The University of Toronto (U of T) has mandated a COVID-19 booster requirement for all students and employees who will be living in residence during the 2022-23 academic year.
“Students living in residences this fall will be required to have a primary series of a COVID-19 vaccine and at least one booster dose before moving in,” reads a COVID-19 update on the university’s website.
Cheryl Regehr, vice-president and provost, and Kelly Hannah-Moffat, vice-president of People Strategy, Equity & Culture, wrote in the July-28 update that the university’s decision to mandate booster shots for in-residence students was influenced by Ontario having recently expanded the availability of second booster shots for residents aged 18 years and older.
The university will require just one booster shot for in-residence students, but strongly encourages all students, staff, and faculty to “remain up-to-date” on their vaccinations and upload their proof-of-vaccination documents to the university’s “UCheck” portal.
“Staying up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccinations offers the best protection against severe illness,” says the update. “It will also reduce isolation requirements and disruptions to your on-campus activities in the event that you are exposed to COVID-19 or test positive.”
U of T paused several campus-wide health measures in May 2022—including its requirement to be fully vaccinated for all in-person activities on university premises—shortly after a group of its staff, students, and faculty filed a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. The complaint’s basis was that U of T continued its on-campus vaccine mandates even after the Ontario government announced an end to the province-wide vaccine passport system on March 1, 2022.
According to a press release issued by the complainants, the university was “going against public health recommendations even though they relied on them to enforce overly restrictive mandates on students, staff, and faculty.”
U of T made clear that it was pausing, but not dropping, several of its health measures for the summer term. They included wearing masks inside university buildings, completing online health screenings prior to entering campus, and showing proof of vaccination for university events.
It noted that any or all of these health measures could be “reinstated on short notice” and strongly encouraged students, staff, and faculty to continue adhering to the measures even while not required to.
“The University will continue to monitor public health conditions over the coming weeks as September approaches to adjust our response as needed,” reads the July-28 update.
U of T’s Fall 2022 semester will begin on Sept. 8.