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U of A celebrates Campus Kickoff with high hopes for a 'normal' school year

Hundreds of students lined up for free hot dogs in the University of Alberta main quad Wednesday, while others threw frisbees and played volleyball as part of the first in-person Campus Kickoff event since 2019.

School administrators are hopeful for a return to "normal" campus life after months of COVID-19 precautions including cancellations of in-person classes, sports and events.

"It's an amazing day. This is the first time in two years that we've been able to have an in-person orientation," said Bill Flanagan, president and vice-chancellor.

He believes students being at school, with their peers, is an important part of the university experience.

"This is a community, we're here to support all of them so that they can thrive," Flanagan explained.

There are no general mask or vaccine requirements for students or staff to start the school year, although masks will be required in specific instances such as "clinical settings" to align with provincial health rules.

Instead, the U of A is asking people to stay home if they're sick and masking in high-traffic areas is "encouraged" along with forth doses of vaccine. Those policies align with what most post-secondaries in Canada are doing this year, Flanagan said.

"We know that there have been twists and turns in the pandemic. We always need to be prepared to respond to protect our campus community," Flanagan said about rules potentially changing.

"You can get a booster shot right over here at the students union on campus. We know that booster shots are the very best way for us to protect ourselves and our community."

The U of A has more than 42,000 students registered this year, the highest enrollment ever. Flanagan said he hopes that number will top 50,000 in the next few years. Top Stories

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