Resumption of Campus Activities
Early last week, the Ontario Ministry of Universities and Colleges revealed its Directive for the fall resumption of postsecondary education in the province. The Directive anticipates a return to regular, on-campus activities, with no capacity limits and no physical distancing requirements. Additionally, the Ford Government has made clear that it will not mandate vaccines. The BUFA Executive is dismayed at the lack of foresight of this Directive, given the transmissibility of the delta variant and our current distance from herd immunity. Given this paucity, it is left to individual universities to implement additional requirements to ensure a safe return to campus.
BUFA has met with members of Brock University’s Senior Administration and Human Resources throughout the pandemic to advocate on behalf of members and the wider University community. This advocacy has resulted in fruitful MOAs to address aspects of faculty and professional librarian work that were upended by the pandemic. The focus of these meetings has since pivoted toward the University’s Fall Resumption Plan.
Interim President Wells had said to BUFA that Brock will not implement a mandatory vaccination policy. Seeing the release earlier today, we are pleased that in keeping with Ryerson University, University of Toronto, and Western University, Brock will now require those in residence to be vaccinated. However, the BUFA Executive believes that this measure is insufficient. In light of the anticipated resumption of campus operations and the public health evidence available that we have not yet reached herd immunity, the BUFA Executive urges the Employer to reconsider its Fall planning and to extend its vaccine mandate, inclusive of the appropriate accommodations on a case-by-case basis, to the entire Brock community. Such an extended policy has been adopted by Seneca College. And, more recently, Western University’s faculty association (UWOFA) has urged Western University to likewise extend its vaccine mandate.
Additionally, Interim President Wells has indicated that there are no current plans to go beyond the requirements of the Directive in other regards. We urge the Brock Administration to consider implementing capacity limits, physical distancing, and ventilation systems above what the Directive requires, to ensure that we have a safe return to campus. We also urge the Joint Health and Safety Committee to advocate for such measures and to help oversee their proper implementation.
The BUFA Executive intends to release a FAQ in the coming days to help members navigate aspects of the return to campus environment.