Winter term pandemic expectations

As we approach the holiday break, the Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT) is providing a recap of pandemic expectations for the USask’s winter term, starting January 4.

The high vaccination rates of our students, faculty, and staff, the mandatory vaccination requirement for the winter term, and our continued adherence to masking and other safety measures have allowed our planned transition to increased on-campus activities in winter.

Please know the PRT is closely monitoring the spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19 across Canada and Saskatchewan to better understand its potential impact on USask campuses and operations, and we will continue to monitor through the holiday break.

At this time, based on the most recent information and data available, we are currently maintaining our plans for increased on-campus activities, beginning in January, with a larger number of classes delivered face-to-face in the winter term.

However, the omicron variant is emerging as a significant challenge in other parts of the country and if our situation worsens here in Saskatchewan as we approach the new year, or during the winter term, we will quickly pivot to changes in class delivery to ensure the safety of all students, faculty, and staff. The experience we have gained through different phases of the pandemic will allow us to make changes in class delivery where necessary, while protecting the integrity of learning outcomes and prioritizing program requirements. We expect that any changes in class delivery will be temporary, and we will revert to in-person delivery as soon as deemed safe and reasonable to do so.

We are reminding the university community, as first announced in October, that anyone attending in-person learning or working at a USask location for the winter term will be required to provide proof of full vaccination prior to the January start of term. Submitting rapid test results (or any other COVID test result) in place of full vaccination will no longer be an option for campus access, effective January 4, 2022.

At this time, being considered “fully vaccinated” means receiving the last required dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to the start of the term. For those who are already considered fully vaccinated and have submitted their vaccination status through PAWS, there is no further action required at this time.

Starting January 4, if you are not fully vaccinated or choose not to upload your vaccination status, you cannot access USask campuses, workplaces, and facilities for any reason, including the PAC, Huskie games, libraries, dining facilities, and any building, office, and classroom. This requirement also extends to all vendors and contractors on our campuses and work locations.

USask is consulting with Public Health and other experts on possible requirements for booster vaccinations in 2022. Once determined, information about campus expectations for booster shots will be shared early in the new year, likely by mid-January. In the meantime, due to waning protection from original vaccinations and the expected pervasiveness of the omicron variant, we strongly recommend that all members of the campus community age 18 and above obtain a booster shot as soon as available.

We understand that some individuals are not able to be fully vaccinated for medical or other grounds that are protected in the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code. The university will continue to consider accommodation requests for these individuals in accordance with the requirements of the Code. Only those with an approved USask accommodation will be allowed on campus and in workplaces without being fully vaccinated. Previously approved accommodations from the fall term will remain in effect through the winter term. If you plan to apply for a vaccination accommodation for January, you have now missed the deadline. You may still make an application but be advised that there will be delays due to the time required to review your request and we can no longer ensure your approval to be on campus for January 4.

With the spread of the omicron variant, members of the USask community are encouraged to avoid personal non-essential travel over the holidays, especially to areas with higher rates of COVID-19 infection. Government travel recommendations, requirements, and restrictions continue to be fluid. USask community members who must make an essential trip outside of Canada should check the current travel restrictions and entry/exit requirements of Canada and the country being visited. Consult the Government of Canada website for details. Faculty, staff, and students traveling on university business including work or study must follow university policy. The Government’s declaration to avoid non-essential travel means that special consideration is now required to seek approval for travelling outside Canada.

All USask COVID-19 safety measures are necessary for the continued health and safety of our campus community. We have greatly appreciated the care and courtesy you have shown in the shared effort to “Protect the Pack” through the pandemic and thank you in advance for your continued care and cooperation. We also cannot stress enough the importance of remaining vigilant in health practices, testing yourself regularly, staying home when experiencing any symptoms, and obtaining your vaccine booster shot as soon as possible to ensure continued protection for yourself and others.

Over the holiday break, we will advise the campus community immediately of any changes to our current plans via email, PAWS, and social media.  If you have any questions, please consult our FAQ for more information.

On behalf of the PRT, have a safe holiday season!


USask Pandemic Response and Recovery Team

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