COVIDSafe Campus

Sept. 13, 2021

Winter semester vaccination requirements

Message to the University of Calgary community from President McCauley

As communicated on Sept. 13, nine Alberta post-secondary institutions, including the University of Calgary, have announced today that we will be strengthening the role vaccinations play on post-secondary campuses moving forward.

The University of Calgary will be requiring students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated — or have a legitimate exemption to vaccination — by Jan. 1, 2022. Additionally, visitors to campus will be required to provide proof of vaccination status, effective Oct. 1, 2021.

The value of vaccination to combat COVID-19 has been well established. Vaccination is how we move past COVID-19 and is necessary to retire stopgap measures such as mandatory masking and regular rapid testing.

Campus community

The decision to require vaccination for the winter semester is the logical progression of the vaccination and testing system in place to protect our campus community, COVIDSafe.

To date, over 30,000 students, faculty and staff have fulfilled their COVIDSafe requirements to attend campus and 91% are already fully vaccinated. The remaining 9% are required to undergo twice-weekly testing for COVID-19.

This makes our campus a safe place to be. Nonetheless, regular rapid testing is an expensive — and temporary — solution that the university cannot continue indefinitely.

Our choice of Jan. 1, 2022 as the implementation date for a strengthened vaccination requirement is based on a review of the medical science, community commitments and operational requirements.

Assessment of the health effects of mandatory vaccination vs. 90%+ vaccination and rapid testing indicated that bringing in mandatory vaccination earlier would have only a negligible effect on campus safety.

We also considered the effect of mid-semester changes with short notice. Absent need, we feel it would be inappropriate to change the terms of attendance on campus mid-semester: students have made enrolment decisions in good faith, based on their comfort with vaccination and rapid testing and a commitment from the administration that — while we would monitor the situation and do what is necessary to keep the community safe — we would not act in an arbitrary nature.

We encourage you to get vaccinated right away. Full vaccination requires two shots, spaced apart, and an additional two weeks of time to have passed after the final shot.

As part of the need to remove barriers to access and concerns regarding equity, we will continue to explore and facilitate vaccination access on campus and provide time off for staff to get vaccinated.

If you are unwilling to be vaccinated, and do not have grounds for accommodation, we encourage you to start making alternative arrangements for January 2022 and onward. Students should discuss options with their academic advisors, who are there to assist. Vaccination will be a requirement for all employees and on-campus students.

We understand not everybody can be vaccinated. Legal accommodations exist for physical disability, religious status and other protected grounds. Details on how to claim one of these accommodations, and other specifics of this policy, will be communicated after discussions with representatives of unions and stakeholder groups.

Vaccination protects you and those in our community. If you are not fully vaccinated, don’t delay — book today.

Visitors to campus

As of Oct. 1 or the implementation of a provincial vaccination proof system (whichever is later), people 12 years of age or older visiting campus for activities or events will be required to provide evidence of their vaccination status or legitimate exemption.

This requirement will be in effect for all programs and events, including meetings, sporting events and cultural activities such as performances or concerts.

Details of the visitor program will be communicated later this month.

Our campus is a special place and it has been invigorating to see it return to life this fall. We are taking these steps to protect all of you and our ability to remain open.

The constantly evolving COVID-19 situation takes its toll on us all. If you need support, please reach out and remember that mental health support is available to all students, faculty and staff who need it.

On behalf of the university leadership team, thank you.

Ed McCauley
President and Vice-Chancellor

Read the latest COVIDSafe Campus updates here from the University of Calgary