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UVic senate moves to reinstate COVID-19 mask mandate on campus


Students and staff at the University of Victoria may be required to once again wear face masks on campus amid the COVID-19 pandemic after the university senate voted on the issue Thursday.

The senate voted 23-19 to approve a motion to ask the university president and board of governors to reinstate the mandate immediately and keep it in place through the April exam period.

The school's mask mandate was dropped on March 11 as COVID-19 restrictions eased across the province.

UVic spokesperson Denise Helm says there is no date set yet for the board and president to consider the recommendation.

"It is important to note that UVic has always followed all the public health orders and implemented all of the health and safety measures required by the provincial health officer," Helm said in a statement Friday.

"We continue to strongly encourage people wear masks indoors on campus, which is communicated widely, including at building entrances and on digital signage," she said.

"We also encourage people to continue to follow public health guidance, including doing daily health checks and staying home if sick," Helm added.

The senate motion says that dropping the mask mandate in mid-March fundamentally altered the school environment overnight for immunocompromised students and staff, "leaving them no time to seek accommodations or make alternative educational plans."

The motion says the change also increases the likelihood of student and staff absences leading up to and during the upcoming exam period.

For immunocompromised students and staff, "every day without those protections makes a difference to their safety," the senate wrote. "Waiting until the next regularly scheduled senate meeting on April 1 to discuss this motion contributes to their risk."

On Thursday, 271 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in B.C., including 60 new cases in the Island Health region.

Thirty-six patients are currently in hospital with COVID-19 on Vancouver Island, including three patients in intensive care. Top Stories

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