Kingston resident worried returning students, street parties will lead to COVID-19 outbreak

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Kingston woman worries returning students and street parties could lead to COVID-19 outbreak in community
Kingston woman writes letter to Queen's University, KFL&A Public Health and Kingston mayor over concerns returning students and possible street parties could lead to COVID-19 outbreak – Jul 28, 2020

A Kingston woman is concerned that returning post-secondary students will lead to a COVID-19 outbreak.

“I’m really worried and concerned,” Judith Gould told Global Kingston on Tuesday.

For a number of years, unsanctioned street parties with thousands of people attending have followed celebrations like Queen’s University’s homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day.

Gould’s biggest fear is one of those parties taking place during the current coronavirus pandemic.

“I am really concerned that we’re going to have a spike of COVID-19 and that’s my fear.”

Gould recently wrote a letter to Mayor Bryan Paterson, Queen’s University principal Dr. Patrick Deane and KFL&A Public Health’s Dr. Kieran Moore expressing her worries and asking what is being done.

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Mayor Paterson said all three of those organizations have been at the table developing a plan for the start of the school year this fall.

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“I think it’s fair to say that a large house party is no longer just a nuisance. It’s now a public health concern,” he said.

Queen’s provost Mike Green said many of the university’s roughly 18,000 undergraduates won’t physically be returning to Kingston this fall.

“Almost all of our courses for the undergraduate population will be delivered remotely in the fall,” Green said.

Green said they’ve also penned a new residence code of conduct in light of the coronavirus pandemic clearly spelling out what is expected of its students.

“We are going to be putting out a proactive campaign to all those students reminding them of all the restrictions that are currently in place and what we expect in terms of behaviour for those that are returning,” Green said.

The mayor isn’t releasing details at this point but says the issue will be addressed when council meets again on Aug. 11.

“We want people to be educated, to understand what the standards are to keep our community safe,” Paterson said.

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“If you’re going to engage in a large unsanctioned house party that is breaking the rules, there will be consequences so we’re working on all those details now.”

According to public health’s website, 33 of the region’s 109 COVID-19 cases involve people aged 29 or younger.

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