McGill University has forced at least fifteen students to leave their residence for a week after a COVID-19 outbreak was discovered and traced back to close-contact gatherings that violated social distancing rules.
“As of Sunday evening, fourty-four (44) students living in residence reported testing positive for COVID-19, thirty-three (33) of whom are from Royal Victoria College (RVC),” wrote Fabrice Labeau, Deputy Provost, in an email to students.
A floor representative for McGill’s New Residence Hall says about fifteen (15) students were kicked out for one week.
Multiple students also said residents have also been suspended from the Royal Victoria College (RVC) residence as well, though it is not clear how many.
The university however declined to comment on the suspension, but we have obtained an email that was forwarded to at least one student of New Residence Hall.
The exclusion order accuses the student of breaking COVID-19 rules. The student is asked to vacate the residence by 10 a.m. on Monday and will not be allowed back until February. 1.
The email advises the student that the school has affiliations with the local dorm should the student need a place to stay.
“We have students in distress right now,” said Elisha Mayer, a first-year McGill student and the 15th-floor representative on the New Residence Hall council.
Mayer, who was not suspended, said the disciplinary measures were too severe and were not preceded by a formal warning.
“So they had less than twenty-four (24)-hour notice to leave the premises of McGill,” said Mayer.
“This comes without a warning for them, without a disciplinary meeting or without any other information.”
Mayer said some of the students who were removed are minors, which makes it difficult for them to rent a temporary room. He said some students are scrambling to find friends to stay with, and some foreign students say they have no choice but to return home.
Mayer says the affected students are also not allowed to keep their meal plans and the sudden expulsion risk stripping them of resources to continue their classwork at a crucial time.
“We already have quizzes, examinations and not having a place to study or good Wi-Fi can make their studies really difficult,” he said.
“Especially in the situation we have right now where all of the classes are conducted online.”
McGill still tracking the outbreak
As soon as the positive cases were discovered and reported in residences, the university started tracing contacts and, in accordance with public health restrictions, ensuring that those at medium to high risk are self-isolating.
“As an added precautionary measure, we have also asked all Royal Victoria College students to get tested, and over the weekend … mobile testing was carried out in RVC for both students and residences staff,” Labeau said.
The recent cases are connected back to sustained close contact between students that occurred at — or following — gatherings held in violation of COVID-19 and residence rules, according to the letter sent out by Labeau.