August 26, 2021

Dear OCADFA members,

A Safe Return

Like many of you I want to return to teaching in person.  I also know a safe return to campus will only be possible if we combine multiple strategies to combat the looming fourth wave of COVID-19.  These strategies include upgrading our ventilation systems, maintaining social distancing and masking while indoors, proper use of PPE and sanitization supplies, tracking and tracing all positive cases of COVID-19 and a sensible and ethical vaccine strategy. 

OCADFA has been working with a coalition of faculty associations across Ontario to ensure labour and human rights are respected as campuses implement vaccine policies that prioritize our collective health and safety.  On our campus, OCADFA is working with the OCAD Student Union and OPSEU Local 576 to ensure the implementation of OCADU’s vaccination policy is equitable, inclusive and compassionate.

Today the Administration announced details of OCADU’s vaccine policy which includes proof of vaccination via the OCAD U Safe app, a rapid antigen testing program and a COVID-19 Safety Training program.

We expect OCAD University Administration to develop and implement a vaccine policy that recognize vaccine exemptions on medical, religious or other grounds.  Your privacy must be protected and access to your medical data strictly controlled. 

OCADU’s vaccine policy must rely on education, incentivization and making vaccines accessible and convenient for those who remain unvaccinated or who have received doses not recognized by Health Canada. 

We believe no one should be denied an education because of their immunization status. We will work to ensure anyone who is not vaccinated is provided appropriate accommodations to carry out their work safely. 

Many of us have unvaccinated children at home, have loved ones who cannot vaccinate for medical reasons, and support elderly family members or others who are uniquely susceptible to the virus such as people who are immunocompromised. We call on the OCAD University Administration to respect requests to work from home.

We need to aggressively take every measure necessary to ensure the highly contagious Delta variant doesn’t continue to raise the levels of new cases.  As this recent Toronto Star article reports,  “currently, 75 per cent of Ontarians over age 12 are fully vaccinated, yet new cases of COVID-19 are 600 per cent higher than last year at this time, primarily in the unvaccinated”. 

On August 17, 2021, the Chief Medical Officer of Health indicated that mandatory vaccination policies will be required for post-secondary institutions, with specific minimum requirements. As post-secondary institutions continue to develop these policies and to ensure a safer return to campus this September, the Council of Medical Officers of Health strongly recommends that:

Full vaccination against COVID-19 be required for all individuals involved in any in-person activities on campus (students, staff, faculty, contractors, and visitors), with the rare exception of those individuals who cannot be vaccinated due to permitted exemptions (medical and other protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code). Individuals are to be required to submit proof of vaccination.”

 OCADFA knows our COVID-19 response cannot rely solely on vaccines.  In June 2021, OCADFA members of the University’s Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) presented a Health and Safety Checklist for University Re-opening, a document compiled by public health experts at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. OCAD University’s Administration’s response to our COVID safety checklist can be found here

OCADU’s vaccination policy must respect the dignity, privacy and human & labour rights of all faculty, staff and students in our OCADU community.