Montreal

Group of McGill students temporarily kicked out of residence for breaking COVID-19 rules

McGill University has suspended at least 15 students from living on campus after a COVID-19 outbreak was traced back to close-contact gatherings that violated public health restrictions.

Students aren't allowed to access their meal plans on campus during suspension

In a statement, McGill University says all the recent cases have been linked back to sustained close contact between students that were in violation of the rules. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

McGill University has forced at least 15 students to leave their dorms for a week after a COVID-19 outbreak was traced back to close-contact gatherings that violated public health restrictions.

"As of Sunday evening, 44 students living in residence reported testing positive for COVID-19, 33 of whom are from Royal Victoria College (RVC)," wrote Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost, Student Life and Learning, in an email to students.

A floor representative for McGill's New Residence Hall says about 15 students were kicked out for seven days.

Multiple students have told CBC that residents have also been suspended from the Royal Victoria College (RVC) residence as well, though it's not clear how many.

The university declined to comment on the suspension, but CBC has obtained an email that was sent to at least one student of New Residence Hall.

The exclusion order accuses the student of violating COVID-19 rules. The student is ordered to vacate the residence by 10 a.m. on Monday, and won't be allowed back until Feb. 1.

The email advises the student that the school has affiliations with local hotels should the student need a place to stay.

"We have students in distress right now," said Elisha Mayer, a first-year McGill student and the 15th-floor representative on the New Residence Hall council.

Mayer, who was not suspended, said the disciplinary measures are extreme and weren't preceded by a formal warning.

"So they had less than 24-hour notice to leave the premises of McGill," said Mayer.

"This comes without a warning for them, without a disciplinary meeting or without any other information."

Mayer said some of the students who were kicked out are minors, which makes it harder for them to rent a temporary room. He said people are scrambling to find friends to stay with, and some international students say they have no choice but to return home.

Mayer says the affected students are also missing out on their meal plans and the sudden expulsion risks depriving them of resources to continue their class work at a crucial time.

"We already have quizzes, exams and not having a place to study or proper Wi-Fi can really make their studies difficult," he said.

"Especially in the situation we have right now where all of the classes are online."

McGill tracking outbreak

As soon as the positive cases were reported in residences, McGill began tracing contacts and, in accordance with public health restrictions, ensuring those at medium to high risk are self-isolating.

"As an added precautionary measure, we have also asked all RVC students to get tested, and over the weekend ... mobile testing was held in RVC for both students and residences staff," Labeau said.

The recent cases have been linked back to sustained close contact between students that occurred at — or following — gatherings held in contravention of COVID-19 and residence regulations, according to the letter sent out by Labeau.

With files from Josh Grant

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