U of W, RRC, Brandon University cancel classes amid COVID-19 spread

By | March 12, 2020

WINNIPEG — Universities and colleges across Manitoba are trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus and across the province. 

Several events and activities scheduled to take place have now been cancelled or postponed as Manitoba deals with its first presumptive cases of the virus. 

UNIVERSITY OF WINNIPEG

The University of Winnipeg and Red River College are cancelling classes due to the spread of COVID-19.

U of W put a statement Friday afternoon saying: “All in-person classes and labs will be suspended for the remainder of the winter term”

It said an update will be given on March 20 and that it is grateful that it is near the end of the term

According to the university, deans and department chairs are working on creating alternate methods of course delivery.

The University of Winnipeg campus remains open, including student support services, research support services, and Diversity Foods.

The university said staff and faculty should continue reporting to work as usual.

To keep with social distancing strategies, all events on campus currently scheduled until May 1 will be postponed.

RED RIVER COLLEGE 

Red River College is creating a study week in order to reduce the number of people on campus as fears over COVID-19 rise.

“One of the key recommendations from public health is to reduce the number of people at gatherings – and this includes our campuses,” said Christine Watson, interim president and CEO of RRC. “Study Week for students will allow us to immediately reduce our numbers and allow staff and faculty to focus on developing plans for alternative delivery when classes resume.

The study week will start at the end of Friday and continue through all of next week.

The campus will be closed to students and the public. Only contractors and vendors doing approved business with the college will have access.

During the week off, the college said it will plan for alternative delivery models for when classes resume, including increasing online learning.

The college also said a deep clean will be performed while fewer people are on campus.

“The health and safety of our students, staff and faculty are paramount, so we are trying to find creative ways to operate in a fluid, rapidly-changing environment,” said Watson.

To further protect the college from COVID-19, it suspended all international and domestic travel outside of Manitoba, cancelled all events and large gatherings and restricted the number of meetings to only those that are essential to core operations.

Watson said as news and information regarding COVID-19 continues to unfold, the college will continue to ensure that staff, faculty and students are informed and that RRC takes the necessary steps to help reduce the transmission of the virus. 

UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA

University of Manitoba President David Barnard said in a statement on the school’s website that after consulting with other universities and health care experts, they are putting measures in place effective immediately and until further notice. 

Deans have been asked to work with faculty to make all course material online for the rest of the term. Classes and exams have not been cancelled at this time. 

Barnard said all university-related travel should be suspended and all international exchange students are being advised to return to Canada. Events featuring 50 or more people are being cancelled or postponed, and organizers of smaller events are being asked to find other ways to do them.

All university employees are being asked to stay home if they’re experiencing flu-like symptoms.

BRANDON UNIVERSITY

Bandon University said beginning on March 16 it will be suspending classes for one week. It says this will be treated as a reading week and “we will use this time to assess how university programming will proceed.”

The university will remain open, though some services will be delivered remotely.

The school expects to provide an update by March 16.

“There is no reason to think that anyone on campus is at immediate chance of exposure, but we are taking these prudent precautionary measures to avoid bringing people together in groups and to help prevent and slow the spread of coronavirus,” the university said in a statement.

-With files from CTV’s Mason Depatie, Danton Unger, Devon McKendrick and Kayla Rosen.

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