Aug. 10, 2021

Additional Covid-19 measures and supports

A message to the campus from President Ed McCauley

As we approach our return to campus and in-person teaching this fall, we have been reviewing the safety measures and Covid-19 supports in place at the University with an eye towards whether they need to be strengthened given recent regulatory changes and increases in Delta variant cases. We recognize there are concerns that still remain.

As Provost Teri Balser shared yesterday, over 90% of respondents to our community survey expect to be fully vaccinated by fall. While there are methodological limits to a survey of this type, this is consistent with general information we have about vaccine uptake among those with a university education. Although this is very positive, the survey also revealed the high level of concern in the community.

Today we’re announcing new measures and supports to increase the safety of our community.

Access to vaccination

As of July 1, people who have not been fully immunized have made up 95% of all cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the province of Alberta, despite being a minority of the population.

It is clear that the most important thing that can be done to protect the health and safety of our community is vaccination. In addition to the drop-in clinic in MacEwan Student Centre, we are actively working with AHS to establish additional vaccination clinics to run in September on campus and we will work with incoming international students to help them navigate Alberta Health Services and get prompt access to full vaccination. We will continue to reduce barriers and provide information on the value of vaccines.

Vaccines protect us all. They are highly effective against all known variants, especially for severe disease. If you have not already done so, we strongly encourage you to get vaccinated.

Covid-19 testing for residences, varsity athletics and field schools

In residences, varsity athletics and field school, proximity and duration of contact increases the risk of exposure to Covid-19. Rapidly identifying cases in this environment will be important. For this reason, we will be introducing rapid-testing for residences, varsity athletics and field schools where individuals are residing on site. The cost of testing will be covered by the University of Calgary. Ongoing testing will not be required of those who volunteer proof of full vaccination.

Contact tracing assistance

The provincial government is in the process of ending central contact tracing, making it a personal responsibility to inform your close contacts should you test positive for Covid-19. In order to support you, we will provide a service where, if you so choose, you can provide a list of your contacts to and we will make best efforts to contact them on your behalf.

It is also vitally important if you are sick that you do not come to campus. If you do test positive for Covid-19, please stay home. Meanwhile, our teams will continue to deep clean areas where someone has tested positive. We all have a role to play in keeping our campus community safe.

Recommending mask use

As we move into the fall, we recommend you continue wearing masks in all UCalgary buildings and residences. Masks reduce the risk of you spreading an infection to others – whether that be Covid-19, influenza or any other respiratory disease. This is consistent with guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the U.S. Centre for Disease Control (CDC), both which formally recommend mask use indoors. It is also consistent with Alberta Health standards, which encourage voluntary mask use where the environment and situation warrants it.

Mask use remains mandatory in patient clinics and transportation settings.

These are stressful times, and we ask you not to police the behaviour of others. 

Air ventilation system

The Facilities team have also been paying close attention to the ventilation and air-circulation systems, ensuring they use specialized filters and meet or exceed ASHRAE standards and are maximizing air circulation to ensure peak air quality is maintained throughout our buildings. These measures join protections already in place, the most important of which is our already high level of vaccination. 

Our path forward

We will continue to closely monitor and will bring in additional measures if warranted. A Covid-19 expert task force, a group of health, law and public policy experts charged with reviewing the data and making recommendations to decision-making bodies, is also bringing recommendations forward. If you have concerns or ideas, we want to hear from you.

As we return to campus, it’s important that we remember to be kind to each other and show each other some charity. This has been a year-and-a-half like no other and your friends, fellow students and colleagues will be in different places as we start the fall semester. The situation with Covid-19 has evolved rapidly. Vaccination has fundamentally changed the situation, but we are human and the anxiety will remain for some time.

Let’s do what we can to make each other comfortable. The top of this list is getting vaccinated. We also recommend mask wearing. While you may not feel a personal need, it can put others at ease.

Avoid vigilantism. Rather than confronting students, faculty and staff on vaccination status or mask usage, consider how to engage those interested in being engaged on data-informed discussions on the benefits and ease of both.

Know that there are supports available for you if you need them. Mental health supports are available to all students, faculty and staff.

The University of Calgary is a highly vaccinated environment. The measures today will provide additional protection for our community. We will continue to monitor and take the measures necessary to keep our community safe.

On behalf of the University leadership team, thank you.

Ed McCauley
President and Vice-Chancellor