Editor’s note: please note that this page will be updated on an as-needed basis.
May 4, 2022
Lifting of vaccine requirement at Waterloo region universities
As of May 1, three postsecondary institutions – the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Guelph – will no longer require proof of vaccination to enter or work on campus, according to CTV News. The three universities have all chosen to maintain their masking policy for indoor spaces.
In Quebec, McGill University has announced the end of its mask mandate, beginning May 24, according to the Montreal Gazette. Concordia University and Université de Montréal will maintain their mask requirement through the summer term. The province recently announced that masks will not be necessary in public spaces beginning May 14.
April 27, 2022
Universities extend masking requirements
The University of Windsor and Trent University have both announced the extension of their indoor mask mandate until the end of May, while the University of British Columbia has chosen June 30. On the East Coast, Memorial University will be lifting indoor capacity limits beginning in the Spring semester, although vaccination and indoor masking policies will remain in place.
A complaint against the University of Guelph’s vaccination policy has been dismissed by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, according to the Toronto Star. The complainant said that the university “discriminated against them… by the introduction of a mandatory vaccine policy for entry to their facility.” The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario determined that the issue was outside its jurisdiction.
April 20, 2022
Mask mandates return
Students at the University of Ottawa have expressed fear and frustration with the institution’s decision to end its mask and vaccination mandates on May 1, according to the Ottawa Citizen. The city is currently in a midst of a sixth wave, and wastewater indicators show record-high indicators of COVID-19 in the last few days. Carleton University has taken a different direction and has asked students to maintain wearing masks until further notice, while Queen’s University has extended its mask mandate until the end of May.
CTV News has reported that there were over 400 positive cases of COVID-19 reported in the first two weeks of April at the University of Saskatchewan, leading administrators to require masking until the end of June.
Elsewhere, students at Ryerson University have filed a lawsuit against the institution over its vaccine mandate, according to the Western Standard, saying that the mandate caused them to lose campus jobs, scholarships and peace of mind.
April 13, 2022
Exam season amid the variants
Postsecondary students in Ontario are heading into in-person exams this month, despite the rising sixth wave of COVID-19 across the province. Ryan Gregory, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Guelph, spoke to the Toronto Star about how students are juggling multiple stressors during exam season, and now have undue stress for fear of catching COVID-19.
And, as graduation rounds the corner, education advocates are warning about the long-term impacts of the pandemic on next year’s incoming university students. Laurie French, president of the Canadian School Board Association, told CBC News that students’ education outcomes during the pandemic has varied widely across the provinces and depending on the student’s life at home, and that learning was especially difficult for those living in remote or rural communities with poor connectivity. “There’s going to be a widening gap for those children,” said Ms. French.
April 6, 2022
Despite sixth wave, more Ontario universities move to end restrictions
Ontario has marked its highest COVID-19 test positivity rate since mid-January, with hospitalizations up 30 per cent, according to CBC News. However, more Ontario universities have announced the end of masking and vaccination requirements on May 1. The University of Guelph, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Carleton University – which has seen a recent outbreak of 221 cases – have all made the move.
However, Brock University has gone in the opposite direction, choosing to maintain its masking and vaccine measures into the Spring semester, and will also be providing rapid antigen tests, medical masks and KN95 masks to students, staff and faculty.
March 30, 2022
Quebec sees outbreaks among students, Ontario lifts masking and vaccine requirements
The director of the Université Laval medical program notified students on Tuesday that there had been a COVID-19 outbreak, indicating that class would not resume in person until April 1. A university spokesman told CBC News that the number of students infected was unknown, and that the spread came as students gathered off campus. This follows a surge in COVID-19 cases at McGill University, where the Montreal Gazette reported that students were breaking isolation to collect meals in dining halls, due to a shortage of isolation rooms. Quebec is currently seeing a rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations following a two-month decline.
In British Columbia, the University of Victoria’s senate voted 23-19 in favour of reinstating an on-campus mask mandate, but its board of directors declined to accept the recommendation, according to CHEK News. The university is recommending that students continue to mask indoors but is not making it a requirement.
