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The building is located on King Edward Avenue. Photo: Matt Gergyek/The Fulcrum

Building was not in use when City of Ottawa made request for housing, administration says

A University of Ottawa building will house a number of vulnerable families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration said on Sunday

Around 65 people will move into the building located at 585 King Edward Ave. on Monday after a request was made by the City of Ottawa. The building was not in use when the city made its request, according to the U of O. 

“Some of these new residents may have been exposed to people who carry the coronavirus, while others are exhibiting symptoms of the illness, hence the need to quickly house them so that they can self-isolate,” the U of O wrote in a Gazette article. 

Earlier this week, the Ottawa Citizen reported that the city was exploring the possibility of using U of O buildings for overflow emergency housing amid the pandemic.

“Our teams have collaborated together with energy and agility to support the community in these difficult times,” associate vice-president Marc-Antoine Joly said in the Gazette article. 

According to the U of O’s website, most university-owned buildings on King Edward Avenue have been converted from private residences. The building at 585 King Edward Ave. was previously used by the department of mathematics and statistics.  

The U of O moved the remainder of the semester online (including exams) on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone but international students and those with “exceptional circumstances” were forced to leave residence by March 22. All athletics/recreation facilities have closed, along with most campus food services

The university’s Senate will let each faculty make decisions about the conduct of their final assessments. 

The faculties of social sciences, engineering, arts, and the Telfer School of Management have all approved optional pass/fail final course grading, but it’s still unclear how the faculties of education, health sciences, medicine, science, and law will approach final assessments.

The U of O announced earlier this week that summer courses would be held online. The school has also launched an emergency fund that students can access for financial support.

As of Sunday, there were 122 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa but none confirmed in the U of O community. Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches urges everyone to remain home and only leave the house unless necessary, such as for a weekly grocery trip. 

Across the province, there have been 23 deaths from COVID-19 (two of which are not yet lab confirmed) and at least 1,324 confirmed cases of the virus as of Sunday, with eight labelled as resolved. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency and the province has closed all non-essential businesses. The province has now limited gatherings to no more than five people, with exceptions for some events. 

There have been at least 6,240 confirmed cases of the virus and 61 deaths across Canada.

Globally, COVID-19 has infected more than 716,000 people and killed over 33,000 since emerging in China in December 2019. There have been over 149,000 recoveries from the virus.

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The Fulcrum has reached out to the City of Ottawa for more information. This article will be updated as necessary.