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Principal provides important update to faculty, staff, and students

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Preventative measures at Queen’s are aimed at slowing the rate of infection to ensure the healthcare system can focus on those more seriously affected by the virus.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane has issued a message to the Queen's community about the latest measures the university is taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Some of the most important points address meetings and gatherings; academic programming; convocation and degrees; and faculty & staff working arrangements.

Meetings and Gatherings

  • All gatherings, including work-related activities or events, are limited to no more than 10 people.
  • Social events and non-essential gatherings should be cancelled.
  • Essential meetings should be moved online.
  • Everyone should avoid any public spaces where personal distancing of two metres or more is not possible.

Academic Programming

  • Effective immediately, graduate programs will move to remote delivery. Last week, it was announced that undergraduate classes were to be moved to remote delivery. This now means all academic programs will move to remote delivery until the end of the semester.
  • Graduate student research activities should be accessed remotely whenever possible and where not, continue with appropriate social distancing, limiting any activities to 10 people or less.
  • No more in-person classes or labs for duration of the term for undergraduate and graduate courses.
  • No in-person examinations, except for comprehensives/dissertation defences. Consult your supervisor for more information.
  • Students will still complete the academic year, gaining course credits as appropriate, and those set to complete their programs, will do so.
  • Students in Kingston, or in any of our other locations where they may temporarily reside in order to access or academic services, should go home. However, we are not requiring people to leave.
  • Any summer course offerings that are not online are cancelled.
  • Summer programming at the Bader International Study Centre will not take place.

Convocation and Degrees

  • Students will graduate and degrees will be conferred, but spring convocation ceremonies will not take place.


  • Residences, food halls, libraries, and essential administration offices will remain open. With fewer students using services, there will be some reduction in what can be provided.

Faculty and Staff

  • Human Resources will work with managers and staff to find flexible arrangements for staff and faculty affected by the closing of schools in the province.
  • Where possible, faculty and staff are being encouraged to work from home.
  • Over the next week, senior leadership will determine what services are essential.

The full message follows:

Dear Queen’s Community,

I recognize that the last few days have given rise to many questions and concerns about the continuing operation of our university. COVID-19 is spreading around the world at a rapid pace and we are working to make the right decisions to protect our communities. On Friday, you received an email from me indicating that undergraduate classes (with the exception of health professional programs) would be suspended for the coming week as we move toward remote delivery of our programs. We made this decision in step with other post-secondary institutions quickly trying to decide what might be the best preventative approach to curb the spread of the virus. We are having to make decisions in real time, in the face of an ever-changing reality that is nearly impossible to predict. Many staff are working around the clock to ensure that those decisions are made with the latest science considered and with the best advice of our experts in public health. We want to deal with this situation in the best possible way, but to some extent it is a guessing game and no one knows with any certainty what lies ahead.

Some things are certain, however. The virus will come to our campuses, and when it does so we will need to manage it. While it is inevitable that members of our community will get sick, most will have only mild symptoms. They should stay home until they are well and take all possible measures to avoid infecting others. The point is to avoid all of us getting sick at once, because if we can slow the rate of infection through preventative measures like good hygiene and social distancing, we can keep our healthcare system whole and ensure that those few who might be more seriously affected by the virus will have access to the additional medical services they require. This must always be our goal.

We need to protect our community which includes our staff, faculty and students. With that in mind, I am announcing additional preventative measures for us all. Effective immediately, and upon the advice of public health, we are limiting all gatherings, including any work-related activities or events to no more than ten people. Social events and non-essential gatherings should be cancelled. Essential meetings should be moved on-line. Everyone should avoid any public spaces where personal distancing of two metres or more is not possible.

For students, an immediate change is that graduate programs will also be moved to remote delivery. There will be no more in person classes or labs for the duration of the term for undergraduate or graduate courses. There will be no in person exams (with the exception of comprehensives/dissertation defences). Graduate student research activities should be accessed remotely whenever possible and where not, continue with appropriate social distancing. All of the university’s academic programs will move to remote delivery until the end of the semester. Despite this change in format, our expectation is that students will complete the academic year, gaining course credits as appropriate, and those who are set to complete their programs, will do so. We are working diligently to avoid shutting down operations, but we must change the way we do things.

