By COLLIN GALLANT on September 14, 2021.
Medicine Hat College is among nine colleges and universities across Alberta that will now require vaccinations for those on campus and no longer accept rapid testing for COVID-19 as an alternative.
The announcement on Monday morning from the nine post-secondary institutions say they are coordinating action and the move will strengthen in-place measures to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.
The local program will be phased in this fall toward full implementation in January 2022.
“This decision was not made lightly, and we are grateful for the support of the post-secondary community as we work together to provide the safest possible environment for students and employees,” said MHC president Kevin Shufflebotham in a release.
Two local doctors quoted in the release state the measure with increased vaccine uptake is one way to help prevent new, severe cases which are straining the health-care system.
The joint release from all colleges says the move “(builds) on previously announced measures by strengthening the role that vaccinations will play on post-secondary campuses moving forward,” it states.
Students, staff and visitors will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend campus at MHC as well as its Brooks campus and the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, MacEwan, Mount Royal and Lethbridge, along with the Northern and Southern Alberta Institutes of Technology, and NorQuest College in Edmonton.
MHC and many other universities made indoor masking a requirement in late August, before the start of classes and before a province-wide mask mandate was brought in on Sept. 4.
The colleges will now require proof of vaccination and no longer accept a rapid positive test as an alternative, unless a person is exempt on medical or religious reasons. A “reasonable accommodation” will be made, according to the release, relating to self-exemption procedures already in place at local campuses.
Implementation dates will vary among institutions, the release states.
The province has shied away from the idea on implementing “vaccine passports” which would provide official proof to businesses or other groups wishing to host only vaccinated individuals.
The province is, however, preparing to issue a standardized card to those who request it, details of which are scheduled to be announced this week.