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Laurentian University extends on-campus masking until mid-June

This includes all guests at convocation, which runs May 31 to June 3
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Laurentian University has announced it is maintaining its masking policy until the middle of June. 

Wearing face coverings on the Laurentian campus will continue to be required until the close of the spring first semester (June 12). 

This includes all guests at convocation, which runs May 31 to June 3. 

The university had previously announced it was pausing its COVID-19 vaccination policy as of May 1, and that change will be maintained.

“Through discussions with all levels of our campus community, including the Board of Governors, as well as with Public Health authorities and colleagues within Ontario’s universities, we have determined that adapting our protocols is the best approach to ensuring the health and safety of our campus community,” said an April 28 statement from Laurentian president Robert Haché on Laurentian’s website.

“I must also caution that these changes may be temporary, and could be reversed based on Public Health guidance.”

A spokesperson for Cambrian College told Sudbury.com earlier this month that for the spring semester, which starts the first week of May, proof of vaccination and masking will not be required as conditions of access to campus.

Greater Sudbury’s French-language college, Collège Boréal, said vaccination policies at Boréal will no longer be in effect as of May 1.

Masking requirements will remain in effect at Boréal until mid-August, at which time they will be reviewed and decisions will be made in time for the fall semester.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is calling on university administrators across the province to maintain campus masking mandates until at least the end of August.

With new COVID-19 cases reaching peaks surpassing previous waves of the pandemic and other health and safety measures having been lifted, masking mandates on Ontario’s bustling university campuses are a vital and simple way to slow the spread of the virus, said a press release from OCUFA.

“Throughout this pandemic, OCUFA has consistently urged university administrations to engage with faculty and campus health and safety committees and take a cautious, measured approach,” said Sue Wurtele, OCUFA president, in a press release.

“Throughout this pandemic, university administrations have excluded faculty from these decision-making processes and created serious disruption by frequently changing course. This has led to unnecessary stress and anxiety amongst faculty, staff, and students.”

Following the Ford government’s ill-advised decision to drop provincial masking mandates on March 21, Ontario universities announced they would be pausing their mandates on May 1, said the press release.

However, as case counts remain troublingly high, several universities have decided to extend masking and vaccination mandates for at least another month. 

These extensions have come as university faculty and academic librarians point to the increased threat of COVID-19 transmission without proper health and safety protections, as well as the disruptive effects of repeated pivoting

At the beginning of April, Brock University extended their vaccine and mask mandates after reaching a mediated agreement with the Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA) prompted by a grievance filed by the faculty association. 

In addition to extending the vaccine and mask mandates at Brock, any future changes to these policies must now be negotiated with BUFA. 

“The health and safety of all members of the campus community remains the top priority of Ontario’s university faculty and academic librarians,” said Wurtele, in the press release. 

“We know cases are sky-high. We know COVID-19 is more contagious than ever. We know the science and we listen to regional medical officers of health when they recommend masking policies stay in place. With tens of thousands of daily interactions on our campuses, we must be cautious as we move forward and minimize uncertainty and disruption. 

“University administrations across Ontario should do the right thing and extend masking mandates until the end of the summer.”