This leads me to convocation. For the foreseeable future social distancing will be critical to containing the spread of the virus, and for that reason convocation ceremonies in the conventional form will simply not be possible. Students will graduate and degrees will be conferred, but mass gatherings of hundreds of people will likely be no less hazardous in two months’ time than they are today. As we work out alternative arrangements we will communicate them, but it seems prudent to let you know now that traditional spring convocation ceremonies will not take place.

In addition, any summer course offerings that are not online are cancelled, and summer programming at the Bader International Centre will not take place.

Moving to remote delivery of academic programming means many students will now complete courses from their homes. We are strongly suggesting that students living in Kingston or any of our other locations where they may temporarily reside in order to access our academic services, should go home. We are not, however, requiring people to leave. We understand not everyone has that option and we will continue to strive to keep required services in order to support those that must remain. However, with fewer students using these services and with much of the staffing provided by students, there will be a reduction in what we are able to provide. This is a natural consequence.

For our staff and faculty, the most important first step is to speak with your manager or Dean about your specific circumstances. Recent announcements from the province closing schools for three weeks creates pressures on parents. Our Human Resources Department is asking managers and staff to find flexibility to accommodate this strain on a significant proportion of our work force. Although the university remains open at this time, we are encouraging staff, where possible, to work remotely. In light of advice from public health for greater social distancing, all offices should think about ways to organize their work to promote this. Please also refer to communication provided by your own Faculties and Divisions about continued operations.

This is an evolving and unprecedented situation and I am asking for your patience, support and creativity as we respond to it. Missteps in this process are inevitable, but I can promise you that the leadership of the university will always be guided by the desire to do what is best for the health and safety of all our students, staff and faculty. COVID-19 will test our health care system, certainly, but it will also test our social institutions in ways that have become vividly apparent in the last few weeks. So far it has challenged our university to find new ways to do its work, to ensure that our communal goal—the education of students and the advancement of knowledge—remains in sight even while the opportunity for personal interactions vital to that mission is reduced or eliminated. This test of our institution is also a test of every individual within it. In proportion to the disaggregating demands placed on us by the virus, we need to show patience, kindness and compassion, to pursue cooperation and to support each other at every opportunity.

I am confident we will prevail.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

All Athletics and Recreation facilities closed

In response to the continuing spread of COVID-19, all athletics and recreation facilities at Queen's University have been closed as of Monday, March 16 at 1 pm until further notice.

Staff will be available to assist with the retrieval of personal items only during the following hours:

  • Monday, March 16, from 1-7 pm
  • Tuesday March 17, from Noon-1 pm and 4:30-6 pm
  • Entrance via Main ARC doors.

For more information regarding the closure, visit the Queen’s Athletics and Recreation website.

Queen's University continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation.  For up-to-date information, please refer to the Queen's COVID-19 website for information.  

Principal’s statement on suspension of undergraduate classes

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Queen’s University suspends classes for week of March 16-20 in response to COVID-19.

Dear Queen’s Community,

The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving across the globe. The university recognizes that there is a great deal of concern amongst students, staff and faculty. Our experts, including Public Health officials have advised and stated that the risk to our community remains low because we have no active cases at this time and no community spread.  For purely operational reasons starting on Monday, all undergraduate classes (excluding health professional programs) will be suspended for one week after which we will communicate our plans for alternative delivery.  We need to take time to assess how our educational programs will proceed.  The university will maintain all operations.  Some students may decide to return home and that is left to individual choice.  Residences will remain open. 

With public schools closed across Canada for the next three weeks, additional pressure has been placed on the institution.  We are working on plans for staff and faculty to assist them with childcare pressures due to school closures.  The administration will continue to work daily on communications to support those still on campus here or at our satellite offices in Canada.  Public health is an essential partner and as things change, we will be in constant communication with our community to let them know of any new direction or changes to operations.  The Coronavirus COVID-19 website  is also an excellent source of information so please check it for current information.

