U of T, uOttawa, and Brock all requiring vaccination for student-athletes

TORONTO, CANADA – The University of Ottawa led the way. Brock followed, and U of T added themselves to the growing list. All three OUA member schools will require student-athletes to be fully vaccinated in order to compete in 2021-22. 

Seneca College remains the only Canadian post-secondary institution to mandate vaccines for all students. In addition, several OCAA schools will require student-athletes to be fully vaccinated, while these three U SPORTS athletics departments lead the way for the other 56. 

Ontario is doing well in vaccinations and has seen a steady decline in new daily COVID-19 cases since mid-April when the province hit a record 5200+ cases in one day. At the time of writing, 60.3 per cent of Ontarians have been fully vaccinated, while 51.6 per cent of people age 18-29 have received two doses. 

uOttawa, Brock  U of T, and any others requiring vaccination will develop their own system for recording vaccination status, as Ontario Premier Doug Ford shot the idea down when asked by reporters. “The answer is no; we’re not gonna do it. We’re not gonna have a split society,” Ford told reporters in response to a question about creating vaccine passports.

Although these schools will require full vaccination, it does not mark the removal of all COVID-19 precautions. The school’s athletic programs will still require student-athletes to follow public health measures, guidance and university policy. 

Gee-Gees lead the way

Student-athletes wishing to compete for the uOttawa Gee-Gees in 2021-22, will have had to receive at least one vaccination dose by Aug. 1 and will have to declare their vaccination status on the Annual Medical Pre-Participation Form, due on the same day. 

Gee-Gees student-athletes will have had to receive two doses of a vaccine by Oct. 1 and must submit proof of vaccination to uOttawa Gee-Gees medical staff, who will update the school’s records. 

uOttawa student-athletes who do not comply with the vaccination requirements or determining dates “will be removed from the team’s roster and lose access to all the privileges afforded to student-athletes including team or individual training, competition or any Varsity Integrated Support systems.”

For student-athletes who have reasons included on the Ontario Human Rights Code not to get vaccinated, they will have to submit a request to the University by Aug. 1 and Oct. 1. 

The University of Ottawa is hosting the U SPORTS Championships for men’s soccer in November.

Brock follows with key dates

Brock University announced on Friday morning that all student-athletes will be required to have full vaccination if they want to represent the Badgers in 2021-22. 

“It comes down to setting that standard for duty of care for our athletes and ensuring their health and safety is part of our return-to-play strategy,” said Melissa Krist, Director, Brock Sports, in the media release. “Keeping our student-athletes safe is our No. 1 job at all times, but especially as we deal with this ongoing pandemic.”

Brock will recognize Health Canada-approved vaccines and those on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing, and vaccinations wil not be required for students using athletics facilities or in intramural competitions.

With Brock’s first OUA game (women’s soccer) scheduled for Sept. 24 and Ontario having a minimum four-week wait between doses, student-athletes must have at least their first dose by Aug. 24. All student-athletes will be required to be fully vaccinated by Saturday, Sept. 4 or 14 days before competition.

As for any student-athletes who do not get vaccinated, Brock has not announced what circumstances they may face. The Gee-Gees remove the athlete from the team’s roster. However, Brock has yet to clarify. 

The University of Toronto will require two jabs

Following their OUA counterparts, all U of T Varsity Blues student-athletes will have to be fully vaccinated if they want to compete in 2021-22. 

The university will require students, faculty, staff and librarians who participate in activities that carry a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission to be vaccinated and will require all community members to disclose their vaccination status. 

U of T is the only school to explicitly include “faculty and staff” in their releases, meaning coaches and team staff will also require two jabs. This could very well be the case at Brock and uOttawa; however, they have not explicitly said that. 

Activities that are considered high-risk include varsity sports, music instruction and educational placements, making the vaccine mandatory for those who want to participate. 

The requirement will complement other COVID-19 prevention measures already in place, such as rapid testing, residence vaccinations, masking and enhanced cleaning protocols. 

The school did not say whether or not student-athletes would be able to stay on team rosters; however, it did indicate measures for those who are unvaccinated. Those who are not 14 days past their second dose “will be directed to a rapid screening program that will provide them with rapid screening kits. They will be expected to screen themselves at home twice a week and will be expected to have a negative result within 72 hours before coming to campus.”

With the return of Canadian university sports less than two months away, it is getting late for schools to announce mandatory vaccination plans. U SPORTS, the OUA, AUS and Canada West have not made an overarching decision, and sources tell 49 Sports that they will not. 

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