As of Friday July 22, masks will not be mandatory at Vicars School.

Mask-wearing remains one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 (along with vaccines). Students, staff, and clinic clients are still strongly encouraged to wear masks while on campus, especially when working in close quarters.

However, it will no longer be compulsory.

As with all of our COVID policies, this decision is subject to change. We will continue to monitor the progress of the pandemic, as well as government and industry regulations, and will update our policies as necessary.

We have not come to this decision lightly.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have done the best we can to keep our school community safe, create a positive learning and working environment, follow (sometimes unclear) government guidelines, and keep our doors open for both students and clients. It’s not been easy, and not all of our decisions have been universally popular. We expect this latest update will be no different.

Instead of just announcing this policy change and moving on, we decided to go into more detail about how we came to this decision. So whether you agree or disagree with this policy change, please take a few moments to read the rest of this announcement.

About our decision

We made a deliberate choice earlier this spring to keep all our COVID protocols in place until the end of the September-June academic year. This was out of an abundance of caution, but also to avoid unnecessary confusion and disruption for classes heading into exams. We also—naively, perhaps—hoped that by the summer the trajectory of the pandemic would be clear and that there would be a consensus from government and experts on what to do.

Obviously, that didn’t happen.

While the Alberta government has dropped all public health measures for COVID-19, other jurisdictions and industries (like air travel) have maintained or even resumed their masking, testing, or vaccine requirements. Meanwhile, many medical experts have publicly been calling for governments to bring mask mandates back.

We found ourselves in the unenviable position of having to make this decision independently.

There were a lot of factors to consider:

Your safety. We have a responsibility, as health care professionals and as educators, to put health and safety first and to make evidence-based decisions.

Government regulations. Since the government of Alberta has dropped its COVID-19 public health rules, Alberta Advanced Education has also been gradually getting rid of its supports and accommodations for schools like ours. Maintaining COVID-19 policies that are out of step with the government’s approach will only get more difficult.

Your physical comfort. Wearing a mask during a massage can be uncomfortable and stressful, especially when you’re face-down on the table. For us to keep a policy in place that negatively affects your clinic experience, we would have to have a very good reason to do so.

Your peace of mind. Feeling comfortable on campus goes beyond the physical, though. We have heard from clients and students who are more at ease knowing that we require everyone on campus to wear a mask. Others, meanwhile, have told us that the current masking policy has been a source of frustration.

Efficacy. We had become part of a small minority of businesses in Alberta that still made masks mandatory. We’ve never been afraid of standing apart from the crowd, but when it comes to a pandemic there is power in numbers. Knowing that almost all of the other public and semi-public spaces that our students and clients visit are mask-optional, we realized that the overall public health impact of our policy is lower than it once was.

The bottom line

This pandemic is not over, and even fully vaccinated people are at risk of catching COVID-19. Masks, vaccines, and carefully monitoring your own symptoms are still the best way to avoid catching and spreading the disease.

But given the current conditions in Alberta and on our campuses, we have decided that the best course of action for our community is to leave the choice of where and when to wear a mask up to each individual.

We will never discourage a student, client, or staff member from wearing a mask. And we continue to recommend that everyone get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19, as well as other vaccine-preventable communicable diseases.

When you’re at our clinic, you are more than welcome to request that your therapist wear a mask during your treatment. And we know you’ll show the same courtesy if your therapist asks you to do so.

Thank you for your support and feedback over the last few months. It’s been very moving to be reminded how invested our students and clients are in the school community. Keeping each other safe is a collective responsibility.

Please take care of yourselves, and each other.

Yours in health,

Maryhelen Vicars, President
Sarah Ward-Bakken, Executive Director
Robin Collum, Communications Director

MH Vicars School of Massage Therapy logo
In light of recent changes to COVID-19 public health orders in Alberta, we have updated our on-campus COVID protocols. The new policies are as follows:
  • Masks are mandatory in all shared spaces on campus. This rule applies to students, staff, clinic clients, and any other campus visitors.
  • All students, staff, clients, and visitors must complete a symptom and exposure screening form prior to entering campus.
  • Proof of vaccination will no longer be required.
  • Proof of negative test will no longer be required.
These rules apply to both our Edmonton and Calgary campuses, including our public massage clinics, effective Thursday February 17 2022.
Our goal has always been to operate a space that is as safe as possible for our students, clients, and employees. Achieving this is a shared responsibility.
We strongly encourage everyone to take all available precautions to keep themselves and their communities healthy. This includes getting vaccinated against communicable diseases like COVID-19 and the flu, staying home when unwell, and wearing masks where appropriate.
Thank you for your continued understanding and cooperation.

