This article has been updated.
University cancels classes and exams scheduled for March 13
Confirming reports from CTV Montreal, Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning) Fabrice Labeau announced that McGill would be cancelling classes and exams March 13 in an email sent to staff and students. Conferences for graduate students are also cancelled.
“In order to evaluate how today’s coronavirus (COVID-19) announcement from the Quebec government will impact campus operations and academic activities, the University is suspending classes and exams on Friday, March 13,” the email read.
Shortly after McGill’s announcement, Concordia University followed suit and announced that all classes would be suspended until the 16th, with courses with over 250 enrolments being moved online next week. The Université de Montréal announced its plans to undertake similar measures earlier that afternoon.
Ban on public gatherings
The decision comes after Quebec Premier François Legault’s announcement of a ban on all indoor events with more than 250 people. Anyone with flu-like symptoms and anyone returning from abroad, regardless of where they came from, was also advised to self-quarantine. Schools remain open, although multiple private schools, such as Academie Louis-Pasteur, have cancelled classes.
Libraries, arenas, and pools in Quebec will also close, as well as any spaces where more than 250 people can gather.
13 confirmed cases; one in McGill hospital
One of the cases, a young adult who recently returned from Europe, was identified at the McGill University Health Centre. The staff members who came into contact with the patient will not be staying home.
McGill’s Faculty Olympics cancelled
All remaining Faculty Olympics (FACo) events were called following Legault’s announcement. The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Vice-President Internal Sanchi Bhalla ultimately decided to hold exclusively online closing ceremonies.
“We’ve cancelled all of tomorrow’s events, as well as the power hour tonight,” Bhalla wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune. “[We are] all sort of frazzled right now.”
SSMU meetings moved to online platform
A press release from Lauren Hill, SSMU Legislative Council’s Speaker, announced to campus media that the council meeting scheduled for March 12 would be taking place via teleconference.
“We apologize for the inconvenience, and we note that a recording of the public session will be available shortly after,” Hill wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune.
Petition to suspend in-person classes
Thus far, over 8,000 students have signed a petition demanding that McGill suspend all in-person classes for the duration of the semester. The petition, started by a Facebook group titled Ready McGill, demands that McGill cancel classes indefinitely, a measure already taken by Ontario’s Laurentian University.
“While we welcome McGill University ‘exploring’ the possibility of transferring to distance-learning options and ‘proactively’ developing plans, we’d like to remind you that we are running out of time,” the counter-statement read. “Exposing your students and faculty to a highly contagious virus that has been exploding in cases in New York State, which is only 45 minutes away from Montreal, is not what many of us generally consider proactive.”