UNB taking ‘educational approach’ to vaccines, but will require masks indoors


FREDERICTON —
As post-secondary institutions across Canada navigate what the upcoming school year will look like, some are choosing to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for in-person learning.

At this time, New Brunswick’s largest university has decided not to require vaccination among students and staff, although its Acting Vice-President Academic says that could change.

“We do know the one thing we’ve learned with COVID is that we have to be flexible and nimble and as the evidence changes, we have often changed our position,” said Kathy Wilson. “But at this point, we are taking an educational approach to supporting vaccination and encouraging it across our campus to keep our people healthy and safe.”

It’s a decision that UNB’s Student Union agrees with.

“While the university does not require mandatory vaccinations, the university is taking other approaches to mitigating risks of transmission of COVID-19 and the UNBSU supports this decision as it was made in consultation with public health,” said UNBSU president Kordell Walsh.

Wilson says much of what they’ve had in place over the last year, will remain.

“While we’ve lifted our classroom limits, we have maintained things like hand-washing stations or sanitization systems at all of our classroom entrances and building entrances,” said Wilson. “We are maintaining our PPE, like the plexiglass barriers that have been installed in front-facing areas…The other thing we’re doing is maintaining our mask requirement for indoors and public spaces and in our classrooms.”

She said they’re also trying to “change the narrative” on staying home when you’re sick.

Campus residences in both Saint John and Fredericton campuses will be near full capacity. Wilson says Saint John’s campus will see about 95 per cent capacity. In Fredericton, one of 13 residences will remain empty for students having to self-isolate.

“We have chosen to keep private rooms in Fredericton…and that is so students can control their environment a bit more. If you have your own room you can control who’s visiting, who’s not,” she said.

On-campus vaccine clinics have been happening every week throughout the summer. The next is on Wednesday, August 18. 

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