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Learn how Queen's is planning for our safe return to campus.

Confronting COVID-19

Over 32,000 Queen’s community members have declared vaccination status to date

96 per cent of employees and 94 per cent of students report full vaccination.

Over 6,000 more Queen’s community members declared their vaccination status this week, bringing the total number of students and employees reporting to over 32,200.

Employees comprise 5,600 of those who have filled out the required form — 96 per cent of whom are fully vaccinated and another 2.7 per cent partially vaccinated.

More than 26,600 students have declared their vaccination status, with 93.7 per cent reporting full vaccination and another 4.7 per cent partially vaccinated.

Only 1.4 per cent of students and 1.1 per cent of employees have stated they are not vaccinated. Individuals within the Queen’s community must submit their Vaccination Status Declaration Form no later than Sept. 13, 2021.

Nearly 26,000 Queen's community members declare vaccination status

In less than a week, almost 26,000 Queen’s community members have completed the vaccination status declaration form — up another 12,000 since last reported.

Out of 4,285 employees who have declared to date, 97.6 per cent are fully vaccinated, with another 1.87 per cent partially vaccinated. To date, 21,687 students have submitted their declaration, with 94.68 per cent declaring full vaccination, and another 4.26 per cent reporting partial vaccination. All respondents have also uploaded proof of their vaccination status as part of the declaration process.

Of the current respondents, only one per cent of students and 0.5 per cent of employees have stated they are not vaccinated. If individuals have yet to declare their vaccination status, visit the vaccination status declaration form and do so as soon as possible.

Decoding COVID-19

Queen's researchers are leading Canadian efforts to better understand the virus through genomics.

Dr. Maslove looks to uncover the secrets of our DNA and what they can tell us  about how our bodies respond to COVID-19.Credit: Kingston Health Sciences Centre
Dr. David Maslove (Medicine and Critical Care Medicine). Photo credit: Kingston Health Sciences Centre

Over the course of the pandemic, there has been one question about the COVID-19 virus that continues to resurface. Why does the virus seem to randomly affect certain patients more than others? Researchers at Queen's and Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) are leading the Canadian effort to find out; and the answer may lay in our DNA.

"At a high-level, the medical community has always wondered why some people get sick with certain types of infections and end up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and others don’t. The pandemic gave us an opportunity to look into this further," says KHSC intensive care specialist and Queen’s University Associate Professor David Maslove.

So the study set out to determine why some people in the early stages of the pandemic seemingly contracted COVID-19 and suffered only mild symptoms, while others, many who were young and in generally good health ended up in the ICU on a ventilator.

“When COVID patients come into ICU, we take one tube of blood and send it to Sick Kids Hospital to sequence the patient’s entire genome in their laboratory,” Dr. Maslove says. “So far, the GenOMICC study has shown that critical illness from COVID is associated with certain genetic traits. This gives us a better understanding of the disease. If we can learn about how the body is responding, we could learn how to better treat, or prevent people from getting severe COVID.”

With startup funding from the Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization (SEAMO), Canada became the first country to export the GenOMICC study outside of the United Kingdom, where it was started by Dr. Kenneth Baillie.

So far, more than 10,000 patients have been recruited around the world, with a goal of recruiting 100,000 in total. Nearly 100 patient participants have been recruited through KHSC, and the team has initiated further participation of close to 300 patients in Ontario. Currently teams in the United States, Australia, China and India are in the process of setting themselves up to begin recruiting patients.

The Queen's and KHSC team, including Hematopathologist Michael Rauh (Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Queen's Cancer Research Institute), is now currently reviewing the data from the fully sequenced genomes of patients from 2020. The sequencing of more recent patient participants is now underway.

“We hope to carry the research forward after the pandemic, so when someone comes to the ICU with something odd or unexplained we can take a tube of blood and do this work to better understand why they are sick,” says Dr. Maslove. “ICUs are the canary in the coal mine. Infections or diseases are seen in the ICU early, and from a public health perspective we could have a better network to identify trends earlier in future pandemics.”

This article originally appeared in KHSC Connect.

Principal, AMS president’s message to students

In email to all students, Principal Patrick Deane and AMS President Zaid Kasim speak about what it's going to take for Queen's to have a safe and successful year.

Dear Students,

We write to you today to formally announce that the provincial government has agreed to allow universities to move forward with their in-person teaching plans for the fall and to welcome you to campus. This is of course, a cause for celebration as for over a year most of you have been learning remotely. Some of you have yet to experience a Queen’s classroom experience. We are all excited for what will finally resume next week but this allowance by the province for our instructional programs to operate outside of the Step 3 restrictions that still apply to most aspects of our community’s broader operations comes with responsibilities. 

