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Informing and welcoming off-campus students

Queen’s leadership and staff are distributing COVID-19 information kits in near-campus neighbourhoods.

Queen's senior leadership team members welcome Queen's students in the University District
Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green, left, and Vice-Principal (University Relations) Michael Fraser stop at a house in the University District to welcome back students and provide important information related to COVID-19. (University Communications)

As the fall semester gets underway, Queen’s is going door-to-door to make sure students living off campus in Kingston feel welcomed, safe, and fully informed about their role during the pandemic. Over the past week, Queen’s staff and leadership have been walking through the university district neighbourhoods to hand out welcome kits full of important information related to COVID-19 to students in rented houses and apartments near the campus.

“This is an unusual year where students living in Kingston will have limited activity on campus, and we want to make sure that they feel welcomed and supported by the university. Their responsibilities to the community also look different this year, as they have a critical role to play to help keep everyone safe during the pandemic,” says Mark Green, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic).  “These packages are a part of the university’s larger ongoing plan to educate students on protecting themselves and the Kingston community.”

As they knock on doors, the Queen’s representatives are also having frank and productive conversations with students. All interactions are happening at an appropriate physical distance and with masks. And welcome kits are left outside the door so students can pick them up without contact.

“We are having great conversations with students and have been able to answer a lot of their questions about COVID-19 and about what it takes to be a good neighbour and citizen. And we’ve also gotten a good sense of how students are feeling and what their concerns are. This will help us support them going forward,” says Lindsay Winger, Assistant Dean, Support Services and Student Engagement.

The welcome kits include the COVID-19 Prevention Checklist and the Know your Student Household COVID-19 Plan. These documents help students understand the steps they can take to protect themselves from COVID-19 and how to develop a plan in case someone in their household becomes ill or needs to self-isolate.  

The Off-Campus Student Living Guide, also included in the welcome kits, helps connect students to all of the services and supports available from the university. It also helps them understand how to play a positive role in the community during the pandemic. The guide covers a wide variety of topics, including tips on staying informed, getting engaged in the community, keeping the community safe, and exploring Kingston.  

Rounding out the kits are some useful items for student households. Each kit comes with a bottle of hand sanitizer, courtesy of Student Wellness Services, and also a refrigerator magnet, so that students can keep important documents in a common area where all housemates can access them. A poster supplied by the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) provides helpful information about utilities and garbage in Kingston. And KFL&A Public Health contributes some documents about health and safety guidelines.

Jenn Stephenson at the door
Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science Jenn Stephenson, left, and student volunteer Emma Ritcey, right, provide a welcome package and speak with a student living in the University District. (University Communications) 

Keeping the campus and community safe

This outreach effort is part of the broader campaign Queen’s has been engaged in to promote public health and safety for new and returning students. Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane and student leaders have sent a message to all students, encouraging them to follow all public health guidelines while in Kingston. Queen’s has also been sending a high volume of safety messages to students through a social media campaign.

As Queen’s resumes limited on-campus activities, it is taking extensive measures to ensure health and safety. A reduced number of students moved into residences over a five-day period under a new process that ensured physical distancing. The Athletics and Recreation Centre has begun a phased reopening with many new health and safety protocols. And a COVID-19 assessment tool has been added to SeQure, the Queen’s mobile safety app.

To learn more, visit the COVID-19 information website.