Several schools and universities in Canada have indicated that the COVID-19 vaccine won’t be a requirement to return to the physical classroom in September. They have also indicated no intentions of mandating proof of immunization for students.
However, several schools that include the University of British Columbia, McGill University, and the University of Alberta remain undecided on the decision to take. Still, governments around the world are figuring out how to handle the so-called vaccine passports.
Andrew Kirk, an engineering professor and head of the McGill Association of University Teachers, say that they have a quite range of opinion, but are yet to take a formal position. Kirk adds that other professors think that as long as a student is fully vaccinated and enough precautions are taken, vaccine proof shouldn’t be a requirement.
“Others feel that as long as they are vaccinated, and there are reasonable precautions, it should not be a requirement.”
Cynthia Lee, McGill spokesperson has however indicated that the school is considering several scenarios.
“We do not currently anticipate a requirement to show proof of vaccination before coming to campus in the fall. The university is using an approach to planning that will create flexibility so that we will be able to adapt if we need to.”
In the United States, the situation is different, dozens of universities have opted to require vaccination proof. However, there concerns regarding the equity of the vaccine passports. Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) says that there are still concerns in the mandate to disclose private health care information.
CCLA added that groups such as new immigrants and racialized communities may be disproportionately impacted by vaccine passport requirements.
“Systemic racism may influence choices of service providers and others about who to demand proof from, and who to deny access, particularly in the absence of a strict legal regime governing their use.”
Some schools in Canada have said that they are waiting for the government to offer some guidance. Gillian Glass, who heads CUPE 2278, an association representing teaching assistant at the University of British Columbia says it’s too early to have a stance.
“At this point, because the university doesn’t have a set plan for return to campus, we don’t have a stance yet.”
Gillian, however, added that it likely change when schools layout conditions from returning classroom, and schools would take their positions.