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Post-secondary institutions in Alberta urge students to vacate residences over COVID-19 outbreak

Post-secondary institutions in Alberta urge students to vacate residences over COVID-19 outbreak.
The University of Alberta has taken drastic new measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 by asking students to vacate campus residences. Chris Chacon reports.

The University of Alberta in Edmonton has taken drastic new measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

In an email marked urgent sent to students on Friday, the university requested that students leave their residences on March 24.

READ MORE: COVID-19 cases in Alberta now at 226; 16 suspected to be community transmission

It’s a four-day window student Collin Horn said just doesn’t work for him.

“I don’t have the money or the connections to move properly,” Horn said Saturday.

Horn has called Newton Place home for the past two and half years. He said the abrupt news has him scrambling to find different accommodations.

“I’ll grab a duffel bag with as many essentials as I can and then look for a friend with a spare bedroom or something,” Horn said.

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The U of A isn’t the only post-secondary institution asking its students to leave.

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In Calgary, the dorms at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology were busy Saturday with many students packing up. Students said they were given notice that they needed to leave by March 23.

READ MORE: Alberta launches ‘prevent the spread’ COVID-19 video featuring Gretzky, Kenney, Nenshi and Iveson

The U of A said measures like these are essential.

“Given how quickly this virus is moving and the request from public health on social distancing and the risk of such a large and close-knit community, we really needed to make a decision to move quickly to thin down our community to protect everybody,” said Andrew Sharman, vice-president of facilities and operations of the university.

Buildings at the U of A won’t be completely empty; international students and people from out of province or in isolation are allowed to stay.

“This is not an eviction. It will never be an eviction. This is about thinning down our numbers to maintain health and safety,” Sharman explained.

SAIT students shocked to receive eviction notices amid COVID-19 pandemic
SAIT students shocked to receive eviction notices amid COVID-19 pandemic

Having to leave remains difficult for Horn.

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“I’ve been stressed, crying most of this week for research-related reasons, so it just added [more] stress on top,” Horn said.

Students that have already paid for rent and meal plans will receive a prorated refund, according to officials.