To: University of Waterloo community
From: Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor
James W.E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic & Provost
Subject: Monitoring public health trends on COVID-19
Note: This email is for information
Since we last wrote to you in June announcing the suspension of the requirement to wear a mask on our campuses, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to evolve, and public health trends are also evolving with it.
We continue to track the latest data from the Ontario’s Science Table on COVID-19 which indicates that the province has entered a new, seventh wave of infections this summer driven by the latest Omicron variant. Waterloo Region is also experiencing this latest increase in infections, though the rate of infections in our region is currently amongst the lowest province wide. While there has been a small increase in hospitalizations at this time, ICU admissions remain stable. However, the health system continues to be challenged due to staffing shortages and the backlog of cases.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the course of this virus is very difficult to predict, so we are continuing to regularly track the data and evidence very closely. Any decisions about our operations will continue to be based on that data and evidence, in consultation with public health authorities and other institutions. We will continue this close monitoring and make decisions regarding the need for any specific measures for the fall term closer to its start. We are fully expecting to have in person classes and events for the fall term.
Last week, the Government of Ontario, acting on advice from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, made COVID-19 vaccination second booster shots available for anyone over the age of 18. We urge you to ensure your vaccination status is up to date as this is one of the most effective defenses you, and our community, have. Also please register your status with Campus Checkin (https://campuscheckin.uwaterloo.ca). Up-to-date information on our community’s vaccination status will help us make informed decisions about health and safety on campus and will ensure you don’t face any disruptions if a requirement to be vaccinated to come to the University is brought back.
Experts from across public health and healthcare fields agree that getting third or fourth doses of a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible is important because vaccination offers the best protection against the severe illness, hospitalization and death. You can book your booster dose on the provincial vaccination portal or by booking with Health Services.
Health Canada has approved vaccines for very young children that will be available in Ontario soon. Dr Kelly Grindrod from the School of Pharmacy recently shared excellent resources for families on the new pediatric vaccines, and we encourage you to share these resources with anyone who has questions regarding vaccinations for young children.
As we are faced with this latest rise in cases, we want to emphasize the value of wearing a tight-fitting, well-constructed mask in indoor settings. Though the current suspension of the requirement to wear a mask will continue, we are a mask friendly campus and strongly encourage everyone in our community to wear a mask in crowded spaces or whenever you choose.
We’ll continue to monitor the public health trends and data very closely in the coming weeks and you can expect to hear an update on plans for the Fall term in mid-to-late August.
We hope you are making the most of the summer and can enjoy some time with friends and family.
Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor
James W. E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic & Provost