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Students in residences urged to move out early, most classes and exams moving online: Western University

Western University's Saugeen-Maitland Hall residence. Google Maps

Western University says the majority of its in-person classes and final exams will be moved online starting April 5 due to the spread of COVID-19 variant cases and the anticipation of additional restrictions province-wide.

In a statement on Thursday, the London, Ont., university added that it is also encouraging students in residence to move out early if possible.

Read more: Ontario government moves to activate 4-week, provincewide COVID-19 ’emergency brake’

At least three coronavirus outbreaks are currently active at student residences, while another separate community outbreak, which has been linked to a gathering or gatherings involving business students, is active.

One student residence outbreak declared on March 2 in Essex Hall, was declared over on Tuesday, the same day health officials declared a new outbreak at the university’s Elgin Hall.

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Ontario Hall and Saugeen-Maitland Hall are the other impacted residences.

Read more: COVID-19: 1 death, 97 new cases reported in London-Middlesex, health unit says

Western University says prorated refunds will be offered to students who move out on April 11 or earlier. Those students are also encouraged to quarantine at home for two weeks after moving out of residence.

For those unable to move out early, Western will continue to provide housing until the completion of exams and housing staff will be communicating further details to students, the university says.

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President Alan Shepard said in a statement that these were “difficult decisions.”

“Positive cases are continuing to rise across the region and the province and we’re seeing that pattern emerging among our students and in some residences,” he said.

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“We want to do everything we can to stop the spread.”

Read more: ‘Schools will remain open’ and April Break will go ahead, Ontario education minister says

The university says some clinical classes that support health-related programs, like medicine, nursing and rehabilitation sciences, will continue in-person. Additionally, “a small number” of programs that are not related to health but that the university says “cannot be modified for virtual delivery” will also continue in-person.

Research activity can also continue, the university says, but with new face-covering measures as outlined on Tuesday.

Field work and projects involving face-to-face contact with off-campus human participants will require approval from the dean’s office as well as the office of the vice-president of research.

The COVID-19 testing centre on campus will also be open over the long weekend, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

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— With files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick

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