced that COVID19 vaccinations will be a “condition” for students and employees to come on campus this Fall, starting Sept 7. Medical exemptions will be made “upon presentation of appropriate documentation.” Agnew concludes with the analogy of other mass vaccination campaigns: “For most of us, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria and more are diseases of the past, thanks to vaccines.” Seneca
“To continue to protect the health of our community and stop the spread of infections, vaccinations will be a condition of participating in on-campus activities.” – David Agnew, President, Seneca College
Shots at Brock
Brock U has emphasized that it will not be requiring vaccinations on campus this Fall, but it will start offering the Moderna vaccine to all undergrad and grad students starting this Friday, at Student Health Services. “Being able to offer all Brock students direct access to the vaccine through this on-campus clinic is a very important step in the right direction.” Brock News
Still Debating Elsewhere
Although media reporters keep asking, many institutions across the country continue to indicate they currently have no intention of requiring COVID19 vaccinations this Fall. This includes Algonquin, Carleton, and uOttawa, which indicates that “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.” McMaster’s student newspaper editor, Andrew Mrozowski, says the university’s decision not to require vaccines leaves him concerned for reporters’ safety this Fall. Some students at UBC likewise are expressing concerns in the media about the university’s voluntary approach, particularly in residence.
Majority in Favour?
Two national polls by Nanos Research both seem to suggest that two-thirds of Canadians support the idea of making COVID19 vaccines mandatory. In January, just 35% of Canadians disagreed with the idea (almost half of them only “somewhat”). In June, just 35% of Canadians thought that unvaccinated students should be allowed to attend classes in person (and only 20% supported it more than “somewhat”). Regionally, support for the vaccine hesitant was stronger in Quebec (40%) and the prairies (39%) than in Atlantic Canada (32%), Ontario (30%), or BC (27%). Globe & Mail | Nanos
Since late March, I’ve been anticipating a growing number of CdnPSE announcements making COVID19 vaccinations mandatory on campus, to enable the return of more normal student life this Fall (see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies). At least 540 US campuses have already shown the way, and in the past month I’ve chronicled similar announcements at Western, Fanshawe, Trent, uToronto, Ryerson and (last Friday) Seneca. Now we can add 3 more Ontario institutions to the growing list…
Durham & Ontario Tech
Durham College and Ontario Tech U announced Monday a vaccine requirement for students living in campus residences during the 2021-22 academic year. Students will be required to have received “at least one dose of a WHO-approved COVID19 vaccine and have their second dose scheduled.” Some exemptions will be provided on medical grounds, or under the Ontario Human Rights Code. “It is our goal to ensure that students enjoy the full benefits of their residence experience when they arrive in the fall – and mandatory vaccinations as a condition of residence occupancy will help make this possible.” DC | Ontario Tech
On Wednesday, York U announced that it will be requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-22 academic year to be vaccinated against COVID19. “Through this commitment to protecting health and safety, the goal is to help students return this fall to the residence life experience they have come to know and expect.” The requirement does not extend to York students living off-campus, or in York U apartments. Exemptions can be requested on medical or human rights grounds. York
Since late March, I’ve been anticipating a growing number of CdnPSE announcements making COVID19 vaccinations mandatory on campus, to enable the return of more normal student life this Fall (see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies). At least 540 US campuses have already shown the way, and in the past month I’ve chronicled vaccine mandates announced for students in residence at Western, Fanshawe, Trent, uToronto, Ryerson, Seneca, and (last Friday) Durham College, Ontario Tech, and York U. So far, only Seneca has extended the vaccine requirement beyond residences, to all on-campus activites this Fall. Now, we’re up to 10 CdnPSE announcements (all in Ontario)…
Fleming College announced Friday that it will require students living in campus residences this Fall to have at least one dose of COVID19 vaccine. (Fleming and Trent both faced a deadly outbreak in an off-campus student village back in Mar 2021.) “The vaccination requirement for those in residence will provide peace of mind to students and their families,” said college president Maureen Adamson. Global
So far 586 US campuses have made COVID19 vaccination mandatory for students (and sometimes staff) on campus this Fall. (Rhode Island recently became the first state in which all colleges and universities are requiring a COVID19 vaccine.)
I’ve already reported on 10 CdnPSEs who have followed suit, all in Ontario: Western, Fanshawe, Trent, uToronto, Ryerson, Seneca, Durham College, Ontario Tech, York U, and Fleming College. In the past week, more have joined them in Ontario and Nova Scotia, and the topic continues to be discussed across the country…
uOttawa announced last week that vaccination will be mandatory for students living in campus residence this fall. Domestic students will be required to show proof of vaccination with a Health Canada approved vaccine; international students can qualify with a dose of any WHO-approved vaccine. Students who have received only 1 dose must obtain their second dose as soon as possible. (Carleton U and Algonquin College, also in Ottawa, encourage but do not currently require vaccination.) CBC
Cape Breton U announced Jul 12 that students living in residence this fall will need to be fully vaccinated. Unlike most Ontario institutions, CBU students in residence must have received their first dose at least 14 days prior to arrival, and get their second dose as soon as possible. So far, CBU is the only NS institution to mandate vaccinations. CBC | CBU
Seneca College remains the only CdnPSE to make vaccines mandatory, not only to live in student residence, but for staff or students to return to campus at all. “It was just the right thing to do to continue to protect the health and safety of our community,” explains president David Agnew. He reports no major pushback from within the college community, just objections from antivaxxers in the US. National Post
“Would they merely ‘encourage’ their students to install smoke alarms in their residences?” – Amir Attaran, Health Law Prof, uOttawa
Ontario’s Universities and the Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) issued a joint statement Friday to “encourage all faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated,” since “high vaccination rates play a critical role in bringing student life back to our campuses.” Universities will “continue to work with public health units and the provincial government to prioritize the health and safety of students” this Fall. (But, since member institutions have adopted contradictory positions on vaccine mandates, that is as close to a consensus as they can get.) Ontario’s Universities
Algoma U and Sault College both say they are not mandating vaccinations for the Fall, but Algoma “highly” recommends that students planning to live in residence or compete in varsity athletics get vaccinated. “So far” Sault College has “nothing new to report” regarding a new vaccine policy. Sault Star
Canadore College and Nipissing U both say they have not yet made a final decision about a vaccine mandate for the Fall. Nipissing is “strongly encouraging” vaccinations for students coming to live in residence. Canadore is waiting on a “coordinated approach” from Ontario colleges collectively. “We hope it’s a non-issue prior to classes and we’re going to take a few weeks to mid-July to continue to monitor things closely.” CTV | North Bay Nugget
Queen’s U and St Lawrence College both say they have opted not to make vaccines mandatory this Fall. Queen’s reports that 97% of students who applied for residence indicated they will either arrive fully vaccinated, or “take the steps to become so.” SLC is encouraging vaccination, but not requiring it “at this stage.” Global
St Clair College has not mandated vaccinations, but is “working with local public health officials and the Ministry of Colleges and Universities on the matter.” Lambton College has not yet made a decision, but is consulting with Lambton Public Health and the Ministry, according to a statement Friday. London Free Press
uToronto has emphasized to students that COVID19 vaccinations will not be required this fall to return to campus for in-person classes, although they will be mandatory for students living in residence. However, “requirements and regulations will continue to change with the fast-paced nature of the pandemic as the university follows public health guidelines.” The Varsity
Alberta PSEs say they will not follow Seneca’s lead and make vaccines mandatory. uCalgary says it “supports vaccination” but will not make it a requirement for students. Mount Royal U says likewise, at least for now. “We continue to look at and have conversations even with our colleagues in the PSE sector and Alberta Health Services about where there might be opportunity to bring vaccines onto campuses in a bigger way.” SAIT is “encouraging” vaccinations but not requiring it. CTV
“Perhaps there is hope that carrots are going to win out. But it’s crunch time, and I think we need to think more seriously about sticks.” – Timothy Caulfield, CRC in Health Law & Policy, uAlberta
Manitoba PSEs have reiterated that they encourage vaccination, but will not be requiring shots this fall, citing legal and privacy concerns. These include uManitoba, uWinnipeg, U Saint-Boniface, UC of the North, Brandon U, Assiniboine CC, and Red River College. All plan to deliver programs through blended and remote delivery. CBC
Quebec health minister Christian Dubé says it’s unlikely the province would enforce a mandatory vaccine directive on students, since the voluntary approach seems to be working “at this time.” McGill U has indicated it will take its lead from the province: “Unless the Quebec government mandates vaccination, we cannot, at this time, legally require proof of vaccination from incoming residence students.” Concordia plans to reopen its residences this year, but only at half-capacity with single-room occupancy. CTV
St Francis Xavier U (NS) has launched a “More2Gether” campaign to encourage vaccinations, although they will not be required of staff or students. “The more people in our communities who are vaccinated, the more quickly we can return to normal life with fewer restrictions.” The campaign’s StFX-specific hashtag is, of course, “#XOutCOVID”. StFX
Even though the majority of the public supports the idea of COVID19 vaccine passports for international travellers, the idea of requiring proof of vaccination for domestic activities – from attending concerts and theatre performances to entering bars, restaurants, night clubs or school classrooms – generates political and ideological polarization…
“Yes” in Manitoba
Manitoba has been issuing proof-of-immunization cards to residents since June, 2 weeks after their second shot of COVID19 vaccine – although premier Brian Pallister refuses to say which 2 of his MLAs are not yet vaccinated. (As NDP leader Wab Kinew asks, “If the government is asking Manitobans, who are able, to get double-vaccinated if they want to fully participate in our society, is that going to be the same standard for MLAs?”) Manitobans with the card can skip interprovincial quarantines and visit hospitals and long-term care homes. Globe & Mail
“Oui” in Quebec
Quebec has announced it will introduce vaccine passports in September for anyone wanting to visit non-essential businesses such as bars and gyms, in regions with COVID19 outbreaks. (Although if there are no outbreaks, the passports will never be used.) Businesses welcome the move as an alternative to lockdowns, but worry it will generate friction with clientele. Globe & Mail
“Probably Not” in BC
BC Premier John Horgan and PHO Bonnie Henry have said they aren’t supportive of vaccine passports to access services. Globe & Mail
Alberta Says “No Way”
Not surprisingly, Alberta’s conservative premier Jason Kenney has made it clear in no uncertain terms that his government will never “facilitate or accept” vaccine passports, based on privacy concerns. Alberta deliberately amended its Public Health Act to “remove a 100-year-old power allowing the government to force people to be inoculated.” Kenney promises to oppose any attempt by the federal government to introduce such a program. Globe & Mail
Not in Ford Nation
Ontario’s conservative premier Doug Ford has likewise declared the province will not make vaccination mandatory for any industry, nor develop a vaccine passport system. “We aren’t going to have a split society.” However, Ontarians have been receiving receipts with their first and second doses, electronically or on paper, which could be presented if certain businesses request it. Some smaller gyms have announced that anyone entering their facilities will need to be fully vaxxed. Globe & Mail
“We aren’t doing it, simple as that. We aren’t going to have a split society.” – Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
I suspect my opinion has been readily apparent, over the past 4 months, that CdnPSEs would be well advised to either mandate COVID19 vaccines on campus this Fall, or to brace themselves for another pivot to emergency remote learning, should the Delta variant (or something worse) cause another pandemic surge in October. If you’re tired of my sermonizing, allow me to present some other voices instead…
Mandatory for IntlEd
Advocates for hard-hit international higher ed have been outspoken since at least May about the need to make COVID19 vaccines mandatory, in order to rescue the “decimated” sector. “Operating any international programs with a mix of vaccination states would require two different safety protocols, housing and social formats. We cannot ask vaccinated participants to share a bedroom, apartment, social event with a group of unvaccinated students.” PIE News
“It is tempting to wait, watch and follow, but the time is now to act, and move together to take a position so others can as well, so we can get our students back abroad as soon as possible.” – Emily Merson, Executive Director, AIFS Abroad
Time’s Up for Students
As uGuelph molecular geneticist Manish Raizada points out, students have to get their first dose now if they hope to get a second dose 3-4 weeks later, and wait at least 2 more weeks for full immune protection, before coming to campus in early September. With vaccination rates among the traditional PSE student cohort plateauing at about 64% in Canada, we have a long way to go to achieve the 90% that some epidemiologists say would be required to protect a campus community from further outbreaks. And the massive street party in Kingston last week demonstrates that unsanctioned off-campus social activities still pose a considerable threat to unvaccinated students. Raizada is encouraging all PSEs to make vaccinations mandatory now, so that students have time to react. Toronto Star
UWO Prof Concerned
Western U biology prof Beth McDougall-Shackleton is publicly urging the University to follow Seneca College’s example, and make vaccination mandatory for all staff and students attending campus in person. (Western declared in May that vaccines would be mandatory only for students living in residence this Fall.) McDougall-Shackleton believes the right for students and staff to work in a safe environment trumps the right of those who refuse to get vaccinated. The Faculty Association says it cannot comment. CBC
“The right of students to learn in a safe environment and faculty to work in a safe environment, that is a more fundamental right than the perceived right of a vocal minority to disregard evidence-based precautions.” – Beth McDougall-Shackleton, Biology Prof, Western U
CdnPSE Needs a Dose of Courage
The editorial board at the Globe & Mail observes that almost 600 US campuses (including Harvard, Yale, and the entire uCalifornia system) have made COVID19 vaccination mandatory on campus this Fall, and that “Canada’s institutions of learning should have the courage to do likewise.” (With certain medical or religious exceptions, of course.) “In the long progress of liberal ideas about freedom and liberty, we find no evidence of a human right to make others sick, against their will.” Globe & Mail
I mean, after all, plenty of LESS intellectual sectors have already adopted a pro-science position on vaccinations…
Toronto Strip Clubs announced last week that their staff have been vaccinated, and (largely at staff request) patrons will be required to have at least one dose (on an honour system). “We prefer to have a vaccine passport, but unfortunately that doesn’t exist at this time. So we’re just going to take whatever measures we can to ensure the safety of our dancers, our staff and our patrons, and at the same time we’re going to do anything and everything possible — even above what the government asks us to do.” Global
Cruise Lines are offering vaccinated passengers wristbands that provide unfettered access to shows, restaurants and bars on board, while those who are unvaccinated are “second-class citizens” who will face extra expenses, testing, and plenty of off-limits areas and times. “Let’s be honest – NO cruise line wants unvaccinated adults on their ships.” Toronto Sun
Every CdnPSE has launched awareness and public information efforts to encourage vaccination, but a select few rise to the status of “must-see.” Here’s one of the latest…
Let’s KO COVID!
uWindsor and its Students’ Alliance are using an energetic beat and boxing metaphors to encourage the campus community to “take a jab” and “KO COVID!” In this 5-min campaign vid, we’re told that “every shot counts,” and testimonials from president Robert Gordon and others remind us that “the greatest side effect of getting the jab is going to concerts, seeing your friends, and coming back to class.” From the opening campaign logo, to some moving personal stories, to the closing bloopers, the video is very well put together if you have 5 minutes to spare. (Or just watch this 30-sec spot, to get the sense of it!) YouTube
Since my focus on vaccine mandates Tuesday (see “Carrots & Sticks, Jabs & Shots”), several more announcements have been made. Confederation College joins Seneca College as the only CdnPSEs so far to mandate vaccines for anyone coming to campus at all. McMaster has moderated its opposition to a vaccine mandate, reported earlier, to require full vaccination of students living in campus residence, like 12 other CdnPSEs have announced…
Confederation College president Kathleen Lynch announced Tuesday that students and employees are expected to be fully vaccinated by Sep 7, to access campuses in person for classes, activities, or support services. “With the continued and real threat of COVID19, the steady supply of vaccines in Canada, and our move to increased on-campus activities, implementing this approach is the best way to stop the spread of infections and to keep our College community safe.” Confed
McMaster U announced yesterday that it is joining the 12 other CdnPSEs that have announced a mandatory vaccine requirement for students living in campus residence this Fall. McMaster has fully booked its 3,400 beds, and has many students on a waiting list – plus a survey of incoming residence students found that 97% planned to be vaccinated. “We expect that mandatory vaccinations will create even more confidence that residences will be a safe and stable environment for students throughout the academic year.” Students entering residence will need at least 1 shot of a Health Canada recognized COVID19 vaccine, and will have 14 days to get the second. McMaster
You may recall that back in late April, the uSaskatchewan faculty and staff unions beat the rush, calling on the UofS administration to make vaccines mandatory for anyone returning to campus this Fall. So far, that hasn’t gone anywhere, but we can expect other labour associations to weigh in too…
Western’s Faculty Association is now publicly calling on Western U to expand on its vaccine requirement for students in residence, to impose a campus-wide requirement for full vaccination on “all eligible students, staff, faculty, librarians and archivists.” (Medical and religious exemptions would of course need to be accommodated.) The call came 1 day after MCU’s announcement that OnPSEs should prepare for a complete return to campus, without capacity limits or physical distancing. (Last week, UWOFA said it did not have a position on the matter.) “UWOFA asserts that everyone has a right to a safe work and learning environment on campus.” On Monday, Western president Alan Shepard told the media the residence mandate was “as far as it can go, legally.” Western’s University Students’ Council is still consulting students to determine its stance. Global | CBC | London Free Press
“UWOFA asserts that everyone has a right to a safe work and learning environment on campus.” – Nigmendra Narain, UWOFA President
“There’s no reason to go backwards when there’s a way for us to go forward.” – Nigmendra Narain, UWOFA President
“In light of the announcement Monday by the provincial government about a normal return to campus in September, UWOFA calls on Western university administration to require all eligible students, staff, faculty, librarians and archivists to be fully vaccinated before coming to campus.” – UWOFA news release
Canada has made considerable progress on vaccination, although time remains tight to prepare for the Fall…
66M Doses in Canada
As of yesterday, Canada has officially received enough COVID19 vaccine to double-vax everyone over age 12 (66M doses), although actual doses administered amount to 80/63 of the eligible population (and just 70/56 of the total). We’re doing better than any other G7 nation, but the challenge remains the 7M or so who are still hesitant – not to mention the millions of children under age 12. (Pfizer expects some early results from clinical trials with children by Fall, but it won’t change back-to-school this year.) Globe & Mail
McMaster U is reminding students that, to be fully vaccinated by the start of the Fall term, students must get their first dose by Jul 27 and their second by Aug 24. McMaster Daily News
“It’s a call to arms for all those students who haven’t yet received their first doses to start thinking about it this week. Please!” – Kieran Moore, CMOH Ontario
It’s been fascinating to witness the rapid succession of announcements, particularly in Ontario, of mandatory vaccination policies for September – particularly since things moved so slowly in April and May (see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies). Since my last summary, we’ve jumped from 14 to 23 CdnPSEs mandating vaccines, and almost all of the latest announcements represent an about-face on previous public statements…
Brock U announced Monday that “full vaccination will be mandatory” for all students living on campus. Students must have at least 1 dose prior to move-in, and a second within 14 days. Brock
Conestoga College announced last week that students living in residence will be required to be vaccinated against COVID19, “based on advice” from the Waterloo PHO. At a minimum, students must have their first dose of a Health Canada approved vaccine 14 days prior to move-in, and should aim to be fully vaxxed. Conestoga
George Brown College is making full vaccination mandatory for students living in residence or participating in varsity athletics. CityNews
uGuelph announced last week that students in its Guelph campus residences will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID19, as recommended by the local PHO “in the strongest possible terms.” Students must be fully vaxxed within 30 days of move-in. Students living in family housing or off-campus, faculty, staff and campus visitors are exempt from the requirement. UofG
“Requiring vaccinations for students living in residence is consistent with the best current scientific understanding of COVID19 and the University’s mission to improve life. Making this a requirement in residence will help all members of campus return to a more normal campus experience and avoid a serious surge in cases this fall.” – Nicola Mercer, MOH, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
Mohawk College announced last week that students moving into campus residences this Fall must have at least 1 dose of COVID19 vaccine. Students unable to obtain a shot prior to arrival will have 14 days after move-in to do so. Residence occupancy will be doubling this Fall, from 50% to 95% capacity. Hamilton Spectator
Sault College is making vaccines mandatory for all students living in residence or participating in varsity athletics, as well as staff and coaches. Students must be fully vaxxed by Sep 20. “We were comfortable… to be able to just focus on the residence and varsity athletics… because they are in such close, tight quarters.” CTV
uWaterloo announced last week that proof of vaccination will be required of all students living in campus residences, “based on new advice” from the Waterloo PHO. “All first year, upper year, graduate and live-in student staff” must have a Health Canada or WHO approved shot to live in residence. (Students and dependents in family housing do not face the same requirement.) Students should aim to be fully vaxxed before move-in, but at a minimum must have their first shot, and receive their second by Nov 1. UW
Wilfrid Laurier U announced last week that all students living in residence during the 2021-22 academic year will be required to be vaccinated against COVID19. The measure was “strongly recommended” by the Waterloo PHO, and “endorsed” by the Brant PHO. Those who arrive unvaxxed will have 7 days to get their first dose. Accommodations will be made for students on medical or human rights grounds. WLU
“We are listening to the science and following the recommendation of public health to move to mandatory vaccinations for students living in residence. This will allow us to get back to the thriving campus community we all want.” – Ivan Joseph, VP Student Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier U
Most of CdnPSE Silent
Across most of Canada (YK, NWT, NV, BC, AB, MB, SK, QC, NB, PEI and NL), colleges and universities have either been silent on the issue, or have insisted that they will not mandate vaccinations this Fall. Outside of Ontario, only Cape Breton U has announced a vaccine requirement in residence.
Now HALF of ONpse
But in Ontario, 22 institutions (9 colleges and 13 universities) have announced a vax requirement for students in residence this Fall, and 2 colleges (Seneca and Confederation) have gone even further, making vaccinations mandatory for all students, faculty and staff on campus. (That leaves 26 institutions I’m tracking in Ontario who have not made vaccines mandatory.) Most other ONpses have either been silent on the matter, or indicated that discussions are still ongoing. Some of the most vocal early opponents to the idea (like Brock, McMaster and Waterloo) have recently changed their positions.
Vive La Résistance?
Across Quebec, institutions have been clear that they will not mandate vaccination unless the provincial government takes the lead (and that looks unlikely). It’s interesting to note that the holdouts in Ontario are concentrated in regions with strong Francophone presence as well, such as Ottawa (Algonquin and Carleton) and Northern Ontario (Collège Boréal and Lakehead U). It will be interesting to see whether those positions also change in the weeks ahead…
Many student, faculty and PHO voices support mandatory vaccination as a way to get the campus experience back to something more normal this Fall…
The UBC Alma Mater Society has published a strongly-worded open letter to UBC exec and board, urging the institution to consider mandatory masks in lecture halls and requiring vaccination of students living in residence. AMS reports that 82% of 7,933 students surveyed want mandatory vaccinations in residence. (The AMS is extending the mask requirement in its own facilities this Fall.) UBC VP Students Ainsley Carry responds that the provincial guidelines “are not a minimum standard… but a high standard,” and that there were “very few issues” with COVID19 in residences over the past 18 months. UBC Director of University Affairs Matthew Ramsey reiterates Bonnie Henry’s incorrect claim that “there are no vaccines in Canada that are mandatory.” (In BC perhaps, but Ontario and several other provinces have made several vaccines mandatory from Kindergarten on up.) CBC | Global | CTV
“There is no doubt that the university is aligned with the PHO. There is also no doubt that it is unacceptable for UBC, an institution that prides itself as a leader across the country, to only be doing the bare minimum in ensuring the safety and security of its students, staff, and faculty.” – UBC Alma Mater Society, Open Letter
A recent QS Survey of 3,853 international students found that 70% think vaccines should be a prerequisite before travelling to their study destination, and 52% support vaccine passports as a prerequisite to going on campus. Moreover, a new IDP Connect survey of 4,000+ international students finds that 53% are already fully vaxxed, and only 10% are hesitant. Almost half, though, expressed some discomfort with the idea of receiving their second dose in their host country.
