Mask Mandates Are Back At The University of Waterloo & This Could Signal What's Coming
Public health officials have also been dropping hints.
As of November 9, students at the University of Waterloo have to wear masks once again in any in-person classroom setting for the rest of the fall semester.
The move to reinstate mask mandates is part of a bigger discussion among other schools and public health officials across Ontario as the concern of impacts of respiratory illnesses through the fall puts pressure on hospitals.
"Your health and safety are top of mind as we respond to changes in COVID-19 trends," said the University of Waterloo in its announcement on Thursday. "We need to act now to minimize disruption to the end-of-term exam season and to protect the most vulnerable people in our #UWaterlooCommunity."
\u201cStarting Nov 9, #UWaterloo will require masks for indoor activity that is part of academic instruction. This includes, but is not limited to, lectures, seminars, labs, tests, exams and all other forms of academic instruction wherever it happens indoors.\n\n\ud83d\udd17https://t.co/w9E8U1lpip\u201d— University of Waterloo (@University of Waterloo) 1667917788
UW is among a small list of schools, including Toronto's Seneca College and OCAD University, that still have mask mandates in place.
Toronto's Metropolitan University seemed open to changing its policy, which currently doesn't require face coverings.
"The university may reinstate requirements for vaccinations and masks in indoor settings should public health recommendations change," a spokesperson told Narcity.
York University's message is similar.
"York continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 and public health guidelines and, if necessary, masking requirements will be reinstated," read a statement to Narcity. "We will communicate any change to our current policies to our community as needed."
Humber College also doesn't currently require masking on its campus, but told Narcity "we will continue to follow the direction of public health and may adjust our approach as things continue to evolve."
Guidance on face coverings was eased up by both provincial and municipal governments months ago.
"It is strongly recommended to wear a well-fitting, high quality mask, especially in indoor public settings and when COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses (such as the flu) continue to spread," reads a message on the City of Toronto's website regarding face mask guidance.
That falls in line with messaging from Public Health Ontario. But, all of this could be about to change.
At a Toronto Board of Health meeting earlier this week, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa was asked to "urgently explore" reinstating mask mandates in schools.
That request came weeks after a warning from Ontario's Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, that a stronger recommendation on masking, or even mask mandates, could make a return in the province.
Meanwhile, amid the talk of bringing back some restrictions, others continue to fall by the wayside. Toronto also just announced its mandatory vaccine policy for city workers will come to an end as of December 1.