Providence University College has joined other Manitoba post-secondary institutions by instituting a vaccine mandate for staff members and students.
The school, located in Otterburne, had been planning to only encourage vaccinations. It decided to revise its policy because of the increased threat of the delta variant and Thursday's decision by other universities and colleges.
"We now face a legal and moral situation that risks the viability of our university and its existence," president Kenton Anderson said.
"While we recognize that a change to our current policy will be disruptive and distasteful to some members of our community, we find ourselves without a choice. We also need to act in the most powerful way possible for the health and safety of our students, staff and faculty."
Providence will require full vaccination or proof of negative testing at reasonable and appropriate intervals for all its staff members faculty and students in the fall semester. A specific time frame will be announced soon.
"We believe that education should be as accessible as possible to the widest audience possible," Anderson said. "We also believe in science. We believe that vaccination will be the quickest way out of this pandemic. We also believe that being fully vaccinated is showing love to our neighbours."
While recognizing "many of our students and friends will struggle with this decision," Anderson said Providence is concerned for the "health, wellness and safety of each member of our community."
Leadership at Steinbach Bible College is discussing its stance toward a vaccination mandate.
"We just found out about the announcement (from the other schools) on Thursday," president Rob Reimer said. "Up until now, the conversation has always been that vaccinations were not going to be required. We are meeting to discuss these changes and how it might impact (Steinbach)."
Booth University College in Winnipeg is not planning to hold in-person classes in fall.
"We’re still deciding about vaccinations for those who come to campus," Michael Boyce, vice-president academic and dean, said. "We should have a decision by next week."
Students, staff members and faculty at Canadian Mennonite University will be required to be vaccinated.
"CMU sees vaccination as a social responsibility and an expression of care for others in our community and far beyond our setting," president Cheryl Pauls said.
The university will help students who are not yet vaccinated to get the vaccine before arriving at school, Pauls said. Masking protocols will remain in place as the term begins and will be re-evaluated on a monthly basis.
The campus, located in Tuxedo, will remain largely closed to visitors for the fall term except for the bookstore and Folio café.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.