Faculty association calls for mandatory masks and vaccinations at UVic

Faculty association calls for mandatory masks and vaccinations at UVic
WatchUVic's Faculty Association is joining the call for more stringent pandemic measures when classes resume next month.

The University of Victoria is getting ready to welcome as many as 25,000 students, faculty and staff back to campus next month.

But with the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing and cases continuing to climb, the school’s faculty association is calling on mandatory vaccinations and masks requirements for faculty, students and staff.

Dr. Lynne Marks, president of the University of Victoria’s Faculty Association, said her members want to ensure they’re teaching in a safe environment.

“We support requiring a mandatory vaccination for everyone who is going to be on campus in the fall. that’s students, faculty and staff,” she said.

The UVic Faculty Association says mask and vaccine mandates would reduce the anxiety among students and staff about returning to school as COVID-19 cases increase. They are also putting the pressure on by circulating a petition calling for a mask, and vaccine mandate at all of B.C.’s post-secondary institutions or undergo regular rapid COVID testing.

“We’re hoping to get as many signatures as possible,” Dr. Marks said. “Then we’re going to be presenting it to the province, and to some federal politicians as well.”

There is growing support at Camosun College, where the population will swell to more than 11,000 at its two campuses.

“It’s a topic that resonates, and I think the bottom line is that everyone takes COVID very seriously.  We’re educators. We want to be teaching. But I think everyone will agree, that our health has to come first,” said Chris Ayles, president of Camosun College’s faculty association.

B.C.’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says a decision on mask and vaccine mandates could be made within days.

“These are all questions that are under review right now. Along with K-to-12, we’ll be having more information available in the next week or so.”

In a statement, the University of Victoria said regarding the call for vaccine and mask mandate, administrators have been planning for the safest return to campus for months and are following the provincial restart guidelines for all post-secondary institutions and the most current medical advice provided by Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“It is completely understandable that students, faculty and staff have concerns and questions about this fall’s return to campus,” the school said in its statement.

The school also pointed out that vaccines are not mandatory in British Columbia, however, but did encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

“We encourage everyone who can to get fully vaccinated and are pleased that the province extends the program to all of our out-of-province and international students and their families,” the school said.

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READ MORE: Canadians divided over making COVID-19 vaccine mandatory: Poll

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