The COVID-19 vaccine policies in place in Manitoba universities

WINNIPEG — Many Manitoba post-secondary institutions are not mandating COVID-19 vaccination to attend in-person classes come fall.

CTV News received replies about vaccination policies from University of Manitoba, University of Winnipeg, University of Brandon and Red River College.

Previously, all have said vaccination was not to be required to attend classes but it was strongly recommended and encouraged.

The schools are also operating the next year with blended in-person and online class schedules.

It appears University of Manitoba may be making modifications to its vaccination policy.

“The University of Manitoba continues to discuss its COVID-19 vaccine protocols with the goal of creating a safe campus for everyone. More information will be released in the coming days,” reads a statement from a U of M spokesperson.

Come fall, the University of Winnipeg plans on 42 per cent of its classes to be taught in-person, and will not mandate vaccinations.

A spokesperson told CTV News Thursday that the U of W will be releasing its mandatory mask mandate shortly, which exceeds public health guidelines.

The U of W said it has also installed a new ventilation system.

“We consulted extensively in developing our fall course plan which included working with academic departments and faculty to determine which courses will be taught in-person and which courses will be online,” reads a statement from the U of W.

“We are willing to work collaboratively to consider alternatives in cases where particular faculty members have concerns about in-person.”

Scott Forbes, president of the Manitoba Organization of Faculty Associations said at the U of W, faculty overwhelmingly supports mandating vaccination for in-person classes.

“We are very disappointed that they haven’t moved on this yet,” he said. “We think it’s imperative to protect the health and safety of students, staff and faculty to move to a mandatory vaccination policy.”

Many universities in Ontario have announced mandatory vaccination policies this week, and Forbes thinks Manitoba is well positioned to do the same.

“With our vaccine cards it makes it so easy. The software is available, it could easily be programmed into registration. There really is no real reason why they couldn’t do this,” he said.

University of Manitoba bioethicist Arthur Schafer predicts that Manitoba universities will follow suit. Especially with the looming fourth wave, he said universities and colleges will need to mandate vaccines in order to open up in-person learning on a large scale.

“Those sites where the pandemic could easily be spread, I think have an obligation seriously to consider before they bring people in close proximity to each other, in labs and in classrooms, requiring proof of full vaccination,” said the professor and founding director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba.

Schafer added if universities are mandating vaccines, reasonable accommodations need to be made for those who can’t be vaccinated. 

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