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Campus remains open but operations are limited. Photo: Matt Gergyek/The Fulcrum

Counselling services remain open, shift online starting Tuesday

In an update to the University of Ottawa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday evening, the administration suspended clinical placements for medical and nursing students, effective immediately, and said counselling services will shift online starting Tuesday. 

The university continues to remain open but operations are limited. Employees are expected to work remotely, “unless their physical presence is required to maintain operational safety and/or the continuity of operations.” Employees who are on sick leave or holidays are urged to contact their supervisor to discuss their situation.

Five computer labs will remain open for student use, located in 101 Montpetit Hall, 2008 and 2015 Vanier Hall, 102 Colonel By Hall, and 0110 SITE.

“Please practise social distancing and proper hygiene while using these labs and refrain from using them if you are feeling unwell,” the administration wrote in its update.

Students in co-op are urged to follow instructions from their employers when it comes to remote work, while students employed by the U of O should follow their supervisor’s instructions.

“Whether or not students (employed by the university) are able to report to work or continue working remotely, they will continue to be paid until the end of their contract,” the administration wrote. 

Earlier Monday, the administration announced the closure of most food services on campus, with the exception of Première Moission in FSS and the University Centre’s Dining Hall.

The U of O is encouraging the community to embrace social distancing but avoid social isolation. 

“Social distancing and the possibility of self-quarantine does not mean you should isolate yourself socially,” the administration wrote. “Please stay in touch with friends and family and look after your safety and wellbeing.”

On Friday, the U of O cancelled classes and labs on Monday and Tuesday and shifted 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.” 

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

The U of O is offering refunds and urging students in residence to move home early to reduce the strain on campus resources.

As of Monday, 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 to limit non-essential trips out of the home. The province’s chief medical officer of health is urging bars, nightclubs, theatres and dine-in restaurants to close by midnight.

Across the province, there are at least 172 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, with five labelled as resolved. There have been at least 424 confirmed cases of the virus in Canada.

COVID-19 has infected more than 179,000 people and killed over 7,000 globally since emerging in China in December 2019.

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