The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Campus residences close, students asked to move out

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The Saskatchewan Hall of Voyager Place Residence photographed on the U of S campus on June 7, 2019. | File / Heywood Yu

The University of Saskatche­wan is following the example of other universities across Cana­da by shutting down on-cam­pus residences. The university is urging all students who can return home safely to do so, with only three-days notice.

The U of S campus is now closed to students and the gen­eral public alike, with classes being taught remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic as there are now 72 cases in Sas­katchewan. Over half of stu­dents have already moved out of on-campus residences due to classes being delivered online, particularly since the universi­ty announced that all final ex­ams will also be taken remotely.

Originally, the university was not planning on asking students to vacate residences. But late Sunday evening, the university issued a statement announcing the closure of Voyageur Place buildings.

The Voyageur Place dorm-style residences are not ide­al for social distancing when compared to apartment-style units. Students who cannot return home and had their cases approved by the universi­ty had to move to the U of S’s other residence buildings by Wednesday noon.

Three days before this an­nouncement in an email to the Sheaf, the U of S said they were hoping to keep the residences open in order to support stu­dents that depend on them for housing and food security.

“At this time, we have inter­national and domestic students who do not have the ability to return home,” the university said. “If they were displaced from residence, we are uncer­tain if and how they would find accommodations.”

The high density and social nature of student residenc­es were already a concern to the university at the time. To address this, preventative measures were taken, such as cleaning and disinfecting all high-touch surfaces. The university meal plan cafeteria Marquis Hall, which is now closed, had begun enforcing schedules to divide residents into smaller groups.

“As a result of the residence being equipped with full in-room kitchens, Culinary Ser­vices will no longer be offering dining service, but will offer modified food delivery if a resi­dent is in self-isolation or quar­antine,” the university said.

As of March 23, there were no known cases of COVID-19 in U of S residences, accord­ing to George Foufas, director of consumer services. How­ever, some students that ar­rived from outside the country have been self-isolating on the premises as a precaution. The university is preparing for pos­sible future cases, including identifying spaces for quaran­tining students.

“We have asked the students who self-isolated … to monitor their health and communicate with us on a scheduled daily basis with updates,” the univer­sity said.

“We will work with our cam­pus and local health authority to deal with the situation if it arises. We have developed pro­tocol in order to support the student.”

Wardah Anwar

Photo: File / Heywood Yu

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