COVID-19 updates: Queen’s cancels all in-person activities for Homecoming 2020

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Thursday, May 21 

Queen’s cancels all in-person activities for Homecoming 2020

 1:30 p.m. – Queen’s University will host Homecoming 2020 virtually this year, cancelling all in-person activities and events.

“We know that this decision will cause great sadness and disappointment to the members of our alumni family,” Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand said in a statement on Thursday. “We had always hoped that this measure would not be necessary.”

According to the statement, the decision was made as public health guidance continues to emphasize physical distancing. 

“The health and safety of all members of the Queen’s community is our number one priority, and we want to ensure that the same measures we are taking to protect our students are also in place for our alumni,” Bertrand said. 

—Raechel Huizinga



Thursday, May 14:

Queen’s cancels study abroad program for fall term

2:00 p.m. – The University cancelled its study abroad program in a statement on May 13 due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns.

Sandra den Otter, associate vice-principal (research and international), wrote that the decision was made to ensure the safety and well-being of students, faculty and staff, and the broader community during the pandemic.

“I am aware that you have been much anticipating your travel and we regret that this will not be possible in the fall term,” den Otter wrote.

den Otter cited uncertainty about public health, travel restrictions, immigration and health insurance factors, and the ability of host universities to welcome Queen’s students as some of the reasons behind the decision.

She said several international partner universities who had intended to host Queen’s students have already cancelled their programs for incoming students. The University expects more cancellations to follow in the weeks ahead.

Students who were planning to participate in a study abroad opportunity will be contacted by the University’s international offices about options for deferred exchange.

—Claudia Rupnik



Tuesday, May 12:

Queen’s allows access to print material in University libraries

11:30 a.m. – Queen’s University Library will provide faculty and graduate researchers on-site access to some of its print collections through an online request process. Details about requesting material will be posted on its website on May 12, with the first curbside pick-up at Stauffer Library planned for early next week.

Individuals requesting access to print materials will complete a consultation with a librarian to review their need. They will then submit a formal written request for approval.

While access to material remains limited, this decision will allow some individuals to resume on-site research at the University.

The University closed its physical library facilities in March in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Since then, online library resources have remained available to members of the Queen’s community.

—Claudia Rupnik

Monday, May 11:

KFL&A Public Health reports region clear of all positive COVID-19 cases

10:00 a.m. – Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health reported on May 8 that the county’s 61 positive cases of COVID-19 had been resolved, with zero deaths in the region. Of those cases, 16 were health care workers who had tested positive.

The region has completed 6,884 tests with a 0.9 per cent total positive rate as of May 9.


—Claudia Rupnik



Thursday, April 30:

Brant House to remain open after May 1

2:45 p.m. – Brant House residence will remain open for students who require housing after May 1.

“This building is sufficient to meet anticipated demand, [but] more spaces can be made available if needed,” Kate Murray, director of Residence Life, wrote in a statement to The Journal.

Earlier this month, Residence Life contacted students still living in residence to identify their interest in remaining in residence after the end of the semester. Approximately 30 students indicated they would stay after May 1, according to Murray.

Students have been advised they can stay through mid-August, with the option of cancelling their stay at any point, as they make travel plans or alternate housing arrangements.

To date, Residence Life has also received a handful of inquiries and requests about housing from students living off-campus, with a few scheduled to move into Brant House later this week.

—Claudia Rupnik



Friday, April 24:

AMS donates more than $44,000 to student bursaries for COVID-19 relief

8:30 p.m. – The AMS is donating more than $44,000 to two bursary funds aimed at supporting students during the pandemic.

In an April 24 press release, the AMS said it contributed $30,000 the University’s COVID-19 Emergency Bursary Fund and $14,000 to an internal bursary for part-time staff at AMS services who lost work in March because of COVID-19-related closure.

In the statement to The Journal on April 23, the Society said its doing all it can to help students during these “challenging times.”

—Claudia Rupnik


Tuesday, April 7:

Queen’s will host virtual spring convocation for class of 2020 

12:00 p.m. – The University will offer virtual ceremonies to the class of 2020.

Principal Patrick Deane announced on March 16 that spring convocation is postponed due to the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19.

In an email sharing a survey about the virtual convocation, University Registrar (Interim) Stuart Pinchin said the virtual ceremony isn’t intended to replace the option of attending “a future in-person traditional ceremony.”

—Claudia Rupnik

Friday, April 3:

Kingston Pride festival events called off

12:00 p.m. – Kingston Pride’s board of directors called off this year’s Pride Festival events in an effort to “safeguard the health and well-being of every member of [the] community” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s Pride Festival was scheduled for the week of June 7 to 13.

In an announcement on their website, the Board said June will still be celebrated as Pride Month, and Kingston Pride will be organized in “new and innovative ways.”

