Thursday, July 22, 2021 | Category: Eduvation Insider
With any luck, you are celebrating Hammock and Mango Day in your backyard or on a beach someplace. (That’s NOT where I was yesterday, although you may have noticed there was no Insider. Just busy with some client deadlines, and waiting for the dust to settle on the Ontario announcements for Fall.)
In the meantime, though, there were a few stories I feel compelled to share today. In particular, we’re now up to 14 CdnPSEs with some form of vaccine requirement for students living in residence this September – and 2 Ontario colleges are requiring full vaccination of all students AND employees coming to campus AT ALL…
Just as I have been collating hundreds of announcements from Ontario PSEs about their plans for Fall, the Ontario government has turned the tables, by (belatedly) joining its BC and Alberta counterparts…
Full Return in Ontario*
A Jul 16 memo from Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities directs ONpse to prepare for all in-person classes and activities to resume this September, without capacity limits or physical distancing requirements. (Masks will still be required for indoor settings, and the province is encouraging rapid testing of asymptomatic people, as well as wastewater surveillance.) But the asterisk* indicates that institutions must also establish a “continuity of education” plan, should COVID19 outbreaks disrupt in-person learning. Detailed guidance on masks, screening and cleaning will follow in early August. CBC | CTV
“While we must remain vigilant and responsive to the trajectory of COVID19, I am optimistic that the sector will resume many of the cherished in-person experiences that have been on pause for so long.” – Shelley Tapp, Deputy Minister of Colleges and Universities, Ontario
A new science brief from Ontario’s COVID19 Science Advisory Table, and physicians from children’s hospitals across the province, emphasizes that K-12 students must return to classrooms in September, barring “only the most catastrophic of circumstances.” 19 weeks of remote learning in the past academic year has exacerbated educational inequities, reduced physical activity and social interaction, and increased risks to mental and physical health for students. The report recommends that students should stay home when sick and potentially wear masks, but that physical distancing would not be required in schools with adequate ventilation, cleaning and hygiene initiatives in place. CBC
Doubts at Conestoga
Conestoga College president John Tibbits has demonstrated admirable caution from the very beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, often resisting the temptation to optimism that led other CdnPSE leaders to flip-flop on premature announcements. So perhaps it’s not surprising that he is also among the first to express some skepticism about the province’s directive for a full return to normal just 6 weeks from now. “That’s an interesting memo, it gives us freedom, but… it’s not that simple.” The balance between vaccinations and variants (which I summed up Monday in “Wildfire in Dry Timber”) still leaves many experts warning of a September surge in the pandemic. “I think it’s unlikely, despite that memo, that we could bring 25,000 people back on-campus full-time in the fall… Unless someone’s prepared to say everyone needs to be vaccinated.” Kitchener Today
Of course, the prospect of a full return to class without social distancing or capacity limits has many ONpse workers concerned, and is intensifying the pressure to mandate vaccination on campus…
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
Again, check out the Insider Recap on Vaccination Policies for the complete story since March.
It’s unrelated to vaccinations, but I’ve been holding onto this eye-catching campaign since mid-May, so it’s about time I shared it…
To mark Canadian Innovation Week (May 17-21), uAlberta released a series of 30 profiles of “the many ways our research is partnering to bring real change to real people.” Examples range from turning restaurant grease into low-carbon jet fuel, to helping remote communities take broadband into their own hands. “A great idea needs a lab, a platform, a champion – a generator.” uAlberta
As always, thanks for reading!
Please do drop me a line if you spot something interesting, thought-provoking or cool happening on your campus, or elsewhere in the world.
Stay safe and be well,
All contents copyright © 2014 Eduvation Inc. All rights reserved.