UWOFA and MLHU
The Middlesex-London Health Unit says it would support Western U if it decided to extend the vaccine requirement from its residence halls to the entire campus, as the UWO Faculty Association has urged. “[We] would support mandatory vaccination protocols in businesses and in post-secondary institutions, acknowledging that there’s many other considerations that have to be discussed and determined.” Global
uWaterloo in Favour
CTV News reports that some faculty members at uWaterloo are encouraging the institution to extend vaccine mandates from residence halls to the entire campus, to prevent further outbreaks. CTV
UK University Staff
The UK’s University and College Union is urging the governments of Britain, Scotland and Northern Ireland to ensure that university campuses don’t become “incubators for COVID19 all over again” by making face masks and full vaccination of all students mandatory by September. The Guardian
Despite the voices in support, many political activists, philosophers and academics believe that a vaccine mandate is not justified…
UCU also Objects?
While the UK’s UCU wrote to governments last week urging a vaccine mandate (see above), it is also simultaneously, contradictorily, objecting to mandatory vaccinations as “hugely discriminatory against those who are unable to get vaccinated.” Boris Johnson apparently “raged” about the low vaccination rate among youth, and proposed making vaccination compulsory for students in university residences or lecture halls. In response the UCU is now urging that students be “prioritized” and “offered” 2 doses before September, but that vaccination not be made compulsory “as a condition to access their education.” Times Higher Ed | The Independent
Alan Richardson, president of the UBC Faculty Association, wrote Monday that, while he has “sympathy” for those who believe mask and vaccine requirements would be appropriate this Fall and acknowledges that “a moral argument can be made,” the UBCFA cannot responsibly advocate for them at this time. UBCFA is demanding a transparent and detailed risk-benefit analysis, considering the increased workload of student accommodations, intellectual property in online or hyperflex teaching, sick days for sessionals, and faculty health vulnerabilities. “It would be unconscionable for the University to send its faculty and its students into the classroom in the fall without substantial guidance on fundamental issues such as these.” UBCFA
Constitutional Rights Centre
Canada’s Constitutional Rights Centre announced Monday that it has sent legal notices to Western U and Seneca College threatening lawsuits unless the institutions cancel their vaccine mandates. The CRC claims the policies make “an arbitrary and unlawful distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated students,” and violate the Healthcare Consent Act and Personal Health Information Protection Act. “Educational institutions have no business pressuring, influencing, forcing, compelling, coercing, nor extorting students to assume an Emergency Use Authorization only inoculation as a term of attending.” True North News
Since Wednesday’s “Vax to the Max?” I have a few updates for you…
Confederation College president Kathleen Lynch reached out to let me know that her July 20 announcement has been misinterpreted widely by the media (and by me). The announcement stated that “students and employees are expected to be fully vaccinated by Tuesday, September 7, 2021 to access our campuses in person” – but Kathleen emphasizes that “expected” is not the same as “required.” She elaborates: “Just like I expect students to study and attend all classes, I expect them to be vaccinated.” Vaccination remains, however, mandatory for students living in Confederation College shared residences. (This means that Seneca College is so far the only CdnPSE making vaccines mandatory for staff or students to enter campus.)
Brock U announced yesterday that full vaccination will be mandatory for all Brock Badgers varsity and club athletes in order to compete in the 2021-22 season, at least 14 days prior to competition. (Brock has about 900 student-athletes.) Brock News
Lambton College announced yesterday that COVID19 vaccinations will be mandatory for students living in residence this Fall. Residence students must upload “proof, via attestation, of at least a first dose” by Aug 30, and of a second dose by Oct 15. As usual, medical and human rights exemptions will be allowed, but “may impose restrictions on access, activities or room occupancy.” Lambton
Seneca College president David Agnew penned an op-ed last week to explain “one of the easiest decisions” in his 12 years there, to make Seneca the first CdnPSE to ban unvaccinated staff and students from campus this Fall. “Vaccinations are the only way we will tame and eventually beat this virus,” just as mandatory vaccinations have virtually eliminated polio, smallpox, measles and mumps. In fact, Agnew is urging government to make vaccinations mandatory for returning to school in person. “Now is the time to make it crystal clear that some doors… will remain closed to the unvaccinated.” Toronto Star
“We beat polio, smallpox, measles, mumps and a host of other viruses and diseases… because we have a program of mandatory vaccinations for children.” – David Agnew, President, Seneca College
uToronto announced yesterday that it will require self-declaration of COVID19 vaccination status for “all community members,” and will require vaccination for “high-risk activities” by students, staff, faculty and librarians. (So far, those activities include varsity sports, music instruction and educational placements.) Those who do not indicate they are vaccinated will be provided with rapid screening kits twice weekly. UofT News
Ontario K-12 students will face different isolation requirements this Fall, depending upon their vax status. (Currently Ontario youth age 12-17 are at 65/42. About 333,000 young people have yet to get their first shot.) The province’s outbreak management plan will require unvaxxed students to learn from home for 10-20 days after each COVID19 exposure, while fully-vaxxed staff and students will face “minimal interruption” and will be able to “attend sports and participate fully in all of the social activities of the school setting.” CTV
So, while the Ontario government isn’t encouraging vaccine mandates or passports specifically, they are certainly signalling an expectation that fully-vaxxed students will get “perks” and a more complete campus experience this Fall.
Beyond the faculty association concerns and media interviews by CdnPSE faculty, summarized in previous issues (see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies), there have been a couple of national op-eds penned in the past 24 hours…
CdnPSE is “Failing Science”
Health law profs Amir Attaran and Jacob Shelley, from uOttawa and Western U respectively, wrote yesterday in Maclean’s that (with the exception of Seneca College) “Canada’s universities and colleges are failing science” by failing to enact vaccine mandates like the world’s top institutions. Compared to the uCalifornia system, which mandated vaccines in Dec 2020, CdnPSE is “acting as if there is not a pandemic happening, and vaccines are not the way out of it.” They dispute Western’s claim that it has “gone as far as it can go legally” by imposing a vax requirement in residence, pointing to other mandatory vaccines and campus-wide smoking bans as examples. They also dismiss the single-dose requirement at uOttawa as an “unscientific half-measure,” since the world’s health authorities all agree that “one dose does not make for immunization.” At the end of July, it’s too late to be “kicking the can down the road”: CdnPSE should “turn instantly to require full vaccination.” Maclean’s
“All the Canadian institutions that are requiring no vaccination, or half-vaccination, are so scientifically lost at sea that they cannot teach health promotion or medical ethics without farcically conceding their own misconduct.” – Amir Attaran (uOttawa) and Jacob Shelley (Western U), in Maclean’s
Vax or Campus Shutdown
Lauren Cipriano (at Western’s Ivey School of Business), Gregory Gloor (Western Biochemistry), Wael Haddara and Michael Silverman (of London Health Sciences Centre) wrote in yesterday’s Globe & Mail that “without mandatory vaccines, more campus shutdowns are inevitable.” More than 1M students will return to CdnPSE campuses on Sep 7, a “mass relocation” that poses a pandemic threat to campuses and their surrounding communities. The barrier, they say, is “political will,” and they urge provincial governments the impose a vaccine mandate on PSE campuses. Otherwise, “we will be guaranteeing a return to online education.” Globe & Mail
COVID19 vaccination is being mandated by a range of governments, employers, and higher ed institutions around North America – including high tech firms, military organizations, and law firms. Here’s a recent sampling…
California and New York City government employees (including teachers and police officers) must either get vaccinated against COVID19 by September, or face weekly COVID19 testing, according to announcements Monday. The Dean of Brown U’s School of Public Health predicts this is the “opening of the floodgates” for announcements by government and corporate employers. AP
California State U announced Tuesday that students, staff and faculty on all its campuses must be vaccinated starting in September. National Post
Google announced Wednesday that its 130,000 employees will return to the office starting Oct 18, but that they must be vaccinated against COVID19. CNBC
Facebook followed suit later that day, announcing that it will require any US employees to be vaccinated before they return to the office. The Verge
Lyft will require proof of vaccination for employees returning to the office. Twitter
Netflix will require cast and some crew members on its US productions to be vaccinated against COVID19 before coming to set, with a few exceptions for age, medical and religious reasons. The Verge
London law firm McKenzie Lake has returned its 150 employees to the office, making it clear WFH is no longer an option – and neither is vaccination. Staff have been told to get fully vaxxed, or “look for another job.” London Free Press
Then again, there have also been plenty of CdnPSE announcements assuring students (and politicians?) that no vaccine mandate is forthcoming…
Cambrian College is encouraging vaccinations and will be hosting clinics on campus, but won’t require students to be vaxxed in order to study or live on campus this Fall. Sudbury.com
Collège Boréal likewise reports that vaccination “will not – at this time – be required” to enter campus. Sudbury.com
“Oppressing” the Unvaxxed?
Here in London ON, city councillor Michael Van Holst wanted to ask the city’s Diversity, Inclusion and Anti-Oppression Advisory Committee for a “pre-emptive opinion” on whether vaccine mandates represent “an act of coercion and potentially oppression” against the vaccine hesitant, or those merely seeking medical privacy. (City Hall has not instituted any mandates, although the local PHO has expressed support for mandates in high-risk settings.) Thankfully, the motion received no seconder. Van Holst has publicly sided with anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-fluoride and climate change deniers. (Please don’t judge Londoners by our high-profile wackos!) CTV | London Free Press
As usual, Jason Kenney is doing his best imitation of a Republican Texan governor…
Mandates Not Allowed in AB?
Despite the fact that the province is headed for a 4th wave of the pandemic in the wake of the Calgary Stampede and its “Open for Summer” approach (more on that next week), Jason Kenney’s government is clearly discouraging ABpses from following ONpse’s example. A Ministry spokesperson told CBC that “we respect the right of individuals to choose to get the vaccine and will not be requiring post-secondary institutions in Alberta to mandate vaccinations on campus. There is no mechanism that would allow institutions to require students to be vaccinated for in-person attendance on campus.” CBC
“You know, we have other laws like no smoking on campus because the choices of a few people can harm others… It’s not unreasonable to ask people to essentially give up some of their rights when they’re in a community situation. We do it all the time.” – Aidan Hollis, Economics Prof, uCalgary
Whatever you might think about freedom-loving Americans and their resentment of government intrusion into healthcare and corporate governance, on the issue of vaccine mandates the US seems to have reached a tipping point this week…
619 US colleges and universities (and counting) have now made vaccination against COVID19 mandatory for students returning to campus. Chronicle of Higher Ed
The Association of American Medical Colleges is urging all medical schools and teaching hospitals to make COVID19 vaccination mandatory for their employees and students undertaking clinical placements. “The issue is patients first.” Feedback from member institutions, they report, has been “100% thumbs-up.” Inside Higher Ed
“For the safety of our patients, communities, health care personnel, faculty, and students, we encourage our members to require vaccinations for employees.” – Association of American Medical Colleges
US federal employees and contractors must be vaccinated, or else submit to regular testing and mitigation requirements, according to an announcement anticipated yesterday by president Joe Biden. (The White House can’t readily impose a national requirement when states have jurisdiction, but it can regulate federal employees.)
Courts are upholding vaccine mandates by US employers, who have the right to make them a “condition of employment,” according to federal legal guidance this week, even if they have only emergency-use authorization from the FDA. Antivax employees are entitled to “reasonable accommodation” on medical or religious grounds, but not to the point of “undue hardship for the employer.” And unvaxxed staff can be subject to testing, mask requirements, social distancing, alternate work schedules, remote work and/or reassignment. AP | Washington Post
57 US healthcare groups, including the American Medical Association and Nurses Association, issued a joint statement Monday urging “all health care and long-term care employers to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID19.” The groups represent millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers. As of May 30, an estimated 25% of US frontline hospital workers still hadn’t been vaccinated. Washington Post
Numerous editorials are embracing a future of mandatory vaccines. The Washington Post opines that employer mandates have reached “a tipping point” (quoting California’s health secretary, Mark Ghaly). Slatesays “It’s time to start requiring vaccinations. Bring on the passports!” Vice writes that “COVID vaccine mandates are coming, so get used to it.”
Really, what more can I say?
“The carrot of being able to drastically reduce your chances of dying on a ventilator has been available long enough, and with limited enough effect, that the stick is starting to look real nice.” – Ben Mathis-Lilley, in Slate
Today, I want to return to what is becoming a weekly Friday focus: vaccination policies. Since last week (“Vax to the Max” and “The Vaccine Tipping Point”) the dominoes have continued to fall as ONpse starts to consider the risks of a fourth wave once students return to campus next month…
As the Delta variant sweeps through the US, many colleges and universities there are reinstating mask mandates or imposing mandatory vaccination policies to prepare for the Fall return to campus…
Elite US Mandates
At least 662 US colleges and universities are now mandating the COVID19 vaccine for students returning to campus (although some have indicated the requirement hinges on full FDA approval or one or more vaccine, expected within the month). Most explicitly include exemptions for medical or religious reasons covered by human rights legislation. Unsurprisingly, 90% of these institutions are in states that voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 election. And most are private institutions, less worried about executive orders from state governors that might ban the mandates – and more concerned about revenues from a return to normal campus life. Chronicle of Higher Ed
As some state legislatures and governors attempt to ban campus mask and vax mandates on political grounds, the American College Health Association and two dozen other organizations spoke out on Monday: “State actions that prevent the use of established and effective public health tools at the same time as COVID19 cases increase is a recipe for disaster.” (As I reported in April, the ACHA has recommended all colleges mandate vaccines for all students on campus this Fall.) Bans have been imposed in AL, AR, FL, GA, ID, IN, IA, MT, OK, SC, TX, UT and WY – although a federal judge upheld Indiana U’s vaccine requirement as constitutional. Inside Higher Ed
The Top 25 are Unanimous
Every one of the US institutions ranked in the top 25 by US News is now requiring all students to be vaccinated against COVID19 this Fall (although uMichigan is so far requiring vaccination only for students living in residence, like most CdnPSEs). More than that, 20 of the top 25 also require faculty and staff to be vaccinated. Forbes
It’s a Small World…
Even the Walt Disney Company is mandating all of its salaried and non-unionized US employees be vaccinated within the next 60 days, whether they work onsite or remotely, “with certain limited exceptions.” (As I mentioned last week, Google, Facebook and Netflix have made similar announcements.) Going forward, Disney says it will hire only those who have been vaccinated. Discussions are ongoing with Disney’s unions. Variety
Vax Over Masks
I’m not at all surprised that a Monmouth U poll released Monday shows just 52% of Americans now support reinstating masking or social distancing guidelines (as you would expect, 85% of Democrats and 24% of Republicans), way down from 75% back in December. (Once mask mandates were lifted, nobody wants to go back – which is why many epidemiologists expected them to last well into 2022.) Nor am I surprised that another survey last month found 64% of Americans would support requiring COVID19 vaccinations. Vaccine mandates are going to be more popular than mask mandates among those who are already vaxxed – and vaccines are far more effective than masks against the Delta variant. Washington Post
In the past 2 days, Canadian political leaders have begun signaling that vaccine mandates or passports may be coming…
Quebec premier François Legault has announced the province will implement a vaccine passport system by September, joining Manitoba in restricting some activities to fully-vaxxed residents. “The principle behind the passport is that those who made the effort to get their two doses must be able to live a quasi-normal life.” Globe & Mail
BC, MB and PEI are reportedly considering vaccine passports of their own. BC says “anything is on the table,” but they will not deny people essential services because of their vaccine status. In Manitoba, restrictions already apply to museums, casinos, and art galleries – but not to PSE campuses. The “PEI Pass” is already in use for people travelling interprovincially to Prince Edward Island. CTV News
PM Justin Trudeau said yesterday he has asked the Clerk of the Privy Council to consider mandatory vaccinations for 500,000 employees of the federal government, and ~1M working in federally-regulated sectors like banking and transportation. (This follows a similar move by US president Joe Biden last week.) Cabinet would likely change the regulations under the Canada Labour Code, which governs occupational health and safety and federal workplaces. Federal labour unions expect to be consulted. Globe & Mail | CTV News
Ontario premier Doug Ford insists “we’re not going to have a split society” by using vaccine passports, although the Ontario Medical Association and RN Association of Ontario have urged him to reconsider. Ontario already requires students to be vaccinated against 9 illnesses, but won’t include COVID19 because the government “respects the choices individuals will make.” And yet, Ontario’s Ministry of Health indicated this week that unvaccinated students will be treated differently in the event of a school outbreak, with longer isolation periods required.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horvath has reversed her position, now calling for mandatory COVID19 vaccinations for health and education workers in Ontario. (A day earlier she said a mandate would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.) Globe & Mail
Alberta premier Jason Kenney says his province will not support a system that requires businesses to ask customers for proof of vaccination.
A new Nanos Research poll finds that 53% of Canadians support the premise of mandatory vaccinations “for people who can be vaccinated,” and another 21% “somewhat support” it. Only 24% oppose or somewhat oppose vax mandates. Respondents in Quebec and Ontario were most supportive. CTV News
Through June and July, 29 CdnPSEs have announced mandatory COVID19 vaccine requirements for students living in residence (all but 1 in Ontario), and 11 have extended that to include varsity athletics and some other “high-risk” activities. So far, only Seneca College has mandated vaccines for ALL faculty, staff or students coming to campus, although uToronto is requiring it for “high-risk” activities, and other institutions are starting to suggest they may follow suit. (See the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies for all the details.)
This trend has the look of inevitability to me, just like the cascade of institutions pivoting to emergency remote delivery in spring 2020. (See last week’s “The Vaccine Tipping Point,” for many of the arguments.) At this point, 28 out of 48 Ontario colleges and universities have announced mandatory vaccines for students in residence. Laurier reports that Ontario University Athletics is recommending vaccination for all student athletes, which suggests at least 15 more Ontario universities will announce vaccine requirements for athletes in the coming days. Only time will tell how this plays out across CdnPSE, so I’ll track these for the foreseeable future…
Cambrian College announced Friday that it has reversed its position (reiterated just last week), and now willrequire proof of vaccination for students living in campus residence this Fall. Student will require at least 1 dose of a HC/WHO approved vaccine by move-in, and the second before the end of the semester. “At this time” vaccinations are not a requirement of on-campus work or learning – but it is “strongly encouraged.” Sudbury Star
Canadore College announced yesterday that COVID19 vaccinations will be mandatory for all students living in residence this Fall. Students must have received at least 1 dose of a Health Canada approved vaccine on or before move-in day, and their second by Oct 15. “The mandatory vaccine program is for students in residence only at this time and does not impact other on-campus program and service delivery.” Canadore
Carleton U announced yesterday that full COVID19 vaccinations will be required this Fall for all students living in residence, participating in varsity athletics and competitive club sports, or participating in music instruction. All Carleton faculty, staff and students will be required to self-declare their vaccination status, with Health Canada or WHO approved vaccines. First doses will be required by Sep 10, and second doses by Oct 15. “This list of activities that require full vaccination may change or be updated as public health recommendations evolve.” Carleton
Conestoga College announced Wednesday that it is extending its vax mandate to varsity athletes this Fall, like “a growing number of post-secondary institutions in Ontario.” A survey of Conestoga athletes earlier this summer found that 85% were either vaxxed, or intended to be in the near future. Moreover, Conestoga president John Tibbits told employees on Tuesday that “for the winter semester, Conestoga is considering a vaccine requirement for everyone learning or working on our campuses.” (That would follow the example of Seneca College, so far the only CdnPSE with a blanket vaccine requirement for anyone coming to campus.) A decision will be announced in October. Conestoga | CTV News
“It is serious business. We need to be sure everyone that’s on campus can be safe. Do we want an honour system? Do we have passports? I don’t know. But what we’re signalling is, we want people to get that vaccine.” – John Tibbits, President, Conestoga College
Georgian College announced Tuesday that students planning to live in on-campus residences in Barrie, Orillia or Owen Sound will need at least 1 dose of a Health Canada approved COVID19 vaccine by Aug 18, and will need their 2nd dose by Oct 8. Education News Canada | Global News
uGuelph announced Wednesday that it is extending the vaccine mandate to varsity athletes, because “the dynamic nature of sporting activities mean athletes are often in close and regular contact with each other during practices and competitions and interact with athletes from other universities in high touch, competitive and sometimes contained environments.” Most uGuelph athletes are already fully vaccinated, but they will need to provide proof by Sep 30. Rapid testing will be conducted starting in mid-August for teams holding practices. Like uToronto, UofG also says it “plans to broaden these discussions and may further extend vaccination requirements, particularly for courses and programs involving close and frequent contact such as the performing arts, especially theatre and music.” uGuelph News
uOttawa required all Gee-Gees athletes to submit proof of at least one dose of vaccine by Sunday (Aug 1), as part of the medical pre-participation form, and will require proof of second doses by Oct 1. “Student-athletes who do not comply will be removed from the team’s roster and lose access to all the privileges afforded to student-athletes including team or individual training, competition or any Varsity Integrated Support systems.” Ottawa Citizen
Sheridan College announced Wednesday that all students living in residence or participating in varsity athletics will need to be vaccinated against COVID19 this fall. Two weeks prior to move-in, students will need to show proof of at least 1 dose of a Health Canada approved vaccine, and all will need their 2nd dose by Sept 17. Peel and Halton Public Health have emphasized that high levels of 2-dose vaccination will be necessary in high-density settings like residences, to prevent local outbreaks in the coming academic year. Sheridan
Wilfrid Laurier U announced yesterday that the vaccine mandate for students in residence this Fall has been extended to include all student athletes playing interuniversity sports and student trainers. Athletes must be fully-vaxxed with a Health Canada approved vaccine for a full 14 days before they can participate in any competition. WLU recommends first doses by Aug 16 and second doses by Sep 30. “By following the vaccine recommendations of the OUA, we will allow our student-athletes to fully participate in their sports and engage in this key component of their university experience.” CTV
While ONpse is increasingly mandating COVID19 vaccines for students in residence and athletes, institutions outside Ontario are continuing to resist – while staff and faculty are protesting…
Debates in Manitoba
The Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations issued a news release on Tuesday calling on universities to make COVID19 vaccinations mandatory for staff and students “to earn the privilege to visit campus this fall.” (MOFA represents 1,500+ employees at uManitoba, uWinnipeg, Brandon U and U St Boniface.) MOFA suggests that exemptions should be possible for “legitimate medical reasons,” and that international students should be allowed a grace period due to global vaccine inequity. Manitoba university administrations, meanwhile, are toeing the province’s line and say while they are “encouraging” vaccination, they have no plans to require proof. The province requires vaccination for people attending sports events, restaurants or movie theatres – which MOFA argues have far better HVAC systems than many university classrooms. Winnipeg Free Press | Global News | CBC
“I’ve been reading, voraciously, legal opinions on this and it’s quite within the rights of governments and institutions to set restrictions based on public health considerations.” – Scott Forbes, Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations
“I would argue that movie theatres have substantially better ventilation systems than the antiquated HVAC systems at most of our universities with decades-old buildings.” – Scott Forbes, Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations
Debates in Alberta
Some uCalgary profs are urging the University to make COVID19 vaccinations a requirement for students returning in-person this Fall. Faculty are expressing support for Aidan Hollis’ open letter, particularly as the province abandons masking, distancing, testing and tracing protocols. Lisa Young, a Public Policy prof, says “It’s really important to me that students in my classroom feel safe in all kinds of ways.” She plans to post a sign on her office door indicating that unvaxxed students must wear masks. UofC president Ed McCauley maintains that “it is not currently possible” to mandate vaccinations in Alberta. For its part, the minister’s office has said the government “will not be requiring” ABpses to mandate vaccinations. CTV News
Debates in BC
An open letter signed by 60+ staff and faculty at Simon Fraser U expresses serious concern over the provincial “Return to Campus” plan, and urges SFU to mandate vaccinations for students in residence, as well as maintaining a mask mandate in all indoor public settings this Fall. The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC has written to Advanced Education minister Anne Kang to urge her to “affirm the autonomy” of BCpse to introduce vaccine and mask mandates, course delivery modes, and more. SFU’s Teaching Support Staff Union has issued a news release urging new return-to-campus guidelines “consistent with best-available evidence” and introducing more “layers of prevention,” and several other BC university unions have endorsed the position.
