Dear U of G Community Members,
We are weeks away from the beginning of a new academic year. I have deeply missed the bustle of our campuses – running into students, colleagues and friends, walking around our beautiful campuses. I also understand the concerns many of you have about the uncertainties of returning to more robust on-campus experiences in the fall.
The health and safety of the University community continue to guide our decisions. In preparation for the fall, we have been working diligently to ensure that campus facilities and practices meet all public health guidelines.
Today, I am writing to you to announce that the University will be mandating vaccinations for the University of Guelph community including faculty, staff and students at our Guelph and Ridgetown Campuses and indoors at all U of G-managed field stations. This mandate is in place for the balance of the 2021-22 academic year. This decision was made by the University’s Executive Team with strong support from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health and Chatham-Kent Public Health as a measure to protect the University from outbreaks, to protect individuals from severe disease, hospitalization and death, and to continue to promote a healthy environment in which we learn, work and live.
We know that being fully vaccinated significantly reduces the risks of the most serious outcomes of COVID-19. To date, this has also been true for the variants-of-concern. Vaccines are now readily accessible in Ontario, and our plans allow University faculty, staff and students to have access to vaccinations through Student Health Services. Several pop-up clinics are also being planned for the fall, and vaccinations can always be booked through the provincial portal.
As you can imagine, operationalizing this vaccination mandate at the University will require widespread institutional consultation and action. We will be engaging Senate, the Board of Governors and other groups at the University as we develop the details of this plan. It is important to note that individuals who cannot be vaccinated based on medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code can request an accommodation.
I encourage you all to join me at the Town Hall taking place later today to ask questions, make suggestions and learn more. We will continue to keep you informed on a regular basis as new information becomes available. The latest updates and answers can always be found on the University’s dedicated COVID-19 website. At the Town Hall and on our website, we will provide an update on the actions we have taken to improve ventilation in campus buildings.
As an institution of higher learning and a leader in life sciences, the University is committed to evidence and research-informed decision making. We are fortunate to be able to leverage the expertise of world-renowned scholars who have been shaping our institutional response to the pandemic since the beginning, including through the advice and recommendations of current and future working groups like the SARS-CoV-2 Surveillance and Rapid Testing Working Group. I want to thank all who have provided guidance for your work in keeping our community healthy.
The University of Guelph sees itself as part of the broader community. We understand our role in working with local public health units to safeguard our collective health and wellbeing.
Finally, I want to say that I have never been prouder to be part of the U of G community. We have responded to every challenge we faced in the last year and a half with compassion, flexibility and an unwavering dedication to our mission to Improve Life.
I wish you each the very best for excellent health and continued success. I look forward to seeing you on our campuses this fall.
Charlotte A.B. Yates
President and Vice-Chancellor