University urges students to return home, moving to essential services model

After two presumptive cases of COVID-19 were reported at the University of New Brunswick, St. Thomas University is asking all students still living in residence to return home if they are able.

As of yesterday, 141 out of 417 students living in residence returned home. STU’s vice president of communications, Jeffrey Carleton, said he thinks that number will jump drastically in the coming days.

“We’re basically seeing if there are any students domestic or international who for whatever reason are unable to leave.”

Of the 277 students that remain in residence, about 71 of them are international students.

Carleton said they are going to accommodate any student that can’t make it home and continue to offer food services.

However, rules in residences will change. Carleton said they are adopting rules similar to those implemented during Welcome Week.

These rules include implementing 21 quiet hours, alcohol consumption and substance use will be prohibited.

STU still has five students out of the country on exchanges but is working closely with them to determine the best course of action going forward.

“We’ve been communicating with them and passing along the advice from Global Affairs Canada, working with them for them to make the decision that’s most appropriate for them.”

As of today, the campus Subway and Tim Hortons will be closed until further notice and students will receive an email later today with information on how to obtain services such as counselling and academic advising.

As of March 17, there are two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, and six presumptive cases.

“I don’t think anyone could have anticipated several weeks ago that we would be in this stage.”

Graduating class president Bri Durant announced today that the graduation dinner and T-pin ceremony are cancelled.

At this time no decisions have been made about the May convocation.

Carleton said the situation is a new dynamic for the university.

“It’s very much on a 24-hour cycle. That’s a unique circumstance for any institution, not just university.”

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