And OK, it’s not western CANADA, but…
Western Faculty Protest
Some Western U profs are publicly threatening that they will not return to in-person teaching if community cases of COVID19 rise and there is no campus-wide vaccine mandate at Western. Neuroscientist Adrian Owen says he has taken that position “to protect our community and to do whatever small thing I can do to bring an end to this pandemic.” (He also has a pre-existing health condition and a 7-year-old at home.) Physiology and Pharmacology prof Marco Prado says he’s concerned about returning to a 450-person lecture hall, and will say no if he sees risks for his own health or the community. The UWOFA says it is putting pressure on Western administration “to do the right thing and require all students and staff be fully vaccinated.” The Public Service Alliance of Canada local, representing 2,500 post-doctoral associates and TAs at Western, is now adding its voice to the UWOFA’s to encourage a campus-wide vaccine mandate. For its part, the administration says it does not have the authority to impose a vaccine mandate. CBC | London Free Press | CBC
“The writing is already on the wall. It’s already in the research. We need a vaccine mandate.” – Nigmendra Narain, President, UWO Faculty Association
“Hundreds of post-secondary institutions in the US and elsewhere in the world have made the decision to follow the scientific advice.” – Adrian Owen, Neuroscientist, Schulich School of Medicine, Western U
“Anything less than a vaccine mandate willfully ignores the advice of Western’s own world-renowned faculty experts in public health law and infectious disease prevention.” – Nigmendra Narain, President, UWO Faculty Association
Western Vax Survey
On Tuesday, Western U announced a confidential survey of students, faculty and staff “to gauge vaccination rates and inform health and safety measures” for the Fall term. Western was the first CdnPSE to mandate vaccinations in residence, but it has yet to extend that requirement to athletics, music, or other areas of campus. Says president Alan Shepard, “Questions around mandatory vaccination and the threat of the Delta variant have made the circumstances of the pandemic even more dynamic. We are actively exploring all of our options, as expert guidance evolves in response to the pandemic.” The survey is in field until Aug 9, and asks just 2 questions: have you been fully vaxxed, and if not, do you plan to be, before September. Western News | CBC | CTV | Global
Of course, the philosophical debate continues too…
Vax Mandates are Needed
Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of Science, wrote in an editorial last week that US colleges will need vax mandates to reopen this Fall without triggering another outbreak and more closures or substantial restrictions. Unvaxxed students could contract and spread COVID19 just like last Fall, particularly “immunologically naïve” first-year students and college athletes. Politicians who try to “circumvent faculty expertise” with bans on mandates are putting lives at stake. Science
“In ‘red’ states, where vaccine mandates are not permitted, an aura of uncertainty will hang over the campus and the local community, a foreboding sense that another outbreak could be at hand.” – Holden Thorp, Editor-in-Chief, Science
Do Mandates Work?
By 1980, all US states required immunization against measles for K-12 students to attend school, and in 1982 Ontario introduced legislation to require vaccinations against measles and 8 other diseases. Public health nurses follow up with new parents about vaccination, and the law subjects students to 20-day suspension and parents to $1,000 fines for non-compliance. (With exemptions for about 1.8% of students.) But, argue 3 historians from uGuelph, mandates did not significantly raise vaccination rates in Ontario compared to other provinces, instead only hardening opposition from anti-vax groups in the 1980s. The Conversation
The Ethics of Mandates
Arthur Schafer, founding director of uManitoba’s Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics, explains that opponents of vaccine passports (including the premiers of AB, SK and ON) actually don’t have a sound moral argument for civil liberties or privacy. As J.S. Mill articulated in the 19th century, “when your autonomous choice poses a risk of harm to others, then it may be legitimate for society to limit your liberty.” CBC
Canadian Charter Rights
Two law profs from UBC and uOttawa argue that there is a sound constitutional basis for CdnPSE to mandate vaccinations as a condition of enrolment during a pandemic. Too many CdnPSEs seem to assume that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms “protects the rights of unvaccinated individuals to participate without restriction in the public realm” – but in fact, while individuals have the right to make their own health decisions, they “cannot expect that choice to be without consequence” during a pandemic. Moreover, the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that universities are “not governmental actors” and therefore not subject to the Charter in the first place. (Although admittedly that gets complicated.) Even if the Charter applied in this case, “there is little evidence that would suggest discrimination on the basis of protected grounds,” and all Charter protections are subject to “reasonable limits that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.” Vancouver Sun
“A bare right to choose not to be vaccinated… does not also provide constitutional immunity against all consequences flowing from that decision.” – Debra Parkes, UBC, and Carissima Mathen, uOttawa, Law profs
The “Obvious” Solution?
Two social work profs from uToronto and uWindsor argue that “mandating vaccination can risk turning a highly effective and routine public health intervention into a contentious battleground… that can divide communities and marginalize individuals.” Some people have allergies or other medical reasons not to get vaccinated. The mortality risk is unequal and shaped by socio-political and economic factors. Racialized communities, people living with HIV, and drug users have “complex interactions” with the healthcare system, and “engaging these communities about vaccination requires cultural humility and respect.” If CdnPSE does not allow unvaxxed students to return to campus, they need to offer online alternatives. The Conversation
“Universities have a short window to be proactive about the fall and winter semesters. They need to consider what a gentler return home for students might look like this time compared to 2020.” – Peter Newman, uToronto and Adrian Guta, uWindsor, Social Work profs
Reasoning with Toddlers
Thanks to the Delta variant and the unvaxxed population, Canada faces a 4th wave of the pandemic, and a return to masking. Maclean’s columnist Scott Gilmore urges government to forget carrots, when it comes to COVID19 vaccination, and bring out the stick. “Reasoning with a toddler will only get you so far. Soothing tones and patience may work for a while, but eventually the child once again picks up their bowl, looks you straight in the eye, and slowly pours their cereal onto the floor.” Canada is dealing with such toddlers, in the 20% who have yet to get even their first shot. A uSydney study found that the unvaxxed tended to have “less agreeable personalities” and were “less cooperative with others, more selfish, and more extroverted.” Gilmore says “in the vernacular, the term is ‘assholes.’” Factual arguments, incentives and lotteries have been demonstrated to be ineffective – but deny antivaxxers access to large family gatherings or flights, and 40% will opt for the shot. Vaccine requirements in France and Italy created immediate demand for doses. “We need to begin treating the vaccine holdouts as the fools they are… Time for the stick.” Maclean’s
“When French President Emmanuel Macron announced vaccine passes would be required to enter restaurants, hospitals, shopping centers or to take a train, 2.2 million new appointments were booked within the following 48 hours.” – Scott Gilmore, Maclean’s
I suppose it’s appropriate that today is World Mosquito Day, since we’re talking about an absolute SWARM of injection policies across CdnPSE. On Aug 6, before I stepped away for a brief vacation, I told you the Vaccine Writing was on the Wall – but little did I realize there would be an absolute DELUGE of some 450 announcements, objections, and stories in my notes when I came to update you today!
I’ve been working around the clock for 3 days to try to distill this – so I apologize in advance that I haven’t had time to streamline or abbreviate much of it, and that I have doubtless missed some new announcements from the past few hours. At this point, I felt it was important to share what I have gathered before the weekend, for those of you still trying to grasp the trends. Sorry that it’s a triple-issue!
Overall, I’d say “the inevitable” is cascading across CdnPSE campuses like dominoes – just as COVID19 measures spread in the spring of 2020, and again in the Fall of 2020. As you know, I’m not an epidemiologist nor a lawyer, but observing the trends in painstaking detail for the past 19 months has certainly given me “déjà vu all over again.” Institutions attempting a return to campus, while resisting a vax requirement of some kind, are playing a game of “COVID19 chicken” with the virus, and will wind up backpedalling – or worse – in the next 8 weeks…
If you want the blow-by-blow details since March, you can of course consult the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies, but here’s a quick summary of how we got here…
American campuses have been leading the way with early announcements of vax mandates. The first (I think) was Rutgers in late March, and now 741 US institutions have followed suit (including every one of the top 25). The ACHA recommended vax mandates to all PSEs a month later. In Canada, there was plenty of denial and waffling early on, prompting the uSask Faculty Association to push for a mandate at the beginning of May, but the request fell on deaf ears. Most CdnPSEs opted to “encourage” or even “urge” vaccination, hosted vaccine clinics on campus, launched vax awareness campaigns on social media, or even held contests with prize incentives to encourage vaccination (led by uLethbridge and Assiniboine CC in early May). I admit, it was surprising to see CdnPSE lagging their US counterparts so much, when our political climate here was considerably less explosive and our socialized attitudes to healthcare made the case so much easier…
What was not so surprising was to see Western U lead the way May 27, announcing a vaccine requirement for students entering residence this Fall. (You may recall from my COVID19 tracking sheet that Western was publicly hit hard in 2020-21 with at least 377 infections on campus, and outbreaks in virtually all its residence halls.) I am still quite surprised we didn’t immediately see Western followed by other hard-hit ONpses Queen’s (253+), uToronto (150+), and uWaterloo (104+). Instead, the next schools to announce were Trent, Fanshawe, and – almost 2 weeks later – uToronto and then Ryerson. In early June, institutions like McMaster and Brockwere still emphatic that they would NOT require vaccinations, even in residence, but by month-end residence mandates were unveiled across the GTA at Durham, Ontario Tech, and York, and in Peterborough at Fleming College (following Trent’s lead, and still smarting from a deadly off-campus outbreak among students). Later in July, residence mandates were also announced at uOttawa, and Cape Breton U, and in the final days of the month at Brock, Conestoga, George Brown, uGuelph, Lambton, Laurier, Mohawk, Sault, and uWaterloo (as regional PHOs started to encourage it). Remarkably, it took several more weeks for Cambrian, Canadore, and Georgian to join them.
In late July, OUA Athletics apparently started encouraging mandatory vaccination for varsity athletes, to help ensure the league schedules could proceed as planned for the Fall. Vax mandates were extended to include varsity athletes at George Brown, Sault College, Brock, Conestoga, uGuelph, Laurier, uOttawa, and Sheridan.
The next (likely inevitable) step beyond mandates in residence and varsity athletics involves other “high-risk” activities on campus, from intramural sports and indoor recreation to music performance instruction or educational placements. On Jul 29, uToronto extended its residence vax requirement to students, staff, faculty and librarians engaged in high-risk activities. On Aug 5, Carleton U extended its residence mandate to varsity and club athletes and students in music performance instruction, while also noting that the list of high-risk activities might further evolve.
Pushing for Workplace Safety
Throughout the summer, faculty associations and outspoken profs across the country have been following the early lead of their peers at uSask, pushing for vaccines to be mandatory for students in their classrooms this Fall. The UWOFA started pushing for a campuswide mandate in late July to ensure a safe work environment, but Western president Alan Shepard insisted the residence requirement was “as far as it can go, legally.” The UBC Alma Mater Society added their voice Jul 23, backed with the results of a campus survey, but the UBC FA refused to support them on ethical grounds. Profs from Western and uOttawa wrote in Maclean’s that CdnPSE was “failing science.” Profs at Western warned in the Globe & Mail that “without mandatory vaccines, more campus shutdowns are inevitable” and “guarantee” a return to online teaching. Earlier this month, some Western profs publicly threatened they would not return to class, and BC’s “Return to Campus” plan was targeted by SFU staff and faculty, the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC, and the SFU Teaching Support Staff Union.
“Hundreds of post-secondary institutions in the US and elsewhere in the world have made the decision to follow the scientific advice.” – Adrian Owen, Neuroscientist, Schulich School of Medicine, Western U
“All the Canadian institutions that are requiring no vaccination, or half-vaccination, are so scientifically lost at sea that they cannot teach health promotion or medical ethics without farcically conceding their own misconduct.” – Amir Attaran (uOttawa) and Jacob Shelley (Western U), in Maclean’s
On Jun 18, Seneca College surprised the rest of CdnPSE by declaring vaccines mandatory for all students and employees coming to campus after Sep 7. (Kudos to president David Agnew for this brave, even prescient, announcement, made early enough that the campus community could adequately prepare for the Fall.) A full month later on Jul 20, Confederation College president Kathleen Lynch appeared to follow suit, but clarified that while students and staff were “expected” to be fully vaxxed, this was not a “requirement.” On Jul 29, uToronto announced that it will require “self-declaration” of vax status by “all community members” and will provide rapid screening kits to the unvaxxed twice a week. And on Aug 5, Carleton followed suit, indicating that all students, faculty and staff will be required to self-declare their vax status.
That sums up 5 months’ worth of vaccine mandate debate and announcements in CdnPSE. But that’s nothing compared to the past 2 weeks…
(Remind me never to take a vacation in a pandemic, huh?) Since my last summary on Aug 6, I’ve collected 450 announcements and news items about vax mandates in CdnPSE. In just 2 weeks, we’ve gone from 29 to almost 80 institutions announcing mandatory vaccine policies of one kind or another!
Some ONpses have come late to the party, as it were, only announcing recently vax mandates for students in residence (such as Georgian, Lakehead, Sault, St Clair, Laurentian, Canadore) or those participating in varsity athletics (including Western, Fanshawe, Ontario Tech, Sault, St Clair, Laurentian, Laurier, Conestoga, Niagara College, uWindsor).
Collective ONpse Request
While premier Doug Ford is clearly opposed to vaccine passports and mandates, on Aug 6 Ontario’s public colleges and universities collectively urged the government to impose a province-wide mandatory vaccine policy on their campuses, and adopt the “COVID Safe Pass” system advocated by the Toronto Board of Trade and other business groups. “We know that ensuring high rates of vaccination will be essential to protect public health and reopening the economy – including our campuses – this fall.” (The Ontario Undergraduate Students Association tweeted their support too.) Council of Ontario Universities
Clearly, ONpse was not prepared to wait for the province, and took matters into their own hands…
Blanket Mandates in Ontario
In the past 2 weeks, 37 more ONpses have joined Seneca in announcing a blanket requirement that all students, staff and faculty must self-declare their vax status to come to campus this Fall – often contradicting their previous announcements…
uWaterloo announced Aug 9 that employees and students will have to “anonymously self-declare” their vax status in order to obtain access to campus buildings starting Sep 1, and that the institution supports advocacy efforts urging mandatory vaccination across the ONpse sector. Those who answer “no” to the campus check-in will be provided with information about vaccination, booking appointments, and rapid antigen screening, and they “will be expected to participate in screening twice a week.” Anyone who tests positive will have to self-isolate. (On Aug 16, UW clarified that anyone entering campus after Sep 1 must consent to showing proof of their vax status or test results at any time if it is required.) Some faculty critics object that the measure doesn’t go as far as a vaccine mandate. UW | CTV News | Global News | CBC
uOttawa announced on Aug 10 that vaccination will be mandatory for anyone on campus as of Sep 7: “The risks posed by the pandemic are clear, and the path to staying safe, ever clearer.” Self-attestations will be required of all community members returning to campus starting Sep 1, and 2-dose coverage will be mandatory by Oct 15. Those who aren’t vaccinated will be subject to frequent testing, mask and PPE requirements. Masking and physical distancing remain in effect on campus, since vaccinations aren’t 100% effective. uOttawa | uOttawa News | Ottawa Citizen | Global News | CBC | CTV News
“We know that this pandemic right now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated, and that means the university population is ripe to be a hot zone for outbreaks… So how do we avoid that? You get them all vaccinated.” – Raywat Deonandan, Epidemiologist, uOttawa
Then 3 more announcements came Aug 11…
Western and its affiliated colleges (Brescia, Huron, and King’s) announced a requirement to provide proof of vaccination, or be tested twice weekly. (Those in residence, or involved in work placements, music, or varsity athletics have no alternative other than being vaxxed.) Masks will also be mandatory indoors. The announcement followed a massive lobbying effort by campus unions. Western was the first CdnPSE to make vaccines mandatory in residence, back in a May announcement. Western bioethicist Maxwell Smith points out that the policy is not so much a mandate as a choice: people can WFH, study online, go to another institution, delay their education, or undergo twice weekly testing. And, of course, exceptions will be provided on grounds protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code. UWO | CBC | London Free Press | The Gazette
“PSE has the potential to be a major driver of COVID cases and pandemic waves… to see Western come down on the right side of history by doing whatever they can to prevent spread in PSE students, it’s a tremendous win for our community.” – Chris Mackie, MOH, Middlesex-London Health Unit
uToronto announced a requirement to self-declare vax status before coming to its campuses this Fall back on Jul 29, but the emphasis was on students in residence, athletics and other “high-risk” activities. As other ONpses adopted similar requirements, president Meric Gertler clarified on Aug 11 that UofT will requireanyone intending to be present on campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID19. All others must take at-home rapid-screening tests twice a week, and produce a negative result within 72 hours of heading to campus – along with “additional public health measures.” (As the Toronto Star succinctly put it: “get the jab or get tested.”) Students in music, varsity athletics, and other high-risk activities will have no alternative to vaccination, and will have to upload documentary proof. Prof Salvatore Spadafora explains, “the public health evidence is clear: vaccination provides the best protection from COVID19.” But the policy emphasized self-attestation without a requirement that vax documentation be provided as proof, disappointing the UTFA who called it “inadequate” and “misleading.” (Some faculty called it “smoke and mirrors.”) The CFS and OCUFA urged the province to implement a provincewide PSE vax mandate. UofT News | Toronto Star | Global News | CP24 | The Varsity | CBC | 680 News
“Without proof, it’s not a requirement. UofT should be ashamed of its propaganda campaign.”– Patrick Kielty, Assoc Prof, Faculty of Information, uToronto
uGuelph announced a vaccination requirement for students, faculty and staff throughout the 2021-22 academic year at its campuses and indoor field stations. (An online petition had gathered 1,400 signatories at the time.) The decision was made with “strong support” from the local PHOs, and president Charlotte Yates observes that operationalizing the mandate “will require widespread institutional consultation and action.” In a town hall Aug 12, she added that “we are not going to become a carding campus,” with TAs and profs enforcing vaccine requirements; an easier mechanism would be a provincial or national vaccine passport. uGuelph | CBC | Global News | CTV News | Toronto Star
“As an institution of higher learning and a leader in life sciences, the University is committed to evidence and research-informed decision making. We are fortunate to be able to leverage the expertise of world-renowned scholars who have been shaping our institutional response to the pandemic since the beginning… We have responded to every challenge we faced in the last year and a half with compassion, flexibility and an unwavering dedication to our mission to Improve Life.” – Charlotte Yates, President, uGuelph
The Floodgates Open
By Aug 12, the ONpse announcements were coming fast and furious…
Brock U announced (in an “about-face”) Aug 12 that it will require at least a first dose of a HC or WHO-approved vaccine for access to campus starting Sep 7, and a 2nd dose by Oct 15. Community members will be required to attest to their vax status, and “be prepared to furnish proof of vaccination.” The unvaxxed will be subject to “screening and frequent testing.” The BUFA says it had been lobbying for a vax mandate for some time, and had 300 signatures on a petition. Brock News | Niagara Falls Review
Carleton U extended its vax mandate on Aug 12 from “high-risk” activities to all students, faculty and staff returning to campus, just one week later. Attestation will be mandatory, and the unvaxxed will need to pass a rapid test to gain temporary access to campus. All in-person classes will have mask and social distancing requirements, and class caps of 60 students. Carleton | The Charlatan | Global News | Ottawa Citizen
Fleming College announced Aug 13 that everyone will require a 1st dose of a HC/WHO-approved vaccine by Sep 7, and a 2nd dose by Oct 20, in order to access programs and activities on campus. Otherwise, regular testing will be required. Fleming | Global News | Education News Canada
Georgian College announced Aug 13 that vaccinations will be mandatory for all students and employees on campus as of Sep 7. All should have their 1st dose of a HC/WHO-approved vaccine by Sep 7, and a 2nd dose by Oct 18. Global News | Education News Canada
OCAD U president Ana Serrano announced Aug 12 that students, faculty and staff will be required to self-declare their vax status before they can participate in any activity on campus. A rapid screening program will be required for the unvaxxed. Everyone on campus this Fall will be “either fully (or on the path to becoming fully) vaccinated,” or will be tested weekly. OCADU
Ontario Tech U announced Aug 12 that COVID19 vaccinations will be mandatory for anyone coming to campus, effective Sep 3. People will have until Oct 17 to get their second dose, if necessary. Documentary proof of vaccination will be uploaded through a mobile app. Unvaxxed, non-exempt students will have the option to study online. ONTech | Education News Canada | CTV News
Queen’s U announced Aug 12 (after numerous refusals) that it will require all students, staff and faculty returning to campus to be fully vaccinated, “or have a plan to do so,” by Sep 7. Those who are not fully vaxxed will be required to undertake “additional health and safety protocols and COVID19 testing” as recommended by the PHO. Moreover, in the event of an outbreak, unvaxxed students in residence may be moved to an “isolation space.” Queen’s Gazette | Kingston Whig-Standard | CTV News | Global News
Ryerson U announced on Aug 13 a blanket vaccine requirement to access campus as of Sep 7. Those who do not attest to being fully vaxxed will need to be tested before coming to campus. Students in residence and competitive or varsity athletics will still be required to be fully vaccinated. “As part of our preparations for the winter term and an anticipated full return to campus in January, the university will be working to include requiring proof of vaccination in order to come to campus.” Masking, social distancing, enhanced cleaning and HVAC will remain in place. Ryerson | CityNews
St Clair College announced Aug 17 that all staff, faculty, students, contractors and campus visitors will be required to be fully vaccinated this Fall, starting Sep 7. They will be required to provide proof of a 2nd dose “within the required minimum period.” Education News Canada | CBC | Windsor Star
St Lawrence College announced Aug 12 that students, employees, visitors and contractors will be required to have full COVID19 vaccinations to come to campus this fall. First doses are expected by Sep 7. (This made SLC the second college in Ontario, after Seneca, to institute a vaccine mandate.) SLC | Kingston Whig-Standard | CTV News | Education News Canada
Wilfrid Laurier U announced Aug 12 that members of the campus community will need to confirm their vaccination status prior to attending campus as of Sep 7. Those who are not fully vaxxed must receive a negative COVID19 test prior to coming to campus, and commit to regular testing. Brantford Expositor | Waterloo Record | CBC | CTV News | Global News
