October 3, 2022 11:54 a.m.
Fanshawe College professors want mandatory indoor masking reinstated at the post-secondary institution.
OPSEU Local 110, the union that represents faculty, has filed a collective grievance against the college for lack of face coverings. The union’s grievance says the college failed to provide a safe work environment by removing masking requirements for indoor activities on campus.
“Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to ensure a healthy and safe workplace. We are calling on Fanshawe to meet its obligations under the law,” Local 110 President Mark Feltham said.
The loss of public safety measures that aim to protect against COVID-19, such as indoor masking and social distancing, has created an unsafe work environment, the union argues. As such, he is asking the college to require face coverings in indoor spaces on campus.
Fanshawe announced in mid-August that he would not reintroduce mandatory masking or vaccine requirements when students resume in-person learning in the fall. At the time, college officials said the decision was based on advice from the Middlesex London Health Unit, but students and staff were still strongly encouraged to mask up indoors and keep up to date with the recommended vaccine doses.
Unlike Fanshawe’s back-to-school plan, Western University still requires medical-grade face coverings to be worn inside classrooms and seminar rooms. Students, staff and faculty must also submit proof that they have received three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by January 9, 2023.
In a statement, Fanshawe College said it would soon hold a hearing with the union to hear the grievance and issue a response afterwards.
“Fanshawe follows all provincial health and safety guidelines on campus. Based on ongoing and regular discussions with local public health authorities, Fanshawe has not reintroduced mandatory masking or vaccine requirements at this time,” the college said. “Students and employees are encouraged to mask up indoors and keep up to date with recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.”