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Learn how Queen's is planning for our safe return to campus.

Queen's operations under Step 3 of provincial re-opening plan

With increasing vaccination rates and low case numbers, the Ontario government has announced that the province will move into Step 3 of the Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 16, 2021. Below is a summary of changes to Queen’s operations under Step 3.

Campus Access and Transitioning to On-Campus Operations

Under the provincial regulation for Step 3 of the Reopening Ontario Plan, health and safety measures such as face coverings, physical distancing, and screening remain in place.  Also, the regulation no longer requires non-essential work to be conducted remotely.

The details and timelines of each faculty, school, or shared service unit’s return to on-campus operations will be guided by the unit’s specific operational needs and the Campus Re-opening Framework. With the move to Step 3, units should begin planning and implementing their return to campus transition to ensure Queen’s is prepared to deliver in-person academic activities in the fall term.

As outlined in the Campus Re-opening Framework released on July 8, all units are required to have an approved COVID-19 safety plan in place prior to resuming operations on campus. Each safety plan must detail the unit’s specific health and safety measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission. However, vaccination is the most effective way that you can ensure safety from COVID-19 for both yourself and others.

As previously permitted under Steps 1 and 2, faculty, staff, and student leadership may continue to work on campus on an ad hoc basis (for example, to record a lecture, print documents, or retrieve files). 

Changes to Campus Services

The regulation for Step 3 allows for the resumption of additional indoor services, such as:

  • In-person teaching is permitted under Step 3, which is expected to be in place from July 16 to early August. Delivery of in-person teaching under Step 3 must align with the following conditions:
    • The capacity limit for each indoor instructional space (e.g., classrooms, lecture theatres, labs, etc.) is the number of students who can be in the space while maintaining a physical distance of at least 2 metres from everyone else in the space, and in any event cannot exceed 50% of the “maximum occupant load” for the space.
  • Indoor sports and recreational fitness facilities on campus can be open to a maximum 50 per cent capacity of the indoor space, with physical distancing measures in place. Athletics and Recreation are working to open their indoor facilities in early August. Please see the Athletics & Recreation website for more details on their re-opening plan.
  • Stauffer Library will expand existing seat booking, with up to 50 per cent of seating capacity and physical distancing in place. Curbside pickup, scanning, and digital services remain up and running. Detailed information is available on the library website.
  • On-campus museums and performance venues, such as the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts are permitted to operate at 50 per cent of their seating capacity, with physical distancing in place. Please check the Agnes and Isabel websites for up-to-date information on their re-opening plans.
  • Approved research activity may continue subject to the approval processes through Faculty Associate Deans of Research. More information on changes related to research are available on the VPR website.
  • Some non-essential retail services may be increasing service in the coming days. Please check service websites for up-to-date information.
  • Some on-campus restaurants may be increasing service in the coming days to include some indoor dining. Please check service websites for up-to-date information.

Additional changes to on-campus operations and services will occur in the coming weeks and months as units transition to on-campus operations. Please check unit websites for up-to-date information on operations and service hours.

Next Steps

The Ontario government has confirmed that the province will remain in Step 3 for at least 21 days and until 80 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 and over has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75 per cent have received their second, with no public health unit having less than 70 per cent of their eligible population aged 12 and over fully vaccinated.Other key public health and health care indicators must also continue to remain stable. Upon meeting the specified thresholds, the government has signaled that many of the provincial regulations related to the pandemic, including capacity limits for indoor and outdoor settings, will be lifted. Ontario is already close to reaching those targets, with 79% of the eligible population having their first dose and 56% with two doses. Three million doses are currently available in Ontario to be administered.

Additional information will be shared once further details are known regarding any provincial regulations beyond Step 3.


As outlined in the Campus Re-opening Framework, Queen’s students, staff, and faculty are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated as soon as they are eligible to do so.  We continue to work closely with KFL&A Public Health and other municipal and national partners on vaccine awareness and education, such as the Faster Together campaign. We know that vaccines are critical to our path out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is the university’s expectation that the whole Queen’s community will get fully vaccinated.

To support access to vaccines, plans are underway to host an on-campus vaccination clinic in early September that will be available to all students who need their first or second dose, including international students.

As we prepare for the fall term, the university will continue to align our operations with provincial regulations and guidance from KFL&A public health officials to support the health and safety of the Queen’s and Kingston communities.