St. FX says students, staff must wear masks in classrooms, labs, studios

·3 min read
People won't have to wear a mask on most of the campus. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)
People won't have to wear a mask on most of the campus. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Masks will still be mandatory in all educational areas for some Nova Scotia universities for the upcoming fall semester.

St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., has notified staff and students that "masks will continue to be required in all instructional spaces such as classrooms, labs, and studios until further notice," in a statement released Monday.

University officials say masks may be removed by faculty and students when they are teaching or presenting if they're physically distanced. Outside of the classroom, masks will be "strongly encouraged."

St. FX follows New Brunswick's Mount Allison University in keeping up its masking requirements. The Sackville, N.B.-based school announced last week masks will continue to be mandatory indoors, including in hallways, stairwells and classrooms, with some exceptions.

Nova Scotia dropped all public masking mandates in July, though some facilities like hospitals continue to enforce masking in certain situations.

Halifax's Mount Saint Vincent University will also require masks in classrooms and labs in the fall, as well as at health services. Instructors and students can remove their masks to teach or present, and to take a drink.

Masks not mandatory at SMU, Dal, Acadia

Other universities in Nova Scotia have taken a different stance. In an emailed statement from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, spokesperson Cale Loney said masking isn't mandatory outside of visits to the Student Health Centre.

"Mask use is recommended and encouraged in common indoor areas. The university continues to work with and make decisions based on advice from Nova Scotia Public Health," Loney wrote.

CBC News also reached out to Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., where spokesperson Sherri Turner said the campus community would be following the guidance of Nova Scotia Public Health as the matter evolves.

Peter Ricketts, Acadia's president, said last week that there are no public health directives on campus, but students are asked to respect the wishes of professors who ask masks be worn in their classes.

Ricketts said being vaccinated was "the best way to protect yourself and others" and asked students to monitor themselves for symptoms, adding that the school would be working closely with the provincial Public Health department "to ensure that we are following all of the required and/or recommended measures to keep our campus community safe."

Rules are similar at Halifax's Dalhousie University. Its COVID-19 guidance states that masks are not mandatory but are "welcomed and strongly encouraged." Dalhousie spokesperson Jane Doucet said in an email the school will monitor the pandemic over time.

"We continue to encourage everyone in our Dal community to closely monitor their health, stay home if they feel unwell, and follow all Public Health instructions in the event of symptoms or illness from COVID-19," Doucet added.

Elsewhere in Halifax at the University of King's College, discussions about possible mask rules are now underway with the university's health and safety committee, according to spokesperson Elizabeth Grant, and an announcement will be made once back-to-school protocols are finalized.

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