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This Ontario university is keeping its mask, COVID-19 vaccination policies

A sign indicates on-campus protocols at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. Tuesday, September 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett A sign indicates on-campus protocols at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont. Tuesday, September 8, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Lynett

One university in Ontario says it will keep its mask and COVID-19 vaccination policies in place amid a provincial rise in infections and hospitalizations related to the novel coronavirus.

Brock University, located in St. Catharines, said in a news release that all students, staff, and faculty members will need to be fully vaccinated to set foot on school grounds and will need to wear masks while indoors on campus beyond the winter term.

“Brock’s top priority remains the health and well-being of the campus community,” Lynn Wells, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, said.

The university, which houses some 19,000 students, said the decision was supported by Niagara Region’s Acting Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner, Public Health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji.

“I applaud Brock University for its leadership in maintaining masking requirements and vaccination policies,” Hirji said. “Niagara and Ontario are now into the early parts of a sixth wave of COVID-19; locally, we have seen a two-and-a-half-fold increase in persons hospitalized for COVID-19 in the last couple of weeks, and unfortunately may see more hospitalizations and deaths in the coming weeks.”

Ontario has seen a 21 per cent increase in hospitalizations related to the virus in the last week and the head of the province’s COVID-19 science advisory table has confirmed Ontario is in the middle of a sixth wave.

However, Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday the province has no plans to reintroduce public health restrictions, like mask use and vaccination policies that were dropped last month in most settings.

Elliott said the recent rise in cases and hospitalizations was “not unexpected” given the lifting of those restrictions. She added that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, believes that “we are able to now learn to live with some continued cases of COVID-19.” 

Brock University said it will continue to monitor public health developments and adapt its COVID-19 response as required.

Rapid antigen tests, medical masks and KN95 masks will be available to students, staff and faculty over the spring and summer terms, the university said.

Elsewhere in Ontario, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University have both said they plan to drop their mask and vaccination requirements on May 1.

With files from CP24's Chris Fox Top Stories

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