By: Julieanne Acosta, February 11 2022 —
Earlier this week, the Government of Alberta announced the ending of the Restriction Exemption Program (REP) which required Albertans to show a proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours to gain entrance into the majority of establishments.
An email sent out yesterday to students from the University of Calgary’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Ed McCauley, announced that proof of vaccination will not be required when students return to classes on Feb. 28.
This announcement came two days after U of C sent out their initial email in response to the Government of Alberta’s three-step plan where they stated that there would be no immediate change to the U of C’s Vaccination Directive or masking mandates.
“Ours is a highly vaccinated community and the measures announced allow students to make a choice as to how they wish to proceed in coming semesters — whether online or in person,” said McCauley in the email. “We will be watching the situation closely and will keep you up to date on any further changes.”
Following the announcement, the U of C’s Students’ Union (SU) released a statement regarding the changes.
“We were happy when the university announced [on Feb. 9] that they would maintain their COVID safety protocols as students returned to classes later this month,” said SU President Nicole Schmidt in the statement. “And we expect that they hold firm to this and their commitment to ensuring students are safe during this time of transition. It isn’t a lot to ask for these measures to be continued for the last two months of the winter semester.”
Contingent on a continuous decline of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province, the Government of Alberta is looking to remove the provincial mask mandate on March 1. The U of C, however, will require masks indoors until the end of the Winter Term. Afterwards, masking will become optional.
Nonetheless, McCauley notes in the email that should the City of Calgary maintain its mask bylaw after the end of the Winter Term, all Calgarians will still be legally required to wear a mask indoors.
In a press release, the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) expressed their own concerns with the U of C’s COVID-19 plan moving forward.
“It is the view of the Graduate Students’ Association of the University of Calgary that removing campus health mandates by March 1 without proper assessment of the situation is premature and misaligned with prioritizing student’s health and safety.”
Similarly, the SU notes in their statement that hospitalizations are still nearing all-time highs and that many students will be returning into classrooms with up to 400 students.
“Students certainly do not feel safe without mandatory health measures. It was just over a month ago that students began the semester online and now the Minister and UCP government want to return, almost immediately, to pre-pandemic delivery,” the statement continued.
“We call on the university and its Board to make the right decision and continue the common sense health measures that exist on campus as students return. The SU firmly believes that the Minister needs to step back and not impose a one size fits all approach on Alberta’s post-secondary institutions.”
For more information on Alberta’s three step plan and specific details regarding COVID-19, visit the Alberta government website. For more information on the university’s plan to return to campus, visit the U of C website. To read the full SU statement, visit the SU website.