York U announced Aug 12 that all community members and campus visitors will be required to be vaccinated against COVID19, “subject to medical and human rights exemptions, in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.” York | Education News Canada
More ONpse announcements continued this week…
Collège Boréal announced Aug 16 that proof of full vaccination will be mandatory for access to any of its campuses across Ontario this September. At least 1 dose of a HC-approved vaccine will be required by Sep 7, and 2 doses will be required by Oct 4. After Oct 4, the unvaxxed will be subject to testing and screening. Mask and physical distancing requirements will remain in force. Boréal | CBC | Education News Canada | Sudbury Star | Sudbury.com
Confederation College announced Aug 16 that it will require all members of the community to be fully vaccinated to access its campuses this Fall, as of Sep 7. Those with a single dose of a HC/WHO approved vaccine will be provided a “grace period” to obtain their 2nd dose until Oct 18. Details of attestations and alternatives to vaccination were still being determined, with just “a couple of weeks left until our semester starts.” Confederation | CBC
Laurentian U announced Aug 16 (just a week after its residence and athletics announcements) that allpersons attending campus will be required to be vaccinated against COVID19 as of Sep 8, at the recommendation of the local PHO. The unvaxxed “will be subject to measures such as testing and screening.” Face mask requirements, physical distancing, and enhanced cleaning will continue. Education News Canada | Laurentian | Sudbury.com | Sudbury Star
Mohawk College announced Aug 16 that the residence and athletics mandate would be expanded to all employees, students, contractors and visitors attending Mohawk facilities, starting Sep 7. Individuals will need to confirm that they have at least 1 dose of a HC/WHO approved vaccine, and the 2nd dose should be received by Oct 15, “with proof of full vaccination required” by Oct 30. Social distancing and mask requirements remain in place. Those with approved exemptions will be required to be tested regularly and demonstrate a negative test result to enter campus. Mohawk | CBC | Education News Canada | CHCH
McMaster U announced Aug 16 that it will require people to upload proof that they’re either fully vaccinated or exempted on human rights grounds, before they may enter campus starting Sep 7. Between Sep 7 and Oct 18, all others will need to submit proof of a negative COVID19 test twice weekly. After Oct 18, “vaccines or an approved exemption will be needed to attend a McMaster campus or facility.” CBC | McMaster | CHCH
Niagara College announced Aug 16 that anyone coming to campus after Sep 7 will need to provide proof of at least 1 dose of a HC or WHO approved vaccine, and a 2nd dose by Oct 18. Masks, distancing and enhanced cleaning will continue. NC | Global News | CHCH
Nipissing U announced late in the day Aug 16 that anyone coming to campus this Fall will be required to attest to their COVID19 vax status “through a secure portal,” and the unvaxxed must commit to regular testing and produce a negative test result before coming to campus. Students in residence, athletics, or conducting F2F research with human subjects will be required to provide proof of vaccination. Nipissing | North Bay Nugget | Sudbury Star
uWindsor announced Aug 16 that all faculty, staff and students must have a 1st dose by Sep 1 and a 2nd dose by Oct 1 in order to access the campus. The unvaxxed will be subject to regular testing. Mask requirements, physical distancing, capacity limits, daily self-assessments, and hybrid course delivery will continue. uWindsor | Windsor Star
Then the Ontario government itself opened the floodgates still further…
The Ontario Government announced Aug 17 that hospital and home care staff will need to be fully immunized against COVID19 or subject to regular rapid testing. The Ministry of Education will be introducing a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly-funded school board employees, staff in private schools and in licensed childcare settings for the 2021-22 school year. “Vaccination policies will also be implemented in other high-risk settings such as post-secondary institutions.” CMOH Kieran Moore emphasized that, thanks to the Delta variant, “it’s going to be a difficult fall and winter” as people move indoors and young people gather in classrooms. Liberal, Green, and NDP opposition politicians criticized the move as “half-baked” “half-measures” that do “the bare minimum” to protect Ontarians. ETFO (the elementary teachers’ union) called on the government to go beyond a voluntary disclosure policy, to implement mandatory vaccinations. Ontario | London Free Press | CBC | CTV | Globe & Mail
This reduced the political risk for ONpses, and encouraged more announcements…
Algoma U announced Aug 18 that students will be asked to attest that they’ve been vaccinated against COVID19 when they return to campus in September, and the unvaxxed will be tested “at least weekly.” The university wants students immunized by the second week of October. Sault Star
Algonquin College president Claude Brulé was still confident that infection controls would be adequate, just a week earlier, but on Aug 18 he announced a mandatory vaccination policy for the Fall 2021 term. As of Sep 7, anyone accessing Algonquin campuses will need to show proof of at least 1 dose of COVID19 vaccine, and by Oct 12 proof of 2 doses. Algonquin | CBC | Global News | CTV | Ottawa Citizen
Cambrian College says proof of full vaccination will be mandatory for campus access starting Sep 7. The unvaxxed will be subject to enhanced screening, regular COVID19 testing, and additional health and safety measures after Oct 15. CBC | Sudbury.com
Canadore College announced Aug 19 a blanket requirement of at least one dose of COVID19 vaccine, effective Sep 7. Canadore
Centennial College announced Aug 18 that it will require proof of vaccination for students, employees, visitors and contractors to visit campus. Exempt individuals will be required to participate in “regular, college-facilitated testing.” Centennial strongly urges first doses before Sep 7. Centennial
Conestoga College announced Aug 17 that a vaccine mandate will be implemented on campus by Jan 2022, because it will “take some time” to implement a robust vaccine mandate, and students and employees “need fair notice” to adapt or make alternative arrangements. Conestoga
Durham College announced Aug 17 that all members of the campus community must be fully vaccinated by Oct 17 with a WHO-approved vaccine. Attestations will be required beginning Sep 3. DC | DurhamRegion.com
Lakehead U announced that vaccines will be mandatory to attend school properties, with a 1st dose required by Sep 7 and a 2nd by Oct 7. Global News
Lambton College announced Aug 18 it will require proof of vaccination for campus access for all students, employees and guests beginning Aug 31. A first dose of a HC approved vaccine is required by Aug 31, and a 2nd dose by Oct 11. Education News Canada | London Free Press | Global News
Loyalist College announced Aug 17 that anyone coming to campus must have received at least 1 dose of a HC-approved COVID19 vaccine by Sep 7, and be fully vaxxed by Nov 1. The unvaxxed must produce a negative result from a rapid test to gain access to campus. All individuals must wear masks, regardless of vax status. Loyalist
Sheridan College announced Aug 17 that it will require everyone who comes to campus to demonstrate that they are fully vaxxed this Fall. The unvaxxed will be required to participate in routine, rapid antigen testing. Sheridan
Trent U president Leo Groarke announced Aug 18 that anyone coming to campus as of Sep 7 must provide proof of 2 doses of COVID19 vaccine. All others will need to complete COVID19 testing before coming to campus. Mandatory masks, health screening, enhanced ventilation and cleaning will also continue. Students who submit proof of 2 doses by Sep 7 will be entered into a draw for free tuition for the semester. Trent
Really, at this point, the ONpses refusing to institute a vax mandate stand out. I haven’t seen a clear announcement from Humber, Northern, UOF or Hearst. I think only one Ontario institution still remains outspoken against a vaccine mandate…
Fanshawe College insists it will not require a vaccine to come to campus (although it is mandatory in residence and for varsity athletes). 60% of Fanshawe students are expected to study remotely, and only ~1,300 of 19,000 students will be on campus at any given time. Class sizes will be reduced, facemasks will be mandatory, and physical distancing imposed in classrooms. CBC | London Free Press
East of Ontario, things look somewhat different of course…
Controversies in Quebec
Quebec’s government announced Aug 5 a return to in-person instruction on CEGEP and university campuses this Fall, without masks or distancing in most classrooms. (It regards F2F instruction as an essential service, but not athletics or other extracurriculars.) On Aug 10, it detailed a province-wide smartphone-based vaccine passport system that would ban unvaxxed people from bars, restaurants, concerts and gyms as of Sep 1. It would likely also apply to student athletics and non-essential activities. Labour laws apparently mean that the staff working in those venues would face no such requirement. (Naturally, the plan sparked protests in the streets. Don’t come between the Quebecois and their favourite watering hole.) While some McGill Law profsargue that the lack of vaccine mandates discriminates against the immune-compromised, and the McGill Association of University Teachers is urging a vax mandate, the health ministry remains insistent that vaccine mandates are unnecessary for CEGEPs and universities in the province, even without masks and distancing. Some universities started taking matters into their own hands, extending mask mandates into the Fall at McGill, Concordia, Bishops U, and uMontréal (as well as 16 CEGEPs where vaccination levels are low). On Aug 17, premier Franćois Legault announced mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers across Quebec, but educators remain exempt “for now.” (Naturally, healthcare unions are “a little surprised by the severity of the measure.”) He also reversed course, and announced that masks will remain mandatory even while PSE students are seated in class.
Mandates in New Brunswick
All 3 major NB universities reportedly agreed as of Aug 13 that they would not require vaccinations for students, faculty or staff. UNB said it had decided against mandatory vaccines, but was offering vaccination clinics on campus and “letting students decide for themselves.” (Faculty critics call it the “path of least resistance.”) UNB also planned a database where students can self-declare their vax status. St Thomas Ureported that 88% of its students were fully vaxxed anyway. But the NB government announced yesterday that it is making vaccines mandatory for all government employees. (Partially vaxxed or unvaxxed employees would be required to wear masks. Being fully vaxxed would be a condition of employment for all new hires.) Also yesterday, St Thomas U announced it was making vaccines mandatory for students, faculty and staff, in response to strong recommendations from the province. UNB is circulating a survey and encourages students, faculty and staff to “maintain copies of their vaccination status” as the institution considers its approach. Mount Allison U announced a mandatory vaccine policy yesterday. Faculty, staff and students must show proof of being fully vaxxed by Oct 1, or they will be subject to regular COVID19 testing and required to wear masks. The MtA Students’ Union applauded the announcement.
Concerns in Nova Scotia
On Monday (Aug 16), Dalhousie U updated the community on its plans for Fall – which will not include distancing or class size caps, but masks will remain mandatory through the month of September. Students, faculty and staff are “advised” to be fully vaxxed prior to arriving on campus, but the NS PHO has advised against mandatory vax requirements. (“Although our approach to vaccination remains unchanged, we will continue to evaluate our stance with particular consideration towards future health risks driven by emerging variants.”) On Tuesday, Dal’s faculty association spoke out demanding a vaccine mandate for faculty, staff and students in time for September. (The executive committee passed a unanimous motion on Tuesday calling for mandatory vaccinations, as well as mask and social distancing requirements, and adequate levels of ventilation in all buildings.) Dal administration responded that it “values the contributions of faculty and will engage with them as plans evolve” – and yesterday announced that Dal is engaged in ongoing discussions with CONSUP and the NS PHO, as well as “exploring vaccination requirements for select potentially higher-risk activities” like residence and athletics.
West of Ontario, vaccine mandates remain a contentious topic, but progress is continuing…
Manitoba Seems Primed
So far, most MBpses have indicated they will not make vaccination mandatory this Fall, even though the province established vaccine cards and has indicated “universities can make their own decisions, as can businesses.” uManitoba is reportedly “discussing” its COVID19 protocols. RRC, uWinnipeg and Brandon U are apparently extending their mask mandates and physical distancing requirements. So far, as of yesterday, only Red River College has announced that vaccinations will be required on campus starting Sep 10. (2nd doses will be required by Oct 17.) At Manitoba’s universities, pressure continues from faculty associations. The Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations called on the province to impose a vax mandate on all campuses at the beginning of August. The uWinnipeg Faculty Association has voted “overwhelmingly” to demand campus vax and mask mandates this Fall, to ensure a safe return to campus learning, and suggests vax status could be linked to RFID security passes. (“Contact tracing is an impossibility, cohorting is an impossibility, and distancing is in an impossibility. If we can have vaccines to attend a Winnipeg Blue Bombers game, I think we can have vaccines to attend university.”) The Brandon U Faculty Association likewise “hopes to start dialogue” with administration about a vax mandate, though they recognize the logistical issues at this late date.
Mandates in Saskatchewan
SKpse seems much more aligned with ONpse in their approach to vaccine mandates. The uSaskatchewan Faculty Association has been advocating for a vax mandate since the spring. On Aug 13, uSaskatchewan and uRegina announced vax mandates for students, staff and faculty on campus this Fall. uSask says proof of a 1st dose will be required by Sep 7, and of a 2nd dose by Oct 18, while the unvaxxed will be required to provide “regular and frequent negative COVID19 test results and to submit a daily symptom checklist” to access campus. (Vaccinations remain mandatory for students in residence, athletics, or high-risk activities.) uRegina and its federated colleges will require faculty, staff and students to be fully vaxxed by Oct 1. The unvaxxed will be asked to take a rapid antigen test twice weekly. (UofR says the fall semester will be a “transitional” one.) The uSask Students’ Union has some concerns, particularly about accommodating international students who may have faced obstacles to vaccination, or received vaccines not approved by HC. These concerns are shared by some uRegina students, and the uRegina Student Union also has concerns about privacy of health data and cybersecurity threats. For its part, Saskatchewan Polytechnic will require facemasks and social distancing this Fall, and is considering a vaccine mandate. (About 70% of SKPoly programs will be delivered in hybrid mode.)
About-Faces in Alberta
Just last week, most ABpses were planning a return to campus without mask or vaccine mandates, as the province planned to lift remaining COVID19 restrictions. Understandably, that prompted “grave concerns” among 21 law profs at uCalgary, sparked an open letter from hundreds of uAlberta students and faculty demanding mandatory vaccinations, and prompted calls from the uAlberta Students’ Union and Association of Academic Staff for greater precautions. As I mentioned Tuesday, PHO Deena Hinshaw backpedalled and postponed those changes until after the upcoming federal election – but nonetheless, ABpses apparently felt compelled to take further measures into their own hands. Earlier this week, Alberta’s 3 major universities announced vax mandates but reframed them as testing requirements. (In practice, this amounts to the same thing as many ONpses.) uCalgary, uAlberta and uLethbridge jointly announced that as of Sep 1, all faculty, staff and students coming to their campuses will be required to undergo “regular rapid testing,” except for those who attest they are fully vaxxed. A positive test would result in a 10-day quarantine. (uAlberta clarified Wednesday that community members may be required to provide documentary proof of vaccination. President Mike Mahon says uLethbridge will not ask for proof, nor apparently will uAlberta. There is still no indication what frequency “regularly” entails.) The 3 schools also reversed positions from just days earlier, announcing that masks will now be mandatory indoors when physical distancing is not possible. (In mandating masks, they were joined this week by Bow Valley College, Concordia U of Edmonton, Mount Royal, and SAIT.) Recently MacEwan announced that student athletes must be fully-vaxxed to compete with other institutions, and Concordia U of Edmonton is imposing a vax mandate on student athletes, those living in residence, and those “involved in Arts performances where they are not part of a course.” But, insists president Tim Loreman, CUE will not be implementing mandatory vax or testing policies, which “are simply unenforceable.” SAIT says it is “exploring the use of COVID19 rapid testing as a possible health and safety measure,” but AUArts, SAIT and BVC say they will not mandate vaccination.
“Implementing these measures at Alberta’s research universities allows us to collectively return to in-person formats that minimizes the risk for our students, faculty, staff and external partners as well as the risk of having to pivot away from the face-to-face environment we have been waiting for.” – Mike Mahon, President, uLethbridge
BC Stands its Ground?
I admit I’m disappointed in British Columbia PHO Bonnie Henry, who is allowing resistance to vax mandates – and even mask mandates! – to dominate, even as the province sees rising case counts in the interior. Not only is the BC government “confident” in a full return to campus without mandatory masks or social distancing, but the MAEST wrote Jul 29 that BCpses “should not introduce COVID19 prevention measures that are different from those supported by public health professionals,” and that no changes to current guidelines were being considered. In mid-August, most BCpses (including UBC, SFU, Langara, and BCIT) were toeing the provincial line. But since then, of course, protests and petitions have gathered momentum at uVic, SFU, and UBC (as well as CUFABC), all urging campus mandates for masks, vaccinations, or at least COVID19 testing.UBC president Santa Ono is on the record as being “supportive of mandatory indoor masking and vaccination.” (Although UBC’s Alma Mater Society wants to see actual mask and vax mandates.) The “debate continues” at Thompson Rivers U, which currently mandates neither masks nor vaccination. uVic hoped to have “more clarity” from discussions with the province and other universities this week. (The SFU Biology departmentwent so far as to announce its own mask mandate on Aug 13, and to give faculty permission to refuse entry to their offices and labs by unvaxxed people.) Royal Roads U is proceeding with its current plans, in line with the provincial RTC guidelines, “for now,” and president Philip Steenkamp warns that vaccine mandates are complex and challenging to enforce. “While we might have different opinions about how to proceed… we need to trust the public health officials who have years of training and expertise on these matters and, indeed, require a license to practice public health.” On Tuesday, the BC Ministry of Health said PHOs are in fact reviewing those guidelines, and more information will be forthcoming shortly.
(Crossing my fingers!)
“We need to trust the public health officials who have years of training and expertise on these matters and, indeed, require a license to practice public health. There has been a concerted attack on expertise across the globe in the last few years and I believe that we, as a university, need to defend and support the experts.” – Philip Steenkamp, President, Royal Roads U
“In light of the known knowns, known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns, and in the absence of any risk analysis brought forward by the University, we now believe that a robustly precautionary approach is most appropriate.” – Alan Richardson, President, UBC Faculty Association
The pace of COVID19 vaccine policy announcements accelerated last week, and believe it or not, there are even more to report since my massive summary on Friday (see “A Flood of Vax Mandates,” ICYMI). Instead of repeating Friday’s approach, 14 pages long, I’m splitting up the survey across 2 issues, this morning and tomorrow morning.
If you want the blow-by-blow details since I started tracking this issue in March, you can of course consult the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies. And I am now updating the data in my CdnPSE and COVID19 spreadsheet in real time.
So, grab a coffee and let’s get started with the US, Ontario, and eastern Canada…
Vaccines have long been a controversial issue south of the border, with anti-vaxxers embracing conspiracy theories and posing real challenges for public health professionals. The COVID19 vaccines have become a partisan issue in Congress too…
Many Republicans remain staunchly antivax, or profess to be while concealing their own vax status. This despite that fact that former president Donald Trump often takes credit for accelerating vaccine development with his “Operation Warp Speed.” This weekend, Trump’s own supporters booed him for encouraging vaccination, at a rally in Alabama – in a city that declared a state of emergency days earlier due to COVID19. (Ironically, they’re taking the same position as the Taliban in Afghanistan, which has started to ban the distribution of COVID19 vaccines.) Americans are evenly divided on the question of campus vax mandates: a recent Quinnipiac U poll found 48% in favour and 49% opposed.
The FDA granted COVID19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson only “Emergency Use Authorization” when they started to be deployed late last year. Many antivaxxers have used EUA as an excuse, and many colleges and other employers have questioned their legal right to make an EUA vaccine a requirement of study or work. That started to change on Monday, with the announcement of full FDA approvalfor the Pfizer vaccine (at least for those aged 16+), based on clinical trials with 44,000+ participants and a 360,000-page application. For Americans aged 12-15, Pfizer remains under an EUA. (Moderna has also filed for FDA approval, which may come soon.)
“If you’re a business leader, a nonprofit leader, a state or local leader who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do that. Require it!” – Joe Biden, US President
The Pfizer vaccine will now be marketed under the brand name “Comirnaty,” to reflect its mRNA technology, “community” and “immunity,” and the collective good it will do to help bring about an end to the pandemic. Believe it or not, they have been working with a branding firm since Apr 2020 on the name! Other finalist names included Covuity, RnaxCovi, Kovimerna, and RNXtract. (Sheesh!) Moderna’s vaccine, once approved, will have a much cooler name: “SpikeVax.” NPR
Marching Orders for the Military
In order to “maintain military readiness,” the Pentagon was giving more than 1M members of the US military until Sep 15 to get vaccinated, even before full FDA approval. Service members live and work in close proximity in barracks and on ships, so COVID19 poses a threat to national security. (Many already are required to get up to 17 different vaccines, from Anthrax to Chicken Pox, depending upon where they are stationed.) Military COVID19 deaths jumped by one-third to 34 last month. Upon the FDA’s announcement Monday, the Pentagon intended to make the vaccine mandatory immediately. (COVID19 vaccination is currently voluntary for members of the Canadian Armed Forces, although it might be required for certain operations or positions.)
Back in July, the US Dept of Veterans Affairs ordered all staff be vaxxed by Sep, or face penalties including “removal.” California and New York City ordered government workers to get vaxxed or face regular COVID19 testing. President Joe Biden issued a directive for federal employees – which has generated support and opposition from major labour unions. Healthcare workers in Maryland either vax or test regularly. State employees in Connecticut, including teachers, must be vaxxed by Sep 27. University faculty and staff in Washington state must be fully vaxxed by Oct 18. K-12 teachers in jurisdictions from Oregon and Los Angeles to Chicago have to be fully vaxxed by Oct 15. Immediately following Monday’s FDA announcement, the New York City Department of Education (the largest in the US) made vaxxes mandatory for all teachers and staff.
Private Sector Mandates
High tech companies were early to mandate vaccination for their employees upon returning to the office, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Lyft. (Unsurprisingly, so was Pfizer.) Food processors like Tyson Foods have mandated the vax to keep plants operating. Airlines like United and Frontier have mandated vaccinations to keep their flights in the air. (United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has reportedly sent “dozens” of condolence letters to the families of employees who died from COVID19.)
Last week, New York City announced the first US vaccine passport system, for access to restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues as of Sep 13. As of Aug 16, New Orleans requires customers at bars, restaurants, strip clubs, casinos, stadiums, concerts and skating rinks to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID19 test to gain admission. As of Aug 20, San Francisco will require the same. Restaurant reservation platform OpenTable is integrating Clear digital vaccine cards in their app, to launch in September.
