03/13/2020 15:49 EDT

Canadian Universities Cancel Classes Amid 'Uncharted Territory' Of COVID-19

Many post-secondary schools in Ontario and Quebec are suspending classes or cancelling them altogether.

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Students walk in and out of a university building in this stock photo. Colleges and universities in Canada's largest provinces are cancelling and suspending class amid the global pandemic of COVID-19.

Ontario and Quebec colleges and universities moved to cancel classes and exams Friday to contain the spread of COVID-19

“These are unsettling times,” David Farrar, the president of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., said in a note to students. “The spread of COVID-19 around the world and its arrival in our own region has brought McMaster and all other organizations to uncharted territory.” 

There will be no in-person classes after Friday and no in-person exams at the end of the term, Farrar said. Students will hear from their professors by Wednesday, March 18 about how to complete their courses.

These are unsettling times.David Farrar

“Ensuring students finish their year, that those in their final year are able to graduate and reducing the stress students are under must be of paramount importance,” he said. “This is a stressful time for everyone. And these are difficult decisions.”

Other schools, like the University of Toronto, Humber College, Western University, the University of Waterloo and McGill University also said that classes would be suspended or cancelled. Some are moving courses online.

Universities in provinces that haven’t been as hard-hit by COVID-19 took other measures. 

The University of Calgary suspended classes for the day Friday. Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, a province with no confirmed COVID-19 cases, said that it would suspend all international travel for university purposes. 

To find out if a specific university or college has suspended or cancelled classes, visit its website.

Elementary, high schools to close in some provinces

The changes come as governments across Canada ramp up action to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Ontario asked Friday for any gatherings of more than 250 to be cancelled, joining Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. The federal government said Canadians should cancel international travel. 

Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba are also closing public schools. 

COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. As of Thursday, it had infected more than 125,000 people worldwide and killed more than 4,600, including one Canadian, according to the World Health Organization

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