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Photo: Parker Townes/The Fulcrum

Residents and essential services, including campus support services, will remain open until at least the end of the semester

As concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in the city continue to grow, the University of Ottawa is offering refunds and urging students in residence to move home early to reduce the strain on campus resources, according to an online update from the administration on Sunday night. 

In a similar update sent to students in residence, the administration said those who move out before 4 p.m. on March 22 will receive a prorated refund for both residence and meal plan fees. 

Residents and essential services, including campus support services, will remain open until at least the end of the semester. 

“It is possible that for your safety and the safety of our entire community, we may have to move some students to different rooms to maximize social distancing,” reads the email to students in residence. 

The administration says it has enhanced standard cleaning processes in residence buildings and the dining hall is putting precautionary measures in place. 

“We have a plan if someone on campus or in-residence tests positive for COVID-19, and self-isolation procedures are in place should this be necessary,” according to the email to students in residence. 

Preparations have been made for accommodations for our international students who may not be able to return home due to travel restrictions, according to the administration. International students with questions or concerns are asked to visit the Tabaret Hall study lounges from Monday-Friday during regular business hours, where staff from the International Office will be present.

The U of O is encouraging all administrative staff to work from home on Monday, except those whose duties are essential to the continued operations of the campus,” as well as directors and managers. Faculties and services will spend tomorrow developing contingency plans and determining which employees will be needed on-site as of Tuesday, according to the administration. 

All campus events on Monday have been cancelled, with the exception of events for international students. Both intramural and high-performance sports are cancelled for the rest of the semester as well.

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. Clinical and co-op placements will continue without change unless students are otherwise notified. 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.  

As of Sunday, there are still no confirmed cases of the virus in the U of O community, but there are 10 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 urging people to limit non-essential trips out of the home and to maintain a one- to two-metre distance from others.

Across the province, there are at least 140 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Sunday, with five labelled as resolved. There have been at least 304 confirmed cases of the virus in Canada

COVID-19 has infected more than 156,000 people and killed over 5,800 globally since emerging in China in December 2019. 

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