Red Deer Polytechnic not among Alta. post-secondary institutions to require vaccine proof
Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) is not among the several Alberta post-secondary institutions that will require all students, staff, and visitors to be vaccinated.
On Monday, the University of Alberta, University of Calgary, MacEwan University, University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, NAIT, SAIT, Medicine Hat College, and NorQuest College announced they would implement a vaccine mandate.
RDP’s Student Association president Savannah Snow said she hoped that RDP would follow suit, but was disappointed when the institution told the media that it had no plan to implement a vaccine mandate.
“They haven’t consulted with us. They haven’t gotten the student opinion and went ahead and made statements to the media or decisions on behalf of the students. It’s really frustrating,” said Snow.
In a statement to CTV News, officials with RDP point to costs and logistics as the reasons there is no vaccine mandate or rapid testing available on campus.
"We are aware that some of Alberta's post-secondary institutions have implemented policies requiring COVID-19 vaccines, rapid testing and other protocols that they deem appropriate for their institutions,” said Jim Brinkhurst, vice president of college services.
“Red Deer Polytechnic has no existing requirements for students or employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, nor to implement rapid testing. Factors such as costs and logistical implementation, including current lack of consistent vaccine documentation, are among the reasons that the institution has determined that mandatory vaccines and rapid testing will not be implemented at this time. However, we strongly encourage everyone on our campuses to be vaccinated. We were pleased to host a vaccine clinic at our institution last week, as part of our ongoing efforts to encourage vaccinations.”
Brinkhurst added that RDP already has multiple protocols in place to ensure the safety of students and staff including mandatory face coverings, daily COVID-19 contract tracing, and enhanced cleaning. However, Snow believes that is not enough.
“I think, right now, with the masking, students feel safe enough, but I think that safe enough is not cutting it. I think that we need to be safe, period.”
Snow said she has received multiple emails and comments on social media from students who would like a vaccine mandate at RDP.
“I do think that this is reflective of what students want,” said Snow.
“Getting documentation of vaccines would help us ensure the safety of the students, of the faculty, of our staff, and of any community member that we have coming in.”
Many students agree with Snow’s sentiment, like first year student Dylan Hyshk. He said a vaccine mandate would make for a safer campus.
“Alberta has one of the lowest percentages of vaccinated people, so I think people should get the vaccine and if you want to learn in-person, it should be required,” said Hyshk.
But, others think the institutions current protocols are enough.
“If someone doesn’t want it, you can’t necessarily force them to get it, and denying them the opportunity to go to college is a little bit unfair,” said first-year student Jacob Foster.
RDP said it continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic across the province and will adapt protocols and operations as needed.