Kitchener-Waterloo

Ontario universities urge students not to travel during reading week

As post-secondary reading week approaches in Ontario, some universities are warning students in residence that if they leave, they'll have to self-isolate for two weeks when they come back to campus.

'Unnecessary travel will put people at risk,' University of Waterloo president says

University students, seen on Ryerson University's campus in Toronto in this 2019 file photo, might usually spend their reading weeks travelling or going home. This year, some universities are warning students to stay in residence to curb the spread of COVID-19. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Several Ontario universities are urging students living on campus not to travel during the upcoming mid-semester break known as reading week in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While most university students are attending classes virtually as the pandemic wears on, a number of students who require access to campus services have been staying at student residences.

The University of Guelph, for example, has 840 people living at its on-campus residences this semester. The university told those students to restrict non-essential travel during next week's break.

"Travel during the pandemic poses a significant health and safety risk to our student residence community and to those you spend time with while you are away," its student housing services said in a letter.

Students who do choose to travel should let the department know before they leave and isolate for 14 days upon their return, a period during which they are to remain in their room, not attend in-person classes and will have food delivered, the university said.

"This situation is not easy but making safe choices now can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and avoid further outbreaks," it said.

Meanwhile, students in University of Toronto residences received a note strongly discouraging them from travelling during the week-long break.

The University of Waterloo also sent a similar message to its students about travelling during reading week.

"If you must travel home for the break, consider a self-quarantine or reducing close contact with others, 10 to 14 days before travel. You should do the same before coming back to Waterloo," said the university's president, Feridun Hamdullahpur.

Some in-person classes will resume at the university after reading week if the province's stay-at-home order gets lifted in the region on Feb. 22 as planned, said the university.

"I understand, many of us feel fed up and tired of these restrictions," Hamdullahpur said. "But unnecessary travel will put
people at risk and we must not let our guard down."

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Denise Paglinawan is a freelance journalist based in Mississauga, Ont. You can see more of her work at denisepaglinawan.com.

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