USask changing COVID-19 vaccination requirement for winter term

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) is making changes to its COVID-19 vaccination policy, requiring anyone who accesses campus to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4.

“To be able to safely offer more in-person instruction and campus activities, we have made the decision to require anyone on our campuses or in our workplaces to be fully vaccinated, beginning at the start of the Winter Term,” USask president Peter Stoicheff said in a news release.

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At present, USask said 99 per cent of faculty, 96 per cent of students, and 95 per cent of staff are fully vaccinated.

As per the university’s current policy, individuals are able to submit a negative COVID-19 test result to access campus, but starting Jan. 4, anyone accessing campus will need to show proof they’ve received at least two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This includes individuals accessing the PAC, Huskie games, libraries, dining facilities, and any building, office and classroom on campus. The requirement also extends to all vendors and contractors.

Stoicheff said the winter term will see more in-person campus activity so USask sought public health guidance to inform their measures for the new term.

“The expert guidance has confirmed for us that vaccination is the single most effective public health measure to reduce spread and prevent harms of COVID-19 in our community, and that testing protocols are not preventive, but reactive, and should only be used in situations where vaccination is not an option.”

Stoicheff said for fully vaccinated individuals who have submitted their vaccination status through PAWS, there is no further action required at this time. When individuals are eligible for their third (booster) shot, they will need to provide proof of receiving it to continue to be considered fully vaccinated.

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Stoicheff said USask understands there are some people who are not able to be fully vaccinated on grounds protected by The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

“(USask) will continue to consider accommodation requests for these individuals in accordance with the requirements of the Code. Previously approved accommodations will continue through the Winter Term, and those individuals receiving them will need to continue submitting regular negative test results.”

Stoicheff said only those with approved accommodations will be allowed on campus “as appropriate and in limited circumstance” without being fully vaccinated.

Campus members who choose not to be fully vaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccination status by Jan. 4 will be required to move to remote or online work and learning environments, where possible.

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USask said they made this announcement two months in advance of the winter term in order to give everyone enough time to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so.

Further details about the upcoming winter term will be provided in the coming weeks.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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