93 per cent of F2F students have provided proof of vaccination

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Get jabbed. Fusion Medical Animation via Unsplash

Plans for winter still pending

A few weeks before the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester and a partial re-opening of campus, the University of Regina announced their vaccine policy. Students were told that they would have to either provide proof of full vaccination or submit to regular rapid tests in order to have continued access to campus. In addition, student athletes in the Cougars or Rams teams, as well as people living in university housing, were not allowed exemptions from being fully vaccinated. We did a news story earlier about how athletes or housing residents who did not submit proof of vaccination may be asked to leave the team or residence until they are able to do so. With the deadline for vaccine self-declaration having passed recently, we got in touch with the Communications Office at the University of Regina to get an update.

It should be noted that, at present, the Communications Office has not been able to give us information on whether any student athletes or housing residents have had to be removed from teams or housing due to non-compliance. However, they said more information on this will be made available in the coming weeks.

What percentage of students have submitted their vaccine declarations? What percentage are fully vaccinated?

The University’s immediate priority has been to obtain declarations from those students who are registered for in-person course components in the Fall semester. There are 3,732 such students. Of those students, fewer than three per cent have yet to declare while 93 per cent have provided proof of full vaccination. However, we are not in a position to provide updates or percentages on the entire student population at this time. The data would not be accurate, since students who are studying exclusively remotely and have no intention of attending campus in person are not required to declare their vaccination status at this time.

For those who are not vaccinated, how is access to campus being regulated? Where are the testing sites on campus, and how is it being verified that students get tested?

Any students who declared that they are not vaccinated, as well as students who have chosen not to disclose their status, are automatically enrolled in the regular, rapid, antigen testing program. There are locations in both the main campus and the College Avenue campus where students are able to get tested. The locations and hours of the testing centres have been posted online on the University website.

The staff at the testing centres track and verify students who are tested. Students who are non-compliant with their testing commitments are contacted directly and advised of potential consequences, up to and including possible de-registration.

What happens when a student tests positive? How is it ensured that they cannot access campus again until they provide a negative test result?

It is important to note that the BD Veritor System for Rapid Detection of SARS‑CoV‑2 being used at the University of Regina is a screening tool only. Following a positive test result, the person will be required to leave campus immediately and provide the University with proof of a negative PCR test result before returning. Students who may be required to self-isolate and are therefore unable to attend in-person classes are encouraged to contact their instructors to make alternate arrangements. Students who test positive and are subsequently found to be non-compliant face potential consequences up to and including de-registration.

Who can access the vaccine status information submitted by students? How can a student who submitted vaccine status access campus without having to submit to a rapid test or produce the proof every time they need to access campus?

Vaccination and/or testing status and documentation is kept confidential, and only a very limited number of staff have access to it. In collecting this information, the University assumes the responsibility to protect it, keep it confidential and only use it for the purposes for which it is intended. The University has established processes to ensure that faculty, staff and students’ private information, including personal health information, is protected in accordance with The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LAFOIPOP). The information will only be retained as long as necessary to support vaccination reporting and other statutory requirements. Students who submit proof of full vaccination as well as those who undergo regular testing with ongoing negative results are not required to provide anything else to continue accessing campus. Also, at any point in time, the latest information on the University’s policy about vaccination, and all other relevant details, can be found on the University website at: www.uregina.ca/term-updates/vaccination.html

Students still wonder about testing, monitoring.

At present, masks are still required everywhere on campus. However, visitors to campus are no longer required to sign in at a desk, and all access points to campus are now open. This is in contrast to even this past summer when only three entrances were open and all visitors to campus had to provide their contact information. We spoke to some students who have provided their proof of vaccination on UR Self-Service and have accessed the campus a number of times since the beginning of the Fall 2021 semester.

One student who wishes to remain anonymous said they submitted their proof of vaccination but are not exactly sure how that may have affected their continued access to campus. “The day after the deadline, I was still able to walk in the same way I did the day before. I am not sure if that was supposed to be the case, but it has made me wonder whether it made a difference that I submitted my declaration. I mean, no one seems to have verified that the people coming to campus through say, Riddell Centre, are all people who either submitted a proof or will be heading to get tested. Maybe something still got done behind the scenes, but I would be curious (and relieved) to know the details.”

The Winter 2022 term is less than three months away. In earlier communications, the university had mentioned that they would be announcing policy about the upcoming term sometime in November 2021. In the city at large, the only public health measure still in place is masking indoors. However, all but essential services are requiring proof of vaccination. With a more substantial number of in-person classes being predicted for the Winter 2021 term, it might be trickier to ensure compliance with the current requirements. Also, as pointed out, it seems unclear how day-to-day access is being regulated to ensure everyone entering campus has either been vaccinated or will be getting tested. More transparent communication on these issues seems essential.

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