Mount A keeping masks mandatory this fall, other universities waiting

·3 min read
Mount Allison University will continue to require masks indoors in the fall, with exceptions. (Submitted by Mount Allison  - image credit)
Mount Allison University will continue to require masks indoors in the fall, with exceptions. (Submitted by Mount Allison - image credit)

A New Brunswick university is bucking the no-mask-mandate trend and keeping them mandatory this fall.

Mount Allison University in Sackville said masks will continue to be mandatory indoors, including in hallways, stairwells and classrooms, with some exceptions.

"Recent COVID-19 case counts across Canada confirm that COVID continues to be prevalent," a letter to students, faculty and staff said Wednesday.

"It seems as if we will be living with COVID for some time yet and our continued prudence is needed."

Jean-Paul Boudreau, president and vice-chancellor, said this was an easy decision to make, especially considering that most students live on campus and interact regularly with the rest of the Sackville community.

"I would say this is a low risk, high reward decision," he said in an interview Thursday.

"We know that masks work ... There was very high compliance in the first place in our campus."

Mask mandates not certain for others

The University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University in Fredericton have kept their mandatory mask mandates even after the province ended restrictions in March.

On Thursday, spokesperson Heather Campbell said UNB will reassess its COVID policies "prior to the start of the fall term as needed, based on the epidemiology of the virus."

STU spokesperson Jeffrey Carleton said Thursday the university also hasn't decided if it's keeping the mandates in the fall.

"We expect to meet with Public Health shortly to go over the status of the province and their outlook for the fall and then make our decision on campus operations," Carleton said in an email.

"We should know more about our operations for the fall semester in the coming days and weeks."

CBC
CBC

Université de Moncton spokesperson Nathalie Cormier said the university has been recommending, but not mandating, masks indoors on campus since June.

"Members of the university community are welcome to continue to wear masks if they wish, while respecting the choice of others," she said.

And in April, the university also removed it's vaccination policy, making it no longer mandatory for students and staff to show proof or vaccination or undergo testing.

But, Cormier said nothing is set in stone.

"We will continue to closely monitor the progress of the pandemic, which could result in reintroducing COVID-19 requirements, and work closely with Public Health."

At NBCC, the rules are directly informed by and "consistent with" the province's mandates, said spokesperson Tanya Greer.

Exceptions to the rule

The letter to the Mount Allison community said there will be the following exceptions to the mask mandate.

  • Instructors may choose to not wear a mask while teaching and students/presenters may choose to remove their mask while presenting.

  • Those working alone in an office or cubicle are not required to wear a mask.

  • While seated in other buildings such as Gracie's, Jennings Hall, The Pond, and R.P. Bell Library and Archives.

  • Those participating in athletics, fitness, music, and theatre performances.

Rohin Minocha-Mckenney, president of Mount Allison Students' Union, said the union was part of the committee deciding the COVID-19 rules.

"[It] seemed like the most adequate way to balance many different opinions on campus and student safety," he said in an interview Thursday.

"This is something that our community can work with and that tries to take in many different points and many different perspectives."

The letter also says, while 95 per cent of the population is vaccinated, staff "encourage" students and staff to get vaccinated and boosted, but it won't be mandatory.

"This fall, we will provide a secure mechanism for community members who are new to Mt-A to voluntarily update their vaccine status."

Boudreau said while the province has removed the indoor mask mandate, he's thankful it's allowing each institution to decide what policy is best for it's students.

"COVID has certainly created some some varying viewpoints, but I think overwhelmingly you will continue to see strong support for the decision taken by Mount Allison University," he said.

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