The Board is in the process of developing virtual celebrations of Kingston’s diversity, with more details to be announced in the coming weeks.

—Claudia Rupnik

Thursday, April 2:

First COVID-19 case confirmed at Queen’s

3:25 p.m. – Principal Patrick Deane confirmed that a Queen’s community member in Kingston has tested positive for COVID-19. The University did not identify the student, however, they said the individual is self-isolating and is being monitored by the regional public health network.

Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington Public Health is also following up with those who have been in close contact with the individual.

In an April 2 email to the student body, Deane called the spread of the virus among the student population “inevitable” because of the increasing number of cases in Canada.

—Claudia Rupnik

Thursday, March 19:

Fourth COVID-19 case confirm in Kingston

7:25 p.m. – A local woman in her 70s who recently returned from Portugal tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, making her the fourth case in Kingston. She is currently being treated.

The other three cases, two women and one man, tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday. There are currently 736 cases of COVID-19 in Canada.

—Raechel Huizinga

Wednesday, March 18:

Queen’s recalls students abroad

2:15 p.m. – All Queen’s students studying abroad are being recalled by the University and asked to return to their home countries.

Citing “rapidly-changing circumstances across the globe,” a University statement posted Wednesday afternoon said Queen’s will work with students and their former host universities to accommodate interrupted academic plans.

The University will also provide financial support for the changed travel plans, and can assist students in planning their trips home.

If circumstances are preventing students from leaving their current locations, they are asked to let Queen’s know by Thursday, March 19 at 9 a.m. EST. The students who return to Canada will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return in alignment with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s directives.

—Meredith Wilson-Smith

AMS Food Bank suspends operations

12:45 p.m. – The AMS Food Bank announced Wednesday it will suspend all operations from Mar. 20 until Apr. 30.

The decision to close the service was made in accordance with Principal Patrick Deane’s March 16 email recommendation that community members avoid public spaces where personal distancing of two metres or more is not possible.

Located in room 343 of the JDUC, the small parameters of the Food Bank are unable to accommodate this type of social distancing.

To ensure resources are still available to students in this time of need, the Food Bank will donate the remainder of their grocery budget for the academic year to support the Kingston Food Bank.

—Claudia Rupnik

Tuesday, March 17:

Queen’s to partially close libraries following emergency declaration

5:15 p.m. – Queen’s will close a number of different library locations until further notice, including the Union Gallery and the Maps & Air Photos library in Stauffer.

“We are in the process of reviewing all interactions carried out at our information service desks to determine what service levels will be maintained and how they will be delivered,” a statement posted Tuesday afternoon said.

The 1966 Reading Room in Douglas will also close, along with the Fireplace Reading Room in Stauffer, the W.D. Jordan Rare Books & Special Collections, the University Archives, the Queen’s Research Data Centre, and Watson Hall LINQ.

On Tuesday morning, Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency in Ontario, requiring a number of services—including libraries—to close.

—Raechel Huizinga

Three COVID-19 cases confirmed in Kingston

1:05 p.m. – At a Tuesday press conference, regional public health officials announced three positive COVID-19 cases in Kingston.

Speaking to reporters, Dr. Kieran Moore said two of the three cases were assessed at Kingston’s COVID-19 assessment centre. The three individuals, two females, age 44 and 62, and one male, 48, had all traveled recently, including to Spain, Barbados, and the United Kingdom.

He added the risk remains low that any of the patients had significant contact with others.

“All individuals are recovering at home and have been put on self-isolation and are being monitored by KFLA public health,” Moore said.

—Raechel Huizinga

University asks students to move out of residence by March 22

1:00 p.m. – Students living in residents were requested to move out by Sunday, March 22. Students who are unable to do so will be allowed to remain.

In an email to students sent by Leah Wales, executive director of Housing and Ancillary Services, students will eligible for compensation if they move out before the given date.

If students move out by March 22, they’ll receive a fees refund to their student account of $1,150. Students will also get $700 in flex dollars, which will carry over into the upcoming academic year.

“These amounts were determined on the basis of average room rates across all types and approximate values of the old portion of your room and board overall fees,” the email read.

Food will continue to be provided to students who choose to remain, however, they’ll need to register and receive confirmation to stay with the Residence Stay Over Form.

—Sydney Ko

Monday, March 16:

Spring convocation ceremonies cancelled

4:15 p.m. – Spring convocation will not take place this year, Principal Patrick Deane announced in an email to students on Monday afternoon.

Citing social distancing as being critical to containing the spread of COVID-19, Deane said conventional convocation ceremonies would “simply not be possible.”

“Students will graduate and degrees will be conferred, but mass gatherings of hundreds of people will likely be no less hazardous in two months’ time than they are today,” Deane wrote.

