U of C suspends in-person classes due to COVID-19

The University of Calgary will resume classes on Monday via remote learning, as school officials decide how best to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Classes will resume on Monday via remote learning

Classes at the University of Calgary will resume Monday via remote learning, but the institution still remains open. (Riley Brandt)

The University of Calgary will resume classes on Monday via remote learning, as school officials decide how best to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Classes were suspended Friday while the university consults with public health experts, government officials and other post-secondary schools about next steps.

The campus will remain open with all services available, but classes will not be in-person until COVID-19 has stabilized, according to the university's website.

The university added that they have invested in new technology platforms, while professors have prepared remote-learning lesson plans.

"By suspending in-person classes — and eliminating the large groupings of people that come with them — we hope to further reduce this low risk and keep our university family safe," wrote the university on their website.

Medical officer recommends schools stay open

Alberta's chief medical officer Deena Hinshaw said schools don't need to close as part of the containment effort. The government said its emergency management cabinet committee is recommending schools remain open — with mitigations to protect teachers and students.

The announcement comes after health authorities confirmed six new cases of COVID-19 — five being in Calgary — bringing the provincial total to 29. All cases were travel-related.

"Any school closure would need to be in place for months, not weeks, to be effective," Hinshaw said at a news conference on Friday. "I have advised that school closures not be implemented at this time.

"But steps should be taken to ensure that no more than 250 individuals are in the same room at any given time."

Hinshaw said other provinces and countries have closed schools as a preventive measure, but that closures "are not universally agreed on as an effective intervention to prevent spread."

"It should also be noted that the World Health Organization does not recommend school closure as the only way to prevent spread in the age group of young children," she said.

Hinshaw said she will share advice with school administrators on Saturday. Post-secondary institutions have not been advised to close at this time.

U of C has classes with 250 plus students

In an email to students, University of Calgary provost and vice-president Dru Marshall said her institution's move comes in light of a recommendation by Hinshaw that public gatherings of more than 250 people be cancelled.

"The University of Calgary, University of Alberta and University of Lethbridge — institutions that have classes with 250+ students — are all taking these measures," she said.

On its website, Mount Royal University said its classes are not being suspended because, unlike the University of Calgary, its class sizes are smaller and do not reach the 250-student level.

The Calgary Board of Education said it's working directly with Alberta Health Services and the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, and has set up an internal task force.

The board has cancelled all inter-school events, such as dances, athletic competitions and parent-teacher conferences.

The Calgary Catholic School District has cancelled all international student trips.