Welcome back to campus
February 7 marks the beginning of in-person experiences at Waterloo
February 7 marks the beginning of in-person experiences at WaterlooBy University Relations
As Waterloo welcomes faculty, staff and students back for in-person learning and working experiences, the University has updated a number of measures to keep our community safe and healthy.
At the University of Waterloo, we’re continuously monitoring and updating our protocols to align with public health guidelines.
“The health and safety of the University community remains our top priority,” says Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor. “We understand that the pandemic continues to place a heavy burden on all of us. It is our responsibility to deliver a student-centric experience on our campuses, while implementing multiple layers of protection including vaccination, masking, distancing, improved ventilation and daily symptom screening.”
We’ve documented and answered a number of frequently asked questions from the forum and have posted to the Office of the President’s website.
Ontario’s decision to open more of the province starting January 31 is supported by the Chief Medical Office of Health as well as Waterloo Region’s Medical Officer of Health. This has prompted many sectors to gradually return to regular work activities through February to mid-March.
At Waterloo, most in-person instruction will resume on February 7 including labs, seminars, lectures and tutorials. Larger lectures will continue to be delivered until February 28. Open study spaces continue to be available with physical distancing and masking requirements. We’re proud to share that more than 99 per cent of everyone who lives and/or works at the University is fully vaccinated.
Prior to returning to campus, the community (including visitors) must submit proof of full vaccination, unless University-approved accommodation has been provided.
We have based our current approach for face-coverings on the latest guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada and Public Health Ontario for general, non-healthcare settings. In response, the University is providing access for face coverings at no cost to units for employees performing essential in-person work.
Since January 1, Central Stores has already distributed 40,000 masks to units on campus for employees. Starting Monday, the University will start distributing masks to students coming to campus for free. Currently, we have 5,000 packages to distribute. Each package contains one cloth mask and four PM2.5 filters. Students can collect one package each while supplies last from one of many campus locations.
Masks should fit well and have multiple layers, including at least two layers of breathable, tightly woven fabric such as cotton and an effective middle filter layer.
As a result of COVID-19, we’re continuing to maintain a rigorous cleaning and sanitation schedule around campuses. This includes, but is not limited to:
Providing access to hand sanitizer stations around campus
Offering cleaning products for purchase though Plant Operations including personal protective equipment (PPE), disinfectants and disposable plain hand cloths
Increasing the cleaning frequency of many space types across campus
We are continuing to determine whether COVID-19 booster shots should become part of our mandatory proof of vaccination program. As it currently stands, vaccine mandates have not changed to include a third dose.
Nevertheless, we’re encouraging everyone who is eligible to receive their booster shot as soon as possible as it will ensure the best protection to yourself and our community.
Our Central Plant teams have been prioritizing our ventilation systems since the very early stages of the pandemic. We have implemented all recommendations for use of the air systems that are possible without full replacing our ventilation infrastructure.
This includes ordering more than 300 HEPA filter units for deployment in our spaces with intention to distribute these units in spaces across campus as they arrive.
We have also assessed air exchange rates in our classrooms utilizing a combination of room sizes, capacities and air exchange rates. Those classes that have fewer than four air exchanges per hour will be rebooked to take advantage of spare capacity in classrooms with greater rates of air exchange.
You can keep up to date on our ventilation strategy on a new page on our COVID-19 information website.
Wastewater testing in some of our residences will continue until March 31. During this time, our experts will continue monitoring for COVID-19 fragments and updating the COVID-19 dashboard accordingly.
We thank you for your continued resilience during these difficult times. As a community, we can come back together stronger and build back better. We look forward to seeing you on campus.
Please note that ongoing COVID-19 updates can be found on Waterloo’s COVID-19 Information website.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.