What government directives have been put in place, and what do they mean for McGill?
Quebec Premier François Legault announced on Dec. 16 that high schools and post-secondary schools must operate remotely until Jan. 10. Stricter capacity limits on non-essential businesses and services, as well as tighter limits on the sizes of gatherings, were also implemented. As daily case counts rapidly grew to over 15,000, however, Legault tightened the province-wide restrictions even further and imposed a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Legault’s Dec. 30 announcement also included the extension of virtual learning. Schools are now required to remain remote until Jan. 17. and indoor gatherings are banned. In light of the announcement, McGill informed students and staff that instruction would be online until Jan. 24 with the exception of “Tier 1” activities, which resumed on Jan. 10.
“Tier 1 activities are educational activities that are extremely difficult to conduct online, and include critical teaching laboratories, clinical activities, project courses, various activities in music, and other experiential in-person components of courses,” McGill media relations officer Frédérique Mazerolle wrote in an email to The McGill Tribune.
The Quebec government has implemented restrictions on who can be tested for COVID-19. As of Jan. 4, those eligible for a PCR tests include people showing symptoms of COVID-19, healthcare workers, hospital visitors and staff, those working with more vulnerable communities, and members of those communities.
What does this mean for students in McGill residences?
Because of limitations on gatherings, students can only have one guest from within their residence in their room at a time. Additionally, students cannot socialize with others in their residence past the curfew, and are expected to stay in their rooms during curfew hours. Similar to the beginning of last semester, external guests—including guests from other McGill residences—are not allowed.
All dining halls are now takeout only, and common rooms and gyms are closed. These restrictions aim to prevent people from gathering in indoor spaces.
How will library services be impacted?
Library services will be available virtually until Jan. 23. Pickup services—requesting a book through the library website and retrieving it from a designated location—and the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS) started on Jan. 10.
Most of the library’s physical spaces will be closed until Jan. 23. However, starting Jan. 10, students will be able to study at Study Hubs in the Redpath and Nahum Gelber Law libraries without prior booking. The spaces at Redpath are open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, while the spaces at the law library are open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Students will have access to flex spaces, which allow talking and eating with sufficient social distancing, on both campuses. The downtown flex space, located at Campus 1, is open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and the flex space at the Macdonald Campus, which is in the Macdonald Stewart Building, is open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What mental health supports are available to students?
The pandemic itself and the restrictions on social life that come with it have taken a toll on the mental health of university students. Staff and administrators have reiterated the mental health resources that McGill has to offer.
“We would urge any student in need of support to reach out to one of the mental health resources available to them, such as the Wellness Hub, Local Wellness Advisors, and Keep.meSAFE,” wrote Mazerolle.