Please note that classes and operations at the Bader International Study Centre will continue and any changes regarding that campus will be communicated directly.

Patrick Deane, Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Statement from the Principal on St. Patrick's Day

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane urges students to reconsider plans to attend large gatherings due to coronavirus.

The COVID-19 situation is changing daily. There is an increasing concern about health risks posed by large events and gatherings. While the risk to our students and staff in Kingston still remains low, that can change at any time. Events that draw crowds from outside of Kingston increase the likelihood of transmission. 

St. Patrick’s Day already places a strain on our healthcare workers that must attend to Queen’s students taking part in events. The additional risk that someone from outside the community who carries the virus might attend and affect others compounds this burden. I am urging students to reconsider any plans for large celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day. At this time, we must all do our part to ensure our community stays safe and healthy.

COVID-19 adds new St. Patrick's Day concerns

Large gatherings are an increasing risk for community spread of virus. 

The physician heading up the Queen’s University response to COVID-19, Dr. David Walker, is cautioning that large crowds of celebrants could increase the risk of community spread if COVID-19 arrives with visiting revelers.

As if to compound the challenges, this year indications are St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will occur on the weekend and St. Patrick’s Day itself. With so many jurisdictions facing the spread of the virus, officials say people need to take it seriously.   

For up-to-date information, visit the Queen's Coronavirus COVID-19 Information website.

While the risk is still seen as low, and there are no cases in South Eastern Ontario, community spread is starting to appear in jurisdictions around the globe, including the US and Canada. There is a concern that with a large number of students coming from other jurisdictions, someone might bring the virus with them.

“One or more people in the crowd may have come from somewhere that has community spread and is in the early stage of illness,” says Dr. Walker. “If you come in contact with that person you may develop COVID-19, or be quarantined. It is also possible you could unknowingly spread the disease to vulnerable family members or others in the community.”

St. Patrick’s Day brings additional challenges. If someone is infected, drinks too much and is attended to by volunteers, first responders or is taken to hospital, they could spread the disease widely and dangerously. Even if they don’t spread the disease, those in contact such as paramedics and emergency staff, would be quarantined, impacting services available to others.

“If you’re sick, please don’t go, particularly if you have a fever or a cough. If your friend is sick, please don’t go. The most important thing for anyone feeling sick to do is stay home, self-isolate, and call the appropriate medical authority. If you have friends planning to come, please suggest to them that may not be a good idea. And to ease the strain on our health system, avoid going to the hospital,” says Dr. Walker.

The university has set up a website to provide the campus community with information on COVID-19, and it is updated as new information is made available.

Graphic from KFL&A Public Health advising students on St. Patrick's Day.
KFL&A Public Health has started a campaign to advise safe and responsible behaviour on St. Patrick's Day.

Queen’s community partners are also promoting a strong message of health and safety in advance of St. Patrick’s Day as well. In a statement, Kieran Moore, Medical Officer of Health for KFL&A Public Health, cautions that excessive alcohol consumption can have negative repercussions not just for individuals but for the community at large. As the virus continues to spread in Ontario, emergency room services are facing increased demand for testing and screening for COVID-19. This means that alcohol poisoning and injuries sustained from intoxicated behaviour put unnecessary strains on emergency departments. Read the full statement on the Queen’s website.

To ease the strain on emergency services, Queen’s will be operating the Campus Observation Room (COR). COR is a voluntary, confidential, non-judgmental place where students who have had too much to drink can come to sleep it off. COR will be open on Saturday March 14 at 8 am to Sunday March 15 at 7 am in Chez Lenny (across from the Leonard Dining Hall).  COR will also be open from 8 am on March 17 to 8 am on March 18 in Chez Lenny and at a secondary location in MacGillivray-Brown Hall gym.

