Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

  • Second positive case results in outbreak being identified in Nursing class

    Niagara Region Public Health has identified a COVID-19 outbreak in a Brock University Nursing program after a second positive case was confirmed over the weekend.

    An outbreak is defined by two cases or more that have an epidemiological link. Due to the dates of exposure, public health has advised that the outbreak could be deemed to have been resolved later this week.

    When the first individual tested positive on Friday, Sept. 17, everyone in the class who may have been exposed received notification and was asked to monitor for symptoms and to self-isolate if they were not fully vaccinated. On Sunday, Sept. 26, the University learned that a second individual connected to that class had tested positive. This person was last on campus on Wednesday, Sept. 15 and has been in self-isolation since that time.

    Anyone in NUSC 1P10, NUSC 1P12 or NUSC 3P0H is reminded to continue to monitor for any symptoms. Those not fully vaccinated will continue to participate in Brock’s Rapid Antigen Screening program and will remain in self-isolation until ten days elapse from the time of last exposure. All Brock classes will continue as scheduled and planned.

    Of the more than 15,000 students on Brock’s campus this Fall, more than 90 per cent are fully vaccinated. Only seven per cent are partially vaccinated. This number will decline as these students complete their second dose. Approximately 150 students have approved exemptions. Mandatory regular antigen screening is required for those not fully vaccinated and those with approved exemptions.

    Public Health guidelines permit fully vaccinated individuals without symptoms to continue daily activities following exposure to a positive case. Regardless of vaccination status, anyone who develops COVID-19-like symptoms should self-isolate, seek further medical support as necessary and schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 test at an assessment centre.

    To learn more about Brock’s COVID-19 response, visit brocku.ca/coronavirus

    Brock shares a daily update of positive cases reported in the past 14 days. It can be accessed at brocku.ca/coronavirus/cases

  • Please upload your vaccination information

    If you have received a text message from Brock University, it is because our records indicate that you have at least one class on campus this fall and have not uploaded your vaccination information to Brock’s vaccination declaration tool.

    Brock announced its COVID-19 vaccination requirement on Aug. 12. All students, staff and faculty were asked to declare their vaccination status by Sept. 7. Several reminders have been sent to your Brock email address, in addition to updates on the Brock News and social media.

    Please declare your vaccination status by 5 p.m. on Sept. 10. Failure to do so will result in your access to BrockDB and Sakai being blocked.

    FAQs on Brock’s vaccination requirement can be found here.

  • Update on Fall Term for Wednesday, Sept. 1

    Brock continues to prepare for a safe return to campus this fall as the province announced that physical distancing requirements and capacity limits for indoor instructional settings will be lifted at post-secondary institutions with mandatory vaccination requirements.

    This means that Brock University can proceed with the Fall Term as planned, with most courses taking place on campus.

    As previously announced, all classes will be delivered online for the week of Sept. 7 to 10. In-person classes will begin as planned on Monday, Sept. 13.

    Residence move-in will take place from Saturday, Sept. 4 to Monday, Sept. 6.

    Brock’s vaccination requirement — first announced on Aug. 12 — comes into effect Tuesday, Sept. 7, after which time only those who are vaccinated or who meet limited criteria for accommodation will be permitted on either the St. Catharines or Hamilton campuses.

    Students, staff and faculty can fill out the vaccination declaration form here, and should do so as soon as possible. Completing the form is a mandatory requirement. Those who have not submitted their vaccination information by Sept. 7 will not be permitted on campus until they do so.

    To date, more than 14,000 members of the community have completed the vaccination declaration process and 99 per cent of respondents indicate they are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated or have a plan to be vaccinated.

    Those who have accommodation exemptions will be required to complete twice-weekly rapid antigen testing and enhanced screening upon arrival to campus.

    “The single most important step everyone can take to ensure the safety of our community this fall is to get a COVID-19 vaccination,” says Lynn Wells, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor. “It is imperative that everyone who can gets vaccinated and fills out the vaccination declaration form as soon as possible.”

    Brock has taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of the campus community this fall, including:

    Updates will continue to be posted to The Brock News and Brock’s social media channels.

    Brock University recognizes this is a challenging time and appreciates your ongoing support.

  • Our plan for a safe return to campus — A letter from Interim President Lynn Wells

    I want to provide this important update to our students, faculty, staff and community.

    Although Ontario remains in Stage 3 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening framework and what the coming weeks will look like remains uncertain, work continues in preparation for a return to campus.

    First, let me begin by extending my personal thanks for your ongoing support and commitment to ensure a safe and responsible return to campus. We had all hoped the pandemic would be long past when we began planning for the upcoming term, but COVID-19 has proven a determined and multi-faceted foe that continues to require extraordinary measures to safeguard our health and well-being.

    Earlier this month, Brock University announced its vaccine mandate for students, faculty, staff and visitors. This was not a decision we made lightly and is one that is based on the advice and guidance of public health officials.

    Following that decision, the Province of Ontario announced that it will be requiring all universities and colleges in the province to implement mandatory vaccination policies. Exceptions to this rule would be granted only in rare and limited cases.

    The message is clear: if you want to study, teach, work or visit at a university campus this fall, you need to be vaccinated.

    Today, we launched Brock’s vaccination declaration tool as well as a dedicated web page and FAQs with details about how to upload your proof of vaccination, information outlining the extremely limited grounds on which an accommodation will be considered, and other information.

    Please upload your documentation as soon as possible. Documents must be uploaded by Wednesday, Sept. 1.

    I know these have been challenging and difficult times for all of us. We would all prefer to be planning for an open and “normal” return to campus. However, we also have a responsibility to ensure we do everything we can to protect the health and well-being of our community.

    Thank you for your co-operation and support.

    Lynn Wells

    Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, Brock University

  • An update on Brock’s Fall Term vaccine mandate for Aug. 24

    Ontario’s Medical Officers of Health issued a letter on Tuesday, Aug. 24 to the province’s universities and colleges that strongly supports vaccines for all students, faculty members, staff and visitors to any campus.

    On Aug. 12, Brock announced its intention to mandate vaccines for the coming term.

    Tuesday’s letter from the Medical Officers of Health aligns with the Brock approach, while strongly recommending:

    • Full vaccination against COVID-19 be required for all individuals involved in any in-person activities on campus (students, staff, faculty, contractors and visitors) with the rare exception of those individuals who cannot be vaccinated due to permitted exemptions (medical and other protected grounds under the Ontario Human Rights Code). Individuals are to be required to submit proof of vaccination.
    • All individuals who are unvaccinated due to permitted exemptions or who are awaiting their second dose be required to adhere to additional health and safety measures, up to and including serial and frequent rapid testing.
    • Individuals involved in any in-person activities on campus (students, staff, faculty, contractors and visitors) should be fully vaccinated as soon as operationally feasible.

    This week, faculty, staff and students will be receiving information on the University’s vaccination requirements and how to provide confirmation of your vaccination status.

    Brock University is encouraged by surveys which indicate that at least 90 per cent of its students are fully vaccinated or have plans to be fully vaccinated. All others are strongly urged to get vaccinated as soon as possible.


  • Brock will require COVID-19 vaccination for students, staff, faculty to access campus

    As Brock continues to prepare for a significant return to campus for the Fall 2021 term, the University will require COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty, staff and visitors who wish to access campus this fall. This is the latest in several measures the University is taking as part of its ongoing commitment to the health and safety of its community.

    At least a first dose of a Health Canada-approved vaccine will be required by September 7, and a second dose will be required by October 15. Anyone who cannot be vaccinated, based on medical or other grounds recognized by the Ontario Human Rights Code, can request an accommodation. Those who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine on the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing are deemed to have met this requirement.

    All members of the Brock community returning to campus will be required to attest to their COVID-19 vaccination status and be prepared to furnish proof of vaccination to the University.

    A protocol that includes screening and frequent testing will be established for those who are not vaccinated.

    Brock had previously announced a vaccination requirement for those living in residence as well as for all student-athletes.

    The health and well-being of the Brock community remains the University’s top priority. Vaccination against COVID-19 is, by far, the best way to protect the community against the spread of COVID-19, and to ensure the return to campus this fall is as safe as it can be. Brock encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

    Early results of a survey sent to students indicate the vast majority — more than 90 per cent — are already vaccinated against COVID-19 or intend to be by the beginning of the Fall Term.

    We would like to thank our students, faculty, staff and bargaining partners for their support as we continue to plan for a safe return to campus in the fall. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to keep everyone safe and healthy as we begin the Fall Term and into the future.

    Brock has supported Niagara Region Public Health with on-campus public vaccination clinics, continues to engage in an awareness campaign about the importance of getting vaccinated, and provides regular COVID-19 updates on The Brock News and social media.

    The University has put in place a number of measures in preparation for a safe return to campus this fall, including making significant improvements to campus ventilation systems, using a booking system for access to recreational and other space, and increasing student wellness services, including access to a specialized COVID-19 nurse.

    Brock joins a number of post-secondary institutions across Ontario in making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement in order to be present on campus.

    Further details on the implementation of Brock’s vaccination requirements will be made available soon.

  • Vaccines mandatory in the fall for all Brock Badgers student-athletes

    When Brock Badgers varsity and club athletes return to competition this fall for the first time in a year and a half, they’ll do so with the added protection of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Brock University announced Thursday, July 29 that all student-athletes on a varsity or club team roster must be fully vaccinated in order to compete in the 2021-22 season.

    The decision follows Brock’s announcement earlier this week that all students living in on-campus residences must also be fully vaccinated.

    “We’re grateful that varsity and club sports have been given the green light to resume this fall, but we want to make sure they’re being conducted in a way that keeps our athletes, coaches, supporting staff and fans safe,” said Anna Lathrop, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President, Students. “This vaccination requirement is an important part of that effort, and will help us get back to the exceptional student experience Brock is known for.”

    Melissa Krist, Director, Brock Sports, said the University is doing everything it can to create a safe environment for its 900 student-athletes.

    “It comes down to setting that standard for duty of care for our athletes and ensuring their health and safety is part of our return-to-play strategy,” she said. “Keeping our student-athletes safe is our No. 1 job at all times, but especially as we deal with this ongoing pandemic.”

    The vaccine mandate will not include students participating in on-campus athletics such as intramural competitions or apply to those using the University’s athletic facilities for recreational purposes.

    With the first exhibition games of the season set to get underway by mid-September, all student-athletes will be required to be fully vaccinated by Saturday, Sept. 4 or 14 days prior to competition, whichever date is sooner.

    More information will be sent to coaches and student-athletes in the coming days.

    “The message we really want to send to our student-athletes, and all members of the Brock community, is to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible,” said Brock University Vice-President, Administration Ken Chan, who previously served as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ontario Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Secretariat. “Being fully vaccinated not only offers protection from the harmful effects of COVID-19, but it also enables students to participate in student life safely.”

    The University will recognize Health Canada-approved vaccines as well as vaccines on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing. Requests for accommodations on human rights grounds such as due to medical conditions or religious beliefs will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

    “What we’re trying to do is create a safe environment for our student-athletes who may travel and come into contact with other athletes who aren’t vaccinated,” said Krist. “We want to ensure the health and safety of our student-athletes and the best way to mitigate the risk is to have them fully vaccinated.”

    Students who are not yet vaccinated are encouraged to take advantage of one of the walk-in clinics now available or book online through the provincial booking system in their home province. Brock University’s Student Health Services has also been running a vaccination clinic at Harrison Hall for all students, including those starting at Brock this fall. To register, visit the Student Wellness and Accessibility website.

    With the provincial regulations around indoor and outdoor gatherings easing, Brock Sports will allow spectators at its events this fall, but with limited capacity and safety measures in place. A plan is also in the works to expand the live video streaming offerings of athletic events on campus.

  • New measures in place to enhance Brock’s ventilation system for fall

    As Brock continues to prepare for a significant return to campus this fall, steps are being taken to enhance the air quality in all University buildings.

    With the safety of students, staff and faculty a top priority, Brock has introduced a number of measures related to the ventilation system to help mitigate concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In addition to all building ventilation systems undergoing regular maintenance to ensure air is clean and flowing into and out of buildings properly, overrides have been implemented in various areas and systems, such as air intakes, to maintain increased fresh air volumes to indoor spaces.

    High-performance, surgical-grade filters have been installed in areas across campus and are changed on a schedule to exceed performance standards for classrooms and other non-surgical spaces.

    The University has also invested in industrial air purifiers for classrooms and teaching labs, said Dave McArthur, Brock’s Director, Facilities and Services.

    “We’re going to install air purifiers in all of the spaces that will have increased capacity,” he said, adding multiple air purifiers will be placed in larger spaces, such as David S. Howes Theatre.

    Staff continues to monitor air changes — how many times the volume of air is changed in a space in an hour — with the goal of maintaining six per hour, McArthur said. Air audits are also being conducted in all classrooms to ensure standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) are being met or exceeded.

    The air in indoor spaces will also be “flushed out” every night and again in the morning prior to people entering for the day, with ventilation starting two hours prior to scheduled occupancy.

    While the increased air exchanges will take a toll on the University’s energy efficiency, with systems working longer and harder than ever before, the measures are being put in place to emphasize safety on campus, said Mary Quintana, Director, Asset Management and Utilities.

    “Brock is being proactive and taking steps that go above and beyond the most recent regulations to keep our community comfortable and safe,” she said.

    McArthur added that the ventilation and HVAC systems are “one piece of the puzzle in keeping everyone safe, along with wearing masks and getting vaccinated.”

    As Brock’s plan for a fall return relies heavily on a high COVID-19 vaccination rate, the University has been encouraging all faculty, staff and students to get both doses as soon as they’re able to.

    “This is one in a series of initiatives Brock is putting in place to ensure people feel confident that the University is doing everything it can to keep them safe when they return come September,” McArthur said.

    The University continues to stay up-to-date on conversations regarding ventilation and air quality, he said, and is “constantly researching information from ASHRAE, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health and other universities.”

    Brock also exchanges and compares knowledge with peers at other institutions to learn about best practices and any challenges others might be experiencing, Quintana said.

    The University is fortunate, she said, as even its oldest buildings still contain strong ventilation systems, which has been a challenge for other institutions with more historic facilities. The two spaces that were not connected to Brock’s HVAC building automation system — Harrison Hall and Kenmore Centre — are being upgraded and controls installed to ensure they can also be monitored properly, she added.

  • Full vaccination to be mandatory for students living in Brock University residences

    A high rate of COVID-19 vaccination is an important part of Brock University’s plan for a significant return to on-campus classes and activity this fall.

    With the health and safety of the Brock community as a top priority, the University announced Monday, July 26 that full vaccination will be mandatory for all students living in on-campus residences.

    “Reducing the spread of COVID-19 through vaccination is critical because of the close living arrangements in student residences,” said Brock University Vice-President, Administration Ken Chan. “As such, and after engaging with regional and provincial public health officials, we are taking this step to require that students living on campus are fully vaccinated.”

    Residence students must have one dose prior to moving into their rooms on campus, and their second dose within 14 days of moving in.

    However, Chan, the former Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ontario Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force Secretariat, said it is recommended that students receive their second dose at least 14 days before moving in, where possible.

    “Being fully vaccinated not only offers protection from the harmful effects of COVID-19, but it also enables students to participate in student life safely,” he said.

    The University will recognize Health Canada-approved vaccines as well as vaccines on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing. Exemptions will be allowed based on medical and Ontario Human Rights Code grounds.

    Students who have registered to attend residence in the fall will receive further information by email in the coming days, and more information can be found on the Residence FAQ page here.

    With fewer than 45 days before the start of the Fall Term, the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU), Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and the University itself are also encouraging all students to get vaccinated.

    Last week, BUSU released its latest in a series of social media posts and videos encouraging students to get fully vaccinated, pointing out that public health officials recommend 28 days between doses and say it takes 14 days after the second dose before the vaccine is considered fully effective.

    “Canada’s vaccination rate remains among the highest in the world, but unfortunately our age demographic from 18 to 29 has one of the lowest rates of fully vaccinated people,” said BUSU President Rafay Rehan. “Our team at BUSU is trying to change that by tackling misinformation and advocating for easy vaccine access on campus.

    “We’re getting clear messaging out to students on how this is our shot to get back to doing the things we love and getting back to campus life. These next few weeks are critical to our campaign, especially with the first day of classes around the corner.”

    Similarly, the GSA has been using its social media platforms to encourage students to take part in the on-campus vaccination options or get vaccinated in their home regions.

    “Whether it’s to conduct research or to collaborate with colleagues, being on campus is such an important part of the graduate student experience,” said GSA President Christopher Yendt. “We know that the higher the rate of vaccination among students and the Brock community, the more things can open up, so we want to make sure that our students are getting vaccinated and that there are no roadblocks stopping that from happening.”

    In order to help make getting vaccinated easier for its students, the University’s Student Health Services has been running a vaccination clinic at Harrison Hall for all students, including those starting at Brock this fall.

    Since launching last month, nearly 300 students have received their vaccinations at the ongoing clinic.

    “We’re extremely pleased that our students are taking advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated as we all prepare for a significant return to campus in September,” said Interim Brock President Lynn Wells. “We want to make it as easy as possible for our students to get vaccinated, and I want to thank staff in Student Health Services for making this clinic possible.”

    Whether through the Brock vaccine clinic or by taking advantage of other community options, there are positive signs that students are getting the message.

    Prior to the University’s mandatory vaccine announcement for residence students Monday, more than 2,000 undergraduates and graduate students planning to live in residence rooms responded to an anonymous survey about their plans, with more than 94 per cent reporting they were planning to get vaccinated.

    While the provincial government has said colleges and universities may reopen in September with no limits on class sizes or social distancing requirements, medical face coverings may still be required, and Brock has taken significant steps to ensure the health and well-being of all students, faculty and staff.

    “Throughout this pandemic and as we look ahead to the Fall Term, the safety of our students and of the whole Brock community has always remained our top priority,” said Wells. “The goal in September is to give students the exceptional on-campus experience they have come to expect from Brock University in a safe environment.”

    To register for the student vaccination clinic at Harrison Hall, visit the Student Wellness and Accessibility website.

    For more information on public vaccination options such as the community clinic hosted at Brock’s Ian Beddis Gymnasium over the weekend, visit the Niagara Region Public Health COVID-19 vaccination website.

    To read more about Brock’s plan for the fall, visit brocku.ca/fall

  • Brock releases update on fall plans

    Brock University continues to prioritize the health and well-being of the campus community as it prepares for the beginning of the Fall Term.

    September will see a significant return to on-campus instruction, complemented with online elements, as well as the resumption of as many in-person student experience activities as possible.

    Government and provincial public health officials have advised that fall planning can be done without the need for capacity limits or physical distancing. Masks will still be required when indoors.

    The provincial government is expected to confirm public health guidance for Ontario’s post-secondary institutions later this summer.

    Brock moved into the third stage of its reopening plan this week, which allows for the reopening of student residences, dining facilities, recreational areas and other amenities on campus. The plan relies heavily on a high rate of vaccination, so all faculty, staff and students are encouraged to get both doses as soon as they’re able to.

    For a complete listing of what is permitted under the various Brock Stages of Reopening/Recovery, see the full chart here.

    Existing measures, such as accessing campus through the Rankin Family Pavilion or Roy and Lois Cairns Health and Bioscience Research Complex, as well as requiring medical face masks to be worn while on campus, remain in place.

    The University has also begun to plan for a return to on-campus work for staff in the coming weeks. Transition details will differ depending on the work being performed in each unit, so managers will be reaching out to their staff with details in the weeks to come.

    As part of Fall Term planning, the University continues to monitor the public health situation and may adjust remaining measures in place as required.

    Ontario will remain in Step Three until at least Friday, Aug. 6 and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.

    Other key public health and health-care indicators must also continue to remain stable.

    Brock continues to update the community at brocku.ca/fall and brocku.ca/coronavirus