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OCAD U maintaining COVID-19 safety measures

Spring flowers are photographed on a blue sky background

Dear members of the OCAD U community,

As you are aware, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore announced additional changes regarding COVID-19 guidance earlier this week, including ending mandatory wearing of masks indoors as of March 21 and changes in isolation requirements for close contacts.

At the outset of this pandemic, OCAD U has consistently stated that the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is a top priority. That is why OCAD University – joined by all universities in Ontario – will be maintaining its COVID-19 safety measures, which include the mandatory wearing of masks indoors and maintaining our proof of vaccination requirement until at least the end of the Winter term.

This decision reaffirms our commitment to taking measures that protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff and is supported by the members of our Feedback Group, which includes members from OCADFA, OPSEU and the OCAD U Student Union.

Furthermore, our decision is based on the commitment we made to the members of our community who, in turn, made informed choices to return to campus for in-person learning for the Winter term based on OCAD U implementing these safety measures. Our goal, all along, has been to ensure a safe return to in-person learning, which is critical in a studio-based educational institution such as OCAD U.

We will be re-evaluating our safety measures for the spring and summer term and will advise the community once decisions have been made.

Wearing masks remains mandatory
We appreciate that people may not agree with our decision to maintain the wearing of masks but I would ask that everyone respect this decision and show compassion and understanding for each other as we all continue to come on campus. As well, several public health experts have said it is too soon to make the decision to remove indoor masking requirements and support maintaining the masking requirements for the time being.

Vaccination requirement: a reminder
Although the Ontario government removed the proof of vaccination requirement for many settings on March 1, it’s important to remind everyone that OCAD U is maintaining its proof of vaccination requirement and we expect people to get boosted. This decision is supported by Dr. Moore who acknowledged that “institutions may wish to continue with COVID-19 vaccination policies for the remainder of the academic term and ongoing as part of overall health and safety requirements for their institutions.”

Daily self-assessment and isolation requirements
I also want to remind everyone that you must complete the COVID-19 self-assessment on the OCAD U Safe App every time you come to campus.

If you are presumed to have COVID-19, please self-isolate and do not come to campus. You should not return to campus for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms and until you have no fever and your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours. However, if you have access to a rapid antigen test, this time can be reduced to five days with two negative rapid tests. Rapid tests are now available to all faculty, staff and students (one testing kit per person) who are working or studying on campus.

Changes in isolation requirements were made by the Ontario Ministry of Health for household and non-household close contacts. Please consult the Ministry’s website for more information.

In closing, I want to reiterate that OCAD U remains committed to providing a healthy, safe and respectful environment for all – and this is a shared responsibility. So, let’s continue to work together to ensure that OCAD U is a welcoming and respectful place for everyone.

Stay well and stay safe!

Ana Serrano
President and Vice-Chancellor
OCAD University