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COVID-19 on Canadian Campuses

Check out all of our COVID-19 coverage and analysis.

COVID-19 on Campus

Since March 11, Eduvation has been monitoring daily coronavirus announcements and responses at more than 80 colleges and universities across the country. See our full spreadsheet here (updated daily until further notice) and an archive of daily email updates here. Read our analysis of Immediate Impacts here.

Here is the current state of campuses in Canada:


36 Reported Cases (25% of campuses)

March 4 University of Canada West, Vancouver BC 2 students
March 11 Laurentian University, Sudbury ON 1 confirmed
March 14 St Lawrence College, Cornwall ON 1 confirmed
March 15 Trent University, Peterborough ON 2 confirmed
March 16 University of Calgary, AB 1 confirmed
Collège Boréal, Toronto ON 1 staff member
March 17 University of New Brunswick, Fredericton 2 presumptive
Université Laval, QC 1 Law student
March 18 University of Lethbridge, AB 1 presumptive
March 19 Dalhousie University, Halifax NS 1 presumptive
University of Victoria, BC 1 confirmed
March 20 Western University, London ON 1 case
George Brown College, Toronto ON 1 case
March 21 University of Alberta, Edmonton AB 1 case
March 22 University of Calgary, AB 4 more cases
March 24 McGill University, Montreal QC 1 confirmed
Trinity Western University, Langley BC 1 confirmed
University of Lethbridge, AB 1 confirmed
March 25 Bishop’s University, Sherbrooke QC 1 staff confirmed
March 26 York University, Toronto ON 1 presumptive in rez
March 30 Carleton University, Ottawa ON 1 confirmed – staff
March 31 Concordia University, Montreal QC “some members” of community
April 1 Queen’s University, Kingston ON
Bishop’s University, Lennoxville QC

(Note: institutions now only publicly announce cases if required by local health authorities.) 


All Travel Prohibited

Virtually all travel on behalf of Canadian institutions, domestic or international, has been cancelled or prohibited in response to federal travel advisories and provincial states of emergency. The language to describe exceptions varies, generally indicating that a vice-president needs to authorize any essential travel.


70% of Campuses Closed

All institutions have reduced evening and weekend access to buildings at a minimum. Most closed their campuses to the public sometime between March 14 and 20. About 70% have announced that their campuses are closed completely. Most campus fitness and childcare facilities were closed by provincial orders, between March 15 and 17. (Recently, quite a few have started promoting online fitness videos or classes to the campus community.) Libraries have closed more gradually, often implementing social distancing protocols and closing lounges, study rooms and common areas gradually before announcing a move to virtual services only. At this point, 6 out of 80 libraries still seem to be physically open, at least in part. Most institutions have also reluctantly forced all non-essential research labs to suspend their work.


75% are on Essential Services models

Almost all institutions have encouraged or ordered all non-essential staff and faculty to work from home. Increasingly, they are explicitly declaring an “essential services” model (now 60 of 80, 0r 75%). Front-line staff responsible for security, maintenance, lab animals, and in some cases residences or food services remain on campus, but all others are delivering services by phone or online. In the past week or so, more and more are announcing that campus health services (ie medical drop-in clinics) are also primarily available by telephone first. More and more are announcing the suspension of campus mail services.


100% are on Alternative Delivery

Since about March 13-16, every institution in the country has now eliminated in-person classes, labs, and exams until the end of term. Some institutions suspended class for anywhere from 2 to 5 days, to give faculty time to migrate to alternative delivery.


Emptying Residences

As landlords with tenants living on campus, most institutions struggled for weeks to balance social distancing with student needs for shelter. On almost every campus in the country now, any student who can go home has long since been encouraged to move out of campus housing. In Newfoundland, the province ordered all in-province students to vacate residence. The language varies considerably – some institutions say that their residences are open but students are encouraged to return home, others say their residences are closing but that exceptions will be made for students who have nowhere else to go – but essentially, campus residences are now home primarily to international students who are stranded in Canada while flights are cancelled and borders are closed. On most campuses, food services are now only open to serve residential students, and typically they are down to offering prepackaged meals for take-out only.


85% plan Summer Terms Online

Most institutions have now announced that their Spring or Summer terms will be delivered exclusively online as well, although a few institutions are still publicly hoping to return to on-campus instruction in June, particularly for hands-on programs at Ontario colleges. No-one has yet made announcements about the Fall term, other than to indicate that they are planning for “multiple scenarios.”


95% have Cancelled Spring Convocation

Very reluctantly, institutions have gradually been announcing the cancellation of graduation ceremonies planned for April, May, or June. Sometimes the decision needs to be made by Academic Council or Senate, adding to the delay. Many have indicated that they will mail diplomas, and try to plan an online ceremony of some sort. Brock hosted their athletics awards on Instagram Live. A college in Maine is planning their convocation at a drive-in movie theatre.


58% will offer Students a Pass/Fail Option

More than half of institutions have announced temporary changes to academic policy in recognition of the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic. In most cases, they have extended the course withdrawal deadline to the final day of classes, or even after final grades have been decided. These institutions will allow students to choose, upon seeing their final letter or numeric grade, whether to convert it to a “Credit” or “Pass” or “Satisfactory” grade that will not be calculated into their GPA. Several institutions will automatically convert any failing grades this term into “Withdrawals” that also do not count towards GPA or course attempts (so-called “academic forgiveness” policies). Several institutions have indicated that they are unable to offer a pass/fail option because of limitations in their student records software.


62% have announced Emergency Bursaries

We have not counted these everywhere, but so far have noticed 35 institutions announcing emergency bursary funds to support students in need, or launching campaigns to raise funds for the purpose. Sheridan announced $1 million in emergency student aid, and Concordia and Laval both announced $500,000 funds.


8 are offering Loaner Laptops

So far, we have noticed 8 institutions (predominantly in Ontario) announce that they have purchased laptops for students to borrow, free of charge, if they have no access to a computer at home. Most warned that they had a limited number available, but Centennial indicated that they have ordered a large number, and York said they have 1,500 available. Ryerson is loaning laptops and wireless internet hotspots as well. Several institutions (UFV, Brock) have announced that hotspots are available in campus parking lots for students to use from their cars.


This summary will be updated periodically. See the full spreadsheet here (updated daily until further notice) and an archive of daily email updates here. Check out all of our COVID-19 coverage and analysis.


Other Real-Time COVID-19 Sources:

Government of Canada COVID-19 statistics by province

University Affairs is keeping a daily news blotter about Canadian public universities.

Colleges and Institutes Canada is collecting its COVID-19 updates.

Inside Higher Ed is maintaining daily US COVID news.

Conference Board of Canada is monitoring economic impacts daily.

Lori Kloda of Concordia University Library is tracking Canadian Research Library responses.

Futurist Bryan Alexander is tracking hundreds of US closures.


What other COVID-related data or initiatives would be useful to you? Please post a comment below!

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