This message was originally sent to undergraduate students by Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor.
We will require students living in our residences during the 2021-2022 academic year to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19
We are making changes to residence requirements based on new advice we received this week from Region of Waterloo Medical Officer of Health
You can expect expanded in-person experiences such as in labs, libraries, student clubs and services as other public health restrictions lift
At Waterloo, we are working with our local public health team to make sure our plans for the fall continue to support your physical and mental health, while ensuring that we can expand in-person experiences for everyone.
Earlier this week, we received new advice from the Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Waterloo that strongly recommends a change to our plans for students living in our residences. This means that students who want to live in our residences this academic year must be vaccinated against COVID-19.
We are asking students in residence to aim to be fully vaccinated with both doses before their move-in date and provide us with proof of vaccination. Recognizing that this timing may be challenging for some residents to meet, the minimum requirement is that residents should ensure that they have received their first dose of a Health Canada approved vaccine before they move in. These students must also get a second dose of an approved vaccine as soon as possible within the recommended time period and provide proof that they have done so by November 1, 2021.
Residents who can’t get a vaccine due to medical reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code will be able to submit a request for accommodation. We’re sending more information to students who want to live in residences today.
Getting vaccinated protects you and protects our community
We need to make this change as we know that people who live in congregate living spaces face unique risks for transmission of COVID-19. The Delta variant has had a significant effect on our region and we know that during recent weeks, overall case volumes have been highest among those age 20-29 years. Making sure that students who live in residences have very high rates of vaccination helps protect them and our whole community.
In fact, getting vaccinated is one of the main ways we can all protect ourselves. Even though we don’t require a vaccine to come to our campuses, I urge you to get your first or second dose as soon as possible. Health Services is offering COVID-19 vaccines to everyone on campus. You can call 519-888-4096 to make an appointment.
We are planning to expand in-person experiences for you this fall
Last week, Waterloo region, along with the rest of Ontario, entered the third step of the province’s reopening plan. As the government made clear, the relaxation of public health measures is possible because of positive trends in vaccinations and the drop in rates of transmission.
The province has already indicated our plans for the fall term can happen without physical distancing and that we can plan to lift capacity limits in our buildings. These positive trends do not mean an end to all restrictions. We must stay vigilant to prevent outbreaks or a fourth wave of the virus. This means we will continue to wear masks indoors and maintain elevated health and safety protocols to keep our campuses safe.
We know most of you have already made plans for the fall; changing those plans at this late stage would create new uncertainty and disruption for you that we want to avoid. So, we are keeping our academic plans for the fall term in place. This means if you have registered for classes that will happen online, they will remain online.
As physical distancing and gathering limit requirements are lifted, we are looking at changes to in-person experiences such as in labs, libraries, student clubs and services and more. You can expect to hear more on these changes in the coming weeks.