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Confronting COVID-19

Moving out safely

With final exams underway and Winter Term 2021 coming to an end, many students, including those in residence, are preparing to move.

Moving is a big task and good planning is a key to moving safely. Following public health protocols is essential to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. Currently, under the provincial stay-at-home emergency order, moving residences qualifies as an essential reason for travel.

The Mindful Move-Out page provides a wealth of information for a safe, smooth, and sustainable move out.   

Moving out of residence

Students in residence are required to move out by 3 pm on the day after their final exam. The final day for moving out of Queen’s residence is April 29. Students who are not able to move out by the scheduled timeline must fill out a Residence Extension Request, available at the Residence and Dining Portal. Students needing to stay in residence after April 29 at 3 pm, must first apply to do so by emailing reslife@queensu.ca.

Students in residence are required to:

  • Remove all belongings from their room
  • Take garbage and recycling to their building’s garbage room
  • Lock the door and ensure windows are closed
  • Hand residence keys in at the Victoria Hall front desk or the Jean Royce Hall front desk (open 24 hours)

For additional information regarding move-out procedures and storage options visit the move-out page.

Moving safely

Queen’s Residence Life and Services has worked with KFL&A Public Health to ensure a safe move-out process for all students, staff, families, and supporters. Every student can have up to two people assisting them with move-out. All visitors to campus must fill out the COVID-19 self-assessment via the SeQure app before arriving, disclosing any symptoms/contacts/direction from public health offices in the past 14 days.

Face coverings must be worn in residence at all times during the move-out process.

Please, respect social distancing expectations, including the following guidelines:

  • Maintain a space of 1-2 meters between yourself and others, including facilities and desk staff
  • Use the available hand sanitizers at each building entrance
  • Follow proper and frequent handwashing guidelines
  • Limit the number of people that come to assist you to just two
  • Bring your own move out cart if you are able

For more residence specific answers to COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions visit the Residence COVID-19 page.

Off-campus moving

To limit the number of people moving at the same time, housemates should stagger moving days and times. Maintain physical distance and wear a face covering.

Restrict the number of people you ask to help you move to those already in your household.

If hiring a moving company, do not have additional family or friends help.

For more tips on how to move safely during COVID-19 visit the KFL&A Public Health website.

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

Principal shares update on Fall Term planning

Dear members of the Queen’s University community,

Many people are wondering about our expectations and plans for the Fall Term, so I hope the following observations will be helpful and encouraging. The key message for everyone is that the imminent roll-out of mass vaccinations is giving rise to a new optimism, and despite some immediate and continuing COVID-19 challenges, we can all look with justification towards a brighter future. Because of what our public health experts are predicting, in fact, the university is planning for a resumption of in-person activity in September.

Members of the administration, students, staff and faculty have been meeting regularly to discuss how we can bring people back to campus. There are of course still many things unknown, but we are hopeful that by the time classes resume in September, most of the restrictions will be lifted and our daily operations able to return to a condition much closer to what prevailed prior to the pandemic. As we have done throughout the last year, we will continue to work with local public health, and follow whatever guidelines they and the province provide. Keeping our community safe and healthy is integral to all our planning for the future.

Our first priority lies in fulfilling our academic mission and to this end, bringing our students back into classrooms. Our research activity has also been significantly impacted by the pandemic, so we are looking to see it renewed and expanded. As we plan, we are mindful of what will be required to support faculty and students while ensuring that no one’s health is at risk. Our current planning includes flexibility for staff with a gradual return so that we can be ready to support in-person teaching and learning in September. It is likely that there will still be some restrictions in place at that time, but while these may impact our ability to host large gatherings and certain events, we believe they will not prevent our academic program moving forward.

I know that this has been a difficult time and the ups and downs of the pandemic have taken a toll. At Queen’s, we have nevertheless done an exceptional job weathering the challenges and uncertainties, and I believe the worst will soon be behind us. Together, we will regain much of what we have lost, and I believe we will be better and stronger for it.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Principal Deane addresses community concerns over COVID-19 cases

Principal Patrick Deane on the university’s commitment to help protect the health and safety of all community members.

