University of Calgary drops vaccine mandate, maintains mask policy

One post-secondary institution in Calgary is following suit with government recommendations by removing a piece of its COVID-19 policies.

The University of Calgary announced Thursday it would no longer maintain a vaccination mandate, meaning students and staff will no longer have to show proof of vaccination once classes resume in-person at the end of February.

In a press release, the school indicated it felt safe with the decision given the fact 99 per cent of faculty, staff and students are vaccinated against COVID-19.

This also follows a directive coming from Alberta Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, who sent a letter to post-secondary schools calling on them to follow the provincial guidelines when it comes to COVID-19 health measures.

The U of C will still hold on to its masking policy, though, and they will be required until the end of the winter term. After that point, masks will be optional.

Furthermore, though, if the City of Calgary keeps its masking policy in place past Apr. 12, everyone at the university will also have to keep wearing masks as well.

Nicole Schmidt, president of the University of Calgary Students’ Association, says the minister is overstepping his bounds by making such a request and schools should be free to do what they feel is best.

“The minister shouldn’t be imposing a one-size-fits-all approach here to these common sense health measures, and we really want to make sure students feel protected when they return to campus.”

Schmidt said the removal of some policies will end up causing increased anxiety among the student population, further adding to the disruptions they have felt through the length of the pandemic.

At this time, Mount Royal University has not announced any changes to its policies, and a vaccination mandate does still remain in place.

The Students’ Association of Mount Royal University has had a different approach to the mandates, and feels there should not be any restrictions on education based on vaccination status.

But there is also a hope that the masking policy remains in place regardless of any decisions on the vaccination mandate.

“By removing that masking mandate, it is putting a lot of students into more uncertainty than already exists,” said president Spirit River Striped Wolf. “I think that government should not be getting involved in terms of the institution’s ability to establish its own safety policies.”

SAIT has said it is still evaluating how to respond to the changes from the province, with students also due to return to in-person learning at the end of the month. There will also be no immediate changes to the health policies at Bow Valley College for right now.

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