Bow Valley College (BVC) – which has campuses located in Airdrie and Cochrane – has followed suit with neighbouring post-secondary institutions, announcing the decision to require masking on all campuses as of Aug. 19.
"Keeping our students and employees healthy and safe continues to be our top priority," reads a press release distributed by BVC on Aug. 18.
Mount Royal University, the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, and the University of Lethbridge have also instituted mask mandates for the upcoming return to campus this fall. However, vaccination has not been made mandatory by any of the schools.
In a joint statement released by the U of C, U of A and U of L, the universities' administration outlined plans additional to the mask mandate designed to curb potential spread on campus. According to an article published in the Calgary Herald, as of Sept. 1, all students, faculty and staff at these universities must be either fully vaccinated or submit to "regular" rapid COVID-19 screenings – though how regularly was not specified.
At this time, MRU does not have a framework in place to validate vaccination status or any form of rapid testing, according to the Herald.
BVC has also made the choice not to mandate vaccines at this time. The school stated via a press release that while the college strongly encourages students and employees to get immunized, vaccination is not mandatory to be on campus.
This announcement comes as cases of the virus continue to rise substantially in the province, especially in the university-age demographic. According to the Alberta government, of the cases reported from Aug. 11 to Aug. 17, the highest numbers were in the 20-to-29 age group and the 30-to-39 age group.
As of press time, Alberta had 5,933 active cases of COVID-19, and the testing positivity rate was at nearly 7 per cent, with 184 people in hospital and 48 being treated in intensive care with the virus.