Ontario colleges and universities will return to normal this fall thanks to vaccine mandates, with no class capacity limits or physical distancing requirements, says a memo obtained by the Star that was sent to postsecondary institutions Tuesday night. .

The memo from Shelley Tapp, vice minister for colleges and universities, came as schools were raising the alarm over reports of government closed-door discussions about the need for two meters of physical distance, as first reported by Martin Regg Cohn. These requirements could have made smaller tutoring and labs impossible and forced last-minute schedule changes just as students begin to move into residence or return to campus.

Tapp’s letter says that all postsecondary schools must have mandatory COVID-19 vaccine plans starting next week, although the ministry later clarified that such plans may include regular educational sessions and testing for those who do not wish to receive COVID. . -19 shots.

“At the beginning of the summer, the ministry communicated with the (post-secondary) institutions that, assuming the continued progress of vaccination rates throughout the province and continuous improvements in key public health and health indicators, it was anticipated that the entire in-person and on-campus instruction – Campus activities … could resume with no capacity limits or physical distance requirements starting this fall, ”Tapp wrote.

Beginning Sept. 7, Tapp added, the province “will remove physical spacing and capacity limit requirements for indoor instructional spaces (eg, classrooms, labs, etc.) … This applies only to spaces Instructional Interiors “and masking will continue to be required.

“It is also strongly recommended that (post-secondary) institutions consult with their municipality and local medical health officials on any applicable local requirements.”

A university official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said this is “pretty much what (postsecondary institutions) wanted” with classrooms and libraries exempt from capacity or distancing rules.

“All other events have to be remote … Allow children to return to campus, vaccinations and masks are required. Nobody has a problem with that. “

In July, schools were told they could reopen this fall with no capacity limits or physical distance requirements, but that masks would be required indoors. However, the vaccine mandates were not mentioned.

Seneca College in Toronto was the first postsecondary institution to announce that anyone who wanted to set foot on campus had to get vaccinated. Others, like the University of Toronto, Queen’s and Western, have followed suit.

Universities and colleges conducted nearly all classes online last year, canceled frosh week and other campus events, and reduced the number of students in residence given the ongoing pandemic.

Tapp had previously written to postsecondary institutions saying, “I am optimistic that the industry will resume many of the cherished face-to-face experiences that have been on hiatus for so long.”

The idea of ​​forcing schools to implement two meters of physical distance was raised, though ultimately rejected, given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases combined with stagnant vaccination rates.


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