Students should also remember that the University District Safety Initiative (UDSI) and the Nuisance Party bylaw will both be in effect on St. Patrick’s Day. Anyone charged for designated provincial offences under these policies will receive a summons to appear before a justice of the peace in Kingston.

In addition to KFL&A Public Health, Queen’s has also been working with other community partners, including the City of Kingston, Kingston Fire and Rescue, Frontenac Paramedics, and the Limestone District School Board to spread health and safety messages and reduce potential harm.

Sustainable Clothing Drive

Sustainability continues to be a significant area of focus for the university and for the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration) – VPFA portfolio.  In support of this goal, the Office of the VPFA is hosting a Sustainable Clothing Drive to help recycle gently used clothing and accessories at affordable prices. This event will take place on March 12 from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Common Ground. The Common Ground has offered 20% off at The Brew to anyone who makes a purchase that day, and they would also appreciate donations of travel mugs.

All proceeds will go to Big Spoon Lil Spoon, a non-profit established in 2018 by second-year Queen’s students, that involves workshops for children with disabilities.

If you have any gently-used clothing, accessories, and travel mugs that you would like to donate, please contact Victoria Preston-Walker (victoria.prestonwalker@queensu.ca). Donations will be accepted until March 11th at noon. Any unpurchased clothing will be donated to Loving Hands in Kingston. 

Prevention and response to COVID-19

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Queen’s increases communication to assist campus in coronavirus preparedness.

Following the appointment of David Walker as lead of the university’s response to coronavirus COVID-19, Queen’s is focusing its efforts on increasing communication and awareness of the virus and potential impact on the community. The university is sending out a message from the Principal to all students about the virus, current prevention strategies, and information on planning underway to address the possibility of a positive case at the university. Additional resources to promote safety and prevention have been created. Up-to-date information on the illness and the institution’s response has been posted to a central Coronavirus COVID-19 Information website, and an infographic to help promote a healthy and respectful campus community is being dispersed through social media.

“The best tool to help us prepare for the potential arrival of COVID-19 on our campus is the sharing of up-to-date information,” says Dr. Walker, Special Advisor to the Principal on Planning and Preparation for COVID-19. “As the global situation with the novel coronavirus continues to evolve, and as Canada logs new cases, Queen’s is readying its response. We hope all of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors familiarize themselves with how to best prevent infection and potential spread within our community.”

There are no identified cases of COVID-19 yet reported in Kingston and the risk on campus is low at this time. The university’s Coronavirus COVID-19 Information website also includes information about COVID-19 symptoms and response, prevention, links to public health authorities, travel advisories, and more. It will be updated daily as new developments and operational plans continue to take shape.

The newly created coronavirus COVID-19 infographic addresses common worries about the outbreak and suggests helpful tips to keep the Queen’s community safe. You can find it on Queen’s Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. People are urged to share it widely. Poster and digital screen versions of the infographic will also be displayed around campus.

Queen’s community members should contact covidinfo@queensu.ca with questions and concerns.

Students raise money for the Roxy Denniston-Stewart Memorial Bursary

Upcoming auction will help provide financial assistance to students attending the Bader International Study Centre (BISC).

The Bader International Student Centre (BISC) student government will be hosting an auction on Thursday, March 12 to raise money for the Roxy Denniston-Stewart Memorial Bursary.

Roxy Denniston-Stewart
Students at the BISC are hosting an auction on Thursday, March 12 to raise money for the Roxy Denniston-Stewart Memorial Bursary. (University Communications)

Denniston-Stewart was a beloved and highly respected member of the Queen’s community. Throughout her distinguished career in Student Affairs, she served as the Associate Dean, Student Services and Community Relations, and as the Student and Enrolment Services Manager at the BISC.

Her work at the BISC furthered her belief in the transformational effect of a global experience for students.

Denniston-Stewart passed away in August 2019, leaving behind a legacy of unparalleled advocacy, compassion and commitment to the student experience.

The Roxy Denniston-Stewart Memorial Bursary was established last year to help support incoming BISC students and to make this unique experience more accessible and affordable.

