KITCHENER -- A private college for massage students has suddenly announced it is shutting down, and permanently closing its campuses in Cambridge and Toronto.

The Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy blames the closure on COVID-19.

Students say they received a letter, signed by the school’s president, on Wednesday.

It reads, in part: “While we have had every intention of continuing to offer our massage therapy education at our Toronto and Cambridge campus locations, the result of the COVID-19 pandemic has made it untenable for our operations to continue. For this, we are truly sorry.”

Stunned students say they were participating in classes at the privately-owned institution just a day before receiving the news.

Faculty members, like Steve Richtaritsch, were also unprepared for the announcement.

“It was like a giant family,” he says. “I didn’t believe it at first, so I emailed out director and she confirmed it. I was shocked. You know, it’s been 10 years working there. Good communication from our director, but I guess she got the mail just as we did. It’s a sad, sad day.”

The school is promising to help students by “working with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to ensure that every student who wishes to continue their massage therapy education will be place in an educational environment where they can continue their training.”

The ministry was also notified of the closure on the same day as students and teachers. They say eligible students will have access to the Training Completion Assurance Fund (TCAF), which will allow them to switch to another institution or receive a refund for any training that they haven’t received. Anyone who wants more information on TCAF are advised to email the Ministry of Colleges and Universities here, or call 1-888-449-4478.

Students have been told they can collect their personal belongings from the Cambridge campus on May 28.

The college also has campuses in Halifax, Victoria and New Westminster, B.C. It's not yet clear how all three will be impacted by the closure.

CTV News reached out to college officials Wednesday but they have not yet responded to our request for comment.