On-campus COVID-19 safety signage.
Signage displaying COVID-19 safety messaging have been placed at locations across campus.

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 have 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.

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Queen’s medical students helping with Kingston’s vaccination rollout

More than 200 of Queen’s medical students have answered the call for assistance and have begun volunteering with Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

Queen's medical student Tania Yavorska prepares to vaccinate a patient
Queen's medical student Tania Yavorska prepares to vaccinate a patient at Kingston Health Sciences Centre (Photo by Matthew Manor / KHSC)

Canada’s vaccination rollout is picking up across the country and within the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington region. This rapidly increasing rollout has sparked the beginning of the largest immunization campaign in Canadian history, and in order for it to run smoothly healthcare professionals across the country are being called upon to administer the delivery. As Kingston has begun to receive an increasing supply of the vaccine over the last several weeks, more than 200 of Queen’s medical students have answered the call for assistance and have begun volunteering with Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC). Every day the site, which is primarily staffed by these students, vaccinates hundreds of frontline workers, health care professionals, and senior community members. 

Tony Li, who is in his second year of medical school and is president of the Aesculapian Society, has been involved with the vaccination rollout for the last three weeks. The opportunity was borne from a medical school graduate who approached Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences Jane Philpott asking for assistance.  

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, students in the Faculty of Health Sciences have been looking for ways to support the community, and they have led many fantastic initiatives. A few weeks ago, a QMed grad, Dr. Elaine Ma, reached out to ask if the medical students would be available to help support with the rollout,” says Dean Philpott. “Our students are so eager to contribute, I was not surprised when I reached out to the Aesculapian Society and received a resounding ‘yes!’”  

Initially upper-year medical students were engaged in the vaccination clinic, but the campaign grew so quickly that all four years of medical students have had the opportunity to be involved. 

Each day at KHSC there are two four-hour shifts where medical students take part in all aspects of the vaccination process. This includes screening patients, tracking information, administering the vaccine and monitoring for adverse effects. Li describes the process as an assembly line and notes how impressed he is with its efficiency. 

“It’s a non-stop process and the four hours just fly by,” he says. “Each medical student can administer upwards of 40 to 80 vaccines in a single shift.” 

Right now, Li and his classmates are vaccinating healthcare workers, but moving forward, as the KFL&A region looks to expand its community rollout, Queen’s students will play a critical role in serving the wider community.

The School of Nursing has already created a unique placement which has allowed a student to be involved in the rollout in long-term care facilities in Kingston. Various teams, including upper-year nursing and medical students, have also been involved in the delivery of the vaccinations to priority communities, many located in the geographic north, through the Operation Remote Immunity initiative. 

As the rollout ramps up, so will the ways in which students from across health professional programs in the Faculty of Health Sciences participate. 

“I’ve been working with KFL&A Public Health,” Li says. “We built scenarios for the community rollout of a vaccine and worked out various roles for medical students, nursing students and other healthcare professionals in the faculty so that we can do our part to assist with the vaccination distribution and implementation plan. It’s exciting to know that our involvement can continue to grow.” 

While participating in the administration of the immunization campaign has served a functional role for the hospitals and community members, this experience has also provided an excellent learning opportunity for those involved. In addition to developing technical skills, the students are also practicing interacting with patients and to working effectively on inter-professional teams.  

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most people would go through medical school without having the experience of administering vaccines at a large-scale like we have,” Li says. “In just a few days, each medical student has already given over 100 vaccines. This will now be something that we will all be comfortable with moving forward in our training. On top of that we’re strengthening valuable clinical skills such as how to approach patients and communicate with them. There are so many benefits all around, and we’re all just so proud to be a part of it and give back to the community.”

Queen’s announces additional closures and restrictions to help prevent spread of COVID-19

Queen’s University is taking additional proactive measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19 variants of concern (VOC). On the advice of KFL&A Public Health and the university’s public health advisors, a range of campus services are being closed or restricted as a precaution. These changes are in addition to Wednesday’s announced closure of the Athletics and Recreation Centre (ARC) and include the following:

  • All retail food outlets on campus, including the Grad Club, will be restricted to takeout service only. Each operator will have the latitude to decide if they will remain open with the restrictions, or to close
  • Casual seating areas in congregate areas such as the John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC), all retail food areas in the Queen’s Centre, and casual seating in Mackintosh-Corry Hall are closed
  • The University Club remains closed

“The arrival of variants within our community is cause for much concern and we are going to do our part to help prevent further spread of the virus on our campus and beyond,” says Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green. “We are all in this together and we are cooperating closely with our community partners to ensure all of our students are aware of what’s expected of them and to strongly encourage everyone to adhere closely to the incredibly important public health measures in place.”

