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UNBC President supports mandatory vaccination and mask usage

UNBC President Dr.Geoff Payne has announced the school does support mandatory mask-wearing and vaccinations in the school community, agreeing with UBC President, Santa J. Ono’s statement made on Friday.

“We’ve been all along since the pandemic has started we’ve been working with the government on the sector guidelines coming out from the PHO’s office. Obviously, with UBC in partnership with us as one of the research universities of British Columbia, we’re aware of that and we support that,” Payne explained.

In his statement, Ono referred to the province’s recent decision to mandate vaccination for everyone working in long-term and acute care facilities, and he says he believes UBC should do the same at least in high-density residences and high contact circumstances such as Varsity athletics and theatre/music.

UNBC is still working on deciding exactly what policies will be implemented for the upcoming academic year, but Payne says they should be finalized soon.

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“As we move into the fall term, we’re supportive of that and we’ve been working with the government in terms of what are going to be the guidelines coming back in the fall as we see the case counts where they are,” he added.

Payne says that he’s been listening to students and faculty members, and while he couldn’t pinpoint their exact position on mandating masks and vaccines, he has heard overall concern about rising cases and the school’s approach to vaccines and masks.

He says he is also very concerned, which is why he continues to communicate with the provincial government.

“What I’ve said to the government from UNBC’s perspective is we do have lower vaccination rates, we do want to make sure that we don’t impact the health authority if case counts rise. We have students moving from small communities back and forth so we want to make sure everybody is safe as possible.”

In terms of international students, Payne says he’s working with both the federal and provincial governments to determine what regulations will be in place upon their arrival.

“We’re just trying to get a sense of what we’ll have to do for those international students and it’ll be hard, some people might not be able to travel and we’re working with them on if there are other options we can do in terms of interacting with UNBC and beginning their studies,” he added.

Payne adds there are a lot of moving parts that need to be considered when determining details of the upcoming school year for both local and international students, and more details will be announced as UNBC figures them out.

However, he does know that some courses will be online but the majority of them will be available face-to-face.

“That has not changed and we’re ready to go in a few weeks, should things alter based on where we are and guidelines that come forward from the government and the provincial health office, we do have plans in place to address that if need be,” Payne said.

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