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Queen’s asks students not to return to campus during lockdown

Queen’s University Campus. Photo by Robin Dawes.

Queen’s University has asked students to avoid returning to Kingston until after the 28-day provincial lockdown.

The Ontario government announced the Provincewide Shutdown on Monday, Dec. 21, which will go into effect as of Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020. During this time, Premier Doug Ford is advising all Ontarians to stay at home to the fullest extent possible, noting that travel outside your region should be limited to only essential purposes.

On Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, Dr. Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health confirmed that Public Health did hear these plans from Queen’s ahead of this announcement.

“They have reviewed the Province-wide Shutdown document and will only be asking students who are in the medical nursing, rehabilitation faculties to come back to be on campus because they have in-person classes. They’ll follow through with the key recommendations of keeping class sizes below I think its 6 in those settings, just to maintain the clinical skills that these students need to acquire, and have very good measures to continue to protect those students and the community,” Dr. Moore told the press on Tuesday. “I believe they wont be asking the residents to come back to the residence.”

“That’s good news,” Dr. Moore continued, “Because… recently, we had over 59 cases from students off campus, and at least 10 contacts for every student, so that was a lot of work for us. It took 50 to 60 percent of our workload just dealing with the off-campus student population.”

In a letter to Queen’s faculty and staff from the Office of the Provost on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020, the University said they are strongly urging all students to avoid returning to Kingston until after the shutdown ends on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2020 unless absolutely necessary. This includes students living both on and off campus and international students who were scheduled to travel to Kingston for the start of the winter academic term. 

The letter details what this means for the University:

  • The start of in-person classes will be delayed, with the exception of a limited number of classes that require in-person teaching as permitted by the government, such as clinical training that supports health-related programs (e.g. Medicine, Nursing, Rehabilitation Sciences)
  • Students in other programs who were expecting to begin on-campus activity in the winter term will receive further communications from their faculty or program office.
  • Students who are scheduled to return or move into a Residence building are strongly encouraged to remain in their home communities, unless absolutely necessary. These students will receive additional information from Residence Life Services shortly.
  • International students travelling to Kingston for the start of the winter term are strongly encouraged to delay their arrival, unless absolutely necessary. These students will receive additional information from the Queen’s University International Centre shortly.
  • For already approved on-site research activity, if researchers can work remotely (from home) they should do so, only coming on campus as necessary. New requests for on-site activity are suspended. Important information on research continuity planning, including on-site access, human participant research, and field research, is available on the Vice-Principal (Research) website.
  • All athletic and recreation facilities are closed for in-person access.
  • On-campus access for employees will be limited. Only essential staff and faculty or those who must be on campus to do their work should be on campus. All other faculty, staff, senior administration, and student leadership will work remotely except for required ad hoc access (for example, to record a lecture, print documents, or retrieve files) or those with accommodation requirements.
  • All university-sponsored travel outside of Canada remains suspended indefinitely. This affects students, staff, and faculty and includes all future exchange, study abroad, letters of permission, faculty-led programs, internships, research placements, community-engaged learning, practicums, and conferences.

More information on the impact of the Provincewide Shutdown and its impact on Queen’s will be available in the New Year, the Office of the Provost said in the letter. Units, department, and faculties across the university will be providing updates on their services on their websites and through other communications channels.

“It seems we’ll get a little bit of a respite with Queen’s adhering to the Province-wide Shutdown and not asking any students to return to residence and going completely online except for in-person training related to the health professions,” said Dr. Moore.

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