The university is working closely with KFL&A Public Health to manage the growing number of COVID-19 cases in the community and continues to closely monitor students in residence through established protocols.

“Today, Public Health confirmed the virus is now spreading in small social circles, rather than through any large gatherings,” says Provost Green. “We are grateful to the vast majority of our students who have been staying home and limiting their contact with others. This was particularly apparent over the past few days as this is a time of year where we usually see St. Patrick’s Day gatherings.”

Residence dining hall operations are unchanged by today’s announcement. Take-out and online ordering is available for all students in residence and is encouraged.

Bookable study spaces remain available to students as those spaces are controlled to ensure compliance with Public Health protocols including recording information for contact tracing and masking at all times. Bookable spaces in Stauffer Library, the Education Library, Douglas Library and Mackintosh-Corry Hall remain available for use and can be reserved through the Bookable Spaces library page. Existing bookable Faculty-specific spaces also remain available for use.

COVID-19 testing on campus:

All members of the Queen’s community are reminded that even those without symptoms can spread the virus. The variants are very contagious, and the university is strongly encouraging students who have been in close contact with anyone outside their household without wearing a face covering or physical distancing, to get tested during the next two weeks, even if they are not experiencing symptoms.

Anyone developing COVID-19 symptoms should also get tested right away.

The KHSC satellite COVID-19 assessment centre located in Mitchell Hall, is regularly open to test students from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. Appointments can be booked by calling Student Wellness Services at 613-533-2506.

The COVID-19 Assessment Centre at the Beechgrove Complex at 51 Heakes Lane, Kingston, is also available. It is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm, by appointment only.

For the latest information from the university on COVID-19, please visit https://www.queensu.ca/covidinfo/updates.

Queen’s closes Athletics and Recreation Centre as a precaution

Over the past week, the Kingston community has seen a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern (VOC). To help address this risk, Queen’s is taking the proactive step of closing the Athletics and Recreation Centre, effective March 18, as a precaution.

This closure comes on the advice of KFL&A Public Health and the university’s own public health advisers and will be in effect until further notice.

The closure affects all in-person programming in the ARC. The ARC will continue to provide virtual fitness programs and on on-demand workouts given the importance of physical health and wellbeing. Other services such as the university’s bookable Library study spaces currently remain open under existing restrictions.

All members of the Queen’s community continue to be asked to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, and get tested right away if they develop any signs of illness. In addition, the University is strongly encouraging students who have been in close contact with anyone outside their household without wearing a face covering or physical distancing, to get tested during the next two weeks, even if they are not experiencing symptoms.

The KHSC satellite COVID-19 assessment centre located in Mitchell Hall, is regularly open to test students from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm, and will be running extended hours until 8:30 pm, now through March 19, inclusive. Appointments can be booked by calling Student Wellness Services at 613-533-2506. Evening appointments (4 pm - 8:30 pm) can also be booked online.

The COVID-19 assessment centre at the Beechgrove Complex at 51 Heakes Lane, Kingston, is also available. It is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm, by appointment only.

For the latest information from the university on COVID-19, please visit https://www.queensu.ca/covidinfo/updates.

Connecting with students

Queen’s staff go door-to-door to share information on academic resources, wellness, COVID-19, and more.

