Alberta universities to require testing for unvaccinated people on campus

Three of Alberta's universities have laid out their plans for students to return to campus this fall. What will life on campus be like during the pandemic?

CALGARY — The Universities of Calgary, Alberta, and Lethbridge have joined together to hopefully encourage vaccinations among students and staff.

The three post-secondary schools will be requiring rapid tests for anyone on campus who is not vaccinated and are also mandating masks for public indoor areas.

“These expanded measures are a direct response to shifting COVID-19 conditions. Our health, law and public policy experts have been tracking the rise of cases and emergence of the Delta variant, providing us with data-driven approaches. By working together with Alberta’s other research-intensive universities, we will continue to monitor and take the measures necessary to keep our community safe,” said University of Calgary President and Vice Chancellor Ed McCauley.

RELATED: MRU intros masking rules ahead of fall semester

Starting Sept. 1, they will start requiring the rapid tests for people who are not fully vaccinated or would not prefer to disclose their vaccination status. A negative result must be obtained before they participate in any in-person activities.

Anyone who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is exempt from the tests, and anybody who cannot be tested or vaccinated due to a medical or protected reason can request an accommodation.

Masks will also be required for public spaces where physical distancing may not be possible, but are not necessary for circumstances such as working alone in an office or shared space, meeting indoors or outdoors where there is at least two metres of distance between people, or being in a classroom where distancing can also be achieved between instructors and students.


Everyone is also reminded to stay home when feeling sick.

But the president of the students’ union at the University of Alberta says that raises some questions.

“One of those questions is, what happens when a student who needs to isolate has to miss an exam or class with attendance grades?” said Rowan Ley.

Ley says most of the on-campus student experience at the U of A will return this fall — minus the week of Welcome Beer Gardens — and that he wants students fully vaccinated students to enjoy their time at the school.

“We’re not saying don’t party or don’t socialize, what we are saying is that in areas where students have to be, like classrooms and hallways, we should have higher levels of safety precaution.”

The schools add they are also working closely with the provincial government to provide rapid tests, vaccination clinics and vaccine incentives. They add that they continue to monitor the constantly changing situation with the virus and make any adjustments as necessary.

“I personally won’t be in a large undergraduate class, but I could imagine that some students in that situation will be quite scared,” said one University of Alberta student. “I don’t see what the difference between that and a large social event like a concert or sporting event is. Online learning was such a success last year, that should be an option for someone who doesn’t want to become vaccinated.”

More information on the changes can be found on the University of Calgary’s website.

On Monday, Mount Royal University announced it would be mandating masks but would not be requiring vaccinations.

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