This message was originally sent to the UWaterloo community by Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor, and James W.E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic and Provost.
We are writing today to give you an update on public health restrictions on our campuses for the Spring term and beyond.
In light of the recent relaxation of public health restrictions as part of the Ontario government’s Roadmap to Reopen and on the basis of current local public health conditions, we will suspend our mask and proof of vaccination requirements for entry to campus, effective May 1.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the evolution of the virus and the course of disease activity are difficult to predict, so this decision is contingent on current public health conditions and directions continuing.
If the situation changes, it may become necessary to bring back requirements for mask wearing and proof of vaccination on short notice. To ensure we can minimize any disruption to work and learning if this happens, we will maintain a requirement for all members of our community to provide information on their up to date vaccination status. We’ll send you information on what and how to disclose this information before May 1.
This means we continue to strongly recommend that you have a full course of vaccination, including third or fourth doses when you are eligible. You should also ensure that you have access to your proof of vaccination and QR code if you have been vaccinated in a region that provides one.
We are very grateful to all members of our community who have rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated and maintain other public health protection measures. It is through these community efforts that we are now able to move ahead with the relaxation of requirements for the Spring term and beyond.
While we support those who wish to wear a face covering indoors and recommend doing so in crowded areas, we will no longer require you to wear a mask on campus after May 1. In the absence of a mask requirement, we expect everyone to respect the personal choices made by members of our community. Many individuals will have personal or family reasons for continuing to wear masks in public places. We will continue to make masks available, through Central Stores, for faculties and academic support units to provide to employees who request them, and at various campus locations for students.
What this means for students
Students who are not yet compliant with the University’s proof of vaccination requirement and who were not able to register for classes with in-person requirements will now be able to do so.
Be aware that if we need to reinstate our proof of vaccination requirement, students who do not keep their vaccination status up to date could find their in-person studies interrupted and may not be able to get necessary vaccinations in time to be able to return to campus to finish their term.
At this stage, we cannot offer virtual or hybrid learning options for those who are unable to attend campus in future terms. We strongly recommend maintaining up to date vaccination status to reduce the risk of interruption to your studies.
What this means for employees
We strongly encourage everyone to be up-to-date with their vaccinations. If we need to reinstate our proof of vaccination requirement, unvaccinated employees will be subject to the University’s discipline policy.
Employees should continue to consult with their managers or supervisors on their local unit-level return to campus plans. In general, we expect most employees will return to campus in line with unit-level plans and the University’s work from home guidelines.
Looking ahead to the future
The University is committed to the prevention of illness and injury and strives to provide a safe work and study environment for its employees, students, and visitors. We continue to recommend full vaccination and booster shots as advised by public health authorities for members of our community.
If you are eligible for vaccination or boosters, please book an appointment as soon as possible. Vaccination remains the best protection against the worst effects of COVID-19 and its variants and is the most important way to protect public health.
As always, we urge you to remain vigilant. If you are in contact with a COVID case or experience symptoms of COVID-19, please consult the Ontario government’s COVID-19 self-assessment to determine if you should be tested or self-isolate.
Looking ahead, while we see encouraging conditions, we know that the situation can change at any time, and the risks of new variants and outbreaks are very real. We must remain flexible and adaptive in our response. In suspending the mask and proof of vaccination requirements on our campuses, we are retaining our ability to reinstate either or both of these requirements on the advice of public health authorities if necessary.
We are immensely proud of the way that the University community has come together to keep one another safe since this pandemic started more than two years ago. This has been an extraordinarily challenging time for all of us, and we trust that you will continue to do your part to keep those around you safe and healthy.