Over the last few weeks, Queen’s University has seen a significant rise in Covid-19 cases amongst our students.  This began with an outbreak in our residences but we are now seeing cases both on and off campus. It is understandable that this has created a great deal of concern for many people in Kingston. It is important that the community knows Queen’s takes its responsibility to help protect the health of all the citizens of Kingston very seriously and we are actively engaged in addressing and combating any further spread of the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, the university has worked in partnership with KFL&A Public Health, Kingston Police, the City, and Kingston Health Sciences Centre to promote awareness of public health regulations and respond to actions that put the health of the Kingston community at risk. On our campus, we have strict COVID protocols in place both within the residence community and in other areas.

Sadly, the poor choices of a relatively small group of students has influenced public perceptions of our whole student body. The vast majority of Queen’s students have worked hard to comply with the provincial government’s regulations and public health guidelines throughout the pandemic. Queen’s students, like all residents of Kingston, are subject to government regulations and enforcement measures related to COVID-19. Cases referred to the university from Kingston Police or City By-Law that involve students who are alleged to have violated public health measures are considered under the Queen’s Non-Academic Misconduct process.

The current wave of this pandemic is affecting many of our young people. Controlling the spread of the new, highly contagious variants is challenging. As an additional measure of prevention, Queen’s has implemented asymptomatic testing for students on and off campus and hundreds of students have voluntarily visited our clinics for testing. Being able to identify cases early and implement contact tracing is key to stopping the spread of the virus. We also took additional precautions last week, closing our Athletics & Recreation Centre, significantly reducing food services on campus, and reducing common study spaces all in support of public health’s effort to control the virus. The Chief Medical Officer of Health has indicated that our numbers of infections are declining and that there is reason to be optimistic about any continued threat of spread of the virus.

Nevertheless, at the same time the university is redoubling efforts to reach students in the Kingston community with a social media advertising campaign that features messages focused on the heightened transmissibility of the variants of concern and the need to limit close contacts to those in their household.

No one is without fear or immune to the impact of this virus.  It has isolated us at a time when kindness, compassion and caring is so essential. Queen’s does not exist apart from Kingston. The university is committed to working together and our future depends upon our continued and combined efforts to stay safe and healthy so that we all might enjoy a brighter future.