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As we approach the first day of classes of the fall 2021 semester, I want to express how impressed and grateful I am for the incredible resilience, hard work and spirit demonstrated by members of our University of Guelph community as we journey through this pandemic. I also recognize the toll the pandemic has taken and the anxiety it continues to create. These have been, and are still, challenging times.

The University continues to monitor the fluctuations of the COVID-19 pandemic and carefully prepare for the safe delivery of courses this fall. We understand that the emergence of a fourth wave of the pandemic, driven by the Delta variant, is causing uncertainty and unease. As always, we are prioritizing the health and safety of our campus community and following government directives and public health advice in our planning and decision-making.

Last week, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, announced that the province will pause further reopening measures and remain in Step Three of its Roadmap to Reopening. We expect to receive an update from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities (MCU) later this week as to whether there will be any changes to the guidance provided to the post-secondary sector in mid-July for fall course delivery. At that time, the Ministry anticipated that in-person instruction and on-campus activities at post-secondary institutions would be permitted to resume without capacity limits or physical distancing requirements.

Currently, we have just over 1,000 course sections that include a face-to-face component, and more than 90 per cent of students are enrolled in at least one face-to-face course. By implementing a 250-person enrolment cap per face-to-face section, we have been able to significantly reduce densities in our classrooms. Centrally-booked classrooms have been assigned at an average of 48 per cent capacity. Fewer than 4 per cent of classrooms are assigned at greater than 75 per cent capacity. We anticipate that in some classes, densities may be further reduced through instructors' creative use of the technology available in many classrooms. Instructors who are interested in further exploring these options should send an email to cts@uoguelph.ca and/or attend a hybrid and flipped classroom orientation offered by OpenEd.

The University continues to finalize operational details of the vaccination mandate that was issued Aug. 12. As announced earlier today by President Yates, U of G will require proof of vaccination for students, faculty and staff accessing our facilities, beginning Sept. 7. Those with exemptions must receive a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours before accessing our indoor spaces. 
We have already implemented a proof of vaccination requirement for students who will be living in our campus residences. We are very pleased to report that as of Aug. 17, 79 per cent of the 4,145 students registered for residence this fall are fully vaccinated, and well over 90 per cent will be fully vaccinated by their move-in date. Only 2 per cent have requested an exemption.

We know that being fully vaccinated significantly reduces a person's risk of contracting COVID-19, and that vaccines continue to be highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death, including against the Delta variant. Notwithstanding, the University is committed to further protecting its students, staff and faculty by requiring that all those on U of G campuses:

  • wear masks when indoors (and outdoors when individuals are unable to maintain two metres of distance from others); 
  • seek to physically distance wherever possible;
  • regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizer; and
  • complete the U of G COVID-19 Screening Form and follow its direction.

In addition to these requirements, the University has invested in improved ventilation in classrooms scheduled for use this fall. Each classroom will have ventilation measures in place that provide for the equivalent of six outdoor air changes per hour - a measure equal to the standard in place for medical examination rooms. Finally, notwithstanding the low risks associated with COVID-19 transmission from touching a contaminated surface, cleaning and disinfection of high-touch and high-traffic areas will continue. More information is available on the How U of G Is Preparing for Your Safe Return web page

In closing, I want to thank all members of our community for your continued efforts during these difficult times. We will provide a further update once we receive guidance from the Province regarding fall course delivery directives.


Gwen Chapman
Provost and Vice-President (Academic)


University Of Guelph Improve Life


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