Waterloo residences ask students to leave as COVID-19 pandemic halts the academic mission

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Graphic by Harshitha Damodaran

Days after all in-person classes were cancelled at UW, the athletic and recreational facilities on campus have completely closed, and UW students were asked to leave their residences by Friday March 20 at noon.

All food services on campus have been closed and non-essential UW staff are being asked to stay home.

This, under the broader umbrella of Canada closing the border to all non-Canadian or non-permanent residents.

The university has announced that it is suspending all events that are non-vital for the academic goals of the students.

The athletics and recreation buildings were closed effective Mar. 15, 2020.

This includes both the Physical Activities Complex (PAC) as well as Columbia Icefield (CIF) and this closure will be in effect until fur- ther notice.

All registered programs, varsity practices and workouts, facility rentals, and March Break/Specialty camps to do with these facilities are cancelled effective immediate- ly until the end of the term.

All appropriate refunds will be issued.

Throughout the period of class closure, the university will allow instructors to find alternative ways of delivering learning, such as how exams can be delivered.

Even after the end of suspension of classes, the university has cancelled all in-person course activities until Apr. 25.

To know how assessments will happen, instructors will give in- formation to students in the next few days.

“Effective Mar. 14, we are sus- pending classes and course activity until Mar. 23. We’re also can- celling in-person course activity until the end of the term, including exams,” Matthew Grant, Director of Communications of UW, said.

“During that suspension, we are developing alternative means of education delivery should they become necessary. We are currently reviewing how upcoming exams can be delivered.”

The Government of Canada announced that all non-Canadian and all non-permanent residents are unable to visit Canada. Although, this excludes American citizens. It is also mentioned that Canadians who are abroad are currently unable to return if they are showing symptoms.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging all Canadians from around the world travelling to “come home”.

In the Region of Waterloo (ROW), congregations of over 50 people are being discouraged by ROW Public Health and Emergency Services.

The Ezra Ave. street party was specifically condemned during the public health press conference.

March Break Open House scheduled for Mar. 21 has also been cancelled.

All alumni events booked before May 1 have been cancelled or postponed.

Any registration fees already paid will be refunded.

Furthermore, an email will be sent informing attendants if their event has been cancelled or postponed. The Verification of Illness (VIF) form is now a self declaration, meaning there is no need for a doctor’s note.

“We have made the verification of illness form for students a self-declaration, which means students do not need a doctor’s note for accommodation should they become ill,” Grant said. “We have enhanced cleaning protocols on campus, including more regular decontamination of lecture halls and extended use of disinfectant of high-touch surfaces.”

Travel outside the country that is not necessary for academic pur- poses has been suspended.

Some of these suspended activities include meetings with academic partners, participating in academic conferences and professional or personal development.

All travellers who returned to Canada are urged to self-isolate for 14 days upon their arrival, in order to halt the possible spread of the virus.

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