We must implement a mandatory vaccine policy which you heard about on Wednesday. This has been imposed to ensure that easing of some restrictions in certain parts of our institution can be balanced with tighter restrictions in others. We must be aware that the current exemption from Step 3 requirements for teaching and learning are tenuous. There is no guarantee how long they will last and activity that compromises the health and safety of our community puts our teaching plans at significant risk. 

Over the last few days, large student gatherings have been occurring around our campus. This is a flagrant disregard for public health and for the law of our province. We support our city enforcement officers and police as they work to address these illegal activities and we will work with our partners when they refer students to us for processing under our Student Code of Conduct. 

While consequences for this behaviour will be imposed, we acknowledge that the best way to put a stop to this recklessness is to band together and speak directly to those individuals who are jeopardizing our academic year. We have been working for 18 months to get students back in the classrooms so we can experience what higher education is all about, learning in an environment of respect where knowledge and with it intellectual and social development are paramount. 

The majority of our students just want to learn in a classroom with their peers. They want to continue their programs and enjoy the full experience of their classes and their direct interaction with their fellow students and professors. They are tired and their mental health has been compromised by months of being locked inside. Behaviour of a few cannot and indeed, should not compromise what we believe our students want from Queen’s. 

We have come so far and it would be a travesty if we could not get back to what we have all been waiting for so very long. Universities are for learning. Please remember that this weekend and over the coming months and let’s be sure that we will be learning in classrooms next week and all the months to follow.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Zaid Kasim
AMS President


Province approves in-person academic activities for fall term

Under updated framework Queen’s proceeding with in-person academic instruction, while other campus activities will remain under provincial Step 3 requirements.

With the fall academic term set to start, the provincial government has announced important updates to its Postsecondary Educational Health Measures Framework for Fall 2021 to support the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff.

Effective Sept. 7, 2021, universities and colleges will not be subject to physical distancing or capacity limit requirements for indoor instructional spaces, including classrooms, labs, libraries, and in-person experiential learning etc. This change allows Queen’s to proceed with our detailed plans for in-person academic activities throughout the fall term.

At the same time, all members of the Queen’s community must be aware that this change applies only to indoor instructional activities. In outdoor instructional spaces, capacity limits apply and physical distancing of at least two metres from everyone else is still required, except for necessary teaching and instruction that cannot be effectively provided with physical distancing.

All other requirements under Step 3 of the Roadmap for Reopening Ontario remain in place on university property indefinitely. This includes mandatory masking in all indoor settings, maintaining physical distancing in all indoor areas open to the public, and adherence to the current limit on outdoor gatherings and public events to a maximum of 100 people.

The framework also confirms that students will be allowed to live in residences and other on-campus accommodations as planned with some restrictions, including masking, capacity level limits in some common areas, and reduced in-person programs and activities.

The university is seeking more guidance from the province on how the framework updates may impact the many dining and restaurant facilities on campus.

Other restrictions on campus services that will remain in place under Step 3 include capacity limits at the Athletics and Recreation Centre, as well as on campus museums and performance venues, such as the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts. Some non-essential retail services may be increasing service in the coming days. Please check the relevant service websites for up-to-date information.

Mandatory vaccination and provincial passport

Along with the updated framework, the provincial government is also requiring universities and colleges to implement mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for everyone taking part in university activities in person. Today Queen’s launched a vaccination status declaration form for students, faculty, and staff to complete as soon as possible. More information and a link to the declaration form are now available on the Safe Return to Campus website.

Queen’s is also seeking guidance from the provincial government about the new vaccination certification system it announced. Under the plan, in order to access certain high-risk indoor public settings and facilities, Ontarians will need to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 22, 2021 and provide proof of their vaccination, along with photo ID. The province will follow this up with the introduction of a digital vaccination receipt that features a QR code and a new app for businesses and organizations to verify full vaccination.

Queen’s will share more information of this certification system and how it might support university operations as more details become available.

For more information on Queen’s ongoing efforts to prioritize the health and safety of everyone in the Queen’s and Kingston communities, visit the Safe Return to Campus website.

Queen’s launches online vaccination status declaration form

Principal Patrick Deane sends email to Queen’s community to launch form and encourage everyone to share their vaccination status as soon as possible.

