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Alberta’s main universities announce coordinated COVID-19 measures

By Luis Armando Sanchez Diaz, August 17 2021—

The University of Calgary, along with the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge announced a coordinated plan that details new COVID-19 restrictions on each of their campuses for the Fall 2021 semester.

The measures, “reflect each institution’s accountability to ensure a safe return for students, faculty and staff this fall,” as noted in a published statement

The announcement was made public on Aug. 17, days after students, faculty and other community members at the U of C expressed concerns about the lack of planning on safety matters as in-person classes are set to resume in the coming weeks. 

“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 Ed McCauley, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. 

The measures state that the new rules, “are taking evidence-based approaches that are best suited to the campus context to protect the health and safety of our communities,” that will “maximize safety for in-person teaching and learning.” It also stresses the rapid evolution of the pandemic and that adjustments to the plan will be made as the situation changes. 

The most notable measure is the use of regular rapid testing for people who want to participate in any in-person activities, who must receive a negative result beforehand. 

Those that have already been fully vaccinated, or are planning to, will be exempt from being tested, a policy which is set to begin on Sept. 1. The exemption also applies to people who cannot be vaccinated or be tested for medical reasons — as stated under the Alberta Human Rights Act — upon the request of accommodation.  

Another measure will be the compulsory use of non-medical face masks on university grounds, “where physical distancing is not possible.” This decision is based on the recommendations outlined by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health. 

Masking is not required when an individual is working alone in their offices, in a shared space or in a cubicle that has a barrier. Masking is also not required when indoors or outdoors where a two-meter distance can be maintained. 

Further details on how these new measures will be enacted are set to be announced in the coming days by each university.

The three universities will continue to require that any person that presents symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19 to quarantine for at least 10 days or until they receive a negative result.

To check the list of symptoms or schedule a COVID-19 test visit the Alberta government’s Symptoms and Testing webpage. The University of Calgary also has procedures for any student or employee that contracts COVID-19.  

“These have been extraordinary times as we have wrestled with the impact of COVID-19 on our lives. That’s why we have come together to create a common strategy across our institutions that ensures health and wellbeing. This pandemic has reaffirmed the importance of working together to keep everyone safe,” concluded the statement. 

Read the full statement that outlines the new measures online.

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