With accelerated COVID-19 vaccination rollout across the region, Western University is preparing for a full return to in-person classes while prioritizing the health and safety of the campus community.
The university and its affiliated university colleges (Brescia, Huron and King’s) will require students living in residence to have received at least a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, assuming Ontario’s supply allows.
The move has been endorsed by the Middlesex-London Health Unit.
“We want our community to be safe and healthy this fall, as we return to the on-campus experiences we all love,” said President Alan Shepard. “Ensuring our students in residence are vaccinated will go a long way toward making this happen.”
Students living in residence will be asked to get vaccinated before their arrival – and those who can’t access the shot will have 14 days following their move-in date to get vaccinated on campus. Those who for medical or other protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code cannot be vaccinated may request an accommodation. Students planning to live in residence will receive more details in the coming days.
“The health of our community is a shared responsibility,” said Shepard. “We’re asking students to play an important role in keeping themselves, their friends and classmates, and our community safe and healthy.”
Western is strongly encouraging all members of the campus community to get vaccinated as soon as they can. The university will operate an on-campus vaccination clinic later this summer to accommodate first and second doses for students, staff and faculty.
“Vaccination is the single most important intervention in reducing the transmission of COVID-19. This will be particularly important with the return of students to postsecondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, medical officer of health for the Middlesex-London Health Unit. “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.”
In preparation for a fall return to in-person classes and activities, Western will continue with a wide range of COVID-19 health and safety measures, including masking and self-screening requirements, enhanced cleaning and ventilation in buildings, an on-campus testing and vaccination centre, and physical distancing as required.
Shepard acknowledged Western’s fall plans are subject to provincial and public health requirements, which continue to evolve.
“If there is a need to change course, we will,” he said.
“I want to thank the entire campus community for their commitment and flexibility as we work towards a safe return this fall,” said Shepard. “We can’t wait to welcome everyone to campus.”
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