Dear Queen’s community,

As we prepare for the beginning of the fall term, your health and safety remains the highest priority of the university. That is why on Aug. 26 we strengthened our safety measures against COVID-19 by joining other universities and colleges in Ontario in implementing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Under the new policy, all individuals (students, staff, faculty, contractors, and visitors) who are participating in university activities in person, either on Queen’s campus or other Queen’s property, must be vaccinated.

To effectively implement this new mandate, we must collect information about the vaccination status of all members of the Queen’s community. To that end, I am writing to inform you that the university has today launched a vaccination status declaration form that must be completed by all students, faculty members, and staff.

Individuals who declare they are fully vaccinated will be required to upload proof of their vaccination status. For individuals who request an accommodation for reasons protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code, a confidential process for assessing those requests through the relevant offices will be followed.

Ensuring high vaccination rates remains the most important way we can protect the public health during the pandemic and reduce the spread of COVID-19.

You can find the vaccination status declaration form, further details about our vaccine requirement, and information on obtaining vaccination on the Queen’s Safe Return website.

I also want to make you aware that late last night the provincial government informed us that we will be able to proceed with our plans for in-person instruction this fall. We are not yet sure of the implications for non-academic offerings, such as on-campus dining. Additional information will be provided as we work through the details of the announcement. The government is also expected to make another announcement about vaccination passports. We will inform the community of the impact of all these announcements as we learn more. As always, I want to thank you for your patience and resiliency as we navigate the new challenges of managing our operations during the pandemic.  

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Update to Queen’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements

Queen’s implementing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all individuals participating in university activities in person.

The health and safety of the Queen’s and Kingston communities remains our highest priority. Recently, all universities and colleges in Ontario received a letter from the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health (COMOH), recommending mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies at all post-secondary institutions across the 34 Public Health regions in the province. Building upon our previous announcement and in response to these recommendations, Queen’s University is joining other universities and colleges in Ontario in implementing mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all individuals (students, staff, faculty, contractors, and visitors) participating in university activities in person, either on Queen’s campus or other Queen’s property.

All individuals who are participating in university activities in person must attest to receiving their first dose of a Health Canada- or World Health Organization (WHO)-approved vaccine before they come to campus via an online tool, which is expected to be launched by Sept. 1, and must receive their final required dose of vaccine no later than Oct. 15, 2021.

Individuals will also be required to upload proof of their vaccination status via the online tool. More information about how to access the tool and how to provide proof of vaccination status will be announced in the coming days. Individuals coming to campus prior to Sept. 1 are expected to comply with this mandatory vaccination direction.

Any individual who requires an accommodation under the Ontario Human Rights Code with respect to vaccination status must formally request such an accommodation and provide supporting documentation. All individuals who are not fully vaccinated due to an approved accommodated need or who are awaiting their second or final dose are required to adhere to additional health and safety measures, including, but not limited to, twice weekly rapid testing.

Individuals are not considered fully vaccinated until 14 days after their second and/or final dose of a vaccine protocol. Questions regarding vaccine status should be directed to an individual’s local public health office. Until full vaccination status is reached, individuals must adhere to additional health and safety measures.

Unvaccinated individuals without an approved accommodation will not be able to attend campus or participate in any university activity in person.

This update recognizes that vaccination against COVID-19 remains the single most effective public health measure to reduce the spread of the virus. We will continue to work closely with public health officials and stress adherence to all other public health measures. We will continue to adapt our requirements as public health recommendations evolve.

Queen’s is facilitating access to vaccines starting the week of Sept. 1 with a pop-up clinic at Richardson Stadium, however we encourage all members of the Queen’s community to receive vaccinations as soon as possible as they are widely available. Find a vaccination clinic near you in Ontario or contact your local public health unit, if elsewhere.

International students travelling to Canada with questions can get more information about their vaccine regime on the Student Wellness Services website. It is important that individuals receiving vaccines outside of Canada contact public health for information on additional COVID-19 vaccines that may be required as well as any timing concerns for receiving those vaccines in order to be considered fully vaccinated. 

Students in the health professions (medicine, nursing, rehabilitation therapy) will receive information from their programs about additional requirements.

Students, faculty, and staff who are engaged in research activity off campus, including field and in-person human participant research, are also subject to the mandatory vaccination requirement. Additional details will be available on the Vice-Principal (Research) website.

For more information regarding Queen’s response to COVID-19, please visit the Safe Return to Campus website.

Step Two of Reopening Ontario Plan

The provincial government has announced that Step 2 of the Reopening Ontario Plan will begin on Wednesday, June 30.

