Western University Will Require Students to Receive COVID Booster, Wear Masks in Classrooms This Fall

Western University Will Require Students to Receive COVID Booster, Wear Masks in Classrooms This Fall
Students walk at the Western University campus in London, Ont. on Sept. 15, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Nicole Osborne)
Peter Wilson

Western University in London, Ont., will require all students enrolled in the upcoming fall semester to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to have received at least one booster shot, as well as to wear masks during the duration of all classes and seminars on campus.

The vaccine and in-class masking requirement will apply to all students, staff, and faculty unless they can receive an exemption from the university before Oct. 1, according to a policy document from the university dated Aug. 22.

Those who receive exemptions must “comply with any testing program and other requirements established by the University from time to time,” the policy reads.

“We will soon be welcoming students to campus from across the country and around the world. While we can’t predict when the next wave of COVID-19 might come, we believe these measures will help us protect the in-person experience that Western is known for,” said Florentine Strzelczyk, the university’s provost and academic vice-president in a release announcing the policy.

With some minor exceptions, all university visitors also must be fully vaccinated with one booster to enter campus, unless they can provide an exemption based on an “active medical condition that prevents them from being vaccinated,” the policy says.

Visitors who show any symptoms related to COVID-19—such as a cough, sore throat, or runny nose—will not be permitted on campus. All visitors must also complete a “daily symptom check” before arriving on campus.

For its mask policy, Western will require all students, staff, and faculty—except those “presenting, performing, facilitating, or speaking to a group”— to wear “medical-grade masks” in its classrooms, seminar rooms, and labs.

However, the university said it “will reassess the need for masking beyond the Thanksgiving weekend, with the goal to lift the mask mandate as soon as possible.”

Western’s COVID-19 mandates, which took effect on Aug. 22, are stricter than those of the University of Toronto (U of T) for the upcoming academic year.
U of T, which announced its mandates in late July, will require only those students living in residence to be vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19. It also has not reinstated its mask mandate, which it paused in May 2022 along with its requirement to show proof of vaccination before entering campus.

U of T had said in May that it was pausing its mandates but that it could later reinstate them “on short notice.”