—Raechel Huizinga 

Queen’s limits all gatherings to no more than 10 people

4:15 p.m. – Principal Patrick Deane announced new COVID-19 preventative measures on Monday, limiting all gatherings, including any work-related activities, to no more than 10 people.

“We need to protect our community, which includes our staff, faculty, and students,” he wrote in a statement. “Social events and non-essential gatherings should be cancelled.”

He added that essential meetings should be moved online, and everyone should avoid public spaces where personal distancing of two metres or more is not possible.

—Raechel Huizinga 

Summer programming at the BISC scrapped

4:15 p.m. – Queen’s won’t offer summer courses at the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in Southern England in 2020, Principal Patrick Deane announced Monday.

In a March 14 statement, Hugh Horton, executive director of the BISC, said students who chose to return home to Canada could continue their studies remotely. He added the Centre would support those who chose to stay.

“In the highly unlikely case that travel to Canada or your home country is no longer possible, you are welcome to stay at the BISC for as long as you need. I am going nowhere until everyone has gone home at end of term” Horton said.

—Iain Sherriff-Scott

Graduate programs to be delivered remotely, no in-person exams

4:15 p.m. – Queen’s graduate programs will be moved to remote delivery, Principal Patrick Deane announced in a Monday statement.

There will be no more in-person classes or labs for the duration of the term for both undergraduate and graduate courses. Additionally, there will be no in-person exams, except for comprehensive or dissertation defenses.

“Graduate student research activities should be accessed remotely whenever possible and where not, continue with appropriate social distancing,” Deane said. “Despite this change in format, our expectation is that students will complete the academic year, gaining course credits as appropriate, and those who are set to complete their programs, will do so.”

—Raechel Huizinga

Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre to close at 1 p.m.

11:55 a.m. – All Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Centre facilities will close Monday at 1 p.m., due to ongoing COVID-19 developments.

“COVID-19 continues to change rapidly across the world, and we want to take steps to limit the spread and risks of the disease in our community,” a statement posted Monday morning read.

Staff will be available to assist with the retrieval of personal items on Monday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Tuesday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

—Raechel Huizinga

Friday, March 13:

Students in residence given go-ahead to leave campus, can come back for belongings

9:45 p.m. – Students in residence have the option to remain on campus or go home.

In an email distributed to students in residence on Friday, Director of Residence Life Kate Murray said students could either fully move out of their rooms, move out now, and collect their belongings later, or stay for the remainder of the term.

For students who choose to remain in residence, dining halls will still be open. Social distancing is being encouraged, and any students who show symptoms of COVID-19 should notify and begin self-isolation.

The email stated students could not host guests in residence.

Residence Life Manager (Operations) Becky Shillington also sent an email to dons on Friday, asking them to consider remaining in residence this weekend to support first-year students who are moving out.

—Raechel Huizinga

Athletics & Recreation cancels, postpones all events, programming

9:45 p.m. – Athletics & Recreation announced Friday it would cancel or postpone all events and programming effective March 14 until further notice.

This includes all Recreational and Varsity club activity, all Varsity team activities, all instructional and intramural programming, and all camps.

All large gatherings, including athletic banquets, facility rentals, and special events, have also been cancelled. The ARC and Q Sports Medicine clinic will remain open.

—Raechel Huizinga

Faculty of Arts and Science to shift in-person classes online for the remainder of the term

7:30 p.m. – Barbara Crow, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science, informed students Friday evening that on-campus classes will be canceled for the remainder of the term after courses resume on March 23.

Earlier on Friday, Principal Patrick Deane suspended undergraduate courses from March 16 to 23 while the University takes time to assess how programing will proceed. 

Crow said students would be updated as soon as possible on the faculty’s plan for delivering exams. “As a result, there is no requirement for you to be on campus for the remainder of the term,” she wrote. 

The University, including residences, libraries, and Student Wellness Services, will remain operational during the upcoming suspension.

—Iain Sherriff-Scott

SGPS rep raises concerns over School of Graduate Studies preparation 

7:30 p.m. – Allison Bonnell, SGPS representative for the Master of Industrial Relations (MIR) program, raised concerns Friday about the University’s decision to continue in-person graduate courses while suspending undergraduate courses. 

In an email statement to Fahim Quadir, dean of Graduate Studies, and other administrators, Bonnell said the school has an “ethical obligation” to explain its decision not to suspend graduate classes while doing so for undergraduate classes.

“Graduate students were provided very little information as to why this is the case, to the detriment of public and community health. Many graduate classes have large numbers of students,” she wrote. 

Bonnell noted that while some graduate faculties are shifting courses online this week, including the Smith School of Business, the same isn’t true across the School of Graduate Studies. 

“Why has it been deemed a public health risk for undergraduate classes to continue, but the same is not true of graduate classes?”

—Iain Sherriff-Scott


coronavirus, Covid-19, updates

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