Classes at the University of Alberta, University of Calgary and University of Lethbridge have been cancelled on Friday in response to the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation.
On Thursday, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the emergency management cabinet committee had approved her recommendation that all large gatherings of more than 250 people in the province are to be cancelled.
Hinshaw said the measure did not apply to places of worship, airports or shopping centres and that schools and daycares could remain open, but she urged schools not to have more than 250 students in one room at any given time.
On Friday, all three universities posted notices on their websites, saying that though their facilities would be open with “all services available and staff at work,” classes are suspended for the day.
“This will allow consultation with public health experts, government officials and other post-secondary institutions on appropriate next steps,” the statements read.
The University of Calgary, University of Alberta and University of Lethbridge all have classes that exceed 250 students.
On its website, the University of Calgary noted that classes are expected to resume on Monday. This was echoed in an email sent out to media by the University of Lethbridge.
The email, from spokesperson Trevor Kenney, said all students, staff and faculty had been sent notification about the cancelled classes.
“The safety of our university community is of the utmost importance to us, as we know it is for all parties involved in such decisions,” the statement reads. “While Alberta Health guidelines do not require the closure of schools, comprehensive research universities are unique in their scale and diversity of experiences and we have heard from many of you that you want us to fully assess the situation.”
Due to smaller class sizes, some facilities remain open
Other post-secondary institutions in the province will be operational on Friday, citing smaller class sizes.
Calgary’s Mount Royal University posted an update on its website on Friday that said it will remain open until further notice.
“The health and safety of our campus community is our top priority and we continue to follow the advice of Alberta Health Services,” the statement reads. “We’re continuing to work with the Ministry of Advanced Education and the Ministry of Health as this matter evolves.”
Confused about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians, but they caution against travel to affected areas (a list can be found here). If you do travel to these places, they recommend you self-monitor to see whether you develop symptoms and if you do, to contact public health authorities.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.
For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.
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