The auction will be held from 12-5 pm at the BISC and is open to all students, faculty, and staff.

If you are interested in donating an item to the auction, please fill out the following jotform.

Friends and colleagues can also donate to the Roxy Denniston-Stewart Memorial Fund directly by visiting the Give to Queen’s website.

Queen’s celebrates International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated this year on Sunday, March 8.

To mark the event, Queen’s University and the Gazette would like to highlight some of the key women, accomplishments, and events that helped make a difference from the past year.


Jane Philpott named Dean of Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University
Accomplished physician, educator, and politician will assume the role in July 2020.

Queen’s Indigenous health researcher named Indspire Award winner
Assistant professor Karen Lawford honoured for outstanding career achievements in health.

Boosting women-led tech companies in Kingston and region
Queen’s University and L-SPARK launch acceleration program for Kingston-area technology businesses run by women.

Mary Wilson Trider appointed next Queen's Board of Trustees chair
Experienced healthcare executive begins four-year term on June 1, 2020.

Nine alumnae among Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women
Queen’s graduates honoured for being exceptional leaders and making a difference in fields such as finance, insurance, military, and manufacturing.

New clinic director to cultivate business law partnerships
Tomi Adebiyi aims to enhance clinic's reputation for providing exceptional legal services to small businesses, non-profit organizations, and the growing innovation sector.

Ensuring fairness at Queen’s
Changes to the Office of the University Ombudsperson are making guidance on policies and procedures more easily available for students, faculty, and staff.

Celebrating inspiring women
The Ban Righ Foundation honours a faculty member and a local community builder.

Leaders in their fields garner competitive research chairs
Three new Canada Research Chairs emphasize commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

Queen’s researcher in precision medicine receives international honour
School of Computing's Parvin Mousavi receives the IEEE Canada C.C. Gotlieb Computer Award for her contributions to machine learning.

Queen’s appoints COVID-19 response lead

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Former Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, David Walker, to lead university’s coronavirus response.

As part of Queen's University’s continuing response to COVID-19, Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane has appointed David Walker as Special Advisor to the Principal on Planning and Preparation for COVID-19.

Dr. Walker, the former dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, is a professor of emergency medicine, family medicine, and policy studies at Queen’s. He also chaired Ontario’s Expert Panel on SARS and Infectious Disease Control in 2003. Under his leadership, Dr. Walker will chair two committees at Queen’s, an operational committee and a stakeholder management committee that will inform the university’s response to this evolving public health issue.

“The time for planning for a pandemic is now,” says Dr. Walker. “We can no longer think about if the virus might come to Canada. It is here and we have to deal with it. The best way to address COVID-19 is with up-to-date and consistent messaging so people have the information they need, and know what to do should there be an outbreak in our community.”

Dr. Walker will be the point person for all matters related to COVID-19 and will work with university stakeholders with advice and instruction from local, regional, and national public health authorities. His role is to ensure the institution is able to continue its operations through prevention if possible and with proactive planning should disruption of services occur. The operational committee will meet daily while the stakeholder management committee, comprised of senior leadership, faculty representatives, students, and local community members including city officials will meet weekly in an effort to coordinate and quickly implement the university’s response to emerging issues. Prevention measures and comprehensive communication, policy updates, and contingency planning will be rolled out under Dr. Walker’s leadership. The university currently has an ad hoc committee that has been meeting daily since mid-January to address COVID-19 concerns largely overseas. This group will now become part of the operational committee as focus shifts to campus concerns.

“The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors to Queen’s are our top priorities,” says Principal Deane. “Although the risk on campus is low at this time, the situation is constantly evolving and the potential for this virus to affect our campus and the Kingston community cannot be ignored. Dr. Walker is an expert in this field and I know his leadership on this will be invaluable to Queen’s as we face this public health challenge.”

For updates regarding the university’s response to COVID-19, visit the university’s Coronavirus COVID-19 Information website.

Questions and concerns can be directed to covidinfo@queensu.ca.


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