While 773 US college campuses (about one-quarter of the nation) have already imposed mandatory COVID19 vaccine requirements on their students for the Fall, full FDA approval on Monday is a “game-changer” that will encourage many more to “get off the fence” just as students begin arriving on campus for the Fall…
CUNY and SUNY indicated they were waiting for full FDA approval before requiring vaccination. Now, SUNY is giving 400,000 students and 85,000 faculty at its 64 campuses 35 days to get double-vaxxed, or request a medical or religious exemption. Times Union
uMemphis intended to pursue a vax mandate immediately, with students returning to campus the same day. Memphis Commercial Appeal
uMinnesota added the COVID19 vax to its list of required vaccinations on Monday. Students will need to confirm their vaccination status, while faculty and staff are being asked to attest. UM
Ohio State U announced yesterday that all 66,000 students and 30,000 employees will need COVID19 vaccinations this Fall, making it the largest state university to extend a vax mandate to staff and faculty. First doses are required by Oct 15 and 2nd doses by Nov 15, with a “limited set” of “case-by-case” exemptions. Boston Globe
Washington State U warns students that if unvaxxed, they may need to wear a mask on campus, may be barred from some campus events, and will not be able to register for Spring 2022 classes. University Business
Indiana U imposed a vaccine requirement on faculty, students and staff back in May, and it has survived repeated court challenges in the Federal District, Appeals, and US Supreme Court. Several students argued that IU was demanding they relinquish their constitutional rights, and “coercing students to give up their rights to bodily integrity, autonomy, and of medical treatment choice.” (IU does offer religious and medical exemptions.) Washington Post
“Each university may decide what is necessary to keep other students safe in a congregate setting.” – Judge Frank Easterbrook, 7th Circuit US Court of Appeals
Thousands Yet to Comply
The CDC is recommending colleges conduct surveillance testing for COVID19 among unvaxxed members of their community, and so many institutions are demanding proof of vaccination status – but with just days to go before the return to campus, many students have not yet complied. West Virgina U reported 8,500 missing documents with just 1 day to go. After a few days grace, they will face a “judicial hold” on their records. Louisiana State U reported 19,000 students (more than half its enrolment) had yet to comply. Chronicle of Higher Ed
Quinnipiac U (CT) is resorting to a tried and true parenting tactic to encourage vaccination among its students: the 600 who remain unvaxxed could lose access to campus wifi this Fall, as well as facing fines of $100 per week, and the requirement of weekly COVID19 testing. Hartford Courant
uVirginia “disenrolled” 242 students earlier this week because they were not fully vaxxed against COVID19. 49 had already selected courses for the Fall term, which begins Aug 24. CBS19
uTexas at Austin has modelled potential COVID19 spread on campus this Fall and the costs to respond, concluding that the difference between 60% and 80% student vaccination could cost UTA almost $4M, including $2M on rapid tests. UTA
Stanford U is requiring weekly COVID19 tests for students on campus, whether they are vaxxed or not – reflecting the growing awareness that even vaxxed individuals can contract and spread the Delta variant. Stanford
If one-quarter of US colleges have imposed vax mandates, how do we compare in Canada? Since Friday, 6 more ONpses have announced vax mandates on campus, bringing the total up from 36 to 42 (out of 47 I’m watching – in other words, 89.4%).
Toronto Public Health is recommending all employers require proof of COVID19 vaccination. The City of Toronto is requiring all employees be double-vaxxed by Oct 30. Major Canadian banks are complying with Ottawa’s directive to impose mandatory vax policies on employees. Toronto’s University Health Network has told all employees they will be fired by Oct 22 if they are not fully vaxxed.
The latest ONpse additions include:
Canadore College announced last Thursday that anyone coming to campus must attest to being fully vaccinated as of Sep 7. North Bay Nugget
George Brown College announced Monday that individuals accessing its facilities as of Sep 7 will need to provide either verification of full vaccination or a negative COVID19 rapid test within 48 hours of entry. Education News Canada | CityNews | GBC Policy
uGuelph-Humber has also announced a vaccine requirement for all students and instructors who will be in the classroom on campus this Fall, following uGuelph and others. The unvaxxed may be required to undergo regular COVID19 testing. UG-H
Humber College hasn’t made a public announcement, but the vaccine policy statement says that individuals coming to campus must provide proof of full vaccination by Oct 18, or obtain an exemption on human rights, medical or conscientious grounds. Students and employees have been asked to declare their vax status by Sep 7. Humber
Northern Ontario School of Medicine announced last Thursday that faculty, staff and students must be fully vaxxed by Oct 7, complete training and provide an attestation. Sudbury.com |
There were also some clarifications, largely driven by a provincewide recommendation from the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health…
Carleton U clarified yesterday that it now expects proof of a 1st dose by Sep 8 and a 2nd by Oct 15 for anyone coming to campus. Vax receipts or documentation must be uploaded to the cuScreen portal. Those exempted will need to provide a negative rapid test result within 72 hours of any on-campus activity. Those without an exemption who refuse to be vaxxed will be banned from in-person activities on campus. Carleton | Global | CTV
uGuelph clarified Monday that anyone coming to campus as of Sep 7 must register their proof of vaccination. Those exempted must obtain a negative COVID19 test within 72 hours before accessing indoor spaces. uGuelph | CTV | CBC
Mohawk College shared details of the process for submitting proof of vaccination through the Mohawk Safety app or online portal. Mohawk
Niagara College shared details of the process for submitting proof of vaccination through the student portal, myNC. NC
uToronto clarified Thursday that it will require staff and students to show proof of COVID19 vaccination, not merely provide a self-declaration. (Critics complained the previous policy was “smoke and mirrors.”) The alternative is enrolment in the university’s twice-weekly rapid screening program. CBC | The Varsity
uWaterloo clarified yesterday that proof of vaccination will be required for campus access after Sep 7, in response to a recommendation from the Council of Ontario MOHs. All members of the Council of Ontario Universities have agreed to act on this recommendation. uWaterloo
At this point, I still haven’t seen any recent announcements from Northern College, Sault College, or Tyndale U. (Let me know if I’ve missed them!) The only vocal hold-outs in Ontario seem to be Fanshawe College, and Redeemer University (who says they will wait for provincial guidelines).
My guess is ONpse will get to 100% by Labour Day, but other regions are less clear-cut…
Regular readers will perhaps be unsurprised that the François Legault government has been loathe to impose vaccine requirements on CEGEPS and universities – or even to signal that they will be PERMITTED to do so themselves…
Masks Mandated Again
It’s a major win, frankly, that the Quebec government announced yesterday a return to mandatory mask policies in K-12 classrooms, thanks to the surging Delta variant. Education Minister Jean-François Roberge assured parents that classroom bubbles would not be reinstated this year, although protocols for isolation and quarantine are still rather weak. Montreal Gazette
“Passports for Freedom”
The Quebec government has unveiled a vaccine passport system, to start Sep 1. Anyone age 13+ wishing to access “non-essential services” (such as bars, restaurants, gyms, theatres or live events) will have to show proof of vaccination – but the government insists universities are an “essential” service. Proof of vaccination will be required from university students who want to participate in some high-risk extracurricular activities, such as athletics. (The iphone app “VaxiCode” can be downloaded as of 8am this morning. Android users have to wait until later this week.) Beginning Sep 15, businesses that fail to check vax passports can face fines of up to $6,000. Global | CTV | Globe & Mail
Opposition Urges More
Dominique Anglade, leader of the Quebec Liberal party, is urging the government to mandate vaccination for government employees, education and childcare workers, and all students at CEGEPs and universities in the province. CTV
So far, QCpse news is all about labour union pressure…
Bishop’s U faculty union APBU is reportedly asking university administration to implement a vax mandate for staff, students, and campus visitors this Fall. The university FAQ page says that “for now one does not need to be vaccinated” to attend classes. Bishop’s
Concordia U is not planning to impose a vaccine mandate, although labour unions are reportedly meeting to discuss how a vax passport could apply to campus activities. Global
McGill U faculty are urging the administration to impose a vax mandate. The McGill Association of University Teachers, the School of Population and Global Health, the departments of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, and a group of law profs all wrote to administration last week. The Students’ Society president says he could support a mandate, so long as it can accommodate international students. Globe & Mail | Global
As of my last summary, in Atlantic Canada only Mount Allison and St Thomas U had announced a vaccine mandate, and Cape Breton U had announced a vax requirement in residence. It’s been a busy few days, and now 9 institutions (maybe 10?) have implemented campuswide mandates, and 1 a mandate for athletes.
Memorial U announced Friday that it will require students, staff and faculty to be vaccinated and wear masks on campus. On Monday, MUN clarified that 1st doses of any HC/WHO approved vaccine will be required by Sep 7, and 2nd doses by Oct 15. Accommodations will be granted for some exemptions. (CUPE, the staff union, says it supports vaccination but also wants to ensure member rights are protected. MUNFA says faculty support the decision, so long as those unable to be vaccinated are accommodated. CFS-NL says students are concerned by the lack of details. MUNSU says it does not support mandatory vaccinations for all, but is “reevaluating its stance.”) MUN Gazette | Globe & Mail | CBC | CBC (CFS)
Mount St Vincent U became the first NS university to announce a vax requirement on Monday. MSVU will require students, faculty and staff to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID19 by Oct 13 at the latest. Those who are exempted will be tested for COVID19 twice weekly. The question of WHO-approved vaccines not recognized by HC has been put to the local PHO. MSVU | Global | CBC |
“The evidence is clear: getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to protect yourself and others, and is our surest way out of this pandemic.” – Ramona Lumpkin, Interim President, Mount St Vincent U
UNB has reversed its previous position on Friday (perhaps in the wake of the province’s Thursday announcement of mandatory vaccination for all government employees), announcing that vaccines will be required for students, staff and faculty this Fall. Anyone not fully vaxxed will be subject to regular testing. (The student unions are supportive, “as long as the process is fair and equitable.”) UNB | CBC | Global | UNBSU
NBCC announced yesterday that it will require students to be fully vaccinated against COVID19, or submit to masking and testing requirements. Protocols are still being developed by the NB government and PHO. Masks are required again as of yesterday. (NBCC said last week it did not plan to mandate vaccinations, but the employee union was urging it to reconsider just yesterday.) CBC | Global
NSCC announced yesterday that students and employees at all NSCC campuses will be required to show proof of full vaccination by Oct 12. Those who are unable or unwilling to be vaxxed will be required to wear masks on campus, and get COVID19 tests twice weekly. NSCC | CBC | Global
UPEI announced yesterday that full COVID19 vaccination will be mandatory for students, staff and faculty by Oct 18. The unvaxxed will need to disclose their vaccination status, undergo weekly testing and wear masks. 85% of faculty surveyed felt the requirement was a priority. CBC
St Francis Xavier U’s faculty association is pushing for a mandatory vax policy, since some classrooms are “smaller rooms in older buildings with a lack of ventilation or improper ventilation.” Last week, StFX administrators said they were not planning to mandate vaccinations. CBC
Saint Mary’s U (Halifax) announced Friday that it will adopt mandatory vaccine requirements for students in residence, varsity and club athletics, and for athletics staff and coaches. All must be fully vaxxed by Oct 15, as must “people who have had COVID19.” I think SMU may be trying to confuse everyone else into getting their shots: the announcement also says “the goal is to have everyone in the SMU community… fully vaccinated by Oct 15,” and that everyone “not subject to the mandatory requirement for vaccinations are required to follow public health recommendations to be fully vaccinated.” Effective Sep 1, there will be an “anonymous form for self-declaration of vaccination status,” and asymptomatic rapid testing will be available on campus. Exemptions will be provided. (SMU reportedly decided that mandating vaccinations for all by Sep 1 was not achievable.) SMU News | SMU Info | CBC
By province, that makes 5 out of 6 in NBpse (83%), perhaps 3 out of 10 in NS (30%), 1 out of 2 in PEI (50%), and 1 out of 2 in NL (50%). But at the rate the announcements are coming, these may rise to 100% within another week.
West of Ontario, things are moving quickly too. So far I’m tracking 73% of MBpse has announced a vax mandate, 60% of SKpse, and 32% of ABpse – although that’s a moving target too. And BCpse is a whole other story…
Stay tuned tomorrow!
Yesterday I updated you on US and eastern CdnPSE vaccine mandates (see “Getting Off the Vaccine Fence”) since last week’s summary (“A Flood of Vax Mandates”). Now there are 70+ CdnPSEs with vaccine mandates, and a veritable landslide in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Manitoba.
Today, I complete the cross-country summary with a look at vax mandates in Manitoba and westward – and some late-breaking updates from the east. (Because this is a fast-moving story that just won’t sit still!)
As always, if you want to see all the details in chronological order since I started tracking this issue in March, consult the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies. And I am now updating the data in my CdnPSE and COVID19 spreadsheet in real time.
Yesterday, some new vaccine mandates appeared in Eastern Canada. (Also see “Zero Tolerance” below for some significant new trends.)
Dalhousie U announced yesterday that it will require everyone on campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID19, or submit to rapid testing twice weekly. The requirement also applies to U of King’s C students who access the Dal campus. NS PHO, Labour and AdvEd have confirmed they will allow NSpses to establish their own requirements, above and beyond those in the current PSE framework. Masks will continue to be required through September, and potentially later into the term. Dal | CBC | Globe & Mail | Global News
Holland College (PEI) announced yesterday that it will require mandatory full vaccination of all staff, faculty and students by Oct 15. Exemptions will be granted for medical, religious, or cultural reasons only, and those exempted will be tested weekly and required to wear masks at all times on campus. (Masks are encouraged, but not mandatory, for those who are fully vaxxed.) Holland
South of the border, Republicans have backed themselves into a corner, supporting unpopular positions on mask mandates ad vaccination while 69% of Americans think masks should be mandatory in classrooms, and 55% think college students should be required to get vaccinated. (And 77% think Republican governors threatening to withhold school funding over mask mandates are in the wrong.)
Here in Canada, vaccines are less controversial, but with a federal election campaign underway, the nuances of the issue are still hot…
Last week, of course, the Liberal government announced mandatory vaccination for federal public servants, and employees in federally-regulated sectors, effective this Fall. (Although strangely this won’t include Elections Canada poll workers.) NDP leader Jagmeet Singh caught flack from PSAC when he said he would “discipline” public servants for refusing vaccination. Conservative leader Erin O’Toole says he would instead give unvaxxed employees and passengers the option of taking daily rapid tests for COVID19 (the position most CdnPSEs are taking). A recent Abacus Data poll found that 64% of NDP voters strongly support a vaccine mandate, compared to 60% of Liberal voters and just 45% of Conservative voters. Apparently Justin Trudeau is taking the opportunity to differentiate his platform, reportedly suppressing a government memo that would offer public servants the testing alternative, and instead merely promising “consequences” for unvaxxed workers. Trudeau is also challenging Conservative candidates to reveal their vaccination status, while O’Toole is merely requiring unvaxxed candidates to take daily COVID19 tests. (In Ontario, premier Doug Ford is threatening to expel 2 MPPs from caucus for their vaccine hesitancy.) CBC | Globe & Mail | CTV
A recent Maru Public Opinion poll found that 70% of Canadians want a provincially-issued vaccine status card (like a driver’s license, but not a passport), and 66% support banning unvaxxed students from CdnPSE classrooms. Vax passports are particularly popular in Quebec (74% in favour), Manitoba (75%), Saskatchewan (75%), and BC (71%). Support is even stronger among the oldest and most-educated Canadians. Toronto Sun | CityNews
Thursday night, major MBpses announced immunization mandates as a “united front.” (Only the announcement from Red River College made it across my desk in time for Friday’s roundup.) Now, 8 out of 11 MBpses (73%) have announced vax mandates in some forms, and the other 3 are reconsidering…
No Government Mandate
On Tuesday, MB’s deputy chief PHO described modelling that predicts ICUs will be overrun again later this year without stricter measures and more vaccinations, thanks to the Delta variant. In response, the province has reinstated its mask mandate in all indoor public places (including schools), and announced it will require all front-line provincial employees who work with vulnerable populations, from K-12 teachers and doctors to prison guards, must be fully vaxxed by Oct 31, or face COVID19 testing 3x weekly. MB’s chief PHO is directing businesses and organizations to follow the province’s lead on mandating vaccinations. The AvEd minister emphasized, though, that there will be no provincewide PSE vax mandate, instead respecting institutional autonomy.
“We need to get to higher ground to avoid the tsunami.” – Brian Pallister, Premier of Manitoba
Assiniboine CC will “generally” require students, staff, contractors and campus visitors to have 2 doses of COVID19 vaccine, with exemptions or periodic testing as an alternative. (The policy is still pending board approval.) Mask mandates continue throughout the term. ACC | CBC | Education News Canada
Canadian Mennonite U will require all students, staff and faculty who will be on campus this Fall to have a 1st dose of COVID19 vaccine by Aug 31, and a 2nd by Sep 30. Exemptions will be considered in accordance with the Human Rights Code of Manitoba. The campus remains closed to visitors. Toronto Star | CBC | CTV | Education News Canada
“I find it helpful to think about ‘returning to community’ rather than ‘getting back to normal.’ …It’s now tough to shift our thinking from, ‘We need to stay apart,’ to ‘It’s safe to be together.’” – Cheryl Pauls, President, Canadian Mennonite U
uManitoba will require students, staff, faculty and campus visitors to have their 1st dose of COVID19 vaccine by Sep 22, and their 2nd by Oct 31, to attend on campus. (The student union expressed “overwhelming support.”) UM will be increasing on-campus activity throughout the Fall, and bringing back all students and staff by Jan 2022. UM Today | Toronto Star
uWinnipeg will require students, staff and faculty to show “one-time” proof of full vaccination to attend classes. (Campus remains closed to the public.) Medical exemptions will be offered, but those “simply unwilling” will have to show proof of a negative COVID19 test, or continue with remote learning. Recent surveys suggest 92% of students are fully vaxxed, and 72% support a vax mandate. Toronto Star | CBC | Education News Canada
Providence UC announced later in the day on Friday that it will also require staff, faculty and students to be fully vaccinated against COVID19, or provide proof of negative testing at “reasonable and appropriate intervals.” President Kenton Anderson apologizes for the disruptive change in policy, citing potential “legal ramifications,” and explaining that “we now face a legal and moral situation that risks the viability of our university and its existence.” A finalized decision will be made official by the Board of Governors, and the policy will take effect “at some point later this fall.” Providence | Winnipeg Free Press
“We believe that vaccination will be the quickest way out of this pandemic. We also believe that being fully vaccinated is showing love to our neighbours.” – Nicholas Greco, Provost pro tem, Providence UC
Some MBpses have yet to make a decision…
Booth UC is not planning to hold in-person classes this Fall, and should have a decision later this week about vaccinations for those who come to campus. Winnipeg Free Press
Brandon U “strongly encourages” vaccines and “expects” most students, faculty and staff to be fully vaxxed, but has not yet implemented a requirement. (BU has reportedly been “slammed” for this position, particularly by the faculty association.) BU will be offering walk-in vaccinations during the first week of class, and says it is “developing a vaccine policy that will support our transition to being a fully vaccinated campus.” BU “will implement a vaccine policy in the coming year.” BU News | Winnipeg Free Press | BU News
U Saint-Boniface is reportedly still considering a vaccine mandate, but needs to consider accommodations and exemptions. CBC
Steinbach Bible College is still discussing its stance towards a vaccine mandate, in view of the other announcements made on Thursday. Winnipeg Free Press
Last week I mentioned that uSaskatchewan and uRegina had announced vaccine mandates. Since then, they have been joined by Saskatchewan Polytechnic, making 3 out of 7 on my list for the province (43%). The provincial government has indicated it will not mandate vaccines or even indoor masks…
Saskatchewan Polytechnic announced Thursday that it will require all students, employees and visitors to be fully vaxxed against COVID19 before coming to campus. First doses are required by Sep 17, and 2nd doses by Oct 22. People who cannot be vaccinated will be required to submit “regular and frequent negative COVID19 testing and daily health checks.” SKPoly | Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | CBC
uSaskatchewan president Peter Stoicheff recorded a message to support the vaccine requirement announced last week. As of Sep 7, all students, faculty and staff will be required to show proof of at least 1 dose of a WHO-approved vaccine, and 2 doses by Oct 18, before coming to campus. Those unwilling or unable to get vaccinated must provide regular and frequent negative COVID19 test results, and submit a daily symptom checklist. UofS is responding to the growing threat of the Delta variant, the 4th wave of the pandemic, and the plateau in vaccinations among 18-29-year-olds. uSask | Prince Albert Daily Herald
“The science is clear and overwhelming: vaccinations are the clearest path towards beating COVID19 and its dangerous variants. Without these measures, unvaccinated individuals on campus jeopardize their own health and the health of others, and will disrupt in-person classes and campus activities for everyone.” – Peter Stoicheff, President, uSaskatchewan
Northlands College president Guy Penney announced a campus mask mandate in his “Welcome Back” video, effective Aug 23, and indicated a vaccine mandate is “something we are studying and looking at very closely,” but no firm decision has been made yet. “Masking does work.” YouTube
Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology announced yesterday that it will not be requiring students, staff or visitors to campus to be double-vaxxed to start the school year this September, but masks will be mandatory in all public areas, and social distancing is encouraged where possible. A spokesperson suggested that SIIT may still implement a double-vax mandate “at the beginning of 2022,” or at the direction of the PHO. Global News
Last week, 3 major AB universities (uAlberta, uCalgary, and uLethbridge) announced jointly rapid testing requirements with an exemption for those who are fully vaxxed (a subtle reframing of the Ontario approach designed to save face for Alberta politicians). Since then, mandatory testing policies have doubled, so we effectively have gone from 3 to 6 ABpses with a vax mandate, and 2 more exploring the possibility (so at least 32% of institutions in the province)…
Alberta U of the Arts announced Friday mandatory COVID19 rapid testing for everyone entering campus, except for those who are fully vaccinated. “If you refuse to comply with rapid testing and do not have an approved exemption, you will immediately have your access to campus revoked.” Face masks remain mandatory on campus. AUarts
MacEwan U announced last Thursday a rapid testing program for September, “just as soon as specific details can be confirmed.” Anyone fully vaxxed will be exempt, with some accommodations available under the Alberta Human Rights Act. MacEwan is conducting a quick survey of the campus community, like many other CdnPSEs. MacEwan
NAIT says it is not making vaccines mandatory, but is “strongly encouraging” vaccination and hosting clinics on Sep 22 and 23. NAIT is also reportedly “determining how it could introduce rapid testing.” Edmonton Journal
NorQuest College announced Tuesday new COVID19 policies, including mandatory rapid testing for all those coming to campus, and exemptions for those who are fully vaxxed. Those who prefer not to disclose their vax status will need to regularly complete a rapid screening test and receive a negative result before they participate in in-person activities on campus. Education News Canada
Red Deer Polytechnic is imposing mask and distancing requirements, daily self-assessments and hand hygiene, but says only that people should “consider receiving a COVID19 vaccine, as it suits an individual’s health and wellness circumstances.” RDC will not implement rapid testing of individuals, whether they are symptomatic or not. Education News Canada
“Freedom isn’t free… Canadians are able to choose whether or not they want to be vaccinated. However, they’re not free of the consequences of these choices.” – Jean-Christophe Boucher, associate prof, uCalgary School of Public Policy
Despite urging by health practitioners and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, Jason Kenney is steadfastly refusing to facilitate or accept vaccine passports. That is not true west of the Rockies…
While generally BC PHO Bonnie Henry has led an exemplary response to COVID19 with plenty of foresight, it appears she has succumbed to political pressure lately, prematurely loosening health restrictions – and now reinstating them, first in the Interior and now across the province. The province has imposed a vaccine requirement on PSE students in residence, but blocked institutions from creating their own vaccine requirements. Although that didn’t stop private Squamish university, Quest…
On Monday, BC premier John Horgan, health minister Adrian Dix and PHO Bonnie Henry announced that a new “BC vaccine card” will be mandatory for anyone age 12+ to access some “non-essential businesses” like restaurants, fitness centres, casinos, conferences, theatres, concerts and sporting events (but not places of worship). One dose of a COVID19 vaccine will be required for customers and patrons as of Sep 13, and 2 doses by Oct 24. The “card” will be available as a smartphone download. The measures don’t apply to employees, and will apply “as relevant” to BCpses and campus student housing – but notably there will be NO exemptions: those with medical reasons they cannot be immunized will simply be unable to attend these discretionary events. Testing will not apply as an alternative. CTV | CBC | Globe & Mail | BC Gov
“It’s unfair and disrespectful for people that are not vaccinated — that have no intention of being vaccinated — to hold the rest of the community at ransom.” – John Dooley, Mayor, Nelson BC
Mask Mandates Redux
Although the BC government emphasizes that vaccines will not be required of students at any level in order to attend classes in person, it announced Tuesday that masks are again mandatory for students from grade 4 right through PSE, including in class. (This contradicts the assurances made Jul 1, that no masks would be required this Fall.) Although many indoor gatherings are limited to 50% capacity, PSE classrooms appear to face no physical distancing requirements. (So far, just 56% of people aged 18-29 in BC are fully vaxxed.) Globe & Mail | Vancouver Sun | Education News Canada
NO Vax Mandates
PHO Bonnie Henry has directed BCpse that they can require staff and faculty to get immunized, but cannotmandate vaccinations for students other than those in campus residences or studying health sciences in a healthcare setting. She believes assigned seating and masks will be sufficient risk mitigation, as evidenced by data from K-12 classrooms. Globe & Mail | Global News
