In a statement from Bill Flanagan, the University of Alberta’s president and vice-chancellor, the U of A confirmed that masking will continue to be required when students return to campus on February 28.
The statement, released on February 10, acknowledges the provincial plan to lift current pandemic restrictions, which began on February 9, as well as the guidance provided by the departments of advanced education and health.
Masking is still required on campus. Following the City of Edmonton’s masking bylaws, masking is currently still required in shared indoor spaces. The university will be watching “provincial, municipal and public health expert updates” to inform future steps.
Flanagan provided no new information about the university’s current vaccine mandate or the university’s proof of vaccination program, CampusReady. However, the statement mentioned that there is a high vaccination rate amongst the university community.
“Over 97 per cent of our community is fully vaccinated and three per cent hold U of A vaccination exemptions,” the statement reads. “In addition, over the past two semesters we’ve seen very few cases and no outbreaks on our campuses.”
The Gateway reached out to the university for comment about whether the vaccine mandate and CampusReady program will continue into March. However, an answer could not be provided prior to our deadline.
Campus community members who feel unwell are still expected to follow provincial isolation requirements.
U of A’s decision to continue mandating masks on campus comes a day after Demetrios Nicolaides, Alberta’s minister of advanced education, released a letter expressing his expectation for Alberta post-secondaries to return to pre-pandemic delivery in March, without masking, proof of vaccination, or physical distancing requirements.
Employees can return to campus once phase two begins
The statement also informed university employees that those required to be in-person on campus on February 28 already received a notice or reminder. Those that have not received a notice will continue to work remotely. If the province is able to move forward with phase two of its plan on March 1, all U of A employees could return to campus.
Additionally, it also notes that the university’s Work From Home Program is separate from provincial stay at home orders and may employees with approval may apply to this program at any time.
Campus services like Dining Services, Campus and Community Recreation, and Residence Services will be reaching out to their communities individually. Accommodations will be available for protected grounds and those that are immunocompromised.
The statement ends with a thank you for everyone’s “patience and continued efforts to ensure the safety of [the] community.” It also notes that adjustments will be made according to the university’s situation.
“I am looking forward to our previously planned return to campus and welcoming you back soon!”