All MH Vicars School of Massage Therapy students and clients are required to show proof that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you have not been vaccinated, you will need to provide a recent negative test result every time you visit campus. Exceptions will apply to those cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and to children under 12.

We will continue to enforce other on-campus COVID-19 protocols. This includes daily screening, and mandatory mask-wearing on campus.

Vaccination requirement details

All MH Vicars clients aged 12 and over must provide the school with proof of one of the following:

  • proof of vaccination (see below)
    • partial vaccination (one dose) accepted September 20 to October 25 if received 2 weeks before you come to the campus
    • full vaccination (two doses) required after October 25
  • proof of a privately paid negative PCR or rapid test within 72 hours of service (tests from AHS or Alberta Precision Laboratories not allowed)
  • documentation of a medical exemption

We will accept any of the following as proof of vaccination:

  • The paper record you were given at the time of vaccination (scan or hard copy acceptable)
  • A screen shot of your vaccination record from
  • The printed COVID-19 immunization card from (available beginning Sept 19, 2021).

To receive a medical exemption, you must provide a doctor’s letter.

As of the end of August, most of Alberta’s public health measures targeting COVID-19 will end. This includes most mask mandates, contact tracing, and isolation requirements.

With this controversial decision it appears that schools will be free to return to pre-pandemic operations for the start of September classes. At MH Vicars School, however, we have chosen to take a more cautious approach.

Even with the widespread use of vaccines, the COVID-19 virus remains present in our community. This is especially true of dangerous new strains like the Delta variant, which is on the rise in Canada and globally.

Keeping each other safe is a collective responsibility. By strictly adhering to our guidelines over the last year, we have successfully prevented the transmission of COVID-19 on campus. By working together and continuing to follow special safety protocols, Vicars will continue to be a safe place to learn, work, and get massages.

Our September 2021 COVID-19 plan at a glance

  • We strongly encourage all students, staff, and clients to get vaccinated if they are able to do so.
  • Masks are mandatory for everyone and must be worn at all times when on campus. This includes clinic clients, who must keep their mask on during their massage treatment. Masks should fit well, covering both nose and mouth without gaps, and be replaced when damp or dirty. Cloth masks should have three layers of material and be washed between uses.
  • Campus facilities have been reorganized to allow for as much physical distancing as possible.  Though it will not always be possible to maintain 2 metres of distance between yourself and others, everyone is asked to be aware of their surroundings and do their best to give each other space. Class groups keep to their own campus areas as much as possible during the class day.
  • Anyone who visits campus must complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire before entering. Students, staff, and clients are requested not to be on campus if they are sick or know they have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Stringent cleaning protocols will remain in place.

The most significant difference between this September and the 2020-2021 school year is that we are reopening our supervised practicum clinics to members of the public. We have not made this decision lightly, just like we didn’t take it lightly to keep it closed for most of last year. We believe that with appropriate precautions in place, the benefits for our students and clients outweigh the risks, at least for now.

Please note: The official clinic opening dates for each campus have not yet been set but will be announced soon.

Vaccines make us all safer

For now, students, staff, and clients will not be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine. However, we request that everyone who can get the vaccine does so.

The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are safe and effective in preventing illness and hospitalizations from COVID-19, including the highly contagious Delta variant. The vaccine is available for free without an appointment for Albertans aged 12 and up.

As massage therapists, we have a responsibility to safeguard our clients’ health as well as our own. The Vicars community is large and diverse. It includes our students, faculty, and staff as well as our clinic clients. Each campus is a point of connection for hundreds of people each week.

