McGill’s commitment to the health and safety of our community

September 23, 2021

Dear members of the McGill community:

 

We are three weeks into our Fall semester and the return to in-person teaching and learning. We have all derived great joy from seeing our campuses once again buzzing with activity. Just the same, the threat of the COVID-19 virus remains, and we must be vigilant and focused on engaging in all the measures and practices needed to ensure the health and safety of our community.

There is clear consensus within the scientific community, including among Quebec public health authorities, that vaccination is the most effective measure to protect ourselves and one another and to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. I am very much in agreement with this view. While there are different opinions on how to achieve the maximum possible vaccination rate, these differences do not overcome our shared sense of purpose, which is to deliver our academic mission while keeping our community safe.

From the beginning, the University has made clear its expectation that all members of our community should be vaccinated, unless they cannot do so for medical reasons. From the moment approved vaccines started becoming available, the University engaged in an extensive vaccination campaign, urging our students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated—no matter where they were in the world. McGill has actively promoted vaccination on social media, including the widely shared “Ask an Expert” and ongoing “Why I Got Vaxxed” video series. We continue to inform our community about the importance of vaccination, and actively facilitate opportunities for students to get vaccinated.

Our collective efforts are proving effective, but we must persist. Taking into account the most recent figures from Quebec government authorities, we estimate that close to 90% of our students are fully vaccinated—and this number is rising each day as more students get vaccinated or register their out-of-province vaccinations.

We were very fortunate that our province saw fit to undertake the early and firm establishment of a vaccination passport, and we are applying it as widely as possible to non-curricular activities.

While the epidemiological situation at our institution remains very good, we continue to prepare for different scenarios as it is still difficult to predict accurately the future course of the COVID-19 virus.

I am therefore heartened that our Senate adopted yesterday by a 94% majority the following resolution:

Be it resolved that Senate urge the implementation of further COVID-19 prevention measures to enhance the safety of our teaching and learning physical spaces, which may include the extension of the Vaccination Passport to curricular activities if the University deems this to be operationally enforceable and justified. Be it further resolved that Senate approve the establishment of an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on COVID Academic Planning and Policies and refer to the Senate Nominating Committee the task of further developing for consideration by Senate the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee’s terms of reference.

This resolution not only affirms our individual and collective commitment to accept the restrictions needed to keep our community safe but also reasserts our commitment to collegial governance, in particular with regard to academic matters.

In short, as has been the case throughout this journey, we must monitor with vigilance the state of the pandemic, and we must adapt with agility, when necessary, to protect the health and safety of the McGill community.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of our community, in particular the members of the Emergency Operations Centre, who have worked tirelessly since the beginning of the pandemic to keep us safe and get ready for Fall 2021.

Like the months preceding it, this period of learning to live safely with COVID-19 is not without its challenges. I am, however, confident that every member of our community will continue to support one another in upholding our shared commitment to McGill’s academic mission, while prioritizing the health and well-being of our community.

 

Sincerely,

Suzanne Fortier

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

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