Students who’ve chosen to live in residences at McMaster University this fall will be required to be fully vaccinated from COVID-19, according the school’s execs.
In a statement Wednesday, McMaster said the decision is tied to Ontario’s plan this coming school year to encourage universities to expand student activities on campuses, no physical distancing, and to maintain the use of masks indoors.
“We are working to make sure that students have as much opportunity as possible to enjoy a full residence experience,” said Sean Van Koughnett, associate vice-president and dean of students.
“A survey of incoming residence students found that 97 per cent said they planned to be vaccinated before the beginning of term. This is an outstanding response and requiring vaccinations aligns well with what our students are telling us.”
The university will send more about vaccination requirements and exceptions for religious or health reasons to students directly as well as providing them on the school’s housing website.
“Requiring vaccinations will allow us to create a more normal residence experience which is so important to students,” said Kevin Beatty, director Housing.
Students will need to have at least one shot of a Health Canada approved dose prior to their move in date and the second within 14 days of moving in, according to Beatty.
Executives say they’re in discussions with public health to finalize a vaccination clinic through the Student Wellness Centre and provide assistance for international students in obtaining a vaccine.
Earlier this week, Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released its recommendations for a return to school, which included the likelihood of loosening rules on masking, distancing and cohorting.
The report is mainly targeted to younger students in the public school system and suggests the loosening of rules should case numbers continue to be low and vaccination rates among youth increase.
However, in a case of rising case numbers in a given community, the science table recommends that masking and cohorting be brought back mostly for those in the younger grades.
Dr. Peter Juni, a scientific director with the science table, told Global News he expects the school year to start in a “moderate” risk scenario since it’s not known what case numbers will be like and how high the uptake in vaccinations among youth will be.
“We’ll need to assume at the beginning of the school year that we are in a moderate risk scenario, so masks and cohort and distancing are still part of the game,” said Juni.
He says an increase in cases is inevitable in the next few weeks due to the reopening of the economy during step 3 and believes the following step should be the reopening of schools.
“As a society, we should not push for more than this (current) step before schools reopen,” Juni said.
Other Ontario post secondary schools that have made the same two-dose requirement for students in residence include Western University in London and the University of Toronto.
Seneca College in Toronto and Confederation College in Thunder Bay are requiring vaccinations for all students and staff on campus.
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