Western’s vaccination policy and mask-wearing requirements will remain in effect, but capacity limits in certain facilities on campus will be lifted, as Ontario moves to the next phase of reopening and all students return to in-person classes after reading week.
The university issued these updates to students and employees following Ontario’s recent announcement lifting requirements for vaccination passports and ending capacity limits for most indoor settings effective March 1.
“As we stay focused on our goal of remaining on campus for the rest of the term, we will continue to adhere to a number of health and safety guidelines to keep our community healthy and safe,” said John Doerksen, acting provost and vice-president (academic).
Western implemented a phased approach to the return to in-person learning at the beginning of the winter term as the province dealt with surging cases of COVID-19 infections due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Effective Feb. 17, visitors will be permitted to attend activities on campus, including sporting events and at the McIntosh Gallery, provided they show proof of vaccination and comply with mandatory masking requirements.
All research, scholarship and creative activities, which may involve off-campus participants, will resume provided the guidelines for cleaning, physical distancing and masking continue to be adhered to.
Employees may remove their masks when seated and physically distanced at their workstations. Instructors behind a barrier at the front of a classroom are also permitted to remove their masks.
Those currently working from home are encouraged to speak to their leaders regarding arrangements for returning to campus.
In addition to these changes, further updates to Western’s health and safety protocols will be implemented effective March 1, including lifting capacity limits for all dining areas on campus, except high-density areas such as Centre Spot in the UCC (reduced capacity) and Nucleus in the Natural Sciences Centre (remains closed).
All Western libraries will begin operating at full capacity starting March 1, with mandatory masking still in effect.
Students also have access to study areas across campus, and masks can be removed when seated for eating and drinking.
“Ensuring our campus remains a safe environment is our top priority, and it is a shared responsibility. We will continue to be guided by science and our public health experts, and as always, we will adjust our approach as needed,” Doerksen said.
The campus community is encouraged to get booster shots when possible, with appointments available at Western’s on-campus vaccination and testing centre.