Important community update

August 11, 2021 6:00 PM

Dear Students and Colleagues of the Western Community,

As we prepare for the return to campus this fall, Western and affiliated colleges Brescia, Huron and King’s have made important new decisions to ensure the health and safety of our community.

As part of a new COVID-19 vaccination policy, all members of our community – including students, staff and faculty – who plan to be on campus this fall will be required to demonstrate proof of vaccination.

Those without proof of vaccination must be tested twice a week.

The University is taking a further step for higher-risk activities by requiring vaccination for students on work and clinical placements, in music programs, as well as for varsity student-athletes, coaches and team staff. This measure is intended to protect students and staff as they learn and work off campus and participate in competition and travel. Those without proof of vaccination will not be permitted to participate in these higher-risk programs unless they have an exemption on grounds protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Western has already required vaccinations for students in residence.

We have continued to collect data and consult with our public health partners and our faculty experts in medicine, law and ethics, to guide our efforts in limiting the spread of the virus. The Middlesex-London Health Unit fully endorses Western’s vaccination policy, indicating they are “strongly supportive of mandatory vaccination for attendees of higher-risk environments on post-secondary campuses…with exceptions only for human rights reasons.”

Our recent survey of students, faculty and staff found that nearly 90 per cent of respondents are already fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and more than half of those remaining plan to be fully vaccinated by September. This rate of vaccination is consistent among undergraduate student respondents. The survey was sent to over 62,000 members of the campus community with a response rate of nearly 50 per cent.

We are optimistic that in providing our campus community with the education and supports they need, we will increase vaccination rates even further. Western’s vaccination and testing centre is open and available to all university community members.

Western will continue to require masks for all indoor activities and has implemented enhanced cleaning and health screening across campus. Ventilation systems in buildings are also being assessed and optimized throughout the summer.

We will provide more details in the coming days about proof of vaccination and testing, including information for those who require an accommodation as the result of a medical condition or other grounds protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Achieving high rates of vaccination is one of the most important ways our community can be protected. That’s why the Council of Ontario Universities called on the provincial government to mandate vaccination of postsecondary students, faculty and staff.

Ontario institutions, including Western, fully support COU’s call. We must be consistent, across the province, if we are to be truly successful in our collective public health efforts.

We know that the uncertainty presented by the pandemic can be stressful for some, and we continue to offer a range of physical and mental health supports.

This pandemic and highly contagious Delta variant remain dynamic and, with that in mind, our decisions may continue to evolve.

The health and safety of our community is a shared effort. Vaccination is our clearest path to a safe campus.

Sincerely,

Dr. Sarah Prichard, Acting Provost & Vice-President (Academic)

Lynn Logan, Vice-President (Operations & Finance)

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CONTACTS AND SUPPORTS

For students:

For employees:

AFFILIATED UNIVERSITY COLLEGES

For information about operations at the affiliated university colleges, please visit their respective websites: Brescia, Huron and King’s.

Additional COVID-19 resources for the campus community can be found on Western’s COVID-19 website and on the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s website.