Feel good about your information and become a local news champion today

Rapid tests will keep more UCalgary students safe: Students Union

The University of Calgary will require proof of vaccination or a negative rapid testing result for students, staff and faculty to partake in in-person activities.

The new protocols are part of a joint back-to-campus strategy for the upcoming semester. The University of Alberta and University of Lethbridge also made the announcement Tuesday.

“We think this is really going to keep a lot of students safe as we transition back to in-person learning,” Nicole Schmidt, President of the Students Union at U of C, said.

“We’re hoping that students who previously might have felt uncomfortable with returning to an in-person learning environment might be more inclined to register and transition their classes back to in person.”

Starting Sept. 1, anyone going to campus without proof of full vaccination will be required to undergo regular rapid testing.

How frequently the rapid tests will be done isn’t clear. Schmidt said it will likely occur at regular intervals.

A rapid screening test and a negative test result will be required for those who are not fully vaccinated. It would also apply to those who don’t want to disclose vaccine status.

Accommodation requests can be made by those who cannot be tested or vaccinated based on medical or other protected grounds recognized by the Alberta Human Rights Act.

The universities will monitor developments and make any necessary modifications or adjustments during this time. A formal review will be done at the end of the term.

On-campus vaccinations

Varsity Pharmacy MacEwan Student Centre and the Student Union Wellness Centre are offering vaccinations for students, faculty and staff.

An Alberta Health Services bus will also be parked on campus, where international students can also receive the vaccine.

“The research is clear. Vaccinations are highly effective against all known variants, especially for preventing severe disease,” the U of C statement said.

“Everyone is urged to become fully vaccinated as soon as possible if they want to be able to attend campus without having to complete ongoing rapid testing throughout the term.”

In a statement posted online, the Students Union said it would have preferred these measures were known in advance. That way students could have had choices in course delivery.

“In our view, it would have made far more sense to announce these new health measures first before offering professors the ability to change the delivery method of classes,” the statement read.

“Students were never afforded the ability to choose to take a particular course online and now may have to make last minute adjustments to their schedules. This is causing further stress and anxiety for students.”

Other measures in place

Face masks will be required in all public indoor areas on campus where physical distancing is not possible.

Masks won’t be required when: Working alone in private offices or a shared space, working indoors or outdoors where physical distancing is possible, working in a cubical with plexiglass, wall or other approved barriers between people and not providing services to anyone.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result will be required to self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or until they receive a negative test result.

In the coming days, each university will release additional details on how these measures will be delivered on their campuses.

“These expanded measures are a direct response to shifting COVID-19 conditions. Our health, law and public policy experts have been tracking the rise of cases and emergence of the Delta variant, providing us with data-driven approaches,” Ed McCauley, President and Vice Chancellor of U of C, said.

“By working together with Alberta’s other research-intensive universities, we will continue to monitor and take the measures necessary to keep our community safe.”

Mount Royal University also provided information to students, faculty and staff returning this semester.

They produced the video, but also included an FAQ on their site.

On Wednesday, SAIT announced the reinstatement of a mask requirement for indoor spaces on campus starting Aug. 23. It impacts, students, staff and campus vendors.

They said in the Aug. 18 update that they would also explore rapid testing.