No roommates, no big parties: Campus life to look very different this fall

Ottawa's two largest universities have reduced the occupancy of their student residences and will introduce a number of other changes as students return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 is forcing major changes to student accommodations in Ottawa

Students will soon to be returning to the University of Ottawa, although the COVID-19 pandemic means there will be far fewer students living on campus. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Ottawa's two largest universities have reduced the occupancy of their student residences and will be introducing a number of day-to-day changes as students return amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University of Ottawa is expecting only 1,100 students in its residences this fall, compared to 4,200 in a typical year, and will be using just five of its 11 residence buildings.

Rachelle Clark, general manager of housing services, said the university developed its policies with advice from Ottawa Public Health.

The changes include new directives on visitors and mask usage, as well as the ratio of students to washrooms on campus.

"So in accordance with public health directives for congregated living settings, we are limiting the number of students to ... two students for every one bathroom," Clark said. "Although the majority of our students will have a private bathroom."

Here are some of the other measures the University of Ottawa is taking:

  • Students will have their own bedrooms.
  • No visitors will be allowed in the residences.
  • Masks will be required in halls, elevators and the common areas that remain open. Common spaces have maximum occupancy limits.
  • There will be no big group activities on campus until public health guidelines indicate they can be safely held.
  • The university has arranged accommodation at Hotel Les Suites for students travelling from abroad to isolate for 14 days before entering the residence. Students will be billed a daily rate to their student account.
  • Move-in runs from Aug. 29 to Sept. 6, depending on the building. Students are required to book a move-in time.
  • Some students have deferred their move-in until January.
Carleton University will also introduce a number of changes this year, including a requirement that all students take a virtual COVID-19 training course. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Carleton also reducing capacity

Carleton University has also reduced its residence capacity to 2,200 beds so all students will have their own bedroom or suite-style unit.

Unlike the University of Ottawa, Carleton says it will be using all of its residence buildings. Here are some of its plans for this year:

  • Students will have their own bedroom. Some students will be sharing a bathroom with one other person.
  • Students will be required to take a virtual COVID-19 training course.
  • Students will be provided two washable face masks and a bottle of hand sanitizer. Each bathroom will have a cleaning kit and guide for maintaining cleanliness standards.
  • The university says it is working with local hotels and has arranged some space within the residences where international students may isolate for 14 days upon arrival in Canada.
  • There will be a maximum number of people allowed in TV lounges, common spaces and laundry rooms at any one time.
  • The move-in period will begin Sept. 2 and run until Sept. 6.

College La Cité, meanwhile, is expecting half of its usual 250 residents. It has also designated space for students to self-isolate if they're coming from abroad or in the case there's an outbreak.

Special programs are also in place to help address mental health issues, said Marine Dion, manager of residences at the French-language college.

"I'm thinking of them mostly, because it's going to be a difficult situation, to be able to learn and study in [circumstances that] are changing and unknown," Dion said.

La Cité students start moving in this week.

With files from Matthew Kupfer

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