U of T vaccination

U of T Faculty Association blasts vaccination mandate as misleading and inadequate

The University of Toronto Faculty Association is unhappy with the institution's supposed vaccination requirement for students, staff, faculty, and librarians announced Wednesday.

U of T claims that those using the campus will need to self-declare proof of vaccination via the university's web portal, UCheck. However, exceptions are being made for unvaccinated students.

Unvaccinated students and faculty will still be able to attend class with the requirement that a COVID-19 rapid screening test is completed at home twice a week with a negative result within 72 hours of coming to campus.

The announcement makes U of T the latest in a series of Ontario institutions to implement such a policy, following Seneca College, University of Toronto, Western University, and uOttawa.

Concerned about the phrasing of the announcement and the adequacy of measures, Terezia Zorić, President of the University of Toronto Faculty Association, has penned an open letter to U of T President Meric Gertler, released via Twitter Thursday evening.

'I am writing to express the University of Toronto Faculty Association's disappointment in last night's announcement by the University of Toronto Administration concerning a safe return to Campus," Zorić states.

The letter implies that U of T's announcement served more as a public relations move than a comprehensive strategy to keep faculty and students safe.

"The communication was nothing more than a repackaging of the same policy that the Administration acknowledged, as late as last week, does not constitute a vaccine mandate. Yesterday's announcement was misleading and inadequate and does little to ensure a safe return to the University."

Of particular concern is the plan to allow those on campus to self-declare their vaccination status with no obligation to show actual proof.

Zorić’s letter says that "This is especially vexing because there is already a mechanism in place for U of T students living in residence to upload proof of vaccination."

An overall lack of structure for the return plan is central to the Faculty Association's criticisms, claiming that the minimum standards for safety are not being met.

"For example, faculty and librarians are deeply concerned about being pressured to teach in classrooms at full capacity, including classes of several hundred students, without any physical distancing or verified ventilation, and to work in common areas such as libraries that have seen no improvements in ventilation or filtration."

The Faculty Association hopes that a revised return plan can be negotiated in line with a Health and Safety Checklist for University Reopening developed for U of T with union support.

Zorić claims that U of T Administration has repeatedly rebuffed requests to work together on a safe reopening plan with faculty.

"This checklist recognizes that vaccinations alone cannot keep us safe. It sets minimum standards for improved ventilation, physical distancing in classrooms and common areas, and masking requirements. Once again, we urge the Administration to implement the comprehensive checklist."

Lead photo by

U of T Arts & Science

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