  • Bags set up for the Community outreach initiative
    Bags were filled with information about resources available to students including from Career Services. (University Communications)
  • Bags set up for the Community outreach initiative
    Hundreds of bags were handed out by Queen's staff to students living near campus on March 15 and March 16. (University Communications)
  • Queen's staff speak to students living near campus
    Queen's staff speak to students living near campus, checking on their wellbeing and providing information on keeping the community healthy and safe. (University Communications)
  • A Queen's staff member hands over a bag with treats and information
    A Queen's student living near campus accepts a bag filled with care items and the latest updates from public health, employment resources, and wellness information. (University Communications)
  • A Queen's student holds her dog as she greets a Queen's staff member taking part in a community outreach initiative on Monday, March 15. (University Communications)
    A Queen's student holds her dog as she greets a Queen's staff member taking part in a community outreach initiative on Monday, March 15. (University Communications)

Queen’s staff from across Students Affairs were busy March 15 and 16 going door-to-door in the near-campus neighbourhood, safely connecting with students to raise awareness of measures in place leading up to St. Patrick’s Day, the latest information from public health, as well as summer employment, and wellness information.

The effort marks the third time this academic year that Queen’s staff have engaged directly with students living in nearby housing to highlight the need for everyone to continue following best practices for staying safe and healthy.

“We have received a tremendous amount of positive feedback for these community outreach initiatives. We have been delighted to see how excited students are to chat with us, get their questions answered, and receive details about campus resources,” says Lindsay Winger, Assistant Dean, Support Services and Community Engagement. “The pandemic has been difficult for our entire campus community, and we are so grateful for the support to be able to connect safely with students through this engagement. Thank you to all the volunteers and campus partners who have made this a success.”

Students responded positively to the visits and conversations. Upper-year students were particularly interested in the resources offered by Career Services as they look for summer jobs, or take the first steps in post-university life.

““Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is important, but also can be extremely isolating. This is why it is important for the university to engage with students – which creates a personal connection,” says Jared den Otter, President of the Alma Mater Society. “I know these visits are appreciated while also being an important way to share information.”

With an increasing number of cases involving Variants of Concern (VOC), students are being encouraged to be tested even if they are not experiencing symptoms. The KHSC satellite COVID-19 assessment centre located in Mitchell Hall, is regularly open to test students from Monday to Friday, 9 am-4 pm, and will be running extended hours until 8:30 pm, now through March 19, inclusive. Appointments can be booked by calling Student Wellness Services at 613-533-2506. Evening appointments (4-8:30 pm) can also be booked online.

The off-campus visits were also an opportunity to share information about the Section 22 Order by KFL&A Public Health as a precautionary measure to help limit the spread of COVID-19. This order, currently in effect March 13-21, prohibits hosting or attending indoor or outdoor social gatherings with more than five people. The order, which in place city-wide, also includes several restrictions for businesses that serve alcohol.

For more information on Queen’s University’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for related resources, visit the Queen’s COVID-19 Information website.

Students who didn’t receive a visit can email supportservices@queensu.ca to receive the information that was distributed. 

Marking one year of COVID-19

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane shares a video message with the campus community on the first anniversary of the pandemic.

Dear Queen’s Community,

This time last year we felt the first impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The university moved to remote learning and most of us began working from home. The entire world changed dramatically and now, a year later, it is necessary to reflect on what has happened over the past twelve months and to mark the significance of this anniversary. So many things are different and we cannot ignore the impact and the toll this virus has had on us all. Sadly, we are not done with it yet. But there is reason for hope. Mass vaccination will be here soon and we are doing everything we can to ensure that our community stays safe and healthy until then. As we look to a brighter future, we must acknowledge that there are still challenges ahead. We must continue to support one another, show compassion and understanding and know that working together, we will get through this. I encourage you to watch my short video that reminds us of how far we have already come and to acknowledge and thank all of you for your courage, resilience and commitment to our institution.

With gratitude,

Patrick Deane
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Video call system to reduce PPE demand

Queen’s University researcher Michael Greenspan safely improves the way patients and health care workers connect during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The patient call button is a piece of equipment that is taken for granted in most hospitals. In fact, the technology behind it hasn’t been updated in decades.

But now, Queen’s researcher Michael Greenspan, Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering,  is running a pilot project at Belleville General Hospital that aims to upgrade the  call button system with some modern technology.

