Yukon University students return to campus — and now they'll be screened for COVID-19

·2 min read
A Yukon University student is welcomed to the Whitehorse campus last week, ahead of the 2021 fall semester. Classes begin on Tuesday. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC - image credit)
A Yukon University student is welcomed to the Whitehorse campus last week, ahead of the 2021 fall semester. Classes begin on Tuesday. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC - image credit)

Classes are back in session on Tuesday at Yukon University, and officials are bracing for some challenges as hundreds of people flock to campus.

Only two doors will be used at the main building on the Ayamdigut campus in Whitehorse, and anybody entering will be given a COVID-19 questionnaire and a non-invasive temperature check. Anybody with a temperature will be asked to go home.

Masks are also mandatory at all times.

The screening measures will not be in place at other Yukon University buildings on the Whitehorse campus or its 12 other campuses elsewhere.

Janet Welch, the school's vice president of vice president of academic and student services, says it's about ensuring people are safe in the busiest areas.

"We're prepared to screen everyone. But if you are double-vaccinated and you need to get in more quickly, then there's a fast track," Welch said.

"A lot of it's on the honour system at this point. We don't have records of who's vaccinated or not."

Welch said there will be around 1,000 people on campus on any given day.

Laura Howells/CBC
Laura Howells/CBC

"So that's significant for us, given that we haven't had many people on campus this year, and some of our spaces — classrooms in particular — it's really difficult to maintain physical distancing," she said.

Welch called the screening system an "initial measure," and said more may be introduced if necessary. That may include mandatory COVID-19 testing for those who aren't vaccinated.

In the meantime, the school is just encouraging people to get vaccinated.

She said officials are prepared for some opposition to the new security measures.

"Yeah, that certainly has been our concern. We have spent a great deal of time talking about that in particular at this point," she said.

Wayne Vallevand/CBC
Wayne Vallevand/CBC

"Our measures were really very much about encouraging vaccination, making it easy for people that have been vaccinated to come on campus, and just those that have chosen not to get vaccinated or can't get vaccinated, just putting an extra layer of security at the door."

The school has 789 students registered this year. That represents about a nine per cent increase in enrolment over this time last year.

Sixty per cent of credit classes are in-person this semester or contain an in-person component, while 40 per cent are online.

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