On October 25 the following email was shared with the campus community
To: University of Waterloo community
From: Vivek Goel, President and Vice-Chancellor and James W.E. Rush, Vice-President, Academic & Provost
Subject: Restarting travel and roadmap to reopening Ontario
Last week the federal and provincial governments shared new information on changes to pandemic restrictions. Recent trends in the pandemic are giving governments reasons for optimism; vaccination rates continue to rise, case rates in Ontario remain stable, and vaccines for children under 12 are on the horizon.
Here at Waterloo, we are extremely grateful to those of you who have confirmed that you are fully vaccinated. In fact, more than 98 per cent of all students and instructors currently learning and teaching on campus have confirmed they are fully vaccinated. Amongst all employees more than 95 per cent have confirmed they are fully vaccinated and many more are on the path to being vaccinated. This is a crucial step in ensuring that we can expand in-person experiences for everyone, safely.
The pandemic, however, is not over. We must all continue to take precautions against COVID-19 to keep the recent positive trends moving in the right direction.
We are planning to resume University-approved international travel
On Thursday, October 21, the Government of Canada removed the Global Travel advisory for fully-vaccinated individuals for many destinations around the world. This means that we can soon begin to roll out plans for the resumption of most University-sanctioned international travel.
As we look ahead to the resumption of international travel, we will introduce a common approach to manage travel to ensure our community stays safe when abroad. This will include approval to travel by an appropriate supervisor, registration with the Safety Abroad Team in Waterloo International, signing up for information from our security service provider, Anvil, and, for students, completing the pre-departure risk mitigation measures.
Some Waterloo members’ international travel activities, such as short-term travel for conference participation, can resume relatively soon; while other members’ activities, including term-long student stays for academic credit, such as exchanges for Winter 22 or co-op work terms outside Canada, need more time to determine feasibility and arrange where possible. Teams across the University are working on these plans now, and you can expect to hear more details regarding all types of international travel in the coming days and weeks.
Ontario moves to the exit step of the roadmap to reopen
On Friday, October 22, the Government of Ontario proposed a timeline of milestones that it hopes will allow the Province to take a gradual approach to lifting remaining public health and workplace safety measures. We await further guidance from the province on the implications for our sector. As we continue our gradual and safe return plans, we will make changes to expand capacity as we are allowed to do so in a safe and gradual manner. Mask-wearing will remain mandatory on campus for the foreseeable future.
This gives us confidence in our plan to return to a more “normal” Winter term in January; a term that will include most classes returning to in-person learning, and most employees returning to campus-based working in the New Year.
As ever, this picture of optimism requires us all to be vigilant, to take sensible precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19 and making sure anyone who is not vaccinated gets their shots soon.
We will continue to work with colleagues at the Region of Waterloo’s Public Health to ensure that our plans support the wider community’s efforts. You can expect to hear more information on our gradual expansion of in-person experiences for all in the coming weeks.
More information is available on the COVID-19 information website.