OrilliaMatters received the following letter from Lakehead University President and Vice-Chancellor Moira McPherson regarding their new mandatory vaccination policy:
Dear members of our Lakehead University community,
Throughout the spring and summer, we have been working in close collaboration with the necessary government authorities, the Council of Ontario Universities, Universities Canada, and local district health units to ensure we are aligned with the most current public health and safety directives and recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July, Lakehead joined other universities in the province when it announced a mandatory vaccination requirement for all students choosing to live in our residences. Lakehead International has worked closely with new and returning international students to ensure they understand the requirements for travel to Canada, Thunder Bay and Orillia, and are supported in order to meet the provincial and local health requirements.
Last week, we joined the majority of Ontario postsecondary institutions with varsity and Ontario Colleges Athletic Association sports teams when we implemented a mandatory vaccination policy for all of our student athletes.
Over the past week, Ontario's postsecondary sector's response to vaccination requirements on university and college campuses has evolved dramatically. While COVID-19 vaccination rates in Ontario have increased over the summer to levels that allowed for the relaxation of certain restrictions, certain variants of the virus continue to proliferate, with the highly-contagious Delta variant now accounting for the majority of cases in Canada.
Our Thunder Bay District Health Unit and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit have strongly expressed that ensuring high rates of vaccination is key to keeping COVID-19 case numbers low in our communities.
After careful consideration, I am announcing that Lakehead University will be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy requiring Lakehead students, faculty and staff arriving on our campuses and properties to have received their first vaccine dose by Sept. 7, and be fully vaccinated no later than Oct. 7.
The policy, which is currently being developed and will be shared with our University community upon completion, will address details of its implementation, including guidelines that will apply to any visitors to our campuses and properties. This policy will enhance existing measures we have taken in recent weeks as we prepare to return to our campuses.
I would like to thank the Lakehead University Student Union and the Lakehead University Faculty Association for voicing their support for a vaccination requirement on our campuses.
I would also like to thank the Thunder Bay District Health Unit and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit whom we continue to work with and have strongly supported the implementation of a mandatory vaccination requirement.
The university will continue to remain vigilant in protecting the health and safety of all members of our community, and we will take additional measures if conditions change in the semesters ahead.
My sincerest thanks and appreciation to each and every one of you who has done your part to keep our campuses and each other safe.
Dr. Moira McPherson
President and Vice-Chancellor