UW suspends mask mandate


President and vice-chancellor Vivek Goel, along with vice president, academic and provost James W.E. Rush, announced in a memo released on June 20 that UW would suspend their mask requirement in following with the province’s lifting of the mask mandate. This change took effect on July 1.

Though UW’s mask mandate has been officially suspended, the memo encouraged community members to consider wearing masks in large gathering spaces like classrooms or exam halls.

An online poll conducted by Imprint found that of the respondents currently on campus, 62 per cent would continue wearing masks after the suspension. Answers to where those masks would be worn included in classrooms, during labs, and any other time students would be around “lots of people.”

UW’s move is consistent with a steady trend of loosening restrictions due to decreasing COVID-19 case numbers, though COVID-19 signals in wastewater remain higher than at the same time last year. The moving seven-day average of new cases in the KW region now stands at 4.7 per 100,000 residents as of June 29, as opposed to a high of 20.4 new cases per 100,000 residents in early April. 

The Ford government lifted the provincial mask mandate on March 21, leading the KW regional council to repeal the by-law requiring masks in enclosed public spaces on the same day.  

More recently, institutions including Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College have similarly decreased mask-wearing requirements, with Conestoga also pausing their proof of vaccination requirements in all campus buildings. While UW does not currently require proof of vaccination, the university has encouraged community members to submit up-to-date proof of vaccination to “minimize disruption to work and learning” in the event that vaccination becomes mandatory again. This information can be updated at any point.