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U of A Staff Association requests return of indoor mask mandate on campus – Edmonton

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Conversations have started up again about whether or not the University of Alberta should reinstate its mask mandate, which was dropped eight months ago.

The Association of Academic Staff at the university is calling on the university to reinstate the indoor masking mandate, which would require all employees, students, contractors and community members to wear a face mask while inside university-owned buildings.

“Our view is that the pandemic is not over and other respiratory illnesses like RSV and the flu are spreading — and we can’t go backwards now,” said Gordon Swaters, the association’s president.

The request comes at a time when airborne viruses like the flu and RSV are soaring, especially in the city’s K-12 school systems. And the university campus is feeling it too.

“We need to do everything we can to protect the health and safety of our members,” said Swaters.

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Alberta education minister ‘not anticipating’ school mask mandate despite early, numerous student absences

“Everyone deserves to feel comfortable at the university and everyone deserves to feel safe,” said university student Rebecca Swityk.

“I also just like to believe that we as people care about each other, so if you know you’re with someone who might be compromised and it would be the right thing to wear a mask, most people do… I would be fine with it and based on what I see on campus, a lot of people would also be fine with it,” she said.

The association is also asking that science-based evidence be used to determine any policy changes if the indoor mask mandate is reinstated.

“We would like to have a process in place in which the evidence is evaluated and based on the evidence and the best available science we have in front of us to lift mask mandates,” Swaters said.

In response to an inquiry from Global News, the U of A said it is closely following public health guidance for the province and is working to minimize the risk.

“Face masks are strongly recommended on U of A campuses, especially in instructional space, indoor high-traffic and high-capacity areas, as outlines in our personal health measures as well as our COVID-19 safety measures,” reads a statement from the university.

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— With files from Nicole Stillger, Global News

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