The move out deadline is this Sunday at 4 p.m. Photo: Parker Townes/The Fulcrum
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International students, those with “exceptional circumstances” exempt from deadline 

After previously only encouraging students to do so, the University of Ottawa says everyone living in residence except for international students and those with “exceptional circumstances” needs to move out by this Sunday at 4 p.m. due to mounting concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The directive from the administration is a change in tone from the message they sent on March 15, when students were urged to move out by the Sunday deadline but were not forced to do so. The U of O also announced prorated refunds on meal plan and residence fees if students moved out by the Sunday deadline, which will still apply.

The move out requirement from the U of O comes after Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, closing recreation centres, private schools, public libraries, bars, restaurants, movie theatres, concert venues and places of worship until at least March 30. 

“This difficult and drastic decision has not been taken lightly, but we deem it an appropriate response to the public health emergency caused by the spread of … COVID-19,” provost and vice-president academic affairs Jill Scott said in an online update posted Tuesday night

“It is another critical step in our necessary efforts to employ social distancing to flatten the infection curve and reduce the impact of the virus,” added Scott. 

Students with “exceptional circumstances” are asked to fill out a form requesting to remain in residence. These forms will be reviewed within 24 hours, and students may be required to relocate if approved to stay in residence.

On the form, students can indicate that their destination country is inaccessible due to a travel advisory, or add more information if “extraordinary circumstances apply.” 

Students who are self-isolating must call 613-462-7221.

The U of O cancelled classes and labs on Monday and Tuesday and will shift the remainder of the semester online starting Wednesday.

U of O president Jacques Frémont said exams will not be taken in person and plans are being developed for the exam period. All university-related travel by U of O students and staff is prohibited until further notice, while faculty travel is “strongly discouraged.” 

Most food services on campus have closed, along with all libraries and athletics/recreation facilities.

U of O Health Services has also updated its protocol for medical notes and has shifted most appointments to phone calls for this week.  

Clinical placements for nursing and medical students have been suspended and counselling services have shifted online.

As of Tuesday, there are still no confirmed cases of the virus in the U of O community, but there are 13 positive cases in the city. However, Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says “there could now be hundreds to even a thousand cases in the community now.”

Etches is recommending people limit non-essential trips out of the home.

Across the province, there has been one death from COVID-19 and at least 183 confirmed cases of the virus as of Tuesday, with five labelled as resolved. There have been at least 424 confirmed cases of the virus in Canada.

COVID-19 has infected more than 190,000 people and killed over 7,500 globally since emerging in China in December 2019.

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Editor’s Note (March 18, 2:35 p.m.): Upon confirmation from the U of O administration, this article has been updated to reflect that prorated refunds on meal plans and residence fees will still apply.