We are asking all of our students to get vaccinated for their own protection, and to protect the health of their clinic clients. By getting fully vaccinated, you will reduce your chances of developing severe or life-threatening symptoms if you become infected with any COVID-19 strain. Avoiding serious illness means you won’t be stuck missing weeks of valuable hands-on class and clinic time.

One of the things that sets the Vicars program apart is our supervised clinic experience. It’s an extraordinary opportunity to get “real-world” experience treating clients from all walks of life. Many of our clients come to our clinic because they’re living with health conditions that massage can help treat. But having those conditions often mean that they’re at a higher risk of developing severe illness if they catch COVID-19. Protect your clients’ health and their peace of mind by taking all available steps to keep them safe—including vaccination.

We make the same request of our clinic clients and everyone else who visits our campus.

Thank you for your support

We would like to thank all of our students and clients for their support over the past year. We have appreciated hearing from members of the Vicars community, and we remain open to your feedback as we all work together to navigate the next stages of this pandemic.

massage therapy has grown in 2021

How COVID-19 has changed things for RMTs and massage therapy schools

When COVID-19 arrived in Canada, none of us knew how it would affect our lives. And as massage therapists, we were also worried about our livelihoods. What would happen to a hands-on profession like massage therapy during a global pandemic? 

Over a year later, the answer is clear: massage therapy isn’t going anywhere. On the contrary, the stress and hardship of the last year has reminded RMTs and our clients just how necessary massage is in our lives. 

“There certainly have been a number of challenges in the past year in my own practice, and the massage industry as a whole throughout the pandemic. But overall, what I’m seeing is that massage is alive and well,” says MH Vicars instructor Lourdes Nunes-Sammer. Lourdes is both an RMT and a business owner. She treats clients in Edmonton and owns a clinic in Jasper that has multiple massage therapists.

Lourdes says that she’s been pleasantly surprised by how resilient her businesses have been during the pandemic. 

“In my own practice I’m as busy as ever, and the clinic in Jasper has been very busy.” 

It hasn’t been an easy year for RMTs, of course. Massage therapy was one of the many professions that had to temporarily close during Alberta’s first shutdown in spring 2020, and again for a few weeks during the second wave lockdown in December 2020. 

But each time it’s had to shut down, massage therapy has bounced right back. Rather than reducing demand, these shutdowns—and the overall stress and strain of the pandemic—have made many of our clients appreciate us more than ever. 

Our clients also trust that we’re taking the necessary steps to keep them safe, including following strict cleaning protocols, doing client screening, and wearing masks and other PPE. Some of the changes we’ve had to make have been expensive and time-consuming, but we know it’s worth it to be able to do what we love. 

“I have some clients where I am literally the only person that they see, outside of the members of their household. People who are seriously isolating,” says Lourdes. “That someone lets me be in that circle of trust and treat them—that’s a huge privilege.” 

Massage therapy is an effective treatment for a wide range of injuries and physiological conditions, and Lourdes says that her clients are still coming to her to get help with issues like TMJD, scoliosis, and other conditions. But she’s also noticed a huge increase in the number of clients who are specifically looking for stress relief. 

“I think that more than ever now, people are seeing the therapeutic benefits of a relaxation-type massage,” she explains. “They’re coming in asking for a full-body relaxation massage, whereas before I would have been treating their specific condition. 

“The pandemic is bringing to light the need for connection that we might have overlooked before, and the need for massage therapists and that therapeutic touch. They’re more stressed than they’ve ever been. Our resiliency, our overall mental and physical and psychological and spiritual health is low.” 

How has COVID-19 affected massage therapy schools? 

The pandemic has been hard on massage therapy students, too. But MH Vicars School students have had a significant advantage over some of their peers. The Vicars program has always been delivered through blended learning: a combination of hands-on learning in class, and independent study work that’s completed online and at home. This type of schedule is perfect for adult learners, rural students, and others who can’t attend an old-fashioned Monday-Friday program. 

And though we certainly didn’t anticipate this advantage when the school opened 20 years ago, blended learning has proven to be a great way to learn during a pandemic. We have made additional changes to the program to support our students during the pandemic, but without sacrificing the curriculum standards or overall student experience. 

