As President Stoicheff outlined in his June 17 message, USask is committed to in-person teaching, learning, and services this fall, and we look forward to having on-campus activity as close to pre-pandemic levels as possible, while protecting the health and safety of our community.
As you are aware, we paused the masking requirement over the summer and have been closely monitoring several indicators since that pause — including wastewater, hospitalizations, infection modelling, and levels of disruptions caused by COVID-19—to determine the next best steps.
Based on these indicators and in consultation with experts, we have determined with the support of the President’s Executive Committee that USask will continue to pause the masking mandate for the Fall Term, while at the time stressing that masking is strongly preferred in all indoor spaces. Please note that there will continue to be certain elevated risk areas or activities identified where a masking requirement will be in place.
Why is masking still strongly encouraged though it’s no longer mandatory? The pandemic is not yet over, and we recognize the importance of masking in preventing transmission of airborne illnesses such as COVID-19, cold and flu. Along with being vaccinated and fully boosted, masking is the surest way to protect ourselves and our campus community from COVID-19 and its variants. In short, masking matters.
We will continue to monitor USask case numbers and service disruptions, variant emergence, wastewater viral load, and public health data and public health expertise to determine the level of health and safety measures necessary to keep the campus and broader community safe. These indicators will determine if, and when, a mask mandate is resumed, and whether a potential resumption takes place in all indoor spaces or just select settings.
Please stay home if you are feeling sick or have been diagnosed with COVID. We ask that you do not come to campus until you are symptom free for 24 hours. This is important even if your symptoms are not due to COVID-19 or you are not sure, and even if you have a negative rapid COVID test result.
To monitor the impact of COVID-19 on our campus, all positive cases involving USask students, staff, and faculty, regardless of whether the person has been at a campus location or not, must be reported by following the steps outlined for self-reporting confirmed cases. Suspected close contacts are no longer required to report or self-isolate. Rapid antigen and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests are being treated as equivalent for the purposes of tracking and reporting positive cases.
COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits can be picked up at provincial locations as well as on campus at:
- Murray Library
- Bookstore in Marquis Hall
- Fit Centre
- USSU Office
While vaccines are not mandatory for everyone at this time, USask strongly encourages faculty, staff and students on any USask campus or work site to obtain their COVID-19 vaccine booster(s) as soon as they are eligible. We will inform the campus community when opportunities arise to receive boosters and flu shots on campus. As we learn more about this latest wave of the pandemic, it is abundantly clear that boosters are a highly effective way to enhance the COVID-19 vaccine’s effectiveness against infection, serious illness, infectivity, and hospitalization.
We thank you for your continued effort and commitment to “Protect the Pack” and help ensure the Fall Term is a success.
The Pandemic Response and Recovery Team (PRT)