Nathaniel Smith, News Reporter
Humber College students living in residence were asked to move out last Tuesday as the school took precautions to stop the spread of COVID-19.
But there are exceptions for students who don’t have anywhere else to go or would be in an unsafe situation if they left.
“At no point of time were we ever kicked out, it was a recommendation,” said Donovan Moniz, a first-year Public Relations student at Lakeshore campus.
The college sent out a series of emails regarding new guidelines for the Winter 2020 semester that moved all courses remotely or online as the buildings remaining closed.
The first email was sent out on March 13 notifying students they have the option to stay or leave due to fears of COVID-19.
The virus has now killed 13 and infected close to 800 in Ontario, and the message encouraged students to “go home” the following week.
Academics transitioned into online learning and none of the students would be on the campus till the end of the semester, said Andrew Leopold, director of Communications at Humber College.
“That meant students living in the residence didn’t have to stay unless they needed too,” he said.
With the exponential increases of people infected, another email was sent saying students would need to move by March 24 at 12 p.m.
“Moving seemed like an easy experience for most of us but we still didn’t want to go because of the virus,” said Cheyenne Field, a second-year Radio Broadcast student at the North campus.
“It felt more like we were told to leave, and they’re bringing the summer students in,” she said.
Residence students who left by March 24 would be refunded $827 for single rooms, and $1,045 for suite rooms.
The lowest average cost of a semester living on residence costs close to $5,000 after additional fees are added.
“The refunds that have been communicated are the refunds that are planned,” Leopold said.
Staying in the residence became problematic as the students didn’t have access to certain facilities like the cafeteria.
“Our first floor of residency had a kitchen that was blocked off, all we had access to were our rooms,” Moniz said.
The students were able to sign in and host a guest overnight before the pandemic. But now the college doesn’t allow visitors, applying the social distancing mandate strongly recommended by the World Heath Organization (WHO).
“People who are still in residence have been given an updated set of information and residence rules that will include physical distancing and other appropriate measures,” Leopold said.
The students who have nowhere to go were required to fill out a Residence Extension request form by March 22.
“The student would have to demonstrate that they would need to stay, with no alternative solutions,” Leopold said.
The remaining students in the residence are international students and those who feel safer away from home due to abuse or other personal issues, Moniz said.
Multiple Canadian colleges and universities are providing mandatory moving dates for students living in residences.
The rapid ending of the semester is abrupt but had come days before Toronto Mayor John Tory declared a State of Emergency on March 23 due to COVID-19.
“I was worried about the social effect, as someone who spent a lot of time in the residence with the other people living in that building,” Moniz said.
“We built connections and started relying on each other. We all realized how serious this is, but that’s where our heads were as we moved out,” he said.