Georgian College leaning on mandatory vaccine policy for in-person learning

Georgian College is leaning on mandatory COVID-19 vaccines to unlock more in-person learning next term and more face-to-face fun.

Monday marked the last day to get a shot and still be considered fully vaccinated by a Nov. 1 deadline for staff, students, visitors, and contractors.

College president and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes says 10 of more than 2,000 active staff members have indicated they don't intend to get vaccinated.

Another 20 have opted not to continue working for the college.

Employees required to be on campus who haven't had two shots by Nov. 1 will be placed on a leave of absence.

A little more latitude is given to the more 200 Georgian College staffers who have been working remotely.

West-Moynes explains that those who are unvaccinated and aren't required to be on campus can keep their jobs until the fall term ends.

But there may be fewer remote positions come January as the college aims to restore more in-person learning, something West-Moynes says students want.

"We're anticipating three times the number of students," says West-Moynes.

Only about 3,000 Georgian students have been attending classes in person, with roughly 5,000 learning online.

"We think we'll probably have almost 9,000 students studying with us on our campus in the winter," West-Moynes. "They have to be fully vaccinated; otherwise, we wouldn't be able to do this."

Ishaan Sachdeva, president of the Georgian College Students' Association, has been studying business online and is excited by the prospect of returning to an actual classroom to forge bonds with classmates and instructors.

"Our professors actually have those lived experiences in the business industry for ages, right. Learning from them, developing connections with them, I think is really helpful," Sachdeva says.

He explains that the mandatory vaccine policy has also allowed students to return to campus to see their friends and share some laughs outside of class to take the edge off the stress of their studies.