Officials warning students against partying on homecoming weekend
KITCHENER -- Students at local universities are being reminded to stay safe and not party as homecoming weekend approaches.
Over the weekend, officials reported four cases of COVID-19 in students from Wilfrid Laurier University. Two of them live in the same off-campus residence on Ezra Avenue. Management at Ezra-Bricker Apartments said the students are self-isolating after testing positive over the weekend.
Students on the campus said they're doing what they can to limit the spread of the disease.
"Me and my roommates have just been trying to keep it low key at the house," student Wyatt Gilliatt said Sunday. "Social distancing, not really going out too much. If we have people over, try to keep it to under 10 people."
"We've just kind of been staying home, seeing a few friends, social distancing in the park, trying to stay active a little bit," another student, Matthew Boyle, said.
Two of the four cases are being managed by Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. The two cases at the Ezra-Bricker Apartments are managed by Region of Waterloo Public Health.
"We continue to investigate the situation and will follow up directly with all high risk contacts as part of our case and contact management approach," a statement Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hsiu Li Wang said in part. "The location is a private dwelling and is not considered to be a congregate setting."
The cases come before the annual homecoming weekend, which usually draws hundreds of party-goers to the area.
"Homecoming this year is a virtual event," said Jason Coolman, VP of External Relations and Advancement Work at WLU. "There are to be no in-person gatherings associated with the program."
Over the weekend, the province slashed gathering sizes to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Bylaw officials said they will be fair but firm with enforcement on homecoming weekend.
"Quite frankly my preference would be zero tolerance for any large gatherings outside the provincial limits," said Shayne Turner, the region's Director of Municipal Enforcement. "Certainly, we're not going to be hesitant to lay charges when necessary."
University officials said any student who has tested positive or is waiting for a COVID-19 test result and attends a gathering could face additional consequences under the non-academic student code of conduct.
"It could lead all the way up to and including suspension, should the situation be warranted," Coolman said.
WLU officials said the campus doesn't currently have a testing site. Students who need to be tested must go to a site in the region.
The University of Guelph also reported its first COVID-19 case over the weekend.
On its website, U of G said that the risk to the university community is low because proper COVID-19 precautions were followed when the person was on campus.