Proof of vaccination is required for students wishing to reside at the University of Toronto.
No, this was not a copy-paste from a 2021 article – this is an actual requirement for Fall 2022.
Anyone planning to live in residence at the University of Toronto must show proof of vaccination. Not only that, but students must also show proof of three doses of vaccine. Apparently being double vaxxed no longer meets the university’s rigorous standards. Maybe the university should change its slogan to “Only triple-vaxxers should apply.”
It comes at a time when public health officials across the country have abandoned evidence of vaccination requirements, acknowledging that while COVID-19 vaccines still protect people from hospitalization and death, they don’t. not much to prevent transmission. In other words, people can become infected and transmit COVID-19, even when vaccinated.
Even health care facilities in Ontario no longer require proof of vaccination. It’s more than a little ironic that nurses working in personal care homes don’t need to get vaccinated, but nursing students living on the University of Toronto campus do. University officials must think that students are more at risk of COVID-19 than the elderly.
Of course, we know that is patently absurd. The vast majority of college students living in dorms are under 30, and few in this demographic are likely to suffer serious consequences from COVID-19.
Unfortunately, the University of Toronto is far from the only post-secondary institution with outdated pandemic rules. As an example, the University of Manitoba recently announced that all students and staff must wear masks on campus this fall. Mount Allison University in New Brunswick, Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax and St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, soon followed suit with their own mask mandates.
Provinces have long since dropped their mask mandates, meaning college students can attend sporting events, hang out in bars and attend worship services without wearing a mask, but will still have to don one on campus. . In other words, college mask mandates are a prime example of pandemic theater.
University officials are mistaken if they think students conscientiously wear masks when in public. They are even more delusional if they believe college mask mandates will prevent the spread of COVID-19. These mandates will only decimate the bottom line of businesses such as bars and restaurants that are unfortunate enough to be located on campus.
Why would students hang out at an on-campus bar where masks are required when they can just go to one of the off-campus mask-free bars? The argument that a mask mandate could help these companies meet the needs of students concerned about COVID-19 is also specious; these companies are free to impose their own mask mandates if they think it makes sense.
In all of these cases, universities appear to be disconnected from the communities they serve. By imposing draconian vaccination requirements and sticking to unnecessary mask mandates, universities send the signal that they are bastions of elitism. Instead of being open and welcoming, universities exclude anyone who does not share their irrational fear of COVID-19.
Ultimately, these mandates will only undermine support for vaccines and masks. After all, if vaccines are effective in protecting people against COVID-19, vaccinated people should not fear coming into contact with unvaccinated people. A requirement for on-campus vaccination sends the message that vaccinated people have little confidence that their vaccine actually protects them.
Likewise, mandating masks for everyone sends the message that masks only work if everyone wears one. People genuinely concerned about contracting COVID-19 are advised to wear a properly fitted N95 mask. But they are mistaken if they think that forcing others who don’t want to wear masks to wear them will do anything other than arouse resentment.
Universities are meant to be places of learning, debate and scholarship. Imposing outdated pandemic rules on students does not promote these academic values. University students should be free to make their own decisions about vaccines and masks, as they do everywhere else.
Michael Zwaagstra is a public high school teacher, a Senior companion with the Border Center for Audience Policy, and the author of A Wise on the Arrange: Common Meaning reflections on Education and Learning.
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