KINGSTON, ONT. -- On a normal year, students would be filling the hallways of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. very soon, but this year will be anything but normal under COVID-19.

Everything has changed for those moving into dorms, from sleeping arrangements to interacting with other students. Even meals are different.

Usually, 24,000 students would fill the Kingston, Ont. campus but, this year, there will be only about 6,000 students on campus, says Ann Tierney, the school’s dean of student affairs.

A normal year would see around 4,000 students living in one of the school’s 17 residence buildings. This fall, just over 2,000 students will live on campus in one of 10 buildings.

Students were chosen based on need, says Tierney.

“We offered priority for students who may need to live in residence for reasons of internet connectivity problems, or additional support, or being in an environment where remote learning would be difficult,” she explains.


Queen's Dorm

Dorm rooms will only hold one person per room, instead of the shared spaces of previous years.

Bathrooms will only be shared with two other neighbours as well. 

While living in the dorms, many students will still be attending remote learning courses. About 100 will be attending in-person lectures, according to Tierney.

Students will be kept in a ‘household model’ as well, with those in the same programs placed in small groups.

Queen's washrooms

“If and when we’re able to offer more programming on campus, those are the students that would be going to the same classes together,” explains Tierney. “Again, so we’re kind of reducing the extent of contact with other students by keeping kids in the same programs together.”

Once in the hallways, students will have to wear a mask, and keep a safe distance from one another.

Queen's Masks

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, they will be moved to another building where they will be isolated.

Shared common spaces have reduced capacity and desks and chairs have been spaced out, to ensure physical distancing measures are met.


Queen's Caf

The cafeteria is primarily being reserved for those in residence, however may also be available to some off-campus students.

While take-out will also be available, students will be able to sit and dine-in, but with reduced capacity, and chairs placed apart to ensure physical distancing.

There will be no buffet-style food. Lines will be marked to ensure students keep a safe distance while waiting.

Tierney says the changes are about balancing first-year students' desires to get out in the world, while keeping people safe.

“They’ll be able to build a community, but in a different way,” she explains. “Like we’re all doing things differently.”