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Western, Fanshawe stay open but postpone open houses due to coronavirus concerns

A file photo of a empty classroom.
Both schools take direction and share information with the "federal, provincial and local health authorities.". File/Getty Images

Students attending post-secondary school in London, Ont., are expected to attend classes as usual despite climbing numbers of COVID-19 cases across the province.

Sudbury confirmed its first case of the novel-coronavirus Wednesday, and by noon, Laurentian University announced it would be suspending in-person classes.

In an official statement released by Western University on Wednesday, president Alan Shepard said there has been no indication from the Middlesex-London Health Unit that classes should be cancelled.

But, he said, planning is “well underway to provide flexible options should Western need to move to online-only learning.”

READ MORE: WHO declares novel coronavirus disease a pandemic

However, Western has cancelled future university-sanctioned international travel for all students until June 1, and recommends its staff and students avoid travel to regions with active health notices for COVID-19.

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On Thursday, officials confirmed that Western University would be postponing its March Break Open House that had been scheduled for March 14.

“Western is exploring an alternate event later this Spring,” an online statement confirmed. 

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“Within the next few weeks, we will be providing you with exciting virtual opportunities to experience campus life, meet our students and speak with our professors.”

A previous statement noted that the school is “also receiving inquiries related to Congress 2020 and convocation and, at this time, it is premature to make decisions as these events are months away.”

It adds planning is underway to provide students with online learning options if in-person classes were to close, which is how some students at Laurentian University are keeping up with their courses.

Other courses are already delivered through remote means.

READ MORE: Coronavirus concerns prompt King’s University College to cancel trips abroad

Fanshawe College announced Thursday afternoon that it, too, would postpone its March 14 open house. On Twitter, the college stated that the decision was made in consultation with the Middlesex-London Health Unit and with Western University.

Both schools state they take direction and share information from “federal, provincial and local health authorities.”

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But the Middlesex-London Health Unit told 980 CFPL Wednesday evening there are no set guidelines to be followed when determining whether schools should close down in this situation.

COVID-19: Wuhan schools remain empty amid coronavirus outbreak
COVID-19: Wuhan schools remain empty amid coronavirus outbreak

Here are some things you should know about COVID-19:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

— with files from Global News Radio 980 CFPL’s Jacquelyn LeBel.

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