“We don’t believe there is a need for a vaccine mandate for students to receive in-class education in post-secondary institutions.” – Bonnie Henry, BC Chief PHO
Student & Faculty Concerns
Many BCpse students and faculty feel the mask mandate doesn’t go far enough to create a safe environment on campus, and object to the province’s effective ban on campus vaccine mandates. Almost 3,000 have signed a petition calling for mandatory shots, and some claim immunocompromised students are effectively being blocked from PSE. uVictoria faculty association president Lynne Marks argues that BC’s position on vax mandates, drawn from the example of K-12 classrooms, “reflects a dramatic lack of understanding as to how PSE works” when universities have 300+ students in a classroom, and students move between multiple classes a day. Cole Evans, president of UBC’s Alma Mater Society, doesn’t understand why theatre attendance requires a passport but lecture theatres don’t. Vancouver Sun | Globe & Mail | CBC
BCpses are starting to announce implications of the BC Vaccine Card for their campuses…
BCIT clarified that the new mask requirement will apply to all indoor public areas on all BCIT campuses, including classrooms, labs, shops, washrooms, study areas, hallways, lobbies, and stairwells. Proof of vaccination will be required for residents in student housing as of Sep 7. The BC Vaccine Card will be required as of Sep 13 for access to indoor venues including gyms, restaurants, sporting events and concerts. More updates were expected this week. BCIT Commons | BCIT Commons
UBC says the BC Vaccine Card will be required as of Sep 13, for participation in varsity and intramural sports and student clubs, and access to indoor ticketed sporting events, indoor and patio restaurant dining, fitness centres, and conferences. Proof of vaccination to live in on-campus housing will be required Sep 7, although some transition period will be allowed for students coming from outside BC and Canada. UBC president Santa Ono adds that the MAEST and the COVID19 Advisory Committee are “convening now to provide clarity and update the COVID19 Return to Campus Guidelines.” UBC News | Daily Hive
Capilano U shared the provincial PHO orders on Tuesday, imposing a mask mandate on all indoor spaces and proof of vaccination for student housing, varsity athletics, gym use, indoor concerts and sports competitions. President Paul Dangerfield adds that “Discussions regarding temporary measures over and above the updated Orders are ongoing and involve the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, public health, the University’s administration, the Capilano Faculty Association, MoveUp and the Capilano Students’ Union.” CapU
Coast Mountain College announced Tuesday the provincial mask mandate and proof-of-vaccine requirement for some non-essential services on campus. CMC
U Fraser Valley announced yesterday the provincial mask mandate and vaccination requirement for campus housing (1st dose by Sep 7, 2nd dose by Oct 24), and a Sep 13 deadline for first doses in order to access athletics, gyms, or campus eateries. Chilliwack Progress
College of New Caledonia president Dennis Johnson told local media yesterday that the PHO orders mean “the return to campus for this fall is still happening,” with much more in-person learning. Masks will be mandatory, “but that is the only certain thing” right now. Requirements of proof of vaccination for student residence or non-essential activities are still being determined. CKPG Today
Okanagan College president Neil Fassina updated the campus community Tuesday about the “significant and far-reaching new health orders and guidance that will affect us.” His description of the vaccination requirement for students in residence and the BC Vaccine Card for access to discretionary facilities echoes that of the other BCpses. He also explains that the RTC Guidelines are being revised, and that OC will adapt its Communicable Disease Plan and other protocols once that has been received. Vaccine clinics will be held on campus Sep 7. OC News
“These are more challenging times than we had hoped to find ourselves in as September approaches… With luck, these new measures that are being put in effect now will significantly and swiftly improve conditions in the region and across the province.” – Neil Fassina, President, Okanagan College
uVictoria will likely require the BC Vaccine Card for access to campus gyms and fitness centres, pubs and patios, indoor club events, ticketed sporting events, indoor theatre events and concerts, parties, conferences and workshops. Varsity athletes and the 2,100 students living in residence (more than double last year) will need to be vaxxed, as will health science students doing practica in healthcare settings. uVic will have a vaccination clinic on-campus. The Martlet
“It’s making UVic safer for getting drunk on campus, but not for learning on campus.” – Erin Hartley, 3rd year visual arts student, uVictoria
One private BC university has gone further, aligning its approach with that of institutions in other provinces…
Quest U announced Monday that COVID19 vaccines will be required for all students, faculty, staff, contractors and visitors beginning Aug 26. Quest faculty and staff associations had been urging the move, made more urgent by the Delta variant driving a 4th wave of the pandemic just in time for Fall term. 1st doses will be required by Aug 26, and 2nd doses by Nov 15. Those unable or unwilling to get vaxxed must provide weekly negative COVID19 test results to access campus. Quest
While ~70 CdnPSEs (by my count) have now adopted a “vax or test” requirement (allowing those with or without an exemption on medical or protected human rights grounds to opt for frequent COVID19 testing instead of getting their shots), a few are going even further…
Seneca College, the first CdnPSE to institute a campuswide vaccine requirement, has also been clear that there will be no exceptions for medical or religious reasons. As president David Agnew explains in a Toronto Star op-ed, “Human rights legislation obliges us to offer vaccination exemptions on the basis of creed. That right has been twisted by a fringe that uses social media to promote pseudo-science and selfish individualism, claiming constitutional cover.” The alternative to vaccination is online study. Toronto Star
“The foundation of every public health strategy to defeat a virus is vaccinations. Full stop.” – David Agnew, President, Seneca College
Ontario Tech U clarified yesterday that only those who are fully-vaxxed, officially exempt, or partially-vaxxed with proof of a negative rapid test and a plan to get a 2nd dose, will be allowed on campus between Sep 3 and Oct 17. From Oct 18 onward, only those completely vaxxed or officially exempt will be allowed on campus. OnTech
Western U announced yesterday (along with its affiliates Huron, Brescia, and King’s) that rapid tests will no longer be acceptable in place of vaccination for campus access after Sep 7, “except under rare exemptions” on medical or human rights grounds. Those who “simply choose not to be vaccinated” will not be permitted on campus. Western News | CBC | CTV
York U also clarified yesterday that it will require proof of full vaccination or an official exemption, submitted through the YU Screen tool by Sep 7, from anyone in the university community intending to access campus. Until Oct 19, those who are not yet fully vaxxed may submit proof of a negative COVID19 test result instead. York
With more #ONpses citing the COMOH guidance, and considering the complexity and expense of testing all unvaxxed people on campus twice weekly, I suspect we’re going to see a wave of similar policies cascade across the province shortly…
As provincial PHOs seem to be relenting, backtracking and doubling down to prepare for the worst of the Delta variant this Fall, CdnPSEs are tightening loopholes or belatedly announcing new vax mandates (or testing mandates).
Right now, I’ve identified 91 CdnPSEs with vax mandates, out of 138 in my master spreadsheet, so 66% of institutions overall. We’re at 100% of the institutions I’m tracking in Yukon and PEI, 94% in Ontario, 83% in New Brunswick, 73% in Manitoba, 60% in Nova Scotia, and 54% of BC. Sure, some provinces are lagging behind, either because of politics or favourable epidemiology at the moment: we’re at just 50% in Newfoundland, 43% in Saskatchewan, and 35% in Alberta.
But before long, all of those numbers will rise with the pandemic wave…
Since my last summary a week ago (“Surfing the Delta Wave”) the flow of the pandemic has continued largely unchanged…
Dire Situation in the US
The US has more than 100,000 COVID19 patients in hospital (an 8-month high), is reporting 1,100+ deathsfrom COVID19 each day, and forecasting 100,000 more deaths by December. Kentucky is seeing record-high COVID19 hospitalizations. Arkansas is out of ICU beds. Florida is experiencing a peak of cases 30% higher than the previous peak in January. Of course, South Dakota’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally has once again been linked to hundreds of COVID19 cases. The sad reality is that Americans could still “save 50,000 lives simply by wearing masks.” Things look bad enough that the EU looks to be reimposing travel restrictions on Americans, while the UK is lifting them for Canadians starting today.
“Physicians are completely out of empathy. It is not an unlimited resource.” – Yael Moussadji, emergency physician, Calgary
Canadian Cases Rise, Moods Fall
About 66% of the Canadian population is now fully-vaxxed (76% of those eligible), but that hasn’t stopped COVID19 case counts from rising coast-to-coast. (After all, there are still some 10M Canadians unvaxxed and vulnerable.) ICU cases doubled in Alberta this month, and cases could hit 2,400 per day by mid-September. (My thoughts go out to folks in Medicine Hat, near my mom’s hometown, where there are 513 active cases in a population of ~63,000.) Projections are even worse for BC and Ontario. Last year, COVID19 infections waited until schools reopened in September; this year, the viral wave has a one-month head start. Epidemiologists are forecasting another 6-8 months of pandemic waves, and warn that vaccines alone can’t stop the 4th wave – we need to get 90% of the population vaccinated.
“Yes, of course the goal posts are changing, because the virus has changed.” – Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases specialist, University Health Network
Vax the Children
Modelling suggests that herd immunity in the face of the Delta variant will be impossible until we can vaccinate children under 12. We don’t yet know the long-term impacts of the virus on children, so we can’t simply allow rampant spread in elementary schools. Clinical trials are still ongoing with children, but Health Canada has now approved both Pfizer and Moderna for children aged 12-17, and Britain’s NHS is preparing to roll out vaccines to those aged 12+. (FWIW, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimates the risk of myocarditis to be 2-10x greater from COVID19 itself, than from the Pfizer vaccine – which I need to start calling “Comirnaty,” I guess.)
Doubling Down on Masks
As provincial PHOs follow the projection modelling, they are reinstating public health restrictions we had hoped to put behind us with widespread vaccination. Ontario has paused in stage 3 of reopening. Quebec has reinstated mask mandates in K-12 schools in 9 regions, and asked companies to delay returning workers to offices. Manitoba has made vaccines or testing mandatory for healthcare workers, and reintroduced indoor mask mandates. British Columbia has reinstated a province-wide mask mandate, including in grade 4+ classrooms. Nova Scotia expects K-12 students to wear masks for the first few weeks of class, but hopes to make them optional by Sep 15.
“We can’t let this wave get out of control because the more cases there are, the more hospitalizations, the more ICU and tragically, the more deaths we will see this fall.” – Craig Jenne, CRC in infectious diseases, uCalgary
Suppressing Bad News?
In the heat of a federal election campaign, of course the leaders of opposing parties are accusing Justin Trudeau’s government of muzzling PHAC since the election was called on Aug 15. And a uToronto epidemiologist, David Fisman, has resigned from Ontario’s COVID19 Science Advisory Table, claiming political interference is preventing it from sharing particularly “grim” projections for the Fall. (The Table, for its part, says it is still working on consensus modelling and will release it when ready.)
After a perhaps overly-optimistic summer, I’m getting a decidedly “déjà vu” vibe as government and CdnPSEs start to backpedal already on plans for a return to some kind of normalcy…
Hybrid Frosh Weeks
As Ontario campuses gear up for residence move-ins and orientation activities, many are including 2nd-year students (who missed out in Fall 2020) and increasingly, some are shifting to hybrid O-weeks in view of the current 4th wave. uToronto, York, McMaster, Laurentian and Lakehead are all offering a blend of F2F and virtual orientation activities, from outdoor movie nights and scavenger hunts to online video tours and health and safety training. (And I’m quite sure there are many more.) National Post
Courses Pivot Online
Over the past month, anxious profs at uCalgary have switched ~10% of F2F courses to online delivery instead, outraging students who feel it’s “completely unacceptable.” Students signed up for in-person courses, and in some cases relocated to Calgary, only to discover at the last minute that many or even all of their courses would now be delivered online. (The deadline for faculty to make the decision was Aug 20.) The administration reports that 80% of students have entirely F2F or blended course schedules. The Student Union reports at least 150 course changes have been confirmed, “but the number keeps going up, and that impacts thousands of students… Students are paying the price, literally.” Calgary Herald | CBC
Back in July, ONpses were told they could safely plan for a return to campus without capacity limits or physical distancing. (BCpses were told something similar.) Many colleges in particular took the guidance gratefully, as an opportunity to resuscitate their enrolments with the promise of a more normal student experience. Quite a few universities, however, hedged their bets and stuck with plans for hybrid delivery that were developed by their senates back in the spring. (Those that didn’t have been among the first to impose vaccine requirements, to protect their plans for a return to F2F classes.) Now, though, TVO’s Steve Paikin reports that a “well-placed source” says Doug Ford’s cabinet will be considering re-imposing 2m distancing in all ONpse classrooms this Wednesday.
While I don’t think faculty or campus staff would be outraged by the decision, it really should have been made months earlier before students made plans for housing and faculty developed their courses. Likewise, reluctant premiers should have been faster to announce…
Public CdnPSE is often beholden to their provincial masters, and with vaccine mandates and passports such politicized concepts (who knows why) most institutions have been waiting for acquiescence from their premiers and ministers before putting perfectly logical policies in place themselves. Provinces are clearly opening the door for campus mandates, in one form or another, across the country…
Resisting Passports in SK and AB
As someone who has held an immunization card since elementary school, and has them for my kids, I can’t quite fathom how COVID19 vaccine passports have become so politically charged. Saskatchewan has been resisting new restrictions, mandating vaccines, or implementing a vax passport. (Premier Scott Moe does however “expect” businesses and organizations to develop their own vax requirements.) Alberta premier Jason Kenney and his government have repeatedly insisted they won’t introduce or even support a vax passport scheme, but are now talking about a “convenient card” indicating vax status.
Mandating Testing in AB
In the most conservative (or Republican) jurisdictions in North America, campuses have been forbidden from mandating vaccination (or sometimes even face masks) but not COVID19 testing. That led to the collective announcement last week in Alberta that its research universities would mandate COVID19 testing for anyone on campus, but the fully-vaccinated would be exempt. (The words are different, but the effect identical to the initial announcements at ONpses that vaccination was mandatory, but that some could opt for rapid testing instead. Of course, now more and more ONpses are closing that loophole.)
Vax Passports in MB, QC and BC
Back in July, Manitoba introduced “immunization cards” to allow residents to travel domestically without quarantine, attend sporting events and more. (MB added an app version in early August.) As the grim forecasts for Fall started to appear inevitable, Quebec instituted a vaccine passport for non-essential activities across the province, and British Columbia announced a vaccine card for access to recreational activities (as well as campus housing and athletics).
Resistance Collapsing in ON?
Here in Ontario, premier Doug Ford has been steadfast in his opposition to vax passports as something that would “split society.” But last week, that inaction prompted PHOs across the province to contemplate (quite publicly) instituting their OWN system of regional passports. Now, 3 “senior government sources” say that Ford’s cabinet is developing a vaccine “certificate system” for access to non-essential services, and will announce it later this week.
The Real Impact of Passports
Those who complain about the feasibility of checking vax passports, controlling campus access, or security and counterfeiting issues are missing the point: the mere announcement of a vaccine passport tends to double demand for vaccine shots immediately. Since BC announced its vaccine card program last week, there was a “significant increase” in bookings for vaccinations, especially among those under age 40. In the first 2 days alone, 12,904 people under 40 registered. Similar responses were reported in France and Quebec, where demand for shots doubled after the announcement. (Threaten young people with taking away restaurants, nightclubs, gyms and concerts, and look what can happen!) Now the federal Liberals have promised $1B in funding to assist provinces with their vaccine passport systems, to try to eliminate one more government excuse for inaction. And of course, a federal vaccine passport for international travel has been in the works for weeks.
Last week Ontario announced that it would require all ONpses to implement some kind of “vaccine policy,” and the COMOH emphasized that rapid testing was NOT an acceptable alternative to vaccination. These announcements gave more eager ONpses permission (and reluctant ONpses a bit of a push) to implement vax mandates by Sep 7. Likewise in BC, the PHO has bowed to pressure from student groups, faculty associations, unions and BCpses…
Mandatory Disclosures in BC
Until now, BC has forbidden its PSEs to impose vaccine requirements or public health measures beyond residences, dining and recreation on campus. (Predictably, faculty and staff at UBC, uVic, and TRU expressed concerns, since they have been advocating a vax mandate for months.) Just last Tuesday, PHO Bonnie Henry reiterated that vax mandates could not be applied to BCpse students. But on Thursday, BC’s major research universities (UBC, uVictoria, Simon Fraser U and Thompson Rivers U) announced an “agreement” with MAEST and the PHO to mandate disclosure of COVID19 vax status for anyone accessing campus, and impose regular rapid testing on the unvaxxed. (This sounds a lot like the mandatory testing requirement at many ABpses.) As UBC put it, they “will provide COVID19 testing… with exemptions provided for those who are vaccinated.” With just 2 weeks until classes begin, some kind of transition is planned since many cannot be fully vaxxed by then. UBC | Global News | The Martlet | Daily Hive
Naturally, once the research universities set a direction, they open the floodgates for others to follow suit…
BCIT president Kathy Kinloch announced Friday that BCIT will be implementing “mandatory confidential vaccine reporting” and “mandatory regular rapid testing” for the unvaxxed. BCIT
Emily Carr U announced Friday that it will soon require “proof of vaccination or a recent negative test” for anyone on campus. ECUAD
Royal Roads U president Philip Steenkamp announced Friday that all students, faculty, staff and visitors to campus will be required “to confidentially self-disclose their vaccination status” and the unvaxxed will participate in “regular rapid COVID testing on campus.” RRU | Twitter
UNBC president Geoff Payne seems to be much more hesitant than his RUBC peers when it comes to announcing mandatory testing. In an announcement Friday, Payne indicates he plans to work with union and student leaders to “investigate the potential for a voluntary disclosure of vaccination status” program, and rapid testing on campus. (That word “voluntary” is unique in BC right now.) UNBC
Vancouver Island U president Deb Saucier announced Friday that the BC Association of Institutes and Universities (BCAIU) has received approval from MAEST and the PHO to implement “a program of vaccine self-declaration” this Fall. BCAIU members also include U Fraser Valley, Kwantlen, Capilano, Yukon U, NVIT and JIBC. VIU | BCAIU media release
If you’re counting at home, that makes at least 14 BCpses that have announced mandatory testing programs now, out of 26 on my list (or 54%). I may have missed a couple, of course – let me know!
Vax Bandwagon in NS
Since my last update (“Getting off the Vaccine Fence”) we’ve gone from 30% of Nova Scotia institutions with vax mandates to 60%…
Cape Breton U announced Thursday that, in addition to the previously-announced vax requirement for students in residence, varsity athletes and staff must be fully vaxxed by Sep 1, and all staff, students and faculty must submit proof of fully vaccination by Oct 15. Those exempted for medical reasons must be tested twice weekly and wear masks. CBU | Globe & Mail | Global News | CBC
St Francis Xavier U (NS) is on record insisting it will not institute a mandatory vaccine policy, but the faculty association has been lobbying nonetheless. On Thursday, StFX announced that it has “begun consultations” for a mandatory COVID19 testing policy for all students, staff and faculty. With proper proof of vaccination, people will be exempt from mandatory testing. (This is pretty much the current model popular in Alberta.) StFX is currently conducting a campus-wide survey of vax status through a third party research company. StFX
Saint Mary’s U (NS) announced Friday that it will require proof of full vaccination from all faculty, staff and students, by Oct 15. (Previously the requirement applied only for students in residence or athletics.) The unvaxxed will under COVID19 rapid testing twice weekly on campus. SMU | Global News | CBC
Some CdnPSE Stragglers
Since my last update, “Getting to Vaccination Higher Ground,” some CdnPSE stragglers have announced vax mandates for the Fall…
Bishop’s U indicated on Friday that, under the Quebec vax passport rules, proof of vaccination will be required to work out in the campus gym, drink in the campus bar, dine in campus food outlets, play on a sports team, or participate in some Orientation Week events. The passport does not apply to employees. (To be fair, Bishop’s is out ahead of other QCpses, to which this interpretation will presumably also apply.) Bishop’s
Brandon U has resisted a vax mandate for some time, opting instead to encourage vaccinations through awareness campaigns and $10,0000 in prize incentives. Days after uManitoba, uWinnipeg, Red River College, UCN, CMU and other MBpses announced vax policies, last Thursday BU finally announced “an interim administrative decision” that it will require full vaccination or proof of a negative COVID19 test to access campus, by Oct 31. BrandonU | Global News | CBC | CTV
Fanshawe College told staff last Thursday (with just 2 weeks to go before classes start) that a vaccine policy is coming for the Fall. Those not fully vaccinated, or with an approved exemption, will be subject to COVID19 testing if they come to campus. (Employees have been offered some WFH options, and 60% of students will be studying remotely.) Fanshawe awaits further direction from the local PHO. Fanshawe | Global News | CTV | CBC
Mount Royal U appears to have announced recently that “a rapid testing program will be required for all students, staff and faculty who come to campus,” with an “opt out” for those who are fully vaxxed. Details are still to come. MRU
Northern College posted a new mandatory vaccine policy to its COVID19 website last Thursday. Anyone accessing campus will be required to provide proof of vaccination with a HC/WHO approved COVID19 shot, with exemptions on medical or religious grounds. “Additional testing will be required for those individuals that are not fully vaccinated.” First doses are required by Oct 1, and 2nd doses by Nov 15. Northern
Sault College announced Friday that HC/WHO vaccination or approved exemptions will be required to access its campus this Fall. A grace period will be announced shortly. Sault
“Rapid testing protocols are not preventive and are not a replacement for immunization and should be used only in instances where vaccination is not possible.” – Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health statement
ON Closing Loopholes
Other ONpses that were previously offering the option of frequent rapid testing to the vaccine hesitant, or required attestation but not proof, have started closing those loopholes. On Thursday we saw the former trend start, with Carleton, Seneca, Ontario Tech, Western, and York. Since then, they have been joined by others…
Brock U announced Thursday the launch of its vaccination declaration tool, and the requirement to upload proof of COVID19 vaccination by Sep 1. Accommodations will be considered on “extremely limited grounds.” Brock announced Friday that all courses will begin online only Sep 7-12. Brock Vax | Brock Online
Cambrian College president Bill Best announced on Friday that rapid tests remain an option for the Fall term, but for Winter term (beginning Jan 3 2022) rapid test results will no longer be acceptable as an alternative to full vaccination, except for those with an approved exemption. Cambrian
“This has been a very eventful ten days for the provincial government, and PSE institutions in Ontario. With the onset of the fourth wave and the emergence of the Delta variant, full vaccination has become the new benchmark.” – Bill Best, President, Cambrian College
Laurentian U president Robert Haché advised the campus community that a full update to the COVID19 vaccination policy is coming early this week, requiring full vaccination to attend campus as of Sep 7, or a permitted exemption on medical or human rights grounds. Because notice is short, until Oct 15 those not fully vaxxed can instead submit proof of a negative COVID19 test. Laurentian
uOttawa announced Friday that rapid testing for COVID19 would no longer be an option, except for those with official exemptions. Anyone accessing campus will need to provide proof of a 1st dose by Sep 7 and a 2nd dose by Oct 15. uOttawa
Queen’s U announced a vax mandate Aug 12 that allowed the campus community to opt for additional testing and health protocols instead of vaccination, but on Thursday closed that loophole. All individuals on Queen’s property must attest to a 1st dose vaccination by Sep 1, and upload proof of full vaccination no later than Oct 15. Formal exemptions will require supporting documentation. Naturally, students have launched petitions both for and against the policy. Queen’s Gazette | Global News | Kingstonist
Sheridan College announced Friday that it will require proof of vaccination to attend campus. Those with an exemption will be required to participate in routine rapid antigen testing. Sheridan
uToronto announced Thursday that faculty, staff and students will in fact be required to upload proof of immunization (1st dose by Sep 13, 2nd dose by Oct 15). Faculty critics were vocal that without demanding proof of vaccination, the former policy was not a “requirement” at all. Those with formal exemptions will be subject to twice-weekly rapid home screening, and potentially “additional safety measures.” UofT News | Toronto Sun
Wilfrid Laurier U announced Thursday that proof of vaccination status will be required by Sep 7. Those not yet fully vaxxed, or with a formal accommodation for exemption, will be required to undergo rapid testing and observe health and safety protocols. 2nd doses are expected by Oct 8. WLU | CTV | Education News Canada
On the Other Hand…
While ONpse tightens vaccine requirements, it appears that ABpse is still navigating a charged political environment…
uAlberta clarified last week that students, faculty and staff will not be required to show proof of vaccination to enter classrooms or labs this Fall, although they need to “confidentially self-declare” their vax status online by Aug 30. The plan depends on the honour system, but “as part of the university’s auditing process,” randomly-selected individuals will be asked for documentary proof of vaccination throughout the term. Those who are not completed vaxxed will need to complete weekly rapid tests. The student union has partnered with the university and alumni association on a “Get Your Shot” contest, running Aug 27 – Sep 10, with prize incentives up to free tuition for the semester. Edmonton Journal | Global News
“The university has developed what seems like a complicated system and because of the late start, it doesn’t have a lot of time to implement it properly before students and staff return next week, and that gives us concern.” – Jillian Pratt, President, uAlberta Non-Academic Staff Association
As always, if you want the details in chronological order since March, see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies. You can also see colour-coded updates on the 138 CdnPSEs I’m tracking in my master spreadsheet:
Today I’m really looking forward to speaking (virtually) with the student services team at Seneca College as they gear up for the return to classes. I admire Seneca for the foresight it demonstrated way back on June 20th, when it became the first CdnPSE to announce a vaccine mandate for staff and students on campus this Fall. (They bravely sat there for 6 or 7 weeks alone in the country, too.)
