KINGSTON, ONT. -- Students at Queen’s University are being urged not to return to campus while the 28-day provincial lockdown is in place.

In a statement Wednesday, the school says both on- and off-campus students should not plan to come back to Kingston until after Jan. 23, unless it is ‘absolutely necessary.’

Medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Dr. Kieran Moore, said in a statement on Tuesday that the school would be reviewing a return based on COVID-19 numbers.

“They’ll be reviewing the data and, by the third week of January, they’ll be monitoring whether there’s permission to allow students back into residence,” he explained.

Queen’s says during the 28-day lockdown:

  • The start of in-person classes will be delayed, with the exception of a limited number of classes that require in-person teaching as permitted by the government, such as clinical training that supports health-related programs (e.g. Medicine, Nursing, Rehabilitation Sciences)
  • Students who are scheduled to return or move into a residence building are strongly encouraged to remain in their home communities, unless absolutely necessary.
  • All athletic and recreational facilities are closed for in-person access.

Off-campus second year student Madeleine Gaul is leaving Queen’s for winter break; she says when she returns she’s been told it will come with some added precautions for her engineering classes.

“We’ll have to do some COVID training,” she says. “I don’t know what it’ll entail, but I’m guessing following protocols and all that stuff.”

Gaul was set to return to in-class learning in the new year, and while she’s disappointed, she understands.

“It might be better to wait a bit longer until they're fully sure that it’s safe to be returning,” she says, “so that it can be more successful.”

Some post-secondary institutions in Ontario, like Carleton and the University of Ottawa have decided to reopen at the start of the year, as planned.

In Kingston, there have been a number of off-campus Queen’s students testing positive for the virus. Dr. Moore says keeping students away from the city during the provincewide shutdown will help prevent further spread.

“For us, 50 to 60 per cent of our workload was just dealing with the off-campus student population,” he says. “It seems like we’ll get a little bit of a respite.”

No matter when students do return to the city, they are all being asked to self-isolate for 14 days as soon as they come back.