Quebec Premier announces closure of all schools
Following a directive from the Quebec government on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, McGill has cancelled classes and exams for the next two weeks. On March 13, Premier François Legault announced the two-week closure of CEGEPs, secondary schools, universities, and daycares province-wide.
The McGill administration also announced via an email sent to students on exchange that those in Italy, China, Iran, and the Daegu and Cheongdu regions of South Korea would be immediately recalled. All other students abroad were encouraged to return to Canada if they felt unsafe.
McGill’s athletic facilities and libraries will be closed until Sunday.
Exchange students flying home
Only study-abroad students in areas covered by a Level 3 travel notice from the Public Health Agency of Canada, denoting a “large-scale outbreak in a large geographic area,” have been called home. However, some frustrated exchange students have already booked flights home.
Nina Russell, U2 Arts, is on exchange in Copenhagen, Denmark, where over 800 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed. She waited for communication from McGill after her host university cancelled classes, but after hearing nothing for days, she ultimately decided to book tickets back to her hometown.
“[The email sent March 13 stated] ‘you’ll receive more information in the coming days,’ which is annoying because [we have already] waited a few days and heard nothing,” Russell said. “I was the last to receive an email out of all my friends from [universities] literally around the world, including in Canada. It’s just frustrating to be kept in the dark so long, especially when travel restrictions are going up and I’m not sure [for] how much longer [I can fly home].”
SSMU cancels services and events
The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) has cancelled a number of services, including DriveSafe, WalkSafe, and the Eating Disorder Resource & Support Centre. All SSMU-affiliated events occurring after March 15 will be cancelled. Events scheduled for the weekend are being suspended on a case-by-case basis. The academic conference hosted by SSMU Indigenous Affairs has been cancelled, however the keynote address by Cindy Blackstock may be rescheduled. Prospective attendees are urged to check the event’s Facebook page.
For those who are emotionally affected by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, SSMU is directing students to Keep.meSAFE, a service that connects students with in-person licensed counsellors in Montreal. It is currently available at no cost.
SSMU President Bryan Buraga stated that it was critical that McGill students rally together as a community in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Of course the student body is very worried about the health situation that’s going on,” Buraga said. “I ask the student body to be patient, to trust in our expert health professionals, [and] also for students over the next couple of weeks to check in on their other fellow students, friends and family to make sure they’re doing okay.”
Ban on student travel and new international students
On March 13, Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Fabrice Labeau announced a moratorium on student travel abroad. In addition, no new international students will be accepted to McGill until further notice.
“Following the directive issued yesterday by the Quebec government and the director of public health, all student travel outside Canada for internships, student exchanges, international mobility programs, competitions or conferences, is suspended until further notice,” the email read. “Additionally, effective March 12, all education institutions are required to suspend intake of new international students until further notice.”
Wellness Hub closed Friday
On March 13, the Wellness Hub was closed to students seeking healthcare, a statement confirmed by SSMU President Bryan Buraga. In addition, the Hub has cancelled all appointments taking place between March 15 to 21.
“Unfortunately, the Wellness Hub [is] closed today for the time being, to [allow McGill to] essentially figure out what to do next about the whole COVID-19 situation,” Buraga said.
17 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Quebec
Four more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Quebec since March 11, bringing the total to 17 cases in the province. All of the four new cases were linked to travel abroad. Over 250 cases are currently under investigation in Quebec.