Niagara University, as a Vincentian and Catholic University, is committed to maintaining a healthy environment for all students and employees. All that we have accomplished as a community in the past 18 months reflects a commitment to the health of our community, and we collectively took a litany of steps this past academic year to minimize disruption while striving for the lowest possible levels of COVID-19 infections. We remain committed to a basic principle that maintaining the lowest possible levels of COVID-19 is critical for Niagara University and the surrounding community. As the pandemic is constantly changing and shifting, and in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our community (and hopefully to avoid the significant disruption that would be caused by a COVID-19 outbreak on our campuses), we are taking additional measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19, including the implementation of a vaccination requirement for academic year 22-23 (subject to the exemptions explained below).
Niagara University will require that all students who are attending classes, labs, or will be on the Lewiston campus for any other reason, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Students must complete and provide documentation of at least one dose of two-dose vaccination. Prior to becoming fully vaccinated, students must wear masks indoors in public spaces (i.e., classrooms, the library, and lower level Gallagher), and any student who is approved for an exemption must continue to wear a mask on campus while in public spaces. Students must upload their documentation of complete vaccination to the University’s Medicat portal, unless an exemption from this policy has been granted. Acceptable proof shall include a written certification of vaccination, such as a CDC or Ontario approved vaccination card or medical documentation showing the date and type of vaccine administered.
Niagara University will require that all students who are attending classes, or will be on the Vaughan campus for any other reason, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and must provide documentation of full vaccination (i.e., a two-dose vaccination series or a single dose of a single vaccination series). Regardless of vaccination status, students must wear masks indoors and in public spaces (i.e., classrooms, hallways). Students must upload their documentation of complete vaccination to the University’s Medicat portal unless an exemption from this policy has been granted. Acceptable proof shall include a written certification of one of the four vaccines approved for use by Health Canada (i.e., Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazenica, J&J).
Effective October 12, 2021, individuals attending the Vaughan campus, who have only received vaccines approved by the World Health Organization but not Health Canada may no longer be considered “fully vaccinated” under O. Reg. 364/20. To be considered fully vaccinated, an individual must meet the requirements set out in section 2.1 of Schedule 1 to O. Reg. 364/20: Rules for Areas (ROA) at Step 3 and at the Roadmap Exit Step under the ROA.
In accordance with the aforementioned regulation persons are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if
(a) they have received,
(i) the full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines,
(ii) one or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or
(iii) three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada; and
(b) they received their final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before providing the proof of being fully vaccinated.
Students will use their Niagara University network credentials to log in to the Medicat portal to enter information and upload documents and forms as necessary.
Failure to provide proof of full vaccination by October 1, 2021 or proof of exemption shall result in a student record hold that may lead to deregistration.
Continuing COVID-19 Protocols
While this Vaccination Requirement is a key part of our overall strategy and commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace and combat the COVID-19 pandemic, it is intended to supplement, and not replace, the other COVID-19 prevention measures that may be in effect or come into effect as directed by NYSDOH, Niagara County Department of Health, Public Health Agency of Canada or York Region Public Health, for example. The University needs everyone’s full cooperation and compliance with this and other health and safety workplace policies to make them effective and to keep our students on campus without disruption to their educational experience at Niagara.
Online Program Students
Students enrolled in exclusive online graduate programs and who will not be on campus (e.g., no residency requirement, no immersion experience, no fieldwork, no campus-based courses/jobs/services) do not need to provide proof of vaccination to remain enrolled in the online program.
However, any student enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate online program with clinical requirements, fieldwork, or on-campus immersion components must provide proof of full vaccination at least two weeks prior to the commencement of the on-campus or community activities identified above. As previously communicated, clinical sites all independently require vaccination – and do NOT recognize any exemptions. In other words, if you have an exemption that permits you to be on campus, that does NOT also allow you to participate in a clinical where the third-party clinical site requires universal vaccination by clinical participants.
Exemption requests must be received prior to the commencement of the commencement of the semester and will be considered as set forth below. Please note, however, that the University reserves the right to take any necessary and appropriate steps, including imposing alternative COVID-19 prevention measures (such as requiring the continued wearing of face coverings or masks and participation in routine COVID-19 testing), to ensure the health or safety of themselves or others on campus.
Individuals who receive a non-medical exemption from being fully vaccinated will be permitted to attend campus but will be required to complete an online vaccine education session provided by the University and made available through Canvas in accordance with the requirements provided by Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities in its August 31, 2021, Memorandum.
Students who receive either of the two exemptions will be required to submit to regular antigen point of care testing for COVID-19 and provide verification of the negative test result in a manner and at intervals determined by Niagara University.
If students believe they need an exemption from this policy, please contact the Office of Student Affairs (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The University makes determinations about requested exemptions on a case-by-case basis considering various factors and based on an individualized assessment in each situation. The University strives to make these determinations expeditiously and in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner and will communicate in a timely fashion.
The University provides exemptions to students with sincerely held religious beliefs, observances, or practices that conflict with getting vaccinated. Requests will require completion of a Request for Religious Immunization Exemption Form and submission of appropriate supporting documentation.
Please note that philosophical, political, scientific, or sociological objections to immunizations will not justify an exemption from this policy.
Exemptions for medical reasons may be available on a case-by-case basis [e.g., severe or immediate allergic reaction (e.g., anaphylaxis) after a previous dose or known (diagnosed) allergy to a component of the vaccine]. Such requests will require the completion of a Request for Medical Immunization Exemption Form and the submission of appropriate supporting documentation.
Please note that in accordance with the guidance provided by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Province of Ontario, medical exemptions granted in Ontario must be in the form of a written document, completed and supplied by a physician or registered nurse in the extended class, that sets out:
- a documented medical reason for not being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and
- (ii) the effective time-period for the medical reason.
Individuals with a medical reason for not being fully vaccinated and who have provided proof of a medical reason, will be permitted to attend campus but will be required to submit to regular antigen point- of- care testing for COVID-19 and provide verification of the negative test result in a manner and at intervals determined by Niagara University.