 “Basically, there is a computer tablet in a patient’s room, and one outside of the room for a health care worker to use,” says Dr. Greenspan. “The patient and nurse can interact safely, and it saves the hospital staff from changing into and out of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

While certain patient interactions still require health care providers to be physically present in the room, many routine interactions, like ones that are currently handled through hourly or intentional rounding, can be done as effectively and more efficiently, through a face-to-face video call conversation.

 

a modern call button system being piloted at Belleville General Hospital
A modern patient call button that is being piloted at Belleville General Hospital 

The COVID challenge

One of the main challenges hospitals are facing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is a shortage of PPE, especially masks, N95 respirators, goggles, visors, and gowns.

“Even though hospitals are re-using or extending the use of some of these PPE elements to conserve these limited products, PPE shortages remain prevalent across Canada and worldwide and these shortages are likely to be a concern for the foreseeable future,” says Dr. Greenspan. “Whereas other efforts have been oriented to increasing the supply of PPE, we’ve focused on the other side of the equation, ad are working towards decreasing the demand through the use of this interactive technology.”

The research was initially funded through the Ingenuity Labs Research Opportunities Seed Fund, and then through the Ontario Centres of Excellence VIP project, which included a contribution from HHAngus and Associates Ltd, an engineering firm with a focus on health care facilities. The project involves collaborators  Dr. Jennifer Medves (School of Nursing), Dr. Dick  Zoutman (Medicine), as well as colleagues from Queen’s Ingenuity Labs. Several other students and recent Queen’s graduates are also working on the project, including an ECE MEng recent graduate, software developer and team lead Ankit Dhanda.

Beyond the pandemic

Officials at Belleville General Hospital are keeping the system in place for now. Dr. Greenspan says the researchers have developed a new version, with a number of additional and advanced features based on the feedback that they have received, and are on track to install this new version in the spring.

Plans to evolve the patient call button were well underway when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and, once it subsides, the research team is hoping to circle back to the original vision of re-engineering the call button system entirely. The original vision involved adding in a series of sensors to monitor the patient and their environment, and then processing the data with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning methods, in order to detect and predict unsafe events or conditions. The technology could one day provide a better way for health care workers to interact with and monitor patients

“We hope to not only apply a different version to a hospital setting, but expand the system even further,” says Dr. Greenspan.  “The technology could be used in the Intensive Care Unit of hospitals, because the patients there are especially vulnerable and need to be protected from infection,” says Dr. Greenspan. “Overall, this technology upgrade  could lead to better efficiencies, better health outcomes, and higher patient and health care worker satisfaction.”

 

 

Public health introduces new limits ahead of St. Patrick’s Day

Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Mark Green reached out to the Queen’s community informing them that, due to concerns around St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the KFL&A Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health has implemented a new Section 22 Order as a precautionary measure to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in the Kingston community  

The Section 22 Order is effective from 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, March 13, 2021 until Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. The order, which is in effect city wide, prohibits hosting or attending indoor or outdoor social gatherings with more than five persons. The order also includes several restrictions for businesses that serve alcohol.

Provost Green added that the university has confirmed with KFL&A Public Health that the five-person gathering limit does not apply to residents of your own household. For example, if you live with seven other individuals, you are permitted to gather, however you cannot add additional non-household members. If your household only has four people, you could add one additional non-household member to the gathering.

Failure to comply with the order may result in a Part 1 Summons that can carry a fine up to $5,000 under Ontario’s Health Promotion and Protection Act (HPPA), and can also be considered under the Student Code of Conduct. 

KFL&A Public Health has advised that this Section 22 Order has been established to address the following concerns:

  1. The increasing concern in Ontario due to risk of COVID-19 variants;
  2. To protect our community and keep our schools and economy safe and open;
  3. To prevent illness given that Kingston has not received the same amount of vaccine as other communities in Ontario and the time to achieve maximum immunity after a first dose of a vaccine;
  4. To minimize impact on our EMS and hospital resources during a time that typically sees an increase risk for impact.

“I’m very grateful to the Queen’s community, and to our students in particular, for your committed efforts to adhere to the Public Health guidelines over the past year,” Provost Green writes. “I know the limitations on social gatherings haven’t been easy. Let’s continue to stand strong and keep our campus community, and Kingston, safe. With the continued roll-out of the vaccine in Canada, there is hope for brighter days ahead.”

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