UPEI Faculty Association urging university to mandate vaccine requirements on campus

·3 min read
The UPEI Faculty Association have sent a letter to the UPEI president in regards to COVID-19 measures on campus this fall.  (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)
The UPEI Faculty Association have sent a letter to the UPEI president in regards to COVID-19 measures on campus this fall. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC - image credit)

The University of Prince Edward Island's Faculty Association wants the university to mandate a vaccination requirement for students, faculty and staff returning to campus.

Over 200 faculty members completed a survey regarding COVID-19 measurers at UPEI, and 85 per cent of surveyed members support the vaccination requirement.

"We gave our members an opportunity to let us know the biggest concerns they had going into fall 2021 and returning to campus, and they identified a number of things but one of the things that really rose to the top was making sure that everyone on campus was vaccinated," said Michael Arfken, president of the association.

He hopes that all decision makers at the university get on board with the faculty's proposal.

"Not just the university and faculty, but all the campus unions, the student union, really all the stakeholders will be involved in this. I think this could be really a great model for collaboration among all the parties on making sure that we have a really great fall semester," he said.

The clock is ticking and we need to see if everyone's on board with this. — Michael Arfken

"From our view, there has to be a lot of collaboration and a lot of willingness to hear multiple perspectives on this and find the best way forward."

Arfken said faculty members feel that for those who are unable or unwilling to be vaccinated, appropriate consideration should be given to human rights accommodations, documented medical conditions, privacy protections and the impact on faculty workload.

He also said members feel the vaccine requirement should be one part of an overall UPEI COVID-19 mitigation strategy that includes appropriate masking, physical distancing and attention to indoor air quality.

Mandatory in 2 N.B. universities

Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, Mount Allison University and St. Thomas University, both in New Brunswick, mandated COVID-19 vaccination for students and staff.

The faculty association of Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia also wants vaccinations mandated for students and staff.

Arfken said he's been communicating with faculty members at other universities, on having a safe return to campus this fall.

"We've been working in lockstep with them so definitely paying attention to what's happening on the national landscape and in the region."

If the university refuses the request, the faculty have a right to not deliver their course on campus, Arfken said.

"It's part of our collective agreement that the faculty are permitted to teach in the manner of the day that they would like to teach. So our members are permitted to teach online courses exclusively if that is their choice."

UPEI's administration said it will consider the letter and respond to it as soon as possible.

"The clock is ticking and we need to see if everyone's on board with this, and we need to get going as quickly as we can," Arfken said.

With the exception of the Atlantic Veterinary College, all UPEI classes resume Sept. 8.

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