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Administration cancels classes on Monday and Tuesday, moves semester online on Wednesday

After announcing the decision to move the rest of the semester online this coming Wednesday, the University of Ottawa is waiving fees for cancelled or postponed events on campus until the end of August if a 10 days’ written notice prior to the event is provided, according to an email from the school’s convention and reservations team.

“Reservations and services cancelled within less than 10 calendar days’ notice will not be refunded,” the convention and reservations team said in an email Friday morning.

The administration is urging those who have events planned before March 24 to contact their coordination agent immediately with updates on whether they plan to go forward with the event. According to the school, these events will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

On Friday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health recommended the immediate suspension of large events and gatherings of over 250 people.

“The U of O is continuously monitoring the situation as it develops, and if other decisions are made concerning events and gatherings on our campus, we will communicate the information to all of our clients,” reads an email sent by the convention and reservations team on Friday.

The U of O said on Friday afternoon that it is cancelling classes on Monday and Tuesday and will be moving the remainder of the semester to online or distance learning on Wednesday. The campus remains open, including all residences, food services, libraries and “other facilities and services.”

Exams will not be taken in person and plans are being developed for the exam period, with more information to come. Clinical and co-op placements will continue without change unless students are otherwise notified.

As of Saturday morning, no cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the university community but there were five positive cases in Ottawa.

Across the province, there have been at least 96 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday, with five labelled as resolved. There have been at least 193 confirmed cases of the virus in Canada

COVID-19 has infected more than 145,000 people and killed over 5,000 globally since emerging in China in December 2019. 

U of O Health Services introduced a new medical note protocol earlier this week, where students can request a medical note for a short-term illness (less than 72 hours) proving they are or were unable to meet an academic requirement from walk-in clinic reception staff without needing to see a doctor or nurse practitioner.

The new process looks to cut down on the administrative strain to clinical resources, reduce exposure of students to contagious illnesses in clinic space, and save the clinic’s capacity for those who need to see a medical professional for advice or treatment.

The school has also struck a working group of senior administrators, led by president Jacques Frémont and provost and vice-president (academic affairs) Jill Scott, to coordinate the university’s response across campuses.

Earlier this month, it was announced that five U of O professors are receiving more than $2 million in funding from the federal government to support research projects aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Editor’s Note (March 14, 12 p.m.): This article has been updated to reflect the U of O’s decision to move classes online this Wednesday. This update also includes the most recent COVID-19 infection numbers.