Winter term vaccination requirements

I am writing today to inform our campus community that we will be further strengthening the role vaccinations play in keeping our USask campuses and workplaces safe. To be able to safely offer more in-person instruction and campus activities, we have made the decision to require anyone on our campuses or in our workplaces to be fully vaccinated, beginning at the start of the Winter Term.

This means that effective January 4th, 2022, anyone accessing our campuses will need to show proof of receiving at least two doses of WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines. Submitting rapid test results (or any other COVID test result) will no longer be an option for campus access as of January 4th for those who are not vaccinated or choose not to disclose their vaccination status (unless an approved accommodation exists - please see further details below).

The Fall Term has been a transitional term to more in-person activity anticipated for 2022 Winter Term and beyond. Fall Term has demonstrated that our measures and guidelines have been effective at minimizing on-campus transmission of COVID-19, particularly the vaccination requirement introduced earlier this fall. USask’s vaccination rates are outstanding, with 99 percent of faculty, 96 percent of students, and 95 percent of staff now fully vaccinated. 

However, the Winter Term will see an increase in in-person campus activity.  As such, the University has sought public health guidance to help inform our measures for the new year.  The expert guidance has confirmed for us that vaccination is the single most effective public health measure to reduce spread and prevent harms of COVID-19 in our community, and that testing protocols are not preventive, but reactive, and should only be used in situations where vaccination is not an option. In considering this public health guidance and the University’s responsibility to provide for a safe learning and working environment, we have decided to implement these protective and preventive measures for the Winter Term. 

For those who are fully vaccinated and have submitted their vaccination status through PAWS, there is no further action required at this time. However, when you are eligible for your third COVID-19 booster shot, proof of that will be required for you to continue to be considered fully vaccinated. More information on third shots will be available as soon as the province begins announcing its COVID-19 vaccine booster shot plans. 

We understand that some individuals are not able to be fully vaccinated on grounds that are protected in The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.  The University will continue to consider accommodations requests for these individuals in accordance with the requirements of the Code. Previously approved accommodations will continue through the Winter Term, and those individuals receiving them will need to continue submitting regular negative test results. Only those with an approved accommodation, as appropriate and in limited circumstance, will be allowed on campus without being fully vaccinated.

We are providing two months’ notice of the upcoming change to allow enough time for everyone deciding to be fully vaccinated by January 4th to be able to do so. We encourage anyone not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated immediately to avoid any interruption to their studies or work as the Winter term begins. There are many options available to book a vaccination and I strongly encourage you to choose one and get fully vaccinated.

Students, faculty, and staff currently working or studying remotely must meet these new requirements at the time of their planned return to campus with an updated vaccination status and proof of vaccination uploaded. 

Members of the campus community who choose not to be vaccinated or not to disclose their vaccination status by January 4th will be required to move to remote or online work and learning environments, where that is possible. Employees must speak with their People Leader and HR SBA about this possibility. Students will need to check to see if specific Winter term classes are available remotely, or speak to an academic advisor for assistance in identifying remotely offered classes. 

I reiterate that if you are not fully vaccinated or choose not to upload your vaccination status by January 4, 2022 you cannot access campus for any reason. This includes the PAC, Huskie games, libraries, dining facilities, and any building, office, and classroom on our campuses. This requirement also extends to all vendors and contractors.

We have consulted extensively with other institutions in Canada, with our faculty, students, and employee unions, and with legal and public health experts prior to making this decision. We remain firmly committed to the published science that vaccinations are the clearest path towards defeating COVID-19 and its dangerous variants, and an overwhelming percentage of USask community members have agreed and made the choice to “Protect the Pack” through vaccination. I thank you for that -- our campuses, workplaces, and surrounding communities have been safer as a result. 

With the pandemic projected to continue in our communities in this province for the next several months, we will also keep all current COVID-19 health and safety measures in place throughout the Winter Term, including indoor mask requirements, space reconfigurations in high-traffic areas, enhanced cleaning, and meeting or exceeding all public health orders.

If you have any questions, please read the FAQs. Further details about the upcoming winter term will be provided in the coming weeks, but with this message I wanted to give those who are unvaccinated the time needed to be fully vaccinated by January. If you have any questions not covered in the FAQs, please email covid19@usask.ca.

Thank you for doing all that you have done to make this fall term as successful as possible. Let’s all continue to “Protect the Pack”. 

Peter Stoicheff
President and Vice-chancellor
University of Saskatchewan

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