University of Regina requiring COVID-19 vaccine for students, staff

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The University of Regina is following the steps of other Canadian universities by requiring all faculty, staff and students to have both doses of COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.

The university is expected to provide more details in the coming days, including information related to requests for exemption in alignment with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

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“Recognizing that some students participate in activities that carry a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission, the university is currently working with those students who live in residence; engage in varsity and club sports; and, act as student athletic trainers to ensure they are in compliance with the vaccine mandate,” a news release stated on Friday.

“The University of Regina is confident that, in mandating vaccines, we can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 on our campuses and in our communities,” president and vice-chancellor Jeff Keshen said.

Interim provost and vice-president david Gregory told Global News that the university is still working out the details and logistics will be challenging.

“We’re committed to making sure our campus is safe and people feel safe on our campus,” Gregory said.

Gregory added the way out of the pandemic is through vaccines, so he is hopeful this mandate will increase vaccinations.

A total of 4,500 students are expected to be on campus in the fall. The university will also be offering hybrid classes with some students present and others watching a broadcast remotely.

“We welcome back the students, the faculty and the staff. It will bring energy back to the university and of course the vaccines play a big role in that,” Gregory said.

There is a third group of people who are seen at higher risk of exposure in the faculty of music, art and performance. Students who take part in music, voice, wood wind and brass instrument classes, and theatre classes. Gregory said the university will work with these students and bring them in alignment with student athletes and students living in residence.

Gregory acknowledged that there will be people who cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.

The U of R plans to offer those individuals rapid antigen testing twice a week as well as individuals who refuse to get the vaccine.

“We’re not going to engage in any punitive or disciplinary action against members of our community, and we’ll work with them not against them and you know what? I’m hoping in the end that’ll be a very positive outcome,” Gregory said.

He added that the university is working to include accommodations under the province’s human rights code.

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