Starting September 7, post-secondary institutions won’t be required to have indoor capacity limits or physical distancing requirements.
The new policy was part of the Ontario government’s Postsecondary Education Health Measures Framework for Fall 2021, released on August 31 to post-secondary institutions around the province.
This exemption to Ontario’s Step Three reopening plan comes into effect on the same day that all post-secondary institutions are expected to have vaccination mandates in place.
This exemption follows weeks of behind-the-scenes lobbying from post-secondary institutions across Ontario who were concerned over fall academic plans being upended.
The exemptions are not applicable to Ontario’s nine Indigenous Institutes, who are not yet required to have a mandatory vaccination policy.
Additionally, post-secondary institutions will be required to report vaccination statistics to the MCU on a monthly basis. These statistics include:
- the number of individuals that provided proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19,
- the number of individuals that provided a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19,
- the number of individuals that completed an educational session about the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination where applicable, and
- the total number of individuals to whom the OCMOH Instructions apply.
Before arriving on campus, post-secondary institutions are required to screen all employees, faculty, and staff members in accordance with the province’s Step Three reopening plan.
While the news has come as a relief to post-secondary institutions, faculty members are alarmed.
“With less than a week before the fall term begins, the inadequate guidelines introduced at the last minute by the Ontario government are deeply concerning, as they will increase the exposure risks to faculty, staff, and students,” said Ben Lewis, communications lead for the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.
“Limits on class sizes, physical distancing measures, and improved ventilation and air-quality monitoring are among numerous other safeguards that must be in place to protect members of the campus community.”
Other faculty associations are concerned with facility ventilation.
The Queen’s University Faculty Association (QUFA) has taken issue with the University’s ventilation and has filed a grievance with the Ontario Labour Relations Board “regarding the failure of the University to comply with their obligations under the OHSA.”
QUFA also claims that the information provided to faculty about ventilation is misleading and deliberately false. “the claim that there are no regulated targets for Equivalent Air Changes (eACH) per hour is contradicted by the very links that they provide,” QUFA President Jordan Morelli points out.
Arbitration between QUFA and the University is set to take place on September 8.