Vaccine and mask petition submitted by UVic faculty

A provincewide petition started by the University of Victoria Faculty Association calling for vaccine and mask mandates at post-secondary institutions has reached more than 2,000 signatures and been submitted to provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan.

The UVic group collaborated with faculty at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia.

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“With the return to campus being just three weeks away, we need our institutions of higher learning to follow the science and implement vaccine and masking requirement on campus,” said UVic Faculty Association president Lynne Marks. “These signatures were gathered over six days, showing just how concerned faculty, students and staff are regarding a return to campus without masks, without distancing and without requirements for vaccination.”

UVic president Kevin Hall has said he supports mandatory indoor masking and a policy is coming. He said UVic is talking with the province and other universities about vaccine polices and there is hope for more clarity this week.

UBC president Santa Ono has expressed his support for vaccines being required.

Marks said that “the continued silence” from the province “has raised anxiety on campus to a fever pitch and frustrated scientific experts at the university who have struggled to understand the government’s approach.”

She said that is unacceptable. “We need a clear, evidence-based plan to ensure a safe, orderly return to classrooms in September,” Marks said.

The petition results came after several top Canadian universities demanded a vaccination requirement as a condition of returning to campus.

Marks said that many in Ontario have adopted such a requirement — including Carleton University, the University of Guelph and Brock University — because universities there have more independence than they do in B.C.

jbell@timescolonist.com

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