Return to campus plans taking shape

The pedestrian promenade at University of Windsor's main campus is pictured.


Wayne State University in Michigan is offering students a $10 incentive to get a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the plan for a return to face-to-face learning this fall.

M. Roy Wilson, the school’s president, announced the incentive last week in an email to students. A university spokesman said more than 1,300 students uploaded vaccine verification the first day.

“I do not believe we have offered money before as an incentive, certainly not for anything health related,” said Matt Lockwood, the university’s associate vice president of communications.

The $10 is placed in a student’s account and can be used immediately on Grubhub or on campus next fall.

Lockwood said the idea came out of a virtual meeting about pandemic protocols and vaccine compliance.

St. Clair College is pictured, Monday, January 25, 2021.


“We were talking about whether or not we should implement a mandate that students be vaccinated before returning to in person classes in the fall,” Lockwood said. “President Wilson said he would prefer to try and incentivize students to get their vaccine first. Our dean of students then suggested making $10 available for use with Grubhub or dining on campus because that proved popular with our students that participated in our alternative spring break program.”

With vaccine rollouts moving faster in the U.S. than Canada, colleges and universities south of the border are working on strategies to get the greatest number of students vaccinated before September.

So far, 80 U.S. colleges and universities have stated that vaccines will be required for a campus return while some state governors have already moved to ban such a requirement.

Officials at St. Clair College and University of Windsor aren’t yet at the point of establishing vaccine incentives or mandates for students.

“We don’t know the vaccine rollouts for students yet,” said Chris Houser, UWindsor’s science dean who’s been charged with leading the return-to-campus initiative. “There are still so many unknowns for all of this. We are going to be promoting vaccines among all the campus community but we’re not as focused on vaccine incentivizing yet.”

John Fairley, St. Clair’s vice-president of communications and community relations, found Wayne State’s program interesting but not yet feasible here.

“The situation is different in Michigan with the amount of vaccines,” Fairley said. “I don’t know about vaccinating an 18 or 19 year old when people 25 and 30 haven’t gotten a vaccine here yet. It will depend on what happens with the number of vaccines.”

The college just delayed the start of spring semester in response to the government-mandated stay-at-home orders.

“We are planning to continue on with what we can,” Fairley said. “And we’re planning on having more face-to-face in September than now. Of course, that will depend on the government, vaccines and both the health units in Windsor and Chatham.”

At the university, Houser said the most recent government lockdown “has demonstrated just how fluid a situation this is. The way in which we plan is not to assume any particular state we will be in this fall but to have a flexible and scalable plan that allows us to adapt. We just don’t know what September will look like so we have to assume it’s like today’s health and safety guidelines.”

Overall, the return-to-campus plan will continue to highlight and expand on testing initiatives already in place.

A volunteer COVID screening program run by the WE-SPARK Health Institute is scheduled to be available to everyone who steps on campus at UWindsor and St. Clair College by September.

A wastewater testing program run by the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research will continue to monitor sewage output from campus residences.

Western University in London had to send its students home early this month after outbreaks in six of its nine residences.

“The promotion of appropriate screening will help us avoid the outbreaks that have occurred at other institutions,” Houser said.