C/O Hannah Walters-Vida

Reopening of facilities and residences require students to take extra precautions

By: Elisa Do, News Reporter 

Since the closure of campus in March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, McMaster University has now reported two confirmed positive cases. On August 31, McMaster reported that the first positive case involved a graduate student. On September 13, McMaster reported a second case involving an employee. 

In a CBC News article following the first case, McMaster spokesperson Wade Hemsworth said that sharing specifics or identifying information about people or buildings will only happen if it is considered necessary for public health reasons. 

The university also stated that they have now cleaned and reopened all areas where the individuals were on campus. 

Although McMaster is encouraging folks to stay home when possible, those who need to be on campus may do so if they adhere to certain steps, including completion of a mandatory online module available on Mosaic. Those who are not part of the university’s Return to Work plan must request priority access to work on campus. Everyone, including faculty members, staff and students, must also complete the Province of Ontario’s self-assessment within an hour of arriving on campus.

McMaster has also shared step-by-step lab placements and working guides for students, faculty and staff and supervisors.

As of Sept. 14, limited study spaces on the ground floor of Mills Library are now available for students to book. Rooms will be available Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

McMaster has also opened residences to students this fall with a limited number of bed spaces. Students must meet the criteria of exceptional circumstances to qualify. The criteria include first-year nursing students, a time zone difference greater than one hour, limited or no internet coverage or students with difficult living situations.

Those who are approved to live in residence must be prepared to live in residence for the full eight months. A meal plan is available for those living in residence, but it is no longer mandatory.

Students in residence must follow certain community guidelines, such as a no-guest policy and wearing a mask in all public spaces. 

In addition to guidelines and restrictions the school has set in place, Kevin Beatty, Director of Housing and Conference Services, said that the ratio of community advisors to residents have been increased. By doing so, the school hopes to not only ensure students can social distance appropriately, but also receive greater support.

“We have a ratio of one to five students this year so the relationship between the CAs and the residents is much more of a focal point in the sense that there are a lot more questions and support available,” said Beatty.

“We have a ratio of one to five students this year so the relationship between the CAs and the residents is much more of a focal point in the sense that there are a lot more questions and support available,” said Beatty. 

Noting that residences are traditionally a way for new students to connect with one another, Beatty said that the school is running programs via social media platforms such as Microsoft Teams and the Archway Program in hopes of encouraging students to connect.

“[The Archway program] is another way that we are trying to promote people getting to know individuals and building relationships but all virtually,” Beatty said.

Beatty added that all first-year students are automatically enrolled in the program and the program links them with a cohort of other first-year students as well as a mentor and a coach. 

Currently, the Peter George Centre for Living and Learning is the only residence open to traditional eight-month residents and a total of 47 students have been approved to stay there. 

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