Ontario’s colleges and universities urgently seek provincial support for a safe in-person reopening this fall

August 30, 2021 - With the start of the fall term one week away, Ontario’s post-secondary institutions, parents, students and other members of the post-secondary community are looking for greater clarity as they prepare and finalize arrangements for the start of a new academic year.

Previous guidance from the provincial government in mid-July encouraged full in-person learning this fall with no public health restrictions. Ontario’s post-secondary institutions, however, continued to implement plans to create safe working and in-person learning environments.

Key to reopening are high vaccination rates and post-secondary institutions are implementing strong mandatory vaccination policies that will help drive up vaccination rates. Ontario’s colleges and universities also continue to accelerate vaccination efforts across the province through campus-based pop-up clinics and are doing all we can to encourage all faculty, staff and students to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Surveys suggest that well over 90 per cent of students are vaccinated or willing to be vaccinated. Ontario’s colleges and universities also support the adoption of a vaccine certification program that would provide businesses and institutions with an additional tool to help support public health measures.

Post-secondary institutions recognize the return to safe in-person learning is critical for the mental and social health and well-being of students who have now endured more than 18 months of disruption to their studies. Our post-secondary institutions continue to work closely with local public health officials to ensure the health and safety of our campus communities as we plan for a safe fall reopening, allowing for more in-person learning and on-campus activity.

However, with most classes set to begin in just a week, Ontario’s colleges and universities urgently seek government guidelines that will help support strong mandatory vaccination policies and a rapid vaccine certificate program to streamline vaccine status validation. In collaboration with local public health officials, colleges and universities also seek greater flexibility for capacity limits and physical distancing to help ensure a safe reopening for expanded in-person learning.

By working together, we can create the conditions for a safe return to expanded in-person learning and research on Ontario campuses this fall, which is essential to graduating the workforce of tomorrow, ensuring the revitalization of our communities and the reopening of our economy.

- Linda Franklin, President and CEO, Colleges Ontario

- Steve Orsini, President and CEO, Council of Ontario Universities