The University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, the University of Toronto, and Ryerson University have recently announced that they will suspend masking and vaccination mandates on May 1, the first day of spring semester. The announcement follows the province’s lifting of mask mandates in most indoor places on Mar. 14.
March 23, 2022
Universities announce lifting of mask mandates, vaccine requirements
On May 1, several universities across Canada will remove their mask mandates and proof of vaccination requirements. Wilfrid Laurier University, the University of Ottawa and the University of Guelph have all made the announcement, while strongly recommending that students continue to mask while on campus. CTV News reported that Carleton University has extended masking and vaccine requirements until at least the end of the Winter term.
In Quebec, Concordia University and McGill University will both continue to enforce mask mandates throughout the semester, while the Université de Montréal says it has not yet decided. The province plans to remove mask mandates by April, according to CTV News.
Manitoba’s two largest universities, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg, both plan to lift vaccine requirements in the spring but are continuing with their masking policy, according to CBC News.
Mount Royal University has lifted its masking mandate, following the directive from the province, but students are arguing that the university should be able to make its own health and safety policies to protect vulnerable students and their families.
March 16, 2022
To mask, or not to mask?
In a statement released last Friday, the Council of Ontario Universities announced that the province’s universities will maintain their masking requirement until at the least the end of the semester, according to the Toronto Star. The province is preparing to lift its mask mandate on March 21.
Albertan universities have made the opposite move, with students and staff at the University of Alberta and MacEwan University no longer required to mask up, following the province-wide decision to end masking on March 16. The University of Alberta students’ union said it plans to fight the policy, after a survey showed 61 per cent of students want to continue wearing masks.
Students at Simon Fraser University have also launched a petition to oppose the university’s recent move to drop its mask mandate, whereas the University of British Columbia has chosen to maintain mask wearing until the end of the spring semester. British Columbia removed the mask mandate for indoor public spaces on March 11.
On the East Coast, Cape Breton University is the only Atlantic university that is dropping its face mask policy, and CBC News reported that many faculty are worried about the decision. Nova Scotia will end mask mandates at the same time as Ontario, on March 21.
Something to celebrate
After two years of students attending virtual convocations, pandemic graduates from the classes 2020, 2021 and 2022 will be able to gather in person for convocation at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, according to The Record.
March 9, 2022
Online learning during pandemic leaves some students wanting more
Remote learning options used during the pandemic offer more flexibility and accessibility for some students, which may be forcing universities to reimagine how they structure courses. According to CBC News, students with disabilities, anxiety disorders and socioeconomic issues benefit from online programs, which are expected to see enrollments rise in the coming years. While the online model isn’t new, universities are experimenting with novel technologies like mixed reality to enhance the online learning experience for students of all abilities.
Students prepare for campus life in Manitoba
Brandon University is preparing for a full return to campus for fall 2022, with the lifting of all COVID-19 restrictions at the university through the spring and summer. In a statement to CBC News, Brandon University president David Docherty cited extreme levels of vaccination on campus and in the community, as well as hopeful projections for the health care system throughout the coming months. The University of Manitoba, however, is likely to make an announcement about a return to campus in the summer term in the weeks ahead.
March 2, 2022
Universities extend vaccine mandates, despite lifting of restrictions
More universities have announced that their vaccine requirements and other COVID-19 health measures will remain in place until at least the end of the winter semester. St. Thomas University’s vice-chancellor wrote to the student community that it will maintain its protection measures, including masking and physical distancing requirements, despite the province of New Brunswick lifting its restrictions on March 14, according to CBC News. UPEI will also be keeping its mandatory vaccination requirements and plans to re-evaluate its policy in the spring.
University students have mostly returned to class in Ontario, with CTV News reporting that both staff and students at Western University are glad to be back. At Brock University, however, a handful of students advocated for more online learning options, hoping to bring attention to what they believe to be “unsafe conditions” at the St. Catharine’s campus, according to the Niagara Falls Review.
Unvaccinated staff put on unpaid leave
At the University of Waterloo, there has been a series of staff terminations after the school chose to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations. The Record reported that the terminations came after the province announced it would be removing requirements for mandatory vaccine policies in the workplace. The professors have been placed on unpaid leave.