The 2020-2021 school year was able to proceed with as few disruptions as possible. The biggest difference for our students was that our practicum clinics have been closed to the public for most of the year. This was a difficult decision, but a necessary one. Reducing the number of people that our students come into close contact with on campus has helped keep them and their families safe. It also meant that we were less likely to have to interrupt on-campus classes for our students. Our students have been working on each other at the clinic. They get a dynamic and interactive hands-on practicum experience without increasing their risk of being exposed to the virus. 

The pandemic isn’t going to disappear overnight, but next year’s students can look forward to a much more normal school experience. Thanks to vaccines and public health precautions, we look forward to reopening all our clinics to the public for the next school year. 

Massage therapy students can also breathe easy knowing that they are preparing to enter a career with a bright future. 

“I think the resounding lesson of this pandemic is that massage therapists have job security,” reflects Lourdes. “We’ve seen a lot of challenges in the industry this year—being open one day and closed the next—and keeping up with all the guidelines for how we can practice and what we need to do. But people are still coming. Because they recognize the value of it. I think there’s always going to be that demand.” 

At MH Vicars School of Massage Therapy, you can train to become a registered massage therapist for a flexible, rewarding career in this growing field. MH Vicars students learn the theory and skills to perform effective relaxation and therapeutic treatments.  

Call our friendly admissions team at 1-866-491-0574 or RSVP for the next live online open house to learn more about becoming a qualified massage therapist.

Our student massage therapy clinics remain temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a safety precaution to protect our students—and you.

Treating clients in our practicum clinics is a vital part of our students’ education, and we are both proud and grateful to be a part of your health care team. So keeping our doors closed to the public has been painful for us. However, we believe that it is the best choice for our students and our clients right now.

The Alberta government loosened COVID-19 restrictions again on February 8. Meanwhile, there’s been an increase in the number of infections from new variants of the virus, which may behave differently than the original strain. Together, this means that there’s a lot of uncertainty about what the next few weeks will look like.

Because of the nature of our public clinics, we always need to plan well in advance. Frequently reopening and closing our clinic is more disruptive to our students’ experience—and worse for our clients—than a delayed but more sustainable reopening.

Reducing the number of people that our students come into close contact with while the risk of community spread is so high also means that we’re less likely to have to interrupt on-campus classes for our students.

In the meantime, we have been working hard to ensure that our students can continue to benefit from dynamic and interactive hands-on practicum experiences without increasing their risk of being exposed to the virus.

Regular massage clinics are open in Alberta, and we encourage you to visit a Vicars grad practicing in your community.

When we’re ready to open our doors again, we’ll announce it by email and post on our website and social media accounts. Thank you for your understanding and your patience.

Stay well,

MH Vicars School

This school year will be unlike any other that we’ve experienced, and we know that there will be challenges and surprises ahead. We have been working hard all summer to make sure that when our students and faculty return to campus in August and September, they’ll be able to learn and work in a safe and comfortable environment.

To give you an idea of what campus will be like on your next visit, here’s an overview of our COVID-19 safety protocols.

These health and safety measures comply with the Government of Alberta COVID-19 Risk Mitigation requirements for post-secondary institutions, and municipal bylaws. We have also taken guidance from the rules created by Alberta’s main massage therapy professional associations for their individual members, and consulted with our colleagues at other massage schools across the country.

  • Our campus will remain closed to the general public. Only students, faculty, staff, and essential visitors will be allowed on site. We are not yet accepting clinic clients.
  • Masks will be mandatory for students, faculty, and staff when on campus, with a few exceptions when people are physically distanced or have other PPE.
  • Everyone will complete a screening questionnaire online every day before they enter the building. Anyone who is deemed to be at risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus (as identified by the screening questionnaire or public health authorities) will not be permitted on campus until the risk has passed.
  • All campus areas are professionally cleaned regularly. Students will also be responsible for disinfecting their massage station and desk at the end of the day. Cleaning supplies will be provided.
  • Classrooms will be preassigned, so students will only be share spaces with your own instructors and classmates.
  • Students will have one massage partner each day for all of the hands-on work.
  • Some common areas and campus amenities will be off-limits.

More detailed instructions are being shared with students. If you have any questions about how we’re protecting the Vicars community, please be in touch!

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that all schools and colleges have had to make a lot of changes to how they deliver their programs—and fast. And at MH Vicars School, it was no different. We closed our campuses in mid-March, and classes continued online.

It was an adjustment, certainly, and not how we wanted to finish the school year. But our faculty and staff were not unprepared for the change. Our experience teaching and learning in a blended learning format helped us transition into the “new normal.”
Our Edmonton Director Robin Collum and our Curriculum Director Linda McGeachy sat down—over zoom, naturally—to talk about how Vicars has adapted to the pandemic , and how we’re preparing for whatever the next year might have in store for us.

You can also read the full transcript of the conversation below.


Robin: The MH Vicars School program has always been delivered through blended learning. Can you describe what blended learning means at MH Vicars?

Linda: Fundamentally, it means that time spent at home on the curriculum is as important as the in class component of the program.

Why did we choose a blended learning format in the first place? Who’s it for and why is it valuable for our students?

Well, that was the original vision of the owner of the school, Maryhelen Vicars: to provide quality training to a demographic that does not have the means to access it any other way. It is a full-time program in terms of content. By choosing this format, students are able to spend less time being physically present at the school, but still are able to obtain all the necessary content of the program.

The value is for those who are unable to take a program that requires them to be in school for five days a week for two years. We have several learning pathways and our students choose the one that fits their particular circumstances.

So it sounds much more flexible for people who have responsibilities and jobs and things.


Can you describe how our approach to blended learning has evolved over the years?

At first, our blended learning [material] consisted of paper binders filled with assignments and notes that students completed at home and brought back to class with them. As technology has evolved, it has allowed more academic content to be delivered online.

We’ve moved more core content to the online learning system. Courses such as pathology and anatomy and physiology have become independent courses that students can take at home following a set timeline and using online resources from the textbooks as well as resources specifically developed by the school. The most current evolution to the program is the type of blended learning where students are introduced to content at home before working through it at school. This is sometimes called a “flipped classroom.”

In a common flipped classroom scenario, students might watch pre-recorded videos at home, complete specific assignments and do a quiz and then come to school to do the work armed with questions and some background knowledge.

So it sounds much more intensive than just some pre-reading.

It has a lot of weight. And, of course, all of those pre-reading assignments and whatnot will [be part of] an overall mark for the program as well.

And that means that when they’re on campus with their instructors in their pairs, in groups of three, they have a lot more context for the hands-on stuff, it sounds like.

Indeed. And so it frees up time in the classroom for the all-important hands-on component by enabling them to get through some of the academic or more theoretical work at home.

What changes did we make at Vicars and how have our classes been continuing to learn since we stopped our on-campus stuff in March?

Well, coincidentally, the pandemic only sped up a process that we’d already been designing and developing that is having students more prepared before class. Along with much more emphasis on video conferences with their instructors.

We’ve always had contact between instructors and students in between those in class days. And this is just increasing that?

Yes. The video conferencing is going to become a much bigger component. And of course, that has gone along with what we’ve had to do with putting much of our material online due to the covid situation.

Do you feel that our existing blended learning approach helped prepare us and maybe even prepare our students for this new reality of the last couple of months?

Well, without doubt, the fact that our students and instructors were already used to a large part of the course being completed at home was a benefit. However, it has not been without significant challenges as well.

Can you tell me some of the challenges that we’ve experienced with online learning?

Well, not all of our instructors are familiar with actually teaching online. Keeping the students connected to certain components of the program and to each other has been a considerable challenge for both faculty and students.

Definitely had been a learning curve on that. How have we been helping our instructors deal with that learning curve? How have we been helping them prepare and advance their knowledge of this new way of teaching?

Instructors are going to be taking an online course over the summer about how to teach online. I think this is very important. This will prepare them for returning to class in the fall, whether virtually or face to face.

Our current students have missed some on-campus days. Will they get the opportunity to cover that material when they come back to campus?

They will. If this is necessary, all missed hands-on material will be available to current students. We’ll deliver it in a flexible manner to make sure it’s achievable for everyone.

Though it’s impossible to predict what the next couple of months are going to be like, what preparations are we making as a school to help plan for different eventualities?

Well, we’ll continue to prepare to hone online teaching skills by supporting faculty with resources for teaching online. The school’s developing more video resources for techniques and treatments to reinforce classroom time. And these things will ensure that students are ready to fully engage in the hands-on component of the program when we can return to class.

And how can students who are planning to start with us in September plan ahead and prepare for the beginning of their massage education?

Well, at this time, students can start taking Anatomy and Physiology, and Pathology. Those two core components of the program are available once you’re registered for the program.

And what’s the advantage of getting started with that online learning before classes start?

Well, those two courses are independent courses, but they are also heavy courses. And so by getting a head start on them, it will just free up more time for students when they are in the throes of the actual program. And so it’s always an advantage to be able to work ahead on that material.

The worst case scenario, of course, is if we’re not able to start on campus classes as scheduled in September or if there is another interruption in classes later in the year. How is the school planning ahead for that? Will the students who plan to start in September still be able to get their education?

In any of those scenarios, we’re prepared to deliver the course without lowering any standards. We’re set up to vary the delivery of the program to accommodate online learning and classroom time to ensure all of the standards that we’re committed to will be met.

UPDATE June 10, 2020:

Phase 2 of Alberta’s “relaunch” strategy will begin on June 12, and many massage therapy clinics will be open for business.

We’re sorry to say that MH Vicars School Public Clinic will not be one of them (yet).

We will be closed throughout the summer. We don’t yet know when it will be safe and practical for us to re-open, but we expect it will be later in the fall at the earliest. We will keep you updated as we know more.

Thank you for your patience.

Original post published May 6, 2020:

Everyone at MH Vicars is here because we love massage therapy, and have first-hand knowledge of the benefits that regular treatments from a well-trained massage therapist can bring. And nothing compares to the satisfaction of treating a client who’s sore, stressed, or in pain and seeing them walk out of your clinic with a smile on their face. Though the satisfaction of teaching someone the skills to do that comes pretty close!

So it goes without saying that we’re counting down the days until we can reopen our public clinics and see you again.

But we won’t do so until we’re confident that we can ensure everyone’s safety, and also support our students’ educational goals. This means that we cannot guarantee when our clinics will reopen.

We cannot guarantee when our clinics will reopen.

We have been carefully following the updates and announcements by Alberta’s public health officials, and were pleased to see that the government has included massage therapy in its multi-stage relaunch strategy. Massage therapists will be able to begin seeing clients, with some restrictions, in stage 2 of the plan.

We don’t yet know when stage 2 will begin. The first stage could begin as early as May 14, and further changes will depend on how that goes. We don’t expect that massage therapy clinics will be able to open for another month at the earliest.

Despite that uncertainty, massage therapists across the province are already making plans for how to safely reopen their practices.

Even for small clinics and single-therapist practices, reopening safely is going to be a huge undertaking. The professional associations have begun to publish the health and safety protocols for their members. Almost all aspects of running a practice will be affected, from your therapist’s personal protective equipment to how they disinfect common areas to how they coordinate the movement of clients and staff in and out of the clinic.

When you next see your massage therapist, you can rest assured that they will be doing everything that they can to reduce your risk of being exposed to the coronavirus. And that includes the next time that you come for a student massage at Vicars in Calgary and Edmonton. But as much planning and preparation that will need to go into re-opening a regular massage clinic (and it’s a lot!) it pales in comparison to the work that will have to go into safely opening our public clinics.

The most obvious challenge is the sheer size of our clinics. We are a large school and our public clinics regularly have over a dozen student therapists treating clients at a time. That means a lot of shared spaces, and shared surfaces. We will need to review our (already robust) cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and may need to adjust our clinic schedules. We will also need to have a reliable supply of personal protective equipment. All of this needs to be coordinated around our students’ educations, as well. Classes have continued online since we closed our campuses in March, and some students will have exams in June.

We appreciate your understanding. We also ask you to show the same patience and compassion to other therapists in your community, who may choose to delay opening their practices. All therapists and business owners will have different factors to consider in deciding when and how to reopen.

We will continue to share updates, and will let you know when we are ready to accept bookings again. Until then, stay safe and well.