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With about a month left until Ontario's universities start their fall semesters this year, more and more post-secondary schools have announced some sort of COVID-19 vaccine requirement or policy for those planning to visit campus.

The University of Toronto and Western University are the latest post-secondary schools to have updated their vaccine policies, and both made announcements regarding their changes on Wednesday, August 11.

Prior to August 11, Western University required all students who planned to live in campus residences to have at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a recent announcement, the university — plus its affiliate colleges, Brescia, Huron, and King's — said it will be requiring proof of vaccination for students, staff, and faculty. Those without it will have to be tested twice a week in order to come on campus.

Anyone participating in higher-risk activities like work placements, music programs, or varsity sports will also have to provide proof of vaccination. Exemptions will be given out on grounds protected by the province's human rights code.

"The health and safety of our community is our top priority – and it's a shared effort," Sarah Prichard, acting provost and academic vice-president, said in the announcement. "Vaccination is our clearest path to a safe campus."

The University of Toronto is backtracking on its previous decision and will now require all those planning to be on campus to be fully vaccinated. Much like Western, U of T already made it a requirement for students to be fully vaccinated if they want to live on res.

Now, students, staff and librarians coming back to campus will need to state their vaccine status through UCheck. For those who are unable to get vaccinated or provide their proof of vaccination, there are other policies put in place.

"There are exemptions allowed on religious or medical grounds. All members of the U of T community will need to attest to their vaccination status," U of T wrote in its latest announcement. "Those who are not vaccinated need to participate in the university's rapid screening program, use at-home kits twice weekly and have a negative result 72 hours before coming to campus. They may also have additional public health measures required of them."

Proof of vaccination is also required for students, faculty, staff, and librarians involved in certain activities like music performance, varsity sports and certain educational placements.

Which other Ontario universities are requiring vaccinations?

Earlier this week on August 10, the University of Ottawa mandated COVID-19 vaccines for students, staff, faculty, and even visitors who plan to come to campus come the fall semester. Exceptions will be given to those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons or on any other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Seneca College was the first college to make an announcement like this for everyone planning to come to campus come September 7.

Late last week, Colleges Ontario and the Council of Ontario Universities wrote an open letter to the provincial government that asked for a provincewide policy that would require COVID-19 vaccines of "postsecondary students, staff and faculty, to ensure optimal public health protection for all."

Health Canada has a robust website with all the latest information on the vaccine and can answer any questions you may have. Click here for more information.

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