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Back to Mac Principles and Practices for an Inclusive Community

McMaster’s response to the pandemic has been informed by Public Health and Government directives and guided by the following core principles:

  • Community Health and Safety
  • Equity and Accessibility
  • Privacy and Confidentiality
  • Dignity and Inclusivity

As we begin to slowly transition back to McMaster this 2021 – 2022 academic year, it will be incumbent upon all of us to be thoughtful about our interactions with each other and within our teams and groups. This is particularly important at this time for reintegration as the personal, academic, and professional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt and are especially amplified among certain communities.


In keeping with McMaster’s Statement on Building an Inclusive Community with a Shared Purpose, the Equity and Inclusion Office (EIO) and the President’s Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Community (PACBIC) encourage all faculty, staff, and students to adopt our core principles in your learning and working environment.


Supervisors and managers will continue to support planning considerations, following the guiding framework and Employee & Labour Relations principles outlined in the online
Supervisor Guide.


Expandable List


Vaccination status and other personal information relating to the pandemic is considered very sensitive, and McMaster strictly adheres to privacy laws dictated by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act when collecting such information.

Community members are being asked to provide information to the University, and that information will be kept confidential, managers and supervisors will not see this private information. See the for more information about how the University will maintain the privacy of your information.

While the university is requiring vaccinations as the best evidence-based strategy in response to the pandemic, we also recognize that, in very few circumstances, there may be human rights grounds, such as medical reasons, why individuals cannot be vaccinated.

Although some people may choose to share their vaccination status and pandemic impacts with peers and colleagues, not everyone is comfortable publicly sharing this information. Within academic and workplace interactions and group settings, peers and colleagues must not feel compelled (directly or indirectly) to disclose their personal information to others.

Please vist Vaccination Mandate FAQs for ongoing updates.


Community members should not inquire about vaccination status if it is not volunteered and should also be mindful that casual conversation about vaccination status may inadvertently create an environment where individuals bay fee ostracized or part of the “out-group” if they do not disclose the information.

We encourage a culture of caring and concern, if you are inquiring about the impacts of the pandemic please be mindful of each individual’s comfort level in sharing this information.





The pandemic itself and responses to it have amplified inequities for socially marginalized communities, including persons with disabilities, persons with parental/familial caregiving responsibilities, persons of East Asian ancestry, persons of Black/African ancestry, Indigenous peoples, members of 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and some faith communities historically mistreated.

Some of these inequities relate to:

  • histories of traumatic experiences with social institutions (e.g., government, education, and health care systems) due to forms of systemic discrimination (e.g., pathologization, experimentation, surveillance, segregation, persecution, abuse, etc.) – the legacies and impacts of these actions are still felt today and improving accessibility of and strengthening trust in social institutions for these populations remains a goal
  • myths and misinformation about viral transmission rooted in cultural stereotypes and prejudice
  • lack of recognition of non-Western worldviews and evidence related to health and well-being (e.g., Indigenous traditional medicines and ways of healing)
  • situations where home and personal environments are not safe and/or conducive to productive learning/working
  • community members who must consider health and safety in the context of multigenerational households with large numbers of family members in the home
  • community members who reside in areas with poor or no internet access challenged to shift to virtual learning and working arrangements


Community members, including supervisors, should interrupt and address stigmatizing attitudes and behaviours – contact the Equity and Inclusion Office for training on bystander intervention. All community members are obliged to adhere to the University Discrimination and Harassment Policy

Community members should familiarize themselves with the Blue Folder – a guide that explains the  University’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy and the steps to take for any related concerns.



These past 18 months have been difficult – we have encountered a great deal of loss, change, and uncertainty. We are beginning our transition back to McMaster while continuing to grieve these losses, adjust to the changes, and manage through the uncertainties. Now more than ever, we all need empathy, kindness, and encouragement. These behaviours are core to our commitment to building an inclusive community that forefronts diversity, respect, and collaboration.


Community members are asked to keep these core values in mind when communicating with each other – especially on social media where prospective and new students, scholars, and staff will be looking to learn about McMaster’s community.


Formal accommodations, will be considered for requests that relate to bona fide Ontario Human Rights Code protected grounds (e.g., health condition, disability, family status, creed, etc.). – these are referred to as Code related accommodations requests. Requests for formal academic or workplace accommodation (including vaccine exemptions, unique learning and/or working arrangements) will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with requirements of the Ontario Human Rights Code.

For non-Code related requests for academic or workplace adjustments, flexibility will be afforded to faculty, staff, and students, where reasonable in the circumstances and subject to operational requirements, to ease the transition back to McMaster, within the limits of University’s health and safety protocols.


All community members, including supervisors, should familiarize themselves with the Ontario Human Rights Commission Q&A document, which contextualizes individual and group rights within a time of a pandemic, where there is a threat to community and public health and safety.

Managers and supervisors will exercise care and compassion when working with staff and their accomodation plan. Please visit:
Supervisor Guide and What Supervisors need to know to prepare for their team this fall for more information.

Starting September 7, 2021 all McMaster faculty, students and staff will be required to upload proof of vaccination to the MacCheck digital tool and complete daily COVID health screening. This applies even to those who will not be on campus in the fall term. Visit McMaster University’s Vaccine Mandate for more information.

To learn more about vaccines visit Ask a McMaster expert: Answers to your COVID-19 questions.

Visit Back to Mac for updates on McMaster’s response to COVID-19 and the university’s return to campus planning.

McMaster Vaccination Policy

McMaster Visitor Vaccination Policy

Back to Mac: Employee Guide to September – COVID-19 (Coronavirus)