Since then about 90 other CdnPSEs have followed Seneca’s lead (more or less), not to mention another 300 out of the 831 US campuses that have done so too. Sadly, the same forward-looking leadership is not in evidence everywhere…
Just when I thought I could leave the topic for a while, I’m forced to circle back and update you on what is new regarding CdnPSE Vax Mandates since my Monday issue, from east to west. It’s still a bit more complicated than I would like…
Although NSpse waited longer to start announcing vaccine mandates, institutions there have moved quite quickly (often reversing their previous positions) and now we’re at 80%…
NSCAD announced Monday that it will require either proof of full vaccination or twice-weekly proof of negative testing, from students and employees, beginning Sep 7. NSCAD
U Sainte-Anne announced Tuesday it will require proof of vaccination or twice-weekly COVID19 tests from students and staff this Fall, starting Oct 15. Rapid tests will be available at 2 of its 5 campuses. CBC
Saint Mary’s U announced Friday it was extending its vaccine requirement from students in residence and athletics to include everyone coming to campus. All students, employees and visitors will have to submit proof of full vaccination, or those with approved exemptions will be tested twice weekly. (This approach aligns with Dalhousie U.) CBC | Global News
I’m aware of 2 exceptions…
Acadia U remains one of only two NSpses on my list without a vax mandate. Last year, their hybrid approach was remarkably successful at avoiding outbreaks, and this year they are following the PHO’s recommendation of a non-mandatory approach. President Peter Ricketts explains that ~95% of the campus population will be fully vaxxed, and that enforcing a mandate involves human rights, privacy and logistical issues. Everyone on campus will be required to wear masks, social distance, and undergo regular COVID19 testing. Global News
U King’s College president Bill Lahey indicated last week that, although the campus community is “expected” to be fully vaccinated, UKC has not yet made vaccinations mandatory. Dalhousie U, however, has done so – and since half of UKC students take courses at Dal, and many access facilities there, UKC is “participating in discussions” with Dal about the matter. uKings
Remember when I said that Ontario premier Doug Ford was meeting with his cabinet yesterday to approve a “vaccine certificate” system? That was already coming WEEKS too late, especially for ONpse, but…
Ontario Scraps Media Briefing
Yesterday, Ontario CMOH Kieran Moore was widely expected to announce a proof of vaccination certificate program – but his weekly briefing was cancelled as premier Ford’s cabinet met for a third time to try to reach consensus. (Sources say that Doug Ford himself is the one unhappy with the plan.) Ontario businesses, educators, healthcare workers and epidemiologists have been urging such a plan for months now. Like BC, Ontario is expected to launch its own vaccine certificate as a temporary measure until the federal vaccine passport replaces it. CTV | Globe & Mail
“While it is commendable that various organizations are moving proactively to counter the threat posed by the Delta variant, we worry this approach will create an even more complex and inconsistent patchwork of rules, creating confusion for those it’s intended to support.” – Katharine Smart, president, Canadian Medical Association
ONpse Urges Action
On Monday, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities issued a joint statement that, with just 1 week until most classes begin, they “urgently seek government guidelines that will help support strong mandatory vaccination policies, a rapid vaccine certificate program to streamline vaccine status validation and, in collaboration with local public health, greater flexibility for capacity limits and physical distancing to help ensure a safe reopening for expanded in-person learning.” COU
Sadly, it’s not looking promising that we’ll have anything in place anytime soon, in Ontario – or in Saskatchewan, where premier Scott Moe has reiterated that his government will work with businesses that wish to require vax proof, but will not impose provincewide vax policies.
Since Monday, several more institutions have announced vax mandates or tightened their requirements…
Algoma U announced yesterday that students, staff and visitors to campus will be required to show proof of COVID19 vaccination, effective today. Those with official exemptions must show proof of a recent negative COVID19 test. Sault Star
Algonquin College published its mandatory vaccination policy on Monday. Any campus visitor can provide digital proof of vaccination using the AC Mobile Safety app. Full vaccination is required by Oct 12. Algonquin
Centennial College announced Monday that it will require proof of full vaccination to access campuses and satellite locations, effective Sep 7. Until Oct 6, those who are not fully-vaxxed can complete a screening and provide evidence of a negative COVID19 antigen test. Centennial
Fleming College clarified Monday that screening is no longer an alternative to vaccination: anyone coming to campus must have a 1st dose by Sep 7 and 2nd by Oct 20. Proof of vaccination is to be uploaded using the Fleming Safe app. Authorized exemptions will require a twice-weekly rapid test. Fleming
uGuelph announced yesterday that it is tightening its vax requirements. Anyone wishing to access campus must have a 1st dose by Sep 7 and 2nd by Oct 15, or an official approved exemption on medical or human rights grounds. Those exempted must undergo twice weekly testing. As a result, some instructors may deliver F2F courses remotely Sep 7-28. uGuelph News
Tyndale U (Toronto) announced Friday it will be requiring anyone on campus to be vaccinated with a HC-approved COVID19 vaccine. “Exemptions based on medical, religious, conscientious or other protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code will be accommodated.” First doses will be required by Sep 17, and 2nd doses by Oct 31. The current plan will require self-declarations but not proof of vaccination. Rapid antigen screening will continue twice weekly for everyone, vaccinated or not. Tyndale
Booth UC (Winnipeg) announced late last week that it will require all campus visitors to be fully vaccinated, although classes are expected to be largely virtual. Booth UC
Steinbach Bible College (MB) announced Monday that it will not implement a vax mandate, although it “strongly encourages” the community to get vaccinated. It will continue to follow provincial PHO orders. SBC
On Monday I reported on BCAIU’s media release, which appeared to be announcing an “initiative” by its 9 member institutions. Apparently they’re not all at the same stage just yet… (I have updated the master spreadsheet accordingly.)
At first reading, it certainly looked as though BCAIU was collectively following the lead of BC research universities, announcing mandatory COVID19 testing for anyone who comes to campus unvaxxed this Fall. But on closer reading, BCAIU was indicating merely a collective willingness to explore the possibility, working with their campus communities and PHOs toward “additional measures… including rapid testing.” (So really, this was an announcement of pending announcements at most.)
To set the record straight, I double-checked the individual institutional positions…
U Fraser Valley reader Craig Toews clarified that UFV has not announced mandatory testing nor a vax mandate as of yet, but is currently consulting with key stakeholders and may develop its own unique approach. Currently UFV’s COVID19 page mentions only that the BC Vaccine Card will be required for “certain non-essential social and recreational gatherings and events,” and for campus housing, athletics or dining. UFV
Capilano U says only that it is “working together toward offering additional measures… including rapid testing for our community members who have not yet been vaccinated.” It clarifies that “discussions regarding implementation of these enhanced measures will involve the Province, public health authorities, CapU administration, the Capilano Faculty Association, MoveUp and the Capilano Students’ Union.” CapU
Vancouver Island U president Deb Saucier told the campus community Friday that VIU has worked with BCAIU to “receive approval to implement a program of vaccine self-declaration for the fall for all employees and students,” but she did not actually say that such a policy has been put in place. She continued, “there are many details that will need to be finalized before the start of the fall term,” and that they are “working through the details” in consultation with labour unions and the students’ union. (It still sounds a lot like a mandate has been announced, but it is in development.) VIU
BCIT president Kathy Kinloch announced Friday that BCIT “will be implementing vaccine-related protocols” including “mandatory confidential vaccine reporting… and mandatory regular rapid testing” for those who are unvaxxed or choose not to share their vax status. (So this sounds a bit more definitive.) BCIT Commons
Emily Carr U president Gillian Siddall announced Friday that ECUAD “will soon require proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for everyone on campus,” although she adds that “we will be engaging our student, staff and faculty associations in conversations about implementing these measures in a way that is safe and inclusive.” (So clearly the policy is coming, but consultations are still ongoing.) ECUAD
JIBC does not yet mention mandatory testing or vaccination disclosure in its latest return-to-campus update. It does mention that the BC vaccine card will be required for some discretionary activities. JIBC
Kwantlen Polytechnic U president Alan Davis announced Friday that they are “working… to explore a confidential system of vaccine self-declaration” and “working to develop a platform and process to manage your confidential data” while also discussing these measures with the faculty association, employee union and students’ association. Plans will be finalized by Sep 7. KPU
NVIT does not yet appear to mention the initiative on its COVID19 webpage. NVIT
Yukon U indicates only that “masks must be worn” and that “at the present time, we’re not requiring employees, students and members of the public to be fully vaccinated when accessing campus this fall.” YukonU
On the other hand…
BC Colleges Aligned with PHO
Unlike universities, the 10 community colleges across BC are considered “agents of government” and therefore have determined that they must follow the direction of the PHO. On Friday, BC Colleges released a statement emphasizing the safety of their campus environments, and that they are implementing BC’s mask mandate in indoor common areas, and implementing the “proof of vaccination program” for campus housing, bars/restaurants, and non-educational activities. (Members are the Colleges of New Caledonia and the Rockies, and Camosun, Coast Mountain, Langara, North Island, Northern Lights, Okanagan, Selkirk, and Vancouver Community Colleges.) BC Colleges
Vaccine Passports at Last
Quebec’s vaccine passport system started Wednesday, although the Android version of its VaxiCode app was delayed several days. Quebecers now need their “passport to freedom” to partake in non-essential activities at restaurants, gyms, theatres and sports arenas. The same day, Ontario premier Doug Ford finally announced his own “temporary” vaccine certificate system: starting Sep 22, proof of full vaccination will be required to access gyms, dining, theatres and other non-essential activities. “We either do this, or we risk shutting down the economy, which would even be worse.” Bylaw officers will be responsible for enforcement, and the province hopes the new mandate will encourage more vaccinations. BC, for instance, has seen vaccine appointments triple on some days since announcing its program last week, particularly among those under 40. (And sure enough, Ontario reports vaccine bookings more than doubled immediately.) For his part, New Brunswickpremier Blaine Higgs admits a vaccine passport may be coming, since other provinces are requiring them – but he sees no urgency.
In the past 2 days, there have been many updates and clarifications of vaccine requirements, apps and protocols for next week. I don’t have time to do them all justice, but here are a few notable new ones…
Acadia U announced yesterday that, although vaccines are still not mandated on campus, they will be required for varsity athletes and associated staff, as per discussions with Atlantic University Sport. Education News Canada
Assiniboine CC announced Wednesday that its board approved a vaccine mandate for campus visitors, who must prove they are vaxxed or undergo routine testing. Full vaccination is required by Oct 29. ACC | Education News Canada
Bishop’s U announced yesterday that it was implementing the Quebec vaccine passport on campus, and vaccine proof in the Purple Key to access non-essential areas of campus, including the pub, dining hall, sports centre, and café. Bishop’s
Fanshawe College announced more details of its vax policy this week in an email to students: campus visitors must be fully vaxxed by Nov 5 or obtain an approved medical exemption. (After Nov 5 those with exemptions will need a negative rapid test result within 72 hours of coming to campus.) “There are no faith-based or Human Rights Code related exemptions allowed, based on direction from the Ontario Government.”
U King’s College (Halifax) announced Wednesday that it will impose a vax mandate on campus, much like adjacent Dalhousie. Those who do not prove they are fully vaxxed will be tested twice weekly for COVID19. CBC
Redeemer UC announced Thursday that it is following provincial direction and implementing a vaccine mandate effective Sep 13: anyone coming to campus is asked to provide proof of vaccination. Those that do not or cannot must take an education module and submit to weekly rapid testing. Redeemer
St Lawrence College announced Wednesday it will require proof of vaccination (not merely an attestation) or a negative COVID19 test result for anyone coming to campus after Sep 7. Kingston Whig-Standard
On the other hand…
The Quebec Government has not swayed from its position that vaccines should not be required for PSE, despite the protests detailed below, because it is an “essential service.” While employers throughout Quebec can require their employees to be vaccinated, higher ed minister Danielle McCann clarified Thursday that does NOT apply to universities or CEGEPs. Global | Montreal Gazette
There are at least 2 distinct moods out there in CdnPSE: some presidents, students and staff are jubilant at finally returning to campus, with the pandemic behind us thanks to vaccines; while others are anxiously watching signs of rising COVID19 infections, and outraged by lax provincial regulations or campus policies. Those contrasting moods are already playing out in student behaviour and faculty protests…
Students are Disappointed
Students at Western, UBC, uCalgary, uSaskatchewan and elsewhere are complaining in national media about the uncertainty of instruction modes. On Wednesday, St Lawrence College announced it will “reduce face-to-face programming for the fall semester,” shifting larger theory-based courses online and reducing the proportion of students on campus from 80% down to 50%. Alberta U of the Arts is moving most of its courses online for the first 2 weeks of school because of delays getting its rapid testing program launched. Some students and parents at UBC Okanagan are upset that some programs and courses have been shifted online, even though many will include in-person seminars or study groups. (Some are threatening to drop out.) And then of course, 2 students claim they will sue Seneca College because they cannot fully complete their fashion arts and vet tech programs online. (They are being encouraged by the anti-vax Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.)
“It’s a bit of a dumpster fire, really. They said it’s gonna be in-person, in-person, and well, we’re gonna see… and now it’s just a free-for-all.” – Kai Rogers, Student, UBC Okanagan
Protests by Anti-Vaxxers
A group of protesters held a rally outside Lambton College last Tuesday to protest the requirement to show proof of vaccination. At uWaterloo, 3 profs were the first to sign an open letter protesting the vaccine mandate on campus, and invoking charter rights. (Out of 46,000 students and employees, though, just 40 or so have signed – 0.1% of the campus community.) Some 2,000 Queen’s U students have apparently signed an online petition to protest the campus vax mandate. An incoming Ryerson U student wrote a typo-riddled op-ed for the National Post (where else?) arguing that universities have made an “unnecessary rush to mandate vaccines.”
Protests by the Anxious
Even those who are fully-vaxxed are cognizant that they face a 20-30% chance of breakthrough infection by the Delta variant, and even if the symptoms are mild they will be contagious to others who might be more vulnerable. Several hundred McGill profs have written the administration to demand vaccination, physical distancing and routine testing – a demand echoed by the McGill Association of University Teachers and the Students’ Society, who also want to see remote learning as an option. (MAUT says “if the university cannot provide the safe and collegial environment that so many of our members are asking for, then they have every right to seek redress via grievance or legal action.”) An internal McGill memo reportedly states that “fear about campus safety or concern about relatives who might be at greater risk or exposure to COVID19 are not value reasons to teach remotely.” Faculty at uLethbridge are also publicly urging the option of online course delivery. Some biology profs at uGuelph are reportedly “terrified” by plans to return to classes of up to 250 students, without room for adequate distancing, and with full vaccination not required until Oct 15. (468 people have signed an open letter urging a shift to remote instruction until then.) Western U’s faculty association is calling for a cap of 50% capacity on in-person classrooms until the campus vax mandate takes effect Oct 12, with those that cannot be adjusted shifted online until then.
“The requirement to attend a university lecture on infectious disease should be at least as stringent as the requirement to, say, play bingo.” – Saleema Nawaz, former employee McGill U
Last year, I argued (in my University Affairs article, “Schrodinger’s Semester,” for example) that the only safe assumption in summer 2020 was that learning would have to be delivered largely online that September. The situation feels very similar now, despite the roll-out of COVID19 vaccines…
Bait and Switch Redux
The temptation to promise a return to normalcy is understandable, after 18 months of pandemic turbulence. Colleges and universities feel compelled to return students to campus, whether to maximize the learning benefits of hands-on instruction, to embrace extracurriculars and student life, or (more cynically) to restore much-needed revenues from ancillary operations like residences, parking and food services. Likewise, premiers and PHOs (particularly in BC, AB, ON and QC) have been insisting on a return to campus, even when it required them to turn a blind eye to menacing epidemiological projections. Personally, I’m with Seneca College president David Agnew, who has promoted cautious planning and firm decisions early in the summer: “You just have to be very careful about raising expectations about what you’re able to deliver, safely.”
“You just have to be very careful about raising expectations about what you’re able to deliver, safely… ” – David Agnew, president, Seneca College
One thing that remains uneven across the country is the implementation of campus vaccine mandates, although I think a consensus is clearly forming.
The CdnPSE Consensus?
I’ve now tracked 95 CdnPSEs that have mandated either COVID19 testing, or vaccination, from everyone wishing to step foot on campus this Fall. Almost all ONpses have made vaccination mandatory on campus, and most are eliminating the loophole of rapid testing except as an interim measure, or for those with legitimate medical exemptions. The federal Liberals are promising legal protection for businesses that require proof of vaccination. In ABpse and much of BCpse we’re seeing rapid testing being made mandatory instead, with an exemption for the fully vaxxed, which in practice achieves pretty similar results. The most regressive campus policies include a range of religious or “ethical” grounds for exemption, and in some of the most rural and remote areas, smaller institutions may be able to get by with merely a mandatory mask policy. But thankfully, I don’t think we see CdnPSE leaders anywhere arguing that the pandemic is past, or that we can attempt a return to normal this month.
Since my last summary on Friday, there have been a few even-more-last-minute announcements from CdnPSE. Here are the overall trends…
More Vax Mandates
Canada West athletics announced a proof of vaccination policy on Friday, requiring first doses by Sep 9 and 2nd doses by Oct 17. Briercrest College (SK) is making COVID19 testing mandatory for campus access, including those who are vaxxed. Booth UC (MB) announced Aug 26 that it will require everyone on campus to be fully vaxxed, students by Sep 2 and employees by Oct 31. (WFH continues, and all classes are online/remote this term.) Sault College released its vax policy, approved Thursday, requiring individuals to provide proof they are fully vaxxed by Oct 31, or obtain a COVID19 test. Laurentian U also approved its vax policy on Thursday, requiring full vaccination or an approved exemption and negative COVID19 test after Oct 15. On Friday afternoon at 4pm, Nipissing U released its vaccine mandate policy: anyone coming to campus must attest to at least 1 dose by Sep 7, and 2 doses by Oct 18. After Oct 29, proof of both doses must be uploaded through the Nipissing Safe app.
Closing Vax Loopholes
Many CdnPSEs have moved from a self-declaration or “honour system” approach to reporting vax status have since clarified that they will require proof of vaccination to be uploaded, typically through the employee/student portal or a campus safety app. UBC clarified on Saturday morning that it will require vax proof from all 90,000 members of the campus community. (More details are promised for today.) St Lawrence College has amended its policy, which originally required attestations on the honour system, to require proof of vaccination. In response to pressure from staff and faculty unions, UPEI announced Aug 31 that it will require proof of vaccination, rather than merely an attestation. Other CdnPSEs are eliminating the option of rapid testing for those who simply choose not to be vaccinated. Cambrian College will no longer accept a negative test result alone, without an approved exemption, for access to campus after Oct 16. Centennial College has clarified that it will require proof of vaccination, and that exemptions will be “very few” based on medical needs or creed/religious reasons.
Medical Exemptions Only?
Some CdnPSEs have announced that only medical exemptions will be considered for their vax mandates, further closing the loopholes for ethical or conscientious objectors. (My guess is that a human rights claim for exemptions under other protected reasons might still be accommodated, but I’m no lawyer – it may be sufficient to offer an online learning alternative.) When uWinnipeg unveiled its vax mandate last month, it indicated only that those “who cannot be vaccinated due to health reasons will be exempt from the mandate, upon medical verification.” Seneca College says it “will respect medical exemptions upon presentation of appropriate documentation.” As of Nov 5, Fanshawe College now says anyone coming to campus must either have proof of full vaccination or an approved medical exemption, plus proof of a negative COVID19 test within 72 hours. (In an earlier email to students, Fanshawe made it clear that “there are no faith-based or Human Rights Code related exemptions allowed, based on direction from the Ontario Government.”) Naturally, physicians are starting to see more demand for “unfounded” medical exemptions. Ontario’s Ministry of Health says there are only 2 valid medical exemptions from COVID19 vaccinations: an allergic reaction to a component of the vaccine (which must be confirmed by a specialist), or an incident of myocarditis or pericarditis after the first vax dose.
Vax Passport Apps
Particularly in Ontario, where the government directed ONpses to have a vaccine policy in place by today, there has been a scramble to launch forms and apps to facilitate the process of uploading proof of vaccination. Just a few examples: Fleming College requires vaccination proof to be uploaded thorough the FlemingSafe app. McMaster U employees and students can upload proof of vaccination to the MacCheck digital tool starting today. Algonquin College employees and learners can upload proof of vaccination within the latest version of the AC Mobile Safety app.
Online in the Interim
With last-minute announcements of mandates for vaccination or rapid testing, many CdnPSEs are hitting the logistical wall when it comes to sourcing sufficient rapid tests, or developing apps to permit attestations or uploading proof of vaccination. Most have introduced a “grace period” to allow time for the campus community to get vaxxed, or provide evidence thereof. Others are exercising even more caution, pivoting to online delivery of all classes as a temporary measure until the campus community has time to get double-vaxxed. For example: Alberta U of the Arts has moved all courses online for the first 2 weeks of class. Brock U has determined that all courses will be online only Sep 7-12. All York U classes will be delivered online or remotely between Sep 7-12.
A Few Exceptions
There continue to be some CdnPSEs, mostly smaller campuses in smaller communities, that are not planning to implement a vaccine disclosure or rapid testing protocol. Acadia U reiterated Friday that it is using a “voluntary approach” to COVID19 vaccination. I mentioned last week that BC’s 10 community colleges have decided they have no authority to add precautions beyond those mandated by the PHO. That includes Okanagan College, which says it is recommending vaccination, but will not be requiring disclosures on campus (except for residences, restaurants and fitness centres, which are covered under the BC proof-of-vaccination program). Otherwise, the CdnPSE holdouts include (to the best of my knowledge) Alberta’s Bow Valley and Olds Colleges, the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology, and Manitoba’s Steinbach Bible College.
I’m not tracking the myriad adjustments to vaccine mandates in CdnPSE anymore, but here are a few developments worth noting since Tuesday…
More Provincial Passports
The Yukon announced Tuesday that it will be introducing an online vaccine credential system to help residents when they are asked for proof of vaccination in other jurisdictions. After a cluster of 5 new cases, the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador announced Tuesday that it will introduce a vaccination passport with QR codes, modelled on the Quebec system, within weeks. Yesterday the premier of Nova Scotia also announced a “proof of vaccination” policy for entry to bars, restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues as of Oct 4. (Earlier New Brunswick admitted it would likely move toward a vaccine passport so that residents could move between provinces. Prince Edward Island, which already has the PEI Pass for interprovincial travel, has also announced it will introduce a vaccine passport by early October, for large events.) With the programs already launched in Manitoba and Quebec, and announced in BC and Ontario, I think that leaves Alberta and Saskatchewan alone among the provinces in resisting a vax passport of some kind.
Douglas College announced Aug 24 that it would follow the BC PHO guidelines in requiring proof of vaccination for non-essential activities including the fitness centre, theatre and music productions, recreation and intramural activities, “optional workshops,” club activities, and likely campus dining. On Aug 30, president Kathy Denton added that Douglas would take a similar approach to BC’s research universities, requiring attestation of vaccination or regular, periodic rapid testing. Douglas
McGill U still hasn’t defied the Quebec provincial direction by imposing a vaccine mandate, but it does tell the community that “the University expects you to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible,” and that the provincial vaccine passport will be required for non-essential activities on campus starting Sep 1. (Those include participating in varsity athletics, accessing fitness centres and residence common areas, attending sporting events, sit-down dining, concerts, conferences, and other extracurricular activities.) McGill
SAIT announced Tuesday that it will introduce a mandatory COVID19 vaccination verification and rapid testing program later this month. Students and employees will either attest to vaccination through the SAITALERT app, or be subject to periodic rapid testing. “You may be required to provide proof of vaccination at a later date.” SAIT
Yukon U will require anyone entering campus to complete a COVID19 questionnaire and a non-invasive temperature check, with a “fast-track” option for those who are fully-vaxxed. (Yukon U won’t have records on vax status, but will depend on the “honour system.”) Mandatory testing for those who are unvaxxed might be introduced later. CBC
Although Boris Johnson’s government has backed off from vaccine passports for UK nightclubs and events, US president Joe Biden has expanded vax mandates to include 100M American federal workers, healthcare staff and large employers. The momentum has been clear for months as CdnPSEs implement mandatory COVID19 testing and vaccination policies, but a few late-breaking announcements continue to trickle in. (See the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies for the full chronological story.)
Atlantic U Sports finally announced its own vax mandate last Thursday, requiring all student athletes competing in AUS-sanctioned events to be fully vaccinated against COVID19, or have an approved exemption. (Other CdnPSE athletic bodies announced vax mandates during the summer.) The decision will affect student-athletes from Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Memorial, Mount Allison, Moncton, UNB, PEI, Saint Mary’s, StFX, and St Thomas U. CBC
Bow Valley College announced Friday that, “after careful consideration, overwhelming feedback, and scientific evidence” it will require all students and employees on campus to be fully vaccinated against COVID19 effective Oct 22. Those who “choose not to vaccinate” will be subject to weekly rapid testing. BVC | Education News Canada | Calgary Herald
U Canada West announced Sep 1 that all faculty and staff must be vaccinated to work on campus (1 dose by Sep 13, 2 doses by Oct 24). “While the current policy does not include mandatory vaccinations for students, we are currently exploring our options.” uCanWest
Never mind the deafening American opposition to vaccination, from Florida governor Ron DeSantis to rapper Nicki Minaj. Even here in Canada, we’ve been seeing small but vocal antivax protests at Justin Trudeau’s campaign stops, and even outside hospitals already besieged with unvaxxed patients. (Canada’s answer to DeSantis, Maxime Bernier, is attracting antivaxxers to his “People’s Party of Canada,” and one of his riding presidents threw gravel at Trudeau.) A group called “Canadian Frontline Nurses” has been organizing the protests against the “tyrannical measures and government overreach” of vax mandates and passports, which ironically are taking a mental health toll on real frontline nurses. “We are reducing our nurses to tears.” The federal NDP and Liberals say they will introduce legislation to make it a criminal offense for protestors to obstruct access to healthcare. Alberta premier Jason Kenney is invoking the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act. (Hey, when Ontario premier Doug Ford calls you a “yahoo,” you know you’re a fringe lunatic.) Thankfully, CFN organizers (most of whom have been fired or are not currently working in nursing) announced yesterday that “hate has been pouring in” and the group will therefore be “taking a break” and will no longer target hospitals with their protests. (The CFN leaders were famously speakers at the Jan 6 rally in Washington DC that led to the storming of the Capitol.)
“To see people outside the hospital gates protesting, harassing and intimidating staff is a morale blow, it is reprehensible.” – Raghu Venugopal, Toronto emergency physician
After months resisting the inevitable (vaccine passports), the government conceded Tuesday that Albertans will be able to download a printable card or smartphone app to provide their vax status. CMOH Deena Hinshaw admitted Monday that vax passports clearly have encouraged young people to get vaccinated in other jurisdictions. And while the province hasn’t imposed any vaccine requirements on non-essential businesses, many are starting to make their own announcements. Yesterday, many Edmonton gyms, theatres, and restaurants announced they will require proof of vaccination from patrons and staff starting as early as today. CBC
In general, the trend toward mandatory vaccinations on campus is continuing (see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies), but the mess in Alberta prompted 9 ABpses to issue a joint announcement on Monday…
uAlberta and 8 other ABpses announced Monday that they will soon require proof of full COVID19 vaccination for anyone coming to campus. (The dates of implementation vary by institution, from Oct 1 through Jan 1.) Rapid testing will cease to be provided, except for those with approved medical or human rights exemptions. At uAlberta, the new protocols come into effect Nov 1. uAlberta
uCalgary will require full vaccination of students, faculty and staff by Jan 1 2022, and of visitors to campus by Oct 1 2021. uCalgary
uLethbridge will require full vaccination of all students, faculty and staff coming to campus by Nov 1. uLethbridge
MacEwan U is “continuing to work through a measured, multi-phased approach to protect our community… with the ultimate goal of having a fully vaccinated campus by the beginning of the Winter term.” Beginning in January, all students, staff, faculty and visitors will be required to be fully-vaxxed to attend campus. (Rapid testing will cease.) MacEwan
Medicine Hat College says its goal is “to have our campus vaccination protocol complete in January 2022.”Details are still to come. MHC
Mount Royal U will require full vaccination of everyone coming to campus effective Jan 1, when rapid testing will no longer be accepted as an alternative (except for those with medical or human rights accommodations). MRU
NAIT will require proof of full vaccination from everyone coming to campus effective Nov 8. NAIT
NorQuest College will require proof of full vaccination effective Nov 1. NorQuest
SAIT will require proof of full vaccination from community members on campus by Jan 1 2022. SAIT
“Postsecondary schools were hung out to dry to make these decisions. Their focus should be on the education of our future leaders, and not having to make public health decisions without the evidence that Jason Kenney has at his fingertips, and is refusing to follow.” – David Eggen, Alberta NDP advanced education critic
Although there are plenty of outspoken faculty, staff and students lobbying for more stringent vaccine mandates at campuses coast-to-coast (including UBC and McGill), there are also some dissident voices…
Brock U has seen antivax protestors at the main entrance to its campus, protesting its vax mandate as “segregation,” “racist,” and a violation of bodily autonomy. Niagara Falls Review
Huron UC ethics prof Julie Ponesse compares herself to Socrates, “executed for asking questions,” because she says she faces “imminent dismissal” for refusing what she calls an “experimental vaccine.” (The school denies that anyone has been dismissed.) Naturally, Ponesse has been speaking at PPC campaign events. London Free Press | Toronto Star
UBC medicine prof Steven Pelech claims he is “persona non grata” in his department, because he is concerned about the risks of vaccination and objects to UBC’s stance, “strongly encouraging” students to get vaxxed. (Pelech has tenure and admits his department chair “isn’t giving me any trouble.”) Globe & Mail
Emergency Measures in AB
On Wednesday, premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency for Alberta, imposing restrictions on indoor dining, gatherings, religious services, retail and fitness – and a “restriction exemption program” that is a de facto vaccine passport system (which he has vocally opposed for months). Negative COVID19 test results will be accepted as an alternative. WFH is now mandatory unless physical presence at work is required. Elementary schools must reintroduce masking and cohorting of students immediately, and ABpses must now maintain 2m physical distancing in classes. (Considering that case counts will continue to rise for 2 weeks until new measures have an effect, Kenney has still waited far too long. Bleak headlines and more apologies seem inevitable.) CTV |
“The government’s first obligation must be to avoid large numbers of preventable deaths. We must deal with the reality that we are facing. We cannot wish it away.” – Jason Kenney, premier of Alberta
Emergency Measures in SK
On Thursday, SK premier Scott Moe announced an indoor masking mandate to commence today, and a proof-of-vaccination policy to begin Oct 1. As in Alberta, proof of vaccination or a negative COVID19 test will be required at SK restaurants, nightclubs, bars, casinos, movie theatres, and indoor ticketed sporting events – and people will have to pay for those rapid tests themselves. All ministry, crown and agency employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct 1, or provide negative COVID19 test results on a regular basis. Moe observed that his government has been “very patient… possibly… too patient” with the unvaccinated: “The vast majority of Saskatchewan people have grown tired of the reckless decisions of the unvaccinated that are now driving our fourth wave.” Opposition NDP leader Ryan Meili said “copying Jason Kenney’s ‘too-little, too-late’ plan is not leadership.” Unlike Kenney, Moe offered no apology (half-hearted or otherwise). CTV | Globe & Mail | Saskatoon Star-Phoenix | CBC
“The government of Saskatchewan has been very patient – possibly we have been too patient – and that time for patience is now over.” – Scott Moe, premier of Saskatchewan
As The Tyee puts it, “the Best Summer Ever has now officially become the Worst Fall Possible.” As opponents and critics call for resignations in Alberta, none has yet come. Premier Jason Kenney is being “publicly flayed.” But the state of emergency has also occurred during the crucial final week of the federal election. (Things must be bleak in Alberta, for Jason Kenney to be unable to wait 6 more days to capitulate.) Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh have been openly critical of Kenney’s management of the pandemic in particular, while Erin O’Toole is bald-faced in his refusal to address the issue at all, even after repeated pointed questioning. Calgary Liberal candidate George Chalal has released an ad quoting O’Toole last year, saying “the federal Conservatives can learn a lot from our UCP cousins.” Some pollsters speculate that the AB/SK announcements are a “major setback… and a potential game changer” for the federal Conservatives in the election. National Post | Global | The Tyee
“Jason Kenney and the UCP were unforgivably late to act and now all Albertans will pay the price for their cowardice.” – Rachel Notley, Alberta NDP leader, former premier
PHOs Should Act?
As a lifelong Star Trek fan, I’ve long been familiar with the idea that the only person more powerful than a starship captain is the Chief Medical Officer, who can relieve the captain of duty at any time. Canadian medical and legal experts argue that, at least in Saskatchewan, legislation gives provincial CMOH Saqib Shahab the authority to unilaterally impose public health orders, even over the objections of premier Scott Moe. (Although Moe could always fire Shahab and undo any PHO orders.) Considering how often the CMOHs in Ontario, Alberta and elsewhere have clearly been biting their tongues, it would dramatically change the country’s pandemic response if politics were removed from the equation. CBC
New guidance from the governments of Ontario and Alberta have created a flurry of CdnPSE announcements in the past 2 days…
Algonquin College has extended its deadline for full vaccination from Oct 12 to Oct 30, recognizing that the short notice of the policy “has posed a challenge for many of our learners and employees.” The extension is only for those “actively pursuing vaccination,” and those people must have their 2nd shot by Oct 16. Algonquin
Alberta institutions were given a government directive at 9:30pm Wednesday that their campuses can only reopen under the new “restrictions exemption” program, which mandates proof of vaccination in high-capacity indoor settings. The problem is, the institutions are still working out the details for collecting and enforcing such restrictions, which they announced Monday would come into effect anywhere from October through January. Most ABpses have temporarily cancelled in-person classes as they scramble to determine how to implement 2-metre social distancing on campus. Students are naturally outraged by the last-minute changes of plan, by the province and their institutions. Calgary Herald
uAlberta cancelled all in-person classes Thursday, later clarifying that classes would resume Monday once it could implement the Restrictions Exemption program. (Some F2F classes resumed on campus Friday, if they could maintain physical distancing.) Proof of vaccination requirements start Oct 4. Edmonton Journal | uAlberta
uCalgary cancelled in-person classes Thursday through Sunday as it is “evaluating the implications of the new rules.” It claims that in-person activity will resume Monday, under “previously-announced rules,” and that community members will have to upload proof of vaccination. Calgary Herald | CBC | uCalgary
Concordia U of Edmonton cancelled all campus classes and activities from Sep 16-19, explaining that it is “unable to accommodate” the province’s requirement of 2 metres of physical distancing. All classes will be held online Sep 20 – Oct 3, and after Oct 4 the Restriction Exemption program will come into effect on CUE’s campus. At that point, it requires “that we only serve those who are fully vaccinated against COVID19.” Edmonton Journal | CUE
uLethbridge suspended all in-person classes Sep 16-19. On Monday, its proof of vaccination policy will be recognized by the provincial government under its restrictions exemption program, allowing all in-person classes and activities to resume as planned. The only adjustment to UL’s policy is that rapid testing will be required every 72 hours, by those without a vaccine exemption. Beginning Nov 1, full vaccination is required. uLeth
MacEwan U cancelled all in-person classes for Thursday and Friday, and says that effective Monday it will be implementing the province’s restriction exemption program, “accelerating plans announced earlier this week to achieve a fully vaccinated campus.” All classes will therefore continue as scheduled for the Fall term. Students must upload proof of vaccination using the Safe@MacEwan app. Edmonton Journal | MacEwan
Medicine Hat College cancelled in-person and online classes Thursday and Friday while it evaluates the government’s new protocols. MHC
Mount Royal U cancelled in-person classes for the rest of the week. Beginning Monday, MRU will return to in-person learning under the province’s Restrictions Exemption program. Those who attested to vaccination will be required to upload proof starting Monday, while all others must participate in rapid testing. Employees will continue to WFH as possible. Calgary Herald | CBC | MRU
NorQuest College has temporarily closed its campuses Sep 16-18, cancelled in-person classes and moved hyflex courses to online only. NorQuest
SAIT has cancelled in-person classes and closed its campus to all activity for the rest of the week. On Monday, on-campus activities will resume under the Restrictions Exemption program. Vaccine verification will be required through the SAITalert app. Those without proof must obtain a negative COVID19 test within 72 hours of coming to campus. Calgary Herald | SAIT
Most ABpses are concerned that the Alberta Health Services records website may be overwhelmed with requests this weekend, as students, staff and faculty rush to comply immediately with the requirement to upload proof of vaccination status before Monday. No question, this chaos could have been averted if only more institutions had followed the example of Seneca College, which announced their vaccine mandate back in mid-June. Or the dozens of other CdnPSEs which announced their requirements in July and August. (See the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies.)
Our thoughts are with everybody in Alberta trying to cope with this abrupt chaos…
I know, I know, we’ve heard enough about vaccine mandates by now. (I’ve written 46,000 words on the subject since March.) But I’m obsessive about closure, apparently…
More Vax Passports
Provincial premiers and PHOs are realizing that, to increase vaccine uptake among the 20-39-year-old population, nothing has proven as effective as requiring vaccination for entry to bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Alberta’s proof of vaccination policy came into effect Monday, and Ontario’s does so today(although you’ll have to find your own way to carry the PDFs around on your smartphone until Oct 22). Ontario premier Doug Ford introduced the measure apologetically: “This pandemic remains an emergency and there are real-world consequences of not acting.” Yesterday, PEI premier Dennis King announced a PEI VaxPass, and vaccinate-or-test policy for some provincial workers, both effective Oct 5. Around the world, as of Oct 1 even the Vatican will require the EU’s GreenPass as proof of immunity (although exemptions are available to attend mass).
I summarized last week (“The Last Dominoes Fall?”) the impact of Alberta’s state of emergency on ABpses, and how at least 10 suspended in-person classes in order to implement the new “restrictions exemption” protocol for vaccinated students, staff and faculty this week. Since then, they have been joined by AUarts, Lethbridge College, Medicine Hat College, NAIT, NorQuest, Olds College and Red Deer Polytechnic (for whom it was a significant reversal of position).
Thankfully, higher ed leaders have pretty consistently proven themselves wiser than their political counterparts, announcing mandatory vaccine policies since March. Across North America, enforcement has been getting stricter over the past few weeks…
117 Suspended at Penn State
Penn State U has suspended 117 students for skipping at least 3 weeks of mandatory COVID19 testing, banning them from classes online or in person, and prohibiting them from stepping foot on campus. (Those living in residence will be “temporarily removed.”) New York Daily News
134 Unenrolled at Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech says that 134 students (out of 37,000) are no longer enrolled because they failed to submit vaccination documentation or receive a medical or religious exemption. US News
Few Exemptions at Conestoga
Conestoga College clarified last week that there are only 2 acceptable medical exemptions to the vax mandate: a severe allergic reaction to a component of the vaccine (confirmed by an allergist or immunologist) or myocarditis. The Ontario Human Rights Commission notes on its FAQ page that “a singular belief or personal preference against vaccinations or masks does not appear to be protected on the ground of creed under the Code.” Conestoga continues: “Secular, socially based, or conscientiously held beliefs are not protected under the Code and will not be approved as an exemption to the College’s mandatory COVID19 vaccination requirement.” Conestoga
Mandatory for US Teens?
US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said last Thursday he “wholeheartedly supports” mandatory vaccination for older teens, and believes it should be state governors, not school board superintendents, who implement vax mandates. “It’s the best tool that we have to safely reopen schools and keep them open.” So far, only a handful of US school districts have mandated vaccinations for students (such as the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest in the country). The Education Dept is currently investigating several states (like Texas and Florida) for violating the rights of students with disabilities by banning mask mandates. Washington Post
Faculty Urge Mandates
Last week, 8 Alberta faculty associations wrote advanced ed minister Demetrios Nicolaides urging a province-wide vaccine mandate for all ABpses, to ensure a safe workplace. “Health decisions have been offloaded onto the institutions at great cost,” and institutions forced to “act almost like their own chief PHOs.” They are also urging the province to cover institutions’ costs for legal opinions, research, enforcement, contact tracing and testing. Global News
Students Prefer Mandates
According to a survey of 440 current and prospective US international students, 59% would be more likely to apply to an institution if a COVID19 vaccine passport was compulsory (44% “much more likely”). That’s about equal to the proportion already vaccinated (57%). Just 11% considered a campus vax mandate a turn-off. Unsurprisingly, 86% felt positive or very positive about the idea of fully in-person instruction. Times Higher Ed
CdnPSE institutions have been updating, refining, and beginning to enforce their campus vaccine mandates over the past few weeks, and there are far too many to document here. (For a summary of my coverage of vaccine mandates since March, see the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies.) But here are a couple of the more interesting recent developments…
Portage College (AB) implemented a COVID19 vax mandate last week, effective Nov 30. (Staff and students have the option to provide negative rapid test results until the end of this semester.) “With low rural vaccination rates and COVID-19 cases steadily increasing, the College felt it necessary to do its part to protect community members.” Portage
11 MRU Students Deregistered
Calgary’s Mount Royal U deregistered 22 students last month for refusing to declare their COVID19 vaccination status or participate in rapid testing, “with an opportunity to comply.” Half must have complied, as only 11 were ultimately deregistered (with refunds). One student taking only online courses at MRU claims she was threatened with deregistration too, in error. Global | CBC
McMaster FoCo Fallout
I mentioned already that Dalhousie U directed students who attended rowdy street parties in Halifax to stay away from class for a week and get tested for COVID19. McMaster U is taking a rather different approach, reassuring the campus community that its multiple layers of mitigation measures (vax mandate, asymptomatic testing, daily health screening, masking and distancing) “means teaching and work at the university can continue as normal,” despite the large unsanctioned homecoming gathering on Saturday. Still, anyone who attended the street party is asked to be tested for COVID19 at Mac’s asymptomatic testing centre. McMaster
OnTech Looks to Fall 2022
I’m not 100% sure it is the first CdnPSE to do so (perhaps someone can set me straight?), but Ontario Tech announced Monday that it is extending its COVID19 vax mandate to “at least Fall 2022.” All students, “in person or online,” are required to be double-vaxxed by Oct 17, to access on-campus services, activities or resources. ONtech
Legal & Ethical Implications
McGill’s Institute for Health and Social Policy convened a panel last month of legal, medical and medical ethics professors, specifically to discuss the implications of CdnPSE vax mandates. (Notably, McGill has not imposed a policy.) Socially, 70-80% of Canadians favour vax mandates. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has ruled vax mandates “generally permissible,” and legally universities can impose mandates “as long as they have the requisite exemptions.” (Religious accommodations must not be based on misinformation about supposed fetal cells in mRNA vaccines.) McGill, claimed an SSMU VP, “is prioritizing optics” rather than protecting health and safety. The panel concluded that institutions have a moral and ethical obligation to impose the “minimal burden” of vaccination, to prevent unnecessary suffering and death. McGill Daily | Panel Recording
“Students know that their health and their safety and their wellbeing are not a priority and the unwillingness of the University to implement a vaccination requirement is really emblematic of that.” – Claire Downie, VP, Student Society of McGill U
“Vaccine mandates actually further civil liberties. They protect the most vulnerable among us, including people with disabilities and fragile immune systems, children too young to be vaccinated and communities of colour hit hard by the disease.” – American Civil Liberties Union
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