'Feels like end of days'—Laurentian University cancels classes, but campus still open

All classes at Laurentian University have moved online, but the campus remains open following a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Classes proceeding as usual at all other universities and colleges in the northeast

A classroom at Laurentian University sits empty a day after the school moved all learning online in response to a confirmed COVID-19 case on campus. (Erik White/CBC )

Mohamed Mahran was busy trying to open doors with his elbow at Laurentian University Thursday and not thinking too much about how eerily quiet it was.

"It feels weird. It feels end of days or something and I don't know what's happening," said the third-year mechanical engineering student.

"Usually there's students everywhere, in every corner, but now as you see, there's nobody in the whole university."

The university is open, but all classes have been moved online.

The Willet Green Miller Centre office building on the Laurentian campus is closed after a provincial employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. (Erik White/CBC )

This follows a man in his 50s testing positive for COVID-19.

The provincial government employee works at the Willet Green Miller Centre, which is on the Laurentian campus and hosts some classes.

While the campus is mostly empty, there are still hundreds of workers punching in at Laurentian every day.

Administrative assistants, technologists, maintenance workers and others are represented by the Laurentian University Staff Union, where Tom Fenske is president.

He says they've heard concerns from members, but are stressing that as a fact-based institution, it's important that the union follow the lead of public health officials.

The normally busy coffee shop in the atrium outside the Laurentian University library is nearly deserted with the cancellation of in-person classes. (Erik White/CBC )

"I think our members for the most part understand that, even though if you're sitting beside somebody who coughs, it's natural to go to the 'Well, why are they coughing, right?'" says Fenske.

Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan has also moved all classes online, but the campus remains open. 

All other universities and colleges in the northeast remain open with no change in the class schedule. 

About the Author

Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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