Under the provincial regulations for Step 2 of the Reopening Ontario Plan, on-campus access for employees remains limited. Only employees with essential on-campus positions or those who must be on campus to do their work should be on campus. Approved research activity has been prioritized as essential and can continue subject to the Queen’s approval processes through Faculty Associate Deans of Research. All other faculty, staff, senior administration, and student leadership must continue to work remotely except for required ad hoc access (for example, to record a lecture, print documents, or retrieve files) or those with accommodation requirements.

The following changes to facility and on-campus operations will take effect in the coming days. All other on-campus restrictions remain in place.

Beginning June 30, in-person teaching or instruction for any program may open, subject to the following conditions:

     - a 2-metre physical distance is required, except where teaching and instruction cannot be effectively provided if physical distancing is maintained.

     - a 50-person capacity limit for indoor instructional space, and a 100-person limit for outdoor space.

Beginning July 6, outdoor group fitness, varsity training, intramural sports and sport leagues modified to avoid personal contact are permitted. Capacity is limited to 60 people per field and participants must maintain 3 metres of physical distance during exercise/training. Please see the Athletics & Recreation website for more details.

  • Beginning July 6, Stauffer Library will be open for seat booking, with up to 25 per cent of seating capacity. Curbside pickup, scanning, and digital services remain up and running. Detailed information is available on the library’s website.
  • Some non-essential retail services and restaurant patios may be expanding capacity in the coming days. Please check service websites for up-to-date information.
  • Other minor operational changes permitted under the guidelines will be communicated to specific units as needed. Please check service websites for up-to-date information on operations.

We will provide further updates regarding campus access when the regulations for Step 3 of the Reopening Ontario Plan are released.

Queen’s experts provide insight into our post-pandemic future

On June 29, multimedia journalist and Queen’s alumnus Elamin Abdelmahmoud will moderate a candid discussion on how we can move beyond COVID.

[Road to Recovery: Reintegration - Queen's Virtual Event]

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our health, economy, and society. It has challenged individuals and institutions to think creatively about how they can harness their resources to help confront the crisis, politically, economically, and socially. As vaccination rates rise, cases drop, and businesses reopen, Canadians and global citizens are attempting to return to so-called “normal life.” This has led to myriad questions related to reintegration and reconnection – What does integration back to the classroom and office look like? What are the implications for our physical and mental health and how can we address them? How has society changed over the past 18 months and what have we learned about ourselves and each other?

To help answer some of these questions, University Relations, Advancement, and the Faculty of Health Sciences have joined forces to host Road to Recovery: Reintegration. This free, open-to-the-public event will be held virtually on Tuesday, June 29 at 11 a.m. EDT and will feature a panel of Queen’s alumni and research experts who will share their views on work, social norms, and life in a post-pandemic world.

The panel discussion will be moderated by Elamin Abdelmahmoud (Artsci’11) and host of CBC’s weekly pop culture podcast Pop Chat, co-host of CBC’s political podcast Party Lines, and culture editor for BuzzFeed news. In a recent interview about the series, Abdelmahmoud explained some of his reasons for hosting the event, saying, “When it comes to reintegration, I have a lot of questions. I am anxious to return to some semblance of normality but I don’t know what that looks like anymore. I would love to get some answers from people who study these questions for a living.”    

During Tuesday’s discussion, Abdelmahmoud will be joined by a number of experts in health care, education, research, and policy-making at the local, national, and international levels. They are:

  • Tina Dacin – Stephen J.R. Smith Chaired Professor of Strategy and Organizational Behaviour and the Director of the Community Impact Research Program in the Smith School of Business
  • Gerald Evans – Chair, Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University and Attending Physician in Infectious Diseases at Kingston Health Sciences Centre
  • Allyson G. Harrison – Clinical Neuropsychologist and the Clinical Director of the Regional Assessment and Resource Center at Queen’s
  • Scott McFarlane, BA/BPHE’97, BEd’98, MEd’07 is a Vice-Principal with the Limestone District School Board 

To register for the event and join the discussion, visit the website.

Research community town hall scheduled for June 10

The Vice-Principal (Research) will host a Zoom town hall meeting on Thursday, June 10 at 10 am for members of the Queen’s research community.

This forum will allow researchers to ask questions, and importantly, stay connected to the wider research community during a time of remote work. While there will be an opportunity to actively ask questions during the town hall, for efficiency researchers are encouraged to send questions and concerns in advance to research@queensu.ca with the subject line “Town Hall Question”.

Please register in advance for this meeting using your Queen’s or KHSC email address. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about how to join the meeting.

Please note that the event will be recorded to confirm that appropriate follow up can be made with participants, if necessary.


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