In the name of the health and safety of their school communities, masking policies for students, staff, and faculty members of both Canadore College and Nipissing University will remain in effect.
Canadore will keep its mask mandate in place through the spring and summer semesters while Nipissing is extending its facial covering policy "until further notice."
As the 2021 fall semester neared, the Chief Medical Officer of Health issued instructions requiring every post-secondary institution to establish, implement and ensure compliance with a mandatory vaccination policy.
As of April 22, the last day of the winter semester, Canadore confirms its vaccination policy expired.
On May 1, Nipissing will pause its COVID-19 vaccination policy requiring faculty, staff, students, contractors, volunteers and visitors who attend campus to provide proof of full vaccination against the virus to gain access.
According to Nipissing University, "While vaccination requirements are being suspended for the time being, the University may reinstate them on short notice in response to changes in public health guidance. As such, individuals are strongly encouraged to stay up to date on their vaccinations."
Additionally, active screening will no longer take place at campus entrances but visitors are reminded to complete Ontario's COVID-19 self-assessment prior to attending any of the campuses and not attend at all if they are unwell or isolating.
The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is calling on university administrators across the province to maintain campus masking mandates until at least the end of August.
According to OCUFA, Brock University, Carleton University, the University of Guelph, McMaster University, the University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, Trent University, the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, and York University have each decided to extend their masking mandates for at least one month.
Nipissing University's President and Vice-Chancellor Kevin Wamsley prefers to take a more fluid approach to the mandate without setting hard deadlines.
"The health and safety of our campus community remains our top priority and guides all of our decision-making," Wamsley tells BayToday. "We continue to closely monitor the pandemic and changes in public health guidance and will review and adapt our policies on an ongoing basis to keep our campus community as safe and healthy as possible. At the present time, this means maintaining our facial covering policy."
In March, following guidance from the Council of Ontario Universities, all of the province's institutions, including Nipissing, maintained COVID-19 vaccination and masking policies until at least the end of the winter term, as did Canadore College.
At the time, Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health observed these health and safety decisions should be made by the institutions themselves. In response, all colleges and universities in Ontario kept vaccination requirements and masking policies in effect until at least April 30.
Meanwhile, an April 27 expiration of masking requirements in high-risk settings such as health care and long-term care settings plus public transit has been extended to June 11.
"I am maintaining masking requirements in specific public settings where individuals who are or may be at increased risk of severe outcomes and are in close contact for extended periods of time," stated Dr. Moore last Friday.