To protect the health and safety of our campuses, our USask community has met every challenge with resourcefulness and resilience. The low case and transmission rates on our campus to date confirm that the steps we have taken have truly helped ‘Protect the Pack’.
As the Delta variant rapidly spread over the summer, we knew that further measures around vaccination requirements and proof of vaccination would be necessary for a successful fall term—and once again our campus community approached this challenge with the unwavering commitment I have come to expect.
The numbers speak for themselves: nearly 25,000 students, faculty and staff have submitted their vaccine status – 92 per cent of the total campus population for the fall term. Of those who have done so, 91 per cent are fully vaccinated and 97 per cent have received at least one vaccination dose. These numbers far exceed those of the general population in this province, and indeed across the country. We will continue to work to get these numbers higher, as full participation is vital to continue offering in-person activities.
Three per cent of those who have responded are either not vaccinated or have chosen not to disclose. Those individuals are now required to submit two negative rapid test results each week and complete a daily symptom record to participate in on-campus activities.
The paramount need for safety has led us to introduce consequences of non-compliance for individuals who have yet to declare vaccination status, including loss of access to course tools, unpaid leave and no longer being permitted on campus. All information submitted through our secure system will be protected in accordance with the university’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Policies, and Saskatchewan’s The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Implementing the guidelines, systems and processes around vaccination and proof of vaccination is a complex and comprehensive undertaking. But as is always the case at USask, we have come together and worked tirelessly for the common good. I am confident in our response and our continued flexibility and strength as we work through the fall term.
We acknowledge that even with these outstanding numbers, COVID-19 will continue to have a presence on our campuses and in our communities. As an additional health and safety measure, and to help everyone in our campus community be fully informed, we will begin providing additional updates on positive cases reported by our community members on and off campus, including when and where the confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported, beginning next week.
We continue to adapt our measures in response to current realities and trends. In addition to our mask policy for all indoor spaces, we are now requiring masks be worn at any outdoor on-campus gathering of more than 20 people, including Huskies games. And please remember that given Saskatchewan is experiencing a significant rise in positive cases, please stay home if you are feeling unwell and get tested for COVID-19.
Every wave of this pandemic brings anxiety, stress and fear. Be assured that there are resources to support you. There are a broad range of services for students at the Student Wellness Centre, while staff and faculty can access confidential counseling through the Employee and Family Assistance Program.
As fall term progresses and the number of COVID-19 cases in our province evolves, we will continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 and its effects on USask, and respond accordingly by updating processes and activities. Additionally, USask will be flexible in operations to ensure we are aligned with the government safety measures recently announced. As guidelines are updated, details will be included in the weekly COVID Update e-newsletters.
President and Vice-chancellor
University of Saskatchewan