Note: An earlier version of this story cited possible suspension for those violating COVID protocols. The U of G later issued a correction saying suspension was not a disciplinary option.
Breaking COVID-19 safety protocols on the University of Guelph campus can now empty your wallet and kick you out of school.
Until Tuesday, the University of Guelph was issuing $120 fines to students breaking COVID protocols. Now, they’ve increased their fines and added tougher penalties.
The university stated Wednesday afternoon that anyone violating university, government, and Public Health protocols will face penalties that could include a provincial fine of $880 under the Reopening Ontario Act.
Students living on campus may face eviction from residence for violating COVID-19 safety measures which include anything from failure to wear a mask, holding social gatherings and failing to social distance.
In a press release, Carrie Chassels, vice-provost of student affairs, said the recent COVID-19 outbreak has significantly disrupted the residence of the university community as a whole.
“We are taking this situation very seriously,” said Chassels.
“We know this is an upsetting and unsettling time.”
As of Wednesday, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health reports 53 positive COVID-19 cases from the outbreak on campus. All students.
It also confirmed that the positive cases are connected to two social gatherings of approximately 50 people in total held in the East Village Townhouses on Jan. 15 and Jan 16.
The university stated that 200 people were isolating as of Tuesday and that most of the attendees of the gatherings were first-year domestic students taking virtual courses.
U of G has a total of 840 students living on campus, out of which 356 live in the East Village Townhouses.
There are currently 304 active COVID cases in all of Guelph, which makes roughly one in six of all positive cases in the city from the university.
Chassels said the University’s top priority is the health and safety of students and staff in residence.
“Right now, we are focused on ensuring those in isolation are being supported and putting additional measures in place to increase compliance and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Chassels.
Campus Community Police have issued over two dozen $120 fines to individuals connected to the gatherings.
The university added surveillance measures such as the addition of security cameras around East Village Townhouses and presence of security personnel and Campus Community Police of residential areas on campus to ensure that students follow COVID-19 safety protocols.
Additional safety measures include grouping COVID-19 positive students in a single residence, increasing cleaning and disinfection, and communicating regularly with students and working with WDG Public Health.
The university is also considering implementing a curfew on campus depending on students' compliance with the protocols.