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Queen’s University students are demanding that COVID-19 vaccinations be made mandatory this fall

As the new school year approaches, community pressure on Queen’s University to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all students and staff continues. 

On August 3, fourth-year student Amanda Preston-Walker launched a petition called “Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for Queen’s Staff and Students,” addressed to Queen’s University Principal Patrick Deane. With the help of her sister, Victoria Preston-Walker, the petition quickly spread over social media, including Reddit and Facebook. 

“I wanted to help as much as I could,” Victoria said in an interview with YGK News. “I desired a safe space for [Amanda] to be.” 

“It’s very frustrating to not see Queen’s making any decisions while other schools have been mandating vaccinations for students on campus and in residence,” Amanda told YGK News.

Amanda called the University’s reluctance to mandate vaccinations “frustrating,” especially as other universities such as Brock, Waterloo, Trent, and, more recently, Carleton have announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be required as of August 5. 

Amanda’s petition sparked debate as people took to social media, arguing that COVID-19 vaccinations should not be mandated by the University. Many believed that staff and students should have the right to choose whether to be vaccinated.

The University’s policy “requires students in residence to disclose their current vaccination within a maximum of two days prior to their move-in date, or to have submitted an attestation as to the reason they are not being vaccinated” and students in residence will be required to bring proof of vaccination with them to Kingston and to provide it upon request.

The University also shared that 98 per cent of students who will be living in residence have completed their disclosure form, with 99 per cent indicating that they are, or will be, vaccinated before arriving on campus in September.

In an email sent out on July 29, the University stated that students who will be living in residence are “required to complete [their] full vaccination requirements no later than October 15, 2021.” 

According to the Queen’s University COVID-19 Vaccination Policy in Residence, apart from the attestation unvaccinated students must submit, unvaccinated students will be required to complete an education process about the value, risks, and effectiveness of vaccines. Students who choose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccine “can expect, in the event of an outbreak, that they, upon direction of KFLA Public Health, may be required to comply with additional measures, which could include moving to an isolation space.”  

Although the University has not further commented on mandating the COVID-19 vaccination, the “Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations and Testing for Queen’s Staff and Students” petition continues to grow and has a total of 327 signatures as of August 6, 2021.

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