About 800 students coming to P.E.I. in need of self-isolation before start of winter semester

About 800 students have been required to self-isolate on P.E.I. prior to the start of the winter semester at UPEI and Holland College. 

600 Students at UPEI and 190 from Holland College

UPEI says the numbers are higher than the fall semester, partially because of new students starting up, and others coming back after the holiday season. (Brian McInnis)

About 800 students have been required to self-isolate on P.E.I. prior to the start of the winter semester at UPEI and Holland College. 

The split is about 600 students from UPEI, and 190 from Holland College. 

Currently, Holland College has 109 students in self-isolation. Thursday is the busiest day for UPEI, with 100 students entering isolation. 

Those students are a mix of people coming to the Island to start classes for the first time, and students returning from travel over the holidays. 

The number of students that require isolation are higher both at UPEI and Holland College compared to the fall semester. 

"In the summer, what we found was a lot of students didn't necessarily leave. So students who might generally would have gone home for the summer or gone home to another country for the summer actually ended up staying," said Donna Sutton, associate vice-president of students and registrar at UPEI. 

Donna Sutton says she wasn’t surprised several students travelled home for the holidays. (Travis Kingdon/CBC News)

"Some students chose to leave over the Christmas holiday. And we also have some new students starting in January. So the January numbers are a little bit higher than the fall," she said.

Sutton said she wasn't surprised a number of students chose to travel home for the holidays. 

"Students didn't have the same sense of community and connection to students that they normally would, and they were lonely. And so as much as the encouragement was to stay, we certainly weren't surprised by the fact that people chose to leave," she said. 

Holland College also has seen an increase in the number of students in self-isolation for the winter semester. 

"In the fall semester, we had around 60 students that went through the self-isolation process. And so the number obviously has tripled for the winter semester," said Lornie Hughes, executive director of student experience at Holland College. 

Hughes said most of those students are new to Holland College. He said that's part of the reason why isolation number have tripled, but also because the college itself has changed it's delivery method of courses from the fall, moving from an online, to a blended model. 

"We advised all students that they needed to be here by Jan. 4. That allows them to self-isolate before the start of in-person classes on the 18th," said Hughes. 

Supports available

For students needing to self-isolate there are two options: submit a plan to the province themselves and isolate in their own accommodation or use the supports available from the schools.

If students need a spot to isolate they can access a hotel room, provided to them through a partnership between the province and UPEI or Holland College. For students who are arriving on P.E.I. for the first time, their room and all of their meals are paid for. 

Students who return to P.E.I. after travelling over the holidays are still able to get a hotel room, but they need to pay for their expenses themselves. 

"It was viewed that if you make a choice to leave, there are implications for that," said Sutton. 

About 370 UPEI students chose the provided hotel rooms to isolate in. The remainder, about 230 students, had their own approved isolation plan.

Lornie Hughes says as of Jan. 4 all students expected to come to Prince Edward Island have arrived. (Travis Kingdon/CBC News)

Hughes said about 80 students at Holland College are on their own isolation plans, the rest are using the hotel rooms. 

To help those students in self-isolation, UPEI offered additional self-isolation support. A team checked in on students in isolation, and provided them a number of resources and activities online, said Sutton. 

A three-tiered system delivered support to the students. Counselling services were made available to students over the holidays. 

At Holland College, isolating students are paired up with a buddy from a first-year adviser team who contacts them daily, said Hughes. 

The college is making a point of having an open line of communication with the families as well. Staff at the college talk with parents regularly, making sure they know their child has arrived on P.E.I. and what the plan is for the two weeks of isolation. 

"A lot of times this is the first time that a young person is away from home and they're coming into a very unique environment," said Hughes. 

More from CBC P.E.I. 


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