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RDP students, faculty not required to vaccinate, but it’s ‘strongly encouraged’

President Peter Nunoda did not state rapid testing would be required of the unvaccinated
Red Deer Polytechnic has decided not to require students and staff to be vaccinated, although they are strongly encouraging it. (Photo by Advocate staff)

No mandatory vaccinations or rapid testing will be required of students attending Red Deer Polytechnic in the fall.

Dr. Peter Nunoda, president of Red Deer Polytechnic, released a statement on Tuesday indicating that vaccines will be strongly encouraged, but will not be a necessity for returning students.

“Red Deer Polytechnic will not require individuals to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to attend our campuses. While vaccines are strongly encouraged, students, employees, and guests must make their own decisions, according to their individual health circumstances and in consultation with a medical professional,” Nunoda stated.

“Red Deer Polytechnic aligns with the Government of Alberta’s COVID-19 guidelines and continues to implement several health and safety protocols that are specific to our post-secondary institution. Our continued focus remains in creating a healthy and safe environment for everyone at Red Deer Polytechnic,” Nunoda added.

He did not announce any rapid testing plans for RDP students, faculty or staff who are unvaccinated, as part of its back-to school plans.

This does not align with the approach undertaken by University of Alberta, University of Calgary, and University of Lethbridge. They jointly stated on Tuesday that they intend to include rapid testing or vaccinations as part of their fall plans.

Starting on Sept. 1, the three Alberta universities will require everyone coming onto campus to undergo regular rapid testing. Those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are exempt from this requirement.

Students, faculty, and staff who are not fully vaccinated, and those who would prefer not to disclose their vaccine status, will need to regularly complete a rapid screening test and receive a negative result before they participate in in-person activities.

Any individual who cannot be tested or vaccinated, based on medical or other protected grounds recognized by the Alberta Human Rights Act can request an accommodation.

“The research is clear. Vaccinations are highly effective against all known variants, especially for preventing severe disease. Vaccine clinics are being planned for campuses. Everyone is urged to become fully vaccinated as soon as possible if they want to be able to attend campus without having to complete ongoing rapid testing throughout the term,” stated a release from the three institutions.

The University of Alberta, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge added they are taking “evidence-based approaches that are best suited to the campus context to protect the health and safety of our communities.

“As always, we recognize that we remain in a rapidly changing environment. We will continue to monitor developments and adjust and modify these measures as necessary, with these policies being formally reviewed at the end of the term.”

Several other Canadian post-secondary institutions are requiring students to be fully vaccinated this fall, including the University of Saskatchewan and Seneca College in Ontario.

RDP said Monday in a Facebook post they strongly encourage students to wear masks on campus when two metres distance cannot be maintained.

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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