STU update on mandatory vaccines: Campus community 97 per cent vaccinated

    St. Thomas University required students, staff and faculty to submit their proof of vaccination by Oct. 15, 2021. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    St. Thomas University required all students, staff and faculty to submit proof of vaccination or an approved medical or religious exemption by Oct. 15.

    In August, STU surveyed students about their vaccination status and 90 per cent of students said they were either fully-vaccinated or planned to receive their missing doses, whether it be their first or second, once they got to Fredericton.

    The university sent out periodic emails to remind students to submit their proof by the deadline.

    Oct. 22

    Jeffrey Carleton, vice-president of communications at STU, said as of Oct. 22, 97 per cent of the campus community submitted proof of vaccination. The campus community includes everyone who frequents campus and students who have at least one in-person class.

    “It didn’t make sense for us [to require proof of vaccination] if there was an international student or domestic student who was learning from home and not coming to campus,” he said.

    Carleton said their numbers improved over the last week.

    “From Oct. 15 until [Oct. 22], our rates for one week actually increased because of our follow-through,” said Carleton. “Reaching out to people [and] making sure that we know they haven’t uploaded their information.”

    As of Oct. 22 at 12 p.m., all students who were missing proof were contacted by the university.

    For students who are not vaccinated, STU will require rapid testing and a discussion of the student’s circumstances before any other measures are taken.

    Oct. 18

    After Oct. 15, STU looked at the data they collected from vaccine submissions through STUSafe, the portal used to input proof of vaccination. Carleton said STU was trying to minimize the number of people they had to contact, which is why they only considered the campus community.

    Carleton said as the deadline got closer, STU used provincial updates to remind students, staff and faculty to submit their proof. This included when the Government of New Brunswick made it mandatory to show proof of vaccination to visit restaurants, social events and public spaces.

    Carleton said on Oct. 18, STU began contacting individuals directly.

    “What we found [was] there were little pockets of students that cleared up the data right away,” said Carleton.

    Out of the students who did not submit proof of vaccination, most of the cases came down to students from UNB taking STU courses who already submitted through the UNB portal.

    There’s also a percentage of students who didn’t submit their proof because they thought they already did or did it through Residence Life.

    Human resources followed up with faculty and staff who didn’t submit their proof.

    Oct. 20

    As of Oct. 20, 95 per cent of the campus community submitted proof of vaccination, said Carleton.

    That percentage can be broken down into 99 per cent of full-time faculty, 100 per cent of part-time faculty, 97 per cent of full-time staff and 96 per cent of students.

    Carleton said it’s satisfying to see students following through on their survey responses by submitting their vaccination proof.

    “That tells me that students are taking it seriously,” said Carleton. “They’re taking the safety and health of others seriously and it also tells me they want to be here on campus.”