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U of T will require at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose for students in residences

University continues to plan for in-person fall semester as vaccine rates increase, will help with vaccine access
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U of T's Chestnut Residence building. HAYDEN MAK/THE VARSITY
U of T's Chestnut Residence building. HAYDEN MAK/THE VARSITY

U of T announced that students living in residence for the fall semester will be required to have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine with limited exceptions. This update comes as U of T continues to plan for a mostly in-person fall semester, though plans are still tentative and subject to change. For in-person activities, public health measures including masks, capacity limits, and COVID-19 self-assessments may still be in place. 

The vaccination policy will apply to students living in residences across all colleges and U of T’s three campuses, with the exception of those living in Student Family Housing, though residents of Student Family Housing are still strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. 

U of T’s plan

The policy follows advice from public health experts both in the Peel region and in Toronto. In a letter to U of T on June 6, Dr. Vinita Dubey, an associate medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health, recommended that post-secondary institutions institute policies that will encourage high vaccination rates — especially for people living in communal settings, which have much higher risks of COVID-19 transmission.

“This requirement, which is endorsed by our local public health authorities, will enable us to give our students the residence experience that they expect – and that is so important to their growth and development – without compromising on their health and safety,” said U of T Vice Provost, Students Sandy Welsh in an interview with U of T News. 

U of T recommends that students moving into residences receive their first shot at least 14 days before moving in. Students who cannot get vaccinated before moving in will have two weeks after moving in to get their first dose. Those who have not received a vaccination within two weeks may face additional restrictions. 

Students who cannot get vaccinated for medical or other reasons can request accommodation. The university recommends that students keep all records of their vaccination, including emails and receipts, as proof of vaccination. 

The university plans to help students receive the vaccinations. U of T is assisting with the Ontario vaccination effort by running vaccination sites at the Mississauga and St. George campuses.

Vaccine rollout, vaccination policies

Vaccination rates in Ontario have increased significantly — over 70 per cent of adults have already received their first dose or are fully vaccinated. Given the high vaccination numbers and the associated drop in COVID-19 case rates, Ontario will move into the first step of its reopening plan on June 11, opening up retail establishments, patio bars, and restaurants. 

A number of universities in the US have already announced similar policies requiring vaccinations for students in on-campus residences, though Canadian universities have largely avoided taking a formal position on whether or not they will require vaccines. U of T has not yet announced any intention to mandate vaccinations for all students attending in-person classes.