In the midst of Kingston’s worst COVID outbreak yet, with 474.1 cases per 100,000 in the last 7 days, Queen’s University has announced that at least the first half of the winter semester will be entirely online.
This week Queen’s has taken measures to try to help control the outbreak among their student population including cancelling most in person exams and making rapid tests widely available to students and faculty, and today announced at least two months of remote delivery.
“This is a proactive measure to support the health and safety of the Queen’s and Kingston communities and align with Ontario’s accelerated booster dose rollout for individuals aged 18 or older,” the statement released by Queen’s Safe Return reads.
Along with new capacity limits, the Ontario government announced that boosters would be made available to those 18 or older as of Monday, and shortening the waiting period from six months to three months amidst outbreaks and concerns over the Omnicron variant.
Queen’s release also states that a very small number of classes will remain in person, but even those are at the mercy of public health orders.
“With some very limited exceptions, which are themselves subject to change should public health considerations require it, all courses will be taught remotely until February 28, 2022.”
The decision on the format of classes after the stated date will be made and communicated in February 2022.
The release continues that residence buildings will remain open during the Winter term, but that students who do not have in-person activities in January and February are encouraged to remain in their home communities.
Refunds or decreases in fees for students in residence were not made clear, however the release states that students will receive more information from Residence and Life Services this Friday, December 17.
With the lack of clarity around the future of COVID cases in the community, some students are frustrated and want to see Queen’s shift the entire semester to online learning in hopes of recouping at least a portion of their remaining rent dues.
“I wish Queen’s would just shut down for the whole semester. So many people will be inconvenienced by the uncertainty of knowing if they have to keep leases,” said Nick, a computer engineering student at Queen’s.
“Queen’s just wants to keep their res money. The small benefit of MAYBE 4-6 weeks of in person education isn’t worth that for students.”
Queen’s University could not be reached for comment on rental implications for students in time for publication.
The school says any in-person activities through the University will still require mandatory COVID-19 vaccination as well as mandatory masking, hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning and ventilation policies.
The statement added that Queen’s recognized the toll this may take on the mental health of the Queen’s community, and direct faculty to the Employee and Family Assistance Program, while listing Empower Me, Good2Talk and Student Wellness Services as resources for students.
Students will be receiving separate emails with details specific to their programs and ongoing changes in the coming days.