McGill University has ordered some students to temporarily leave their residences after they allegedly flouted public health measures and university regulations aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.
The week-long expulsion comes amid an outbreak — 44 students living in residence tested positive for the novel coronavirus as of Sunday. In a statement on its website, the university says 33 of those students live at Royal Victoria College.
The letter, obtained by Global News, ordered students ordered to leave by Monday and says they are only allowed to return to the dormitory on Feb. 1.
Those who have been temporarily removed are banned from visiting their residence as well as “all McGill residence buildings and their premises for the entirety of the seven days,” according to the letter.
In a statement to Global News, the university confirmed the removal of some students from residence for allegedly failing to abide by the rules. McGill says that the safety of “students and staff is our foremost guiding principle” and that it has “a strict COVID-19 related code of conduct” in residences to prevent the spread of the virus.
“The university has been very clear that students living in residences are expected to abide by these new rules and regulations,” the statement reads.
“Unfortunately, despite several warnings and/or reprimands, a number of students have faced short-term measures for non-compliance to public health authorities and McGill COVID-19 regulations in residences, and some have recently faced exclusion from residences for a period not exceeding 10 days.”
Elisha Mayer, a McGill student and the 15th-floor representative for the New Residence Hall council, says he understands there’s a clause allowing the university to take such actions but described the removal as “stressful” for affected students.
“I don’t think that it’s fair,” he said. “It’s not the reasonable punishment. Most of the students did not have any warning or strike.”
Fabrice Labeau, McGill’s deputy provost of student life and learning, issued a public statement to the university community on Monday about the developing situation. The note does not mention the temporary removal of students from dorms, but notes the outbreak is “linked back to sustained close contact between students that occurred at — or following — gatherings held in contravention of COVID-19 and residence regulations.”
“Students reporting testing positive for — or experiencing symptoms of — COVID-19 have been immediately moved into self-isolation rooms, and all spaces they occupied have been cleaned and disinfected,” Labeau wrote.
In order to limit the spread, Labeau says the university has boosted cleaning and disinfection measures in all common areas in residences. More security agents are on hand to “help ensure compliance with self-isolation protocols,” he added.