A decision on whether or not to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for students and staff on Saskatchewan Polytechnic campuses is expected by the end of the month.
The post-secondary institution’s special adviser to the provost, Dr. Barb Gustafson, told Global News on Monday they are looking at options surrounding vaccine requirements.
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“At this point, it’s under consideration … we’re still in the process of making that choice,” she said.
“Certainly they need some time to undertake vaccinations or to know that it’s up to them to make that choice. We’re certainly strongly recommending to students and to staff that vaccination is the right path to take.
“We just encourage them to do it on their own in the meantime.”
The University of Saskatchewan and University of Regina announced their decisions on Aug. 13 requiring students, staff and faculty to have both vaccine doses done this fall.
“We want to make a decision that’s right for Sask Polytech. The way we deliver education is different than what a university does,” Gustafson said.
“Rather than what people think of for a university with the large lecture halls. We typically have relatively small cohorts of students and they’re working in a very hands-on environment.
“We have had students on campus virtually throughout the pandemic under very closely controlled conditions … and did not have any instances where we found that there was transmission through students being on-campus.”
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Sask Polytech will continue using a hybrid learning model composed of in-class and remote learning this fall.
“We divided our programs basically into two categories that either it was going to be primarily on-campus or primarily online. It may not be all on campus for those who are expected to be there and it may not be all online for those that are where the program has indicated it will be online,” Gustafson said.
“About 70 per cent of our programs will be delivered in that (hybrid) manner.”
Of the roughly 15,000 students, Gustafson estimates 70 per cent will be on campus this fall but not all necessarily full-time.
“We do have some students that have started even this week. Some of our apprenticeship programs in particular start a bit early. So there will be some students on campus already,” Gustafson said.
“I think the message is we want to get out is that we’re following the advice of the medical authorities. We’re doing our best to keep the safety of our students and staff at the forefront.”
Sask Polytech said it’s working with the Saskatchewan Health Authority to host vaccination clinics on all four campuses in Moose Jaws, Prince Albert, Regina and Saskatoon during Welcome Week, Aug. 30 to Sept. 3.
All three post-secondary institutions are requiring masks while indoors on campuses.
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