A guide to Alberta universities' return-to-campus plans

Aug 18 2021, 1:19 pm

With the start of the fall semester just weeks away, universities and other post-secondary schools across Alberta have begun to reveal their back-to-campus plans and the COVID-19 measures that they have in place.

Some schools, such as the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, and the University of Lethbridge, have protocols such as mandatory masking indoors and rapid testing for those who aren’t vaccinated. Others are requiring vaccines for those living in residence and participating in sports, while some have made masking entirely optional and lifted most of their safety measures.

It’s important to note that, as the semester gets underway and with the COVID-19 pandemic constantly evolving, these measures could change, so keep an eye on your school’s website for the latest updates.

If you’re attending post-secondary in Alberta this year, you might want to check out the following list to see which protocols your school will have for the start of the semester.

University of Calgary (Calgary)

  • Anyone coming to campus will be required to undergo regular rapid testing if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must receive a negative result before they participate in in-person activities.
  • Those with COVID-19 symptoms or positive test results are required to self-isolate.
  • Face masks must also be worn in all public indoor areas on campus where physical distancing is not possible.
  • The U of C is also ensuring that the school’s ventilation and air-circulation systems meet standards and maximize air circulation, and implementing an optional contract tracing service.

University of Alberta (Edmonton)

  • Anyone coming to campus will be required to undergo regular rapid testing if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must receive a negative result before they participate in in-person activities.
  • Those with COVID-19 symptoms or positive test results are required to self-isolate.
  • Face masks must also be worn in all public indoor areas on campus where physical distancing is not possible.
  • The U of A is also requiring all students, staff, and faculty participating in on-campus activities this coming term to complete “Fall Ready | Coming to Campus 2021,” a short mandatory eCourse that will help people understand potential hazards and what they can do to protect themselves, their colleagues, and their families.

Alberta University of the Arts (Calgary)

  • Starting September 7, 2021, Alberta University of the Arts requires everyone entering campus, including all faculty, staff, students, contractors, and visitors, to undergo regular COVID-19 rapid testing. Those that are fully vaccinated are exempt from this requirement.
  • Before accessing campus, everyone must submit a mandatory AUArts Daily Health Assessment Form, available on the AUArts SafeApp.
  • Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or has symptoms must isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.
  • Face masks remain mandatory on campus. Masks are mandatory for all group offices, classrooms, studios, and common areas. Masks may only be removed under these circumstances:
    • Faculty while they are teaching provided instruction is being delivered at a minimum 2 metres distance from the group they are addressing.
    • While eating or drinking, food and beverages must be consumed at a minimum 2 metres distance when masks are not being worn.
    • Working alone in a private office, alone in a studio, or alone at a workstation with COVID-19 protection barriers.

Ambrose University College (Calgary)

  • The COVID-19 vaccine is not required to attend Ambrose, but the university college strongly recommends that anyone coming to campus be fully vaccinated.
  • The school will continue to encourage measures such as frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and isolation requirements for confirmed cases of COVID-19 will remain in place. Ambrose will also continue to follow AHS guidance and restrictions in response to COVID-19 cases on campus and as they may arise locally.

Athabasca University (Athabasca/online)

  • As an online university, Athabasca will continue to help students learn and complete their studies from home.
  • According to the school’s website, Athabasca University will not be reopening any of its facilities to the public at this time. This includes the AU exam centres in Athabasca, Calgary, and Edmonton. Nearly all exams are available to be taken online, and students are asked to contact the university for any that aren’t available digitally.

Bow Valley College (Calgary)

  • All students and staff attending campus must be fully vaccinated by October 22.
  • All campuses remain closed to the general public until further notice.
  • In-person internal or external events will be suspended at least until November 1.
  • Masks continue to be required.
  • Only employees required and approved by their Dean/Director may enter campus. All other employees will work remotely.
  • Students and employees are encouraged to remain on campus only as long as required and are asked to socially distance where possible.

Burman University (Lacombe)

  • Burman strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated, but proof of vaccination is not required for students, including those living in residence.
  • At this time, students are not required to wear a mask or fill out a COVID-19 screening form each time they arrive on campus. Social distancing is also not required; however, whenever possible, the university encourages masking and social distancing.

Concordia University of Edmonton (Edmonton)

  • Students, faculty, staff, and visitors must wear face masks in all indoor public areas, including hallways, washrooms, gathering spaces, and the library.
  • Concordia is also piloting a flexible delivery method this fall, with a number of blended online/in-person courses being offered to students.
  • Vaccines are not mandatory for everyone, but students living in residence, participating in sport, and non-academic performances are required to be immunized.

Grande Prairie Regional College (Grande Prairie)

Keyano College (Fort McMurray)

  • Masking is required where physical distancing of two metres cannot be maintained.
  • Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not come to campus.

Lakeland College (Vermillion)

  • Wearing a face mask is not required.
  • Anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not come to campus.

Lethbridge College (Lethbridge)

  • Face masks are voluntary.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations are encouraged for all members of Lethbridge College but are not mandatory.
  • Some courses may continue to be delivered in a flexible model.

MacEwan University (Edmonton)

  • MacEwan strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated. Student-athletes must have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to compete with other institutions. Students in the university’s Residence will be asked to voluntarily disclose their vaccination status; however, their response will not be used to determine whether they can live in residence.
  • Those on campus are expected to wear masks when distancing is not possible. Faculty can require students to wear masks in instructional spaces when necessary.
  • A rapid testing program will be implemented sometime in September at MacEwan University.
  • Additionally, the school’s and sanitizing stations will remain in place, increased pandemic cleaning protocols will continue across campus, and plexiglass shields will remain in place in areas where face-to-face interactions occur. Those coming to campus are also encouraged to continue to use the AHS COVID Self-Assessment tool, and to stay home if sick.

Medicine Hat College (Medicine Hat and Brooks)

  • COVID-19 vaccines are encouraged but not required at this time.
  • Masks must be worn in all public indoor areas on campus where physical distancing of 2 metres is not possible, including classrooms, meeting rooms, and common areas.

Mount Royal University (Calgary)

  • Masks are mandatory in classrooms and labs, and for any indoor gatherings of 20 or more people. As well, masks are strongly recommended in common spaces, including hallways and meeting/group areas.
  • Vaccines are strongly encouraged but not mandatory.
  • Those on campus should practice proper hand-sanitizing and frequent hand washing, and follow floor markings and signage directing traffic flow.
  • MRU asks that those coming to campus be vigilant about self-monitoring for symptoms and stay home if they feel unwell.

NAIT (Edmonton)

  • Vaccines are strongly encouraged but not required.
  • NAIT is working to determine how they could introduce rapid testing at the school, and will provide their community with advance notice before introducing a program like this.
  • Masks will be required in all indoor spaces on campus.
  • Everyone coming to NAIT must perform daily check-ins and screen for symptoms before coming to campus, and stay home when sick, and report if you test positive for COVID-19.

NorQuest College (Edmonton)

  • Face masks are not required, but encouraged as much as possible when indoors.
  • Vaccines are strongly encouraged but not required at this time.

Northern Lakes College (Slave Lake)

  • North Lakes College’s “Relaunch Guide” and website are showing no restrictions for the return to campus at this time.

Olds College (Olds)

  • Masks are optional at this time.
  • Olds College encourages all employees and students to get vaccinated; however, vaccines are not required.

Portage College (Lac le Biche)

  • No masks are required on campus; however, staff may need to wear masks in some settings, such as when serving food to the public.
  • Protective plexiglass barriers will remain in place, with more added as needed.
  • Vaccines are not required to be on campus.

Red Deer College (Red Deer)

  • Red Deer College community members must check-in each day they are on campus using the COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Alberta Daily Health Checklist using the SAFE RDC App, and are required to stay home if they are ill.
  • Mask wearing and vaccinations are strongly encouraged but not required at this time.

SAIT (Calgary)

  • Face masks are required to be worn in all public indoor areas, classrooms, and labs on SAIT campuses.
  • Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are being tested, are close contacts with someone who has COVID-19, or have symptoms should not come to campus.
  • Anyone coming to campus must complete the Daily Campus Access Form every day prior to accessing campus.
  • Vaccines are not required at this time; however, SAIT strongly supports its community members getting immunized.

St. Mary’s University (Calgary)

  • Students, staff, faculty and visitors are required to wear a mask in all common areas, areas where there is interaction with the public, areas with poor ventilation, and areas where distance cannot be maintained. Students are currently required to wear a mask while seated in a classroom.
  • Saint Mary’s has implemented a Campus Check-In and Out procedure for all students, faculty, and staff. Upon arrival at the university,  anyone with approval to enter a campus building must check-in and check-out using the electronic form.
  • Hand sanitation dispensers are available at the main entrances to all buildings and near all elevators.

The Banff Centre (Banff)

  • The Banff Centre asks that visitors to campus continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces on campus. Staff continue to mask in public indoor spaces, and outdoors at the Maclab Grill.
  • Some facilities remain closed at this time, with hopes to reopen later this fall (Vistas Restaurant, the Sally Borden Gym, the Pool, the Paul D. Fleck Library & Archives and theatres spaces.)
  • Social distancing is encouraged where possible, hand-sanitizing stations are available in public spaces, and vaccinations are strongly recommended for anyone coming to campus.
  • The Banff Centre is also restricting recruitment for on-campus programs to those currently residing in Canada.

The King’s University (Edmonton)

  • Mask use will be required in classrooms only.
  • Vaccination is strongly encouraged, and a pop-up vaccine clinic is in the process of being organized at King’s, but vaccination won’t be required and there will not be rapid testing on campus for those not vaccinated.
  • The university’s processes and procedures will be re-evaluated on September 27, in line with the province’s re-evaluation.

University of Lethbridge (Lethbridge)

  • Anyone coming to campus will be required to undergo regular rapid testing if they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and must receive a negative result before they participate in in-person activities.
  • Those with COVID-19 symptoms or positive test results are required to self-isolate.
  • Face masks must also be worn in all public indoor areas on campus where physical distancing is not possible.
  • The U of L is also requiring anyone accessing campus to submit a daily health check on the uLethbridge Safe app, or through the Daily Health Check form.

To date, Alberta has seen 240,753 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,336 deaths caused by the virus. As of August 16, 68% of the province’s eligible population has had at least one dose of vaccine, while 76.9% of people are fully immunized against COVID-19.

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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