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University of Waterloo brings back masking requirement


As of Wednesday, masks will be required for all indoor academic activities, including lectures, seminars, labs and tests at the University of Waterloo.

The university announced the change to its masking policy Tuesday. It says it’s aimed at protecting students and staff while minimizing COVID-19-related disruptions during the upcoming exam season.

“We’ve been looking at the data in the community and across Ontario, and [we are] seeing some trends that indicate we might be seeing more COVID now and in the future,” said Nick Manning, associate VP of communications at the University of Waterloo.

“We need to act to create some protection for the really important exam season that’s coming up.”

The updated policy requires masks during all forms of academic instruction, but people teaching or presenting are allowed to remove their face coverings if they can physically distance themselves from others in the room.

It does not apply to non-instructional areas like food courts or university residences.

“[It’s] a little unfortunate because we don’t like to wear masks, but we know a lot of people have been getting sick, so it’s an understandable call,” student Josh MacNeil said.

The change comes as at least one infectious disease specialist warns of a “tough winter” ahead, and local officials report an increasing COVID-19 wastewater signal at all three test sites across Waterloo region.

“We know we are in for a tough winter, we know that we have been talking about this for weeks and weeks and of course, we still see a lot of pressure on the healthcare system. We have these viral illnesses, COVID, flu will start to become increasingly common and other viruses, like RSV, will make things challenging,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV News on Oct. 27.


Most University of Waterloo students CTV News spoke with weren’t overly happy about the return of masks, but say if it means they’re keeping the community safe from infection, it’s the right thing to do.

“It’s only for the classrooms, so it’s not that bad. It was definitely worse before, but it is the right call, it’s safer,” Niklas Norenious said.

“I wouldn’t say I’m really happy with the move, but if it is a safety concern then we ought to do it, it’s our duty,” Anagha Srinibasan said.

Others were more disappointed.

“We’re trying to move back into normal life again, and this feels like a step back in the wrong direction, so I’m not too pleased,” Gavin Simpkins said.

The updated making policy is in effect until the end of the fall term.

The university says it will then look at the data again before making any changes to its COVID-19 protocols.


At Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, masks have been mandatory for indoor academic activities like lectures, labs and exams since the return to school in September.

The University of Guelph and Conestoga College say masks are “strongly encouraged” but not required in most spaces on campus. Top Stories

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