Laurier joins several other OUA schools, requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for student-athletes

Wilfrid Laurier University’s department of athletics and recreation announced late last week that all student-athletes who wish to compete in Golden Hawk sports will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.  

The move comes based on the recommendation by Ontario University Athletics and endorsements from both regional health departments, Brant County as well as the Region of Waterloo’s.

The top doctor of both Brantford and Waterloo’s health departments, Dr. Malcolm Lock and Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang endorsed the policy enacted by the university. 

Laurier had already mandated vaccines for all students living in residence and joined several other OUA schools in implementing that requirement on student-athletes.

The University of Toronto, Brock, and Guelph among others have also made the decision to require immunization for sports competition. While the OUA announced last week that all member schools will require their student-athletes to be vaccinated to compete

Laurier will require all student-athletes and trainers to have two doses of a vaccine, waiting 14 days after the second dose, before they can compete in competition. The university is asking that all students receive their first dose by Aug. 16 and be fully vaccinated no later than Sept. 30.

“The vaccines have shown to work, and the school is listening to recommendations and prioritizing safety for the upcoming season,” men’s football coach, Michael Faulds said. 

The school is strongly encouraging all student-athletes to get vaccinated as soon as possible so they can arrive for training camps, beginning in less than a month for men’s football as well as women’s and men’s rugby and soccer. 

The move is enacted by Laurier to emphasize the safety of their athletes and in order to minimize challenges that may arise in the upcoming fall season and the OUA’s return to play. The school announced that non-vaccinated student-athletes will be able to train with their respective teams but are barred from travelling or competing in any sports events. 

Laurier university will help to facilitate access for student-athletes to receive the vaccine as they currently operate immunization clinics on both of their campuses. 

Coach Faulds spoke to me on the day Laurier made the announcement and pointed to the policies that have been enacted by several other businesses across the world as well as the NFL. Stating that vaccines requirements may be a key component to avoiding cancellations and embarking on a safe and successful season. 

Given the concerns with university sport such as far travel, overnight stays and close contact in the locker room, Laurier is hoping to minimize the risks of serious illness and disruption to the schedule with the implementation of this policy. 

The OUA released a press statement earlier this week endorsing the decisions by many of the OUA schools who have made an announcement. 

“The OUA commends the mandate that several of our universities have established with regards to their vaccine approach,” President and CEO of the OUA, Gord Grace said in a press release on their website. 

“We fully endorse the school’s decision to make vaccinations mandatory for student-athletes,” the press release read. 

Laurier will of course recognize exemptions protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code, asking all student-athletes to submit an accommodation form if they are ineligible to take the vaccination.

Laurier and various other schools across the OUA have implemented the policy all in the hope of a successful and safe return to provincial competition and national championships.

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