What has been described as a large, multi-building party on Feb. 20 at Severn Court Student Residence in Peterborough has led to the area’s largest COVID-19 outbreak to date, resulting in more than 50 positive cases.
As of early Monday morning, Peterborough Public Health reported 51 cases at the privately owned student residence, many a presumed variant of concern, and another seven cases at Champlain College at Trent University. Officials say both outbreaks are linked to the party.
Global News Peterborough spoke with a student who lives at Severn Court, granting them anonymity due to their fear of reprisal.
“People are pissed. I know my roommates and I aren’t happy right now. This is a bad situation that could be easily avoidable,” the student said.
The student tells Global News they didn’t go to the party on Feb. 20 but are now stuck at the residence building due to the outbreak and can’t go home this week for the college’s independent reading week.
They described the party as being large that night.
“There was a lot of ruckus that night in every building. People building hop because they have access to it. It was one big party basically from building to building.”
Peterborough Public Health has issued a section 22 order for those living at Severn Court.
Those who have COVID-19 or are close contacts cannot leave, while those who haven’t tested positive can only leave for essentials.
Peterborough police told reporters on the Peterborough Public Health weekly media conference on Thursday that they received a call about a disturbance at Severn Court Student Residence that night, but when they arrived at the unit in question, it was quiet.
Fleming College shut down all in-person classes at Sutherland Campus on March 1 for two weeks, affecting around 700 students.
College president Maureen Adamson promised a college-led investigation to start after the police wrap up theirs.
Adamson told Global News last Wednesday that the involved students would be reviewed by a tribunal on a “case-by-case basis” and that harsh sanctions from warnings up to suspensions and even expulsions could be handed out.
On Monday, Fleming College’s Student Administrative Council (SAC) president Zoe King told Global News Peterborough that the council fully supports both the college’s decision to cancel in-person classes for two weeks and the investigation into the party.
“I’m hearing frustrations from students. They’re not happy,” King said. “A lot of the students, who were involved in these gatherings, has affected a lot of students and they’re not happy with that. We understand those frustrations that students are feeling. We support the college in holding these students accountable.”
King said the investigation will be a priority.
The tribunal will have a student representative chosen by the SAC, an academic lead and a case manager.
“We will be playing a part when it comes to those tribunal meetings on making a decision to hold those students accountable,” King said.
Trent University is also planning its own investigation into the matter after several university students attended the party.
“Our priority is to do everything we can to identify new cases and do any followup, but yes, anyone who we determine has potentially endangered the community, we will be investigating and following up with them directly,” said Nona Robinson, associate vice-president of students at Trent.
All students living in a residence at Champlain College who are asymptomatic and have not been identified as a direct contact of someone with a COVID-19 case will receive special supports as they remain in residence, Robinson told Global News Peterborough.
They will attend classes remotely or online only and pick up food exclusively at the Great Hall at Champlain.
All of those students are prohibited from using other facilities such as the Athletics Centre, Student Centre, library and other spaces outside of their college.
No guests are allowed at the residence and students are not permitted to gather in the residence or college common spaces.
Anyone who has tested positive must remain in self-isolation at a separated residence designated for positive cases and close contacts.
Trent University has no plans to suspend in-person classes at the campus.View link »