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Ontario Tech University mandating vaccinations on campus

(Ontario Tech photo)

Ontario Tech University is mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all those coming to campus.

The university says the health and safety of campus and the broader community has always been the university’s top priority.

Following discussions surrounding the ongoing risks posed by COVID-19, including the emergence of new variants, Ontario Tech will be requiring all students, faculty, staff and all other individuals coming to any campus location to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We all have the responsibility of keeping each other safe,” says President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Steven Murphy.

“By supporting this mandatory vaccination directive, we all contribute to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, now and over the long term,” he continues.

“Let’s work together as the university continues to be a leader in managing COVID-19, and a model for how to best live with a pandemic that will be with us for some time.”

The mandatory vaccination directive will take effect Friday, Sept. 3.

All members of the campus community are urged to be fully vaccinated prior to the start of the fall semester, where possible.

The university says it will allow people until Sunday, Oct. 17 to receive their second vaccination, realizing that some community members will be coming from overseas and others may not have realized the critical importance of vaccination or may have extenuating circumstances.

Anyone who cannot be vaccinated, based on medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code, can request an accommodation.

Further, existing online learning and working options will continue to be available.

COVID-19 vaccination requirements have also been extended to include all varsity student-athletes for the upcoming 2021-22 season.

This decision comes following discussions between university administration and the Department of Athletics, and is supported by the university’s Pandemic Response Team.

During the pandemic in 2020, varsity sports were suspended in Ontario due to the high risk of transmission. The dynamic nature of sports means athletes are often in close and regular contact with each other during practices and competitions. They also interact with athletes from other universities.

“The safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is always our highest priority,” says Scott Barker, Director of Athletics for Ontario Tech University.

“We are aware that most of our varsity athletes are already fully vaccinated. Athletics has a process,” he says, noting, athletics has a process in place for providing COVID-19 vaccines to student-athletes, monitoring their vaccination status and assisting in obtaining vaccination appointments through the athletics health services team.

Student-athletes will need to provide official confirmation of their vaccination status.

The athletics department says as vaccines are widely available through the on-campus mass vaccination centre, clinics, public health units, pharmacies and doctor’s officers, the availability makes it possible for all student-athletes, who are able to be vaccinated, to receive both doses before the end of September 2021.

Exemptions will be granted for medical reasons or under grounds protected under the Human Rights Code.

The university says it will follow all Durham Region Public Health measures, including mask-wearing